Our final day in Rome was spent exploring Vatican City. My mom had scheduled a special tour of the necropolis and St. Peter's tomb below the Basilica for the afternoon, so we started our explorations in the morning at the Basilica itself. It was a terribly long line that wrapped all around the plaza in front of the Vatican, but thankfully, it moved along rather quickly and before we knew it, we were through security and into the grand cathedral.
The pictures didn't come out great, but it was absolutely gorgeous inside!
We were all super hungry after our escapade through the Basilica, but we didn't have much time before our tour so my dad and brother ran to get us all sandwiches and we ate them in a little square in front of Vatican City. Mine had just roasted red pepper, eggplant, and zucchini, but it was wonderful, especially since the bread was delightfully fresh and chewy.
After we were re-fueled and re-hydrated, we set off for our tour! We entered through a special gate guarded by Vatican guards dressed in stripped red, yellow, and blue outfits. We walked back into an area of the Vatican grounds that is not normally visible to the public but was absolutely gorgeous.
Unfortunately we weren't permitted to take pictures inside the Necropolis, but it was incredible. Luckily I found a few images online! They don't even compare to the actual experience of what felt like walking through an actual city of the dead (it was literally like walking down a very narrow street), but at least they help give an idea of what it was like!
We even saw what are believed to be the bones of St. Peter! We exited the tour through an arched hallway. But when we got to the exit gate, it turned out to be locked! To make a long story short, those of us who chose not to hop the gate (I didn't think it to be the best idea in a long skirt!) had to wait about 20 minutes before someone with a key came by to let us out. Not too many people can say they got locked in the Vatican. ;)
We had tickets for the Vatican museum for 3pm (pre-paid to avoid the line that extended out the doors and wrapped around the block), so once we were free, we booked it to the museum! By the time we got there, we were hot and beat. We kind of wandered around just gazing at things as we drug our feet behind us, and eventually my mom and I just couldn't take it anymore and stopped at a bench to rest while my dad and brother went on to see the Sistine Chapel.
After about 20 minutes, we decided we had enough energy to march on to the chapel, but it turns out that the journey required more energy than we had thought (and hoped). I have never been in such a big crowd or seen as many people squeezed into one room as I did on the way to the chapel. The endless hallways lined with paintings and tapestries were beautiful, but made us feel like we were on a wild goose chase. The details in the ceilings was especially incredible.
We eventually did reach the chapel, however, (after about half an hour of shoving our way through endless passes of people) and it was definitely worth it to see the incredible room painted by Michelangelo himself. Again, no pictures were allowed, but that was honestly a relief - it was nice to just be able to take in the majestic beauty of the sacred room. After our adventure to the chapel, we were all thoroughly beat and about ready to call it a day. But on the way out, I saw a postcard of a painting I had studied in art history class, so I drug my dad with me back through the endless hallways, and we eventually found it! I was so excited to finally see in person Raphael's School of Athens.
Afterwards, we wandered through a little more of the museum, but it was almost closed so we didn't get to see much more. It was kind of sad that we were in one of the top museums in the world but hardly got to see it. Oh well, just another excuse to go back! ;)
We had a hard time finding a place for dinner, but I eventually settled on some flatbread pizza for my meal! It had fresh tomatoes, roasted zucchini, and roasted mushrooms with globs of fresh mozzarella. Much better than the pizza I had the first night! I also had a side of sautéed chicory (spinach).
And of course you know we couldn't end the day without same gelato! Usually we take it to eat while we walk aournd, but this time we were too tired so we ate at the gelateria. They served it in glass cups with waffle cone cookies! I tried lemon and melon this time. The lemon tasted like a perfectly ripe cantaloupe!
The next day was a driving day to the Sorrento area. But I couldn't leave Rome without trying a Cappuccino! Mine was decaf, and even though I'm not a coffee drinker, it was fun to stand at the counter and drink it like a true Italian.
I managed to get a picture of Mount Vesuvius from the car! Unfortunately we didn't have enough time to hike it, but I guess that's just something to add to our list for our next trip! ;)
After checking into our bed and breakfast, we decided to check out the town! First, we went to a lemon farm, seeing as the Amalfi coast is especially popular for lemons. The paths were canopied by lemon tree branches speckled with lemons.
Afterwards, my brother and I hiked down to the water and snapped some pictures of the lovely little harbor.
Our bed and breakfast recommended a ristorante called La Rosa for dinner. They said it was a local, family run cafe - our kind of place! They served bread as usual, and even though it wasn't coated in garlic and olive oil, it was perfectly chewy and flavorful. It didn't need anything!
We were already happy, but then they brought us what appeared to be a naked pizza. From what we could tell, it was salted pizza dough fired in a brick stove. And it was one of the best things I have ever tasted - in fact, it was one of the best things any of us had ever tasted. We could have made a meal out of that appetizer alone.
But thankfully we didn't because if we had, we would have missed out on some pretty amazing food. We had already ordered some pesto gnocchi as an appetizer since gnocchi was a food we all wanted to try while on our trip. The light little pillows of potato-y pasta were just wonderful!
I had decided that I wanted to fish that evening, and when we told them we wanted something fresh, they brought out a platter showcasing all their raw, fresh fish for us to pick from. I think I turned a bit green at the sight of it, but it was reassuring to know that we were getting the freshest fish possible! I ended up ordering the citrus glazed ahi, and I think it was the best fish I have ever had. It didn't have the slightest hint of fishy flavor but instead had the taste and texture of some kind of a turkey steak. It was so rich though that I couldn't even eat half of it, especially not after all those delicious appetizers!
I also got a side of garlic sautéed broccoli… at least thats what I thought I ordered. It definitely looked more like spinach! Maybe it was just baby broccoli? Whatever it was, it was delicious!
And I will leave it there for now! Our next destinations were the Amalfi Coast, Pompeii, and Herculaneum - my favorite site of the trip!
I hope everyone has a great day! <3