I was raised Lutheran, Catholic lite. All of the religion, none of the guilt. The Vatican was not somewhere I felt particularly compelled to go on my second day in Rome. Thankfully, my Husband Bello having lived in Rome, knew better.
Breakfast: Before heading to Vatican City, we took the advise of a local and walked half a block from our Hotel to a new pastry shop called La Portineria. One of my favorite memories from the trip, we stood amongst locals and ordered our 1€ coffee and 2€ pastries. Thing is, these pastries were outstanding! Like made by a World Pastry Champion kinda good. Coffee shop breakfast of champions for 2, 6.70€.
Explore Freestyle: After a guilty pleasure breakfast in Rome, it’s time to go straight to the Vatican right? Taking the Metro we stopped at the Lapanto station. We could have gone to the Ottaviano stop which is closer but… the weather was perfect for a stroll.
Bello set our path towards the Piazza Cavour to see Rome’s Supreme Court and wind along the Tiber River to see Castel Sant’Angelo. The true genius in his plan, was to lead us directly up Via della Conciliazione.
This walk can be a bit brutal. There is no shade and crowds of tourists walk frustratingly slow frequently stopping to snap selfies. Still, it’s the best way to take in the architecture, the subtle upward slope of the roads approaching the Vatican.
What I didn’t know, or expect of the Vatican was two fold.
- It’s free to enter.
- The Art inside the Vatican is tremendous.
The scale, details and craftsmanship of the Art inside the Vatican are extremely powerful. Even as a non-Catholic, I was moved to tears. Which Bello took as a sign my sugar was crashing from a pastry fueled breakfast and steered me out towards lunch.
Again, the man with a plan, Bello set our direction South to the Trastevere (literally meaning “beyond the Tiber”) neighborhood. Now it was his turn for a surprise!
Stretching 500 meters, William Kentridge alfresco art “Triumphs and Laments” is revitalizing Tiber River’s waterfront. What used to be a path strictly for the locals is now a tremendous achievement in contemporary art. Launching just 10 days before our arrival it was a total surprise and best of all, it just so happens to be Free!
Lunch: Typically walking from the Vatican to Trastevere should take 20 minutes. Stumbling across free art slowed our pace to 40, thus making us famished when we arrived at Da Enzo al 29. Loved by Roman’s for it’s unfussy delivery of traditional dishes like Oxtail, Amatriciana and Trippa (Tripe). Sound amazing? It was! Add a bottle of red and that’s what we ordered!
“A nice light lunch for your wife?” the waiter teased Bello as we ordered deserved digestives and coffees. The biggest meal of the day 64€.
Post Lunch Walk (Free): After such a hearty lunch, it was time to walk, really walk. The Trastevere is one of the best neighborhoods in Rome to get a sense of modern Roman life.
We spent a good deal of time, just wandering, poking our heads in open doors and stopping for coffee (2€.) After a few hours we made our way over the Tiber and headed for Piazza Venezia, the center of Rome.
Altare della Patria (Altar of the Fatherland) is a national monument built to honor the first king of unified Italy. Completed in 1925 it’s one of the newest large structures in the historic city center of Rome. It’s bright white facade and layered architecture makes it stand out and depending on who you ask, not in a good day. Roman’s call it, “the layer cake.”
Tourists can pay 7€ to get to the top for a panoramic view of Rome. We skipped the line and the fee but climbed the stairs. What a gorgeous, cough… free, view of Rome!
Next up, the Fanata Di Trevi made famous in La Dolce Vita by Fellini. This is the one thing I would change, if I could go back to our trip.
It was getting close to sunset and we had been walking for hours. I’m a New Yorker totally used to walking. Still, my feet, even in tennis shoes, were killing me.
By the time we reached the Trevi Fountain, it was so crowded and I was so tired, that even getting a half hearted iphone shot was hard. It’s definitely a sight to see, but it’s best seen at night when other tourists give in to jet lag and call it a night.
After the Trevi Selfie wrestling match, we made a quick exit from Centro via the Metro back to our hotel.
One of the advantages of staying in a commuter neighborhood like Salario, is inexpensive local markets. That evening, Bello and I picked up a bottle of wine and a few travel groceries for our remaining nights in Rome 17€.
With our feet up and an outside space with a view, there was nothing more we needed to call day two in Rome, splendid. Tomorrow, I’ll post our final day in Rome and take you to the ruins! Plus, I’ll show you where we had my absolute favorite meal in Rome.