We got up to another beautiful day Monday. We were thrilled, as weather reports called for rain but not a drop fell from the blue sky. As part of our hotel package, we had the breakfast buffet included. It was a very nice buffet, eggs, meat, cheeses, pastries, tea, all kinds of juices, champagne etc. We ate our fill in the lovely courtyard and off we went.
We had a 12:30 meet at the obliesk in St. Peter's Sqare with Clarie from Angel Tours. FYI, the Intercontinental concierge called Sean at Angel Tours when I asked him if Angels was a good company. He looked in his black book, said he had their number and would be happy to call. I felt good about booking them as the hotel had them in their listing.
We decided to walk/shop/stroll to the Vatican from the hotel. So glad we did, because first view of St. Peter's Cupola (sp) was mag from the bridge over the river. Traversed the numerous stalls set up along the sidewalks along the river-was charmed when an older gentleman gave me a beautiful gold medallion for free from his stand, patted me on the cheeks, and spoke in broken English as he smiled. Quite a 'Rome' moment.
We found our guide with no problem and as the tour was over twenty people, they called in Elizabeth to split the group. Our group ended up being ten people while Elizabeth to 13 or 14. What I found interesting was the sheer number of different color umbrellas and tour companies holding them up in the square-but no problem finding Angels.
We thoroughly enjoyed the tour, had to wait on line for the Vatican entrance about 30 minutes but it went quickly as the guide gets everyone talking and involved. Tour was supposed to be 3 1/2 hours, it extended to 4 1/2 which, of course, no one minded. The Hallway of Maps, the big birdbath of red marble, the aviary, Michaelangelo's Pietra, the facts and anecdotes regarding the Basicillica and of course the Sistene Chapel were fantastic. Yes, to answer an earlier question, the Sistine was crowded, as was the entire museum, but I didn't mind. It kept moving, I didn't feel hurried and everyone was polite.
When the tour was over, Claire, our guide, took the time to recommend restaurants to everyone in the group.The price for the tour was 25 Euro, plus the 11 Euro you pay inside the museum entrance.
We sat in the square about a half hour, debating if we were too tired to climb to the to of the cupola--it closed at 5:30 and we'd have to hurry-- before deciding to find the restaurant Claire recommended a few blocks west of Piazza Navona.
Went and had a lovely dinner (no luch as we were on the tour)and then at 7PM went back to the Pantheon for the free tour given by Angels of the church. This time Louisa--she is VERY good- led it and we enjoyed the brief history and education. Tours are the way to go, for me, as I really enjoy all the little anecdotes the guide books don't cover. Had no idea the Pantheon was an acitve church and holds mass three times a week.
Decided to go over to the Trevi again to see it lit at night and while waiting for nightfall, indulged in yet another gelatto, this time strawberry.
Walked back to the hotel, around 9ish, and we never felt unsafe as we did so, and came into the crowded Piazza Spagna and picked our way around the couples and groups who dotted the Steps. Another great, full day in Rome!!!