Travel Log: Rome, Italy (Vatican City, Centro Storico)

This will be my final travel log from my recent vacation in Greece & Rome.  You can see my Mykonos, Santorini, Athens, and first Rome travel logs by clicking each link or by selecting the "Travel" label in my sidebar.  In August, my boyfriend and I spent nine days in Europe including three days in Mykonos, three days in Santorini, a ten hour layover in Athens, and two days in Rome. Today I want to talk more about Bella Roma--there were too many photos for just one post.  On our second day in Rome, we woke up early to beat the crowds to Vatican City, stopped at a Roman-style pizzeria for lunch, wandered through Rome's Centro Storico (historic center), and finished the evening with a wonderful meal at the one Michelin star rated Giuda Ballerino.  Please read on for photos and more details of our second day in this beautiful, historic city.

Top: exact here 
Pants: exact here 
Shoes: exact here 
Tote: exact here  
Sunglasses: old, similar here 


We arrived at St. Peter's Square around 7am, and pretty much had the place to ourselves as you can see.  There was one early tour group, but it was otherwise very peaceful and beautiful in the early morning light.

This central balcony is where the Pope addresses the public--so cool to see up close!  On days where there is a Papal Audience (most Wednesdays) or Papal Mass, you sometimes need tickets but you can easily request for free from the Vatican website.

St. Peter's Basilica officially opens to the public at 7am, and when we arrived there was no line whatsoever.  We took some pictures around the square prior to entry, and then went straight through security about 7:30am.  If you are going to visit St. Peter's Basilica, don't forget that you need to cover your shoulders and your knees!  I wore this striped long-sleeve shirt just for this purpose, with a crop top underneath to deal with the 100+ degree temperatures later on.  I saw several tourists get turned away because they did not come prepared with the right clothing.

Once inside, I was immediately awed by the architecture and design of this church.  The interior is filled with marble columns & floors, sculptures, and so much gold!  The way the light flows into the halls is just beautiful.  You can pretty much roam freely through each of the chapels, just remember to be quiet and respectful as you go.

The awe-inspiring Michaelangelo's Dome, with mosaics designed by Giuseppi Cesari depicting numerous religious figures including 16 popes buried in the Basilica, Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, Joseph, John the Baptist, and the Apostles.  This dome rises 395 feet above the marble floors and is an amazing piece of art to see in person!

After leaving St. Peter's Basilica, we headed to the Vatican Museum and I was able to ditch my long-sleeved shirt for the already hot & muggy weather.  I had to stop to take some photos with these columns, though, on the way!

Four sets of columns line both sides of St. Peter's Square and are part of the iconic architecture.  They also provide a nicely shaded walkway during the heat of the summer!

Our next stop was the Vatican Museums.  You are not allowed to take photos inside, so I just took one outside the entrance instead.  The Vatican Museums are most famously home to the Sistine Chapel, but also contain amazing galleries of artwork and sculpture.  We didn't see everything the museums hold, frankly because it got to crowded and stuffy after a couple of hours.  I would definitely return, however, on a future visit and think that these museums are a must-see for any trip to Vatican City!

One photo I could take was of the Bramante Spiral Staircase in the Pio-Clemente Museum, one part of the Vatican Museums.  This is actually the second Bramante staircase--the first one with the Bramante name was designed in 1505 and is also in the Pio-Clementine Museum.  However, the older one is not open to the public.

Visiting museums always gives me an appetite, and I was starving after a couple of hours in the Vatican Museums.  We walked a few blocks to Bonci, a Roman-style pizzeria that sells pizza by weight as well as local beer.  This spot was also recommended by Anthony Bourdain during one of his "No Reservations" episodes.

Another view of all of our pizza options!  It was tough to choose.  After lunch, we jumped in an Uber to get across the river to a bar called Open Baladin near Campo de'Fiori.  We found that taking Ubers around the city was more convenient than taking the subway, since Rome's subway system is limited and Ubers were readily available at a reasonable rate.  All of the vehicles we rode in were either BMW 5-series sedans or Mercedes C-class sedans.

After a refreshing drink at Open Baladin, we walked through Campo de'Fiori to check out the stalls.  This square used to be a flower meadow (Campo de'Fiori means field of flowers), but now is a daily market lined with restaurants and shops.

Piazza Navona is a beautiful public space dating back to the 1st century with several gorgeous fountains and an Egyptian obelisk.  This photogenic square is a must stop for any visit to Rome!  The fountain directly behind me is the Fontana del Moro (Moor Fountain), and in the background you can see the the famous Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers) surrounding an Egyptian obelisk.


Closer views of Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers) with its four river gods.  These four river gods represent four rivers: the Nile for Africa, the Danube for Europe, the Ganges for Asia, and the Río de la Plata for the Americas.


A short walk from Piazzo Navona through the Piazza di St Eustacio is the Pantheon.  The Pantheon, meaning "all gods," could have been built as a temple to all of the ancient gods but historians are not sure.  We do know that the Pantheon is the best preserved building from ancient Rome.

The Pantheon has the world's largest unreinforced concrete dome. Pretty amazing, considering it was completed back around 125 AD!  The distance from the floor to the top of the dome is exactly equal to its diameter--it has perfect proportions.

Several hours of exploring Rome's Centro Storico in intense summer heat wiped us out, and a nap was in order before heading to Giuda Ballerino for dinner.  Guida Ballerino has one Michelin star, several tasting menus, and a rooftop location with an amazing view of the city!

A gorgeous, sunset from Giuda Ballerino on the rooftop of Hotel Bernini Bristol.

 A couple of dishes from our tasting menu - everything was delicious!



Another view of the city from our table: you can see the rainstorm on the left side of the photo, moving in the distance.  We also saw a number of streaks of lightning light up the sky!

I hope you enjoyed these photos and narrative of our visit to Rome!  I very much enjoyed our two days in Rome, and will absolutely return to see more of this beautiful city.  Two days was just enough to see a few highlights and solidify the fact that I need to return to spend more time exploring Rome.  Thank you for visiting my blog today, don't forget to enter for your chance to win a gold Macbook, and I hope you have a great week!

Linking up with Cha Cha the Fashion Genius, More Pieces of Me, Pink Sole, Sincerely Jenna Marie

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