Florence to Rome & Vatican City: Day 14 & 15 Topdeck Mega European Tour

Italy / Topdeck Mega European / Vatican City

Still feeling a little under the weather it was time to leave Florence and continue our Topdeck Mega European Tour heading to one of the highlight cities of the tour Rome. Today we make a stopover at the small town of Orvieto before heading straight to Rome where on arrival we will have a three hour walking tour of the city, one of the best walking tours of the entire trip.


14 MAY, 2012 – Florence to Rome

Today is a really big day, we get to explore two cities in one day as we jump back on the coach for our departure from Florence, our first stop is the old town of Orvieto located on top of a flat acropolis like surface which was created due to volcanic activity thousands of years ago. This gave the city a natural defense from any would be invaders including the man made defensive block surrounding the city, an old stone wall.

The main attraction in the city is the Orvieto Cathedral, but before seeing the main town the roads are so narrow that there are two ways of getting to the top. The first is to walk through the alley ways of the town, or the more fun way of catching the funicular up the first hill and then catching the connecting shuttle bus the rest of the way that runs back and forth between the city centre and the funicular.

For our trip up we caught the funicular and the shuttle bus to the city centre outside the cathedral, we could then either catch the bus back when we were finished or the better option was the walk back through the town to meet the coach in the car park.

A group of us decided to take an underground city tour where we got to see some of the ancient caves dug out over the years and used for different purposes. Underground you will find old tunnels, wells, stairs, cellars and hundreds of small holes in the walls that were once used as pidgin nests.

When we finished our tour of the underground caves and tunnels we started to make our way back down the hill, on the way we tried a wild bore roll for lunch. Still not feeling the greatest I could only manage half of it, but it was still really nice. We made it back to the funicular on time and made our way back to the coach to continue our journey onto Rome.

On arrival into Rome we checked into our camping site and for the next two nights we would be staying at the very well equipped Camping Village Roma. We dumped all our stuff and headed back to the coach so we could be dropped off for our walking tour of Rome that would last for about three hours. The walking tour is that extensive, by the end of it we had just about seen all the main attractions of Rome making our free day tomorrow a breeze to find anything we want to go back to see.

Our first destination was the Spanish Steps, surrounded by masses of tourists it’s hard to see the 138 steps themselves. At the bottom of the step the just as popular fountain is surrounded by the many tourists spilling out onto the road running closely by. While we were here we were given five minutes to look around, then we all met at the top to continue our walking tour to see more of the Roman city highlights.

Our next stop was what would have to be the most spectacular fountain in the world, the Trevi Fountain. Completed in 1762 the fountain marks the terminal of the Aqua Vergine, one of the famous Roman aqueducts and it is said if you throw a coin into the pond of the fountain you are guaranteed to have a return visit to Rome.

Next on the list of things to see was the Pantheon, the original temple was constructed in 27BC and just looking at the sheer size of the building and the amount of marble and rock used for its construction it’s hard to imagine how they completed the building back then. Inside there is a small hole in the roof to let natural light into the building, not so effective on a rainy day.

The walking tour of Rome then continued on as we checked out the hustle and bustle of a small square called Piazza Navona, the square is full of street performers, market stalls and some beautiful looking fountains. The piazza also has an Egyptian Obelisk, another of which the Egyptians wouldn’t be happy with another city having, they seem to be all over Europe.

At this point of the day the sun was setting and made for a great view of our next destination Piazza Venezia, here is the old embassy of the Republic of Venice before it became part of a united Italy. Two guards are located at the top of the staircase guarding the tomb of the unknown soldier. This is one of the most impressive buildings in Rome and I was pleasantly surprised as it is a building I didn’t even know existed. At this point we start to get a glimpse of what is coming up at the end of the road, the main attraction, the Colosseum.

Before reaching the Colosseum we walk past the Roman Forum which is basically a couple of city blocks of visible roman ruins. It was interesting to hear at this point that Rome keeps trying to expand its small metro system, but every time they attempt to do so construction comes to a halt as they find more Roman ruins.

We finally reached the Colosseum and as this was one of the last times all of us would be together, some people were leaving the tour in Rome, we had a group shot in front of the Colosseum. At this point in the day it was closed, but tomorrow it was our goal to come back having already pre purchased our entry ticket before leaving home to beat the queues.

It was now time to head back to our campsite on the metro and catch the awaiting coach at our destination stop, the trip on the metro was all about showing us how to find our way back tomorrow when we are left on our own to get back. Tonight was a toga party, but still feeling a little unwell I decided to have an early night so I would be right for our tour of Vatican City in the morning.

15 MAY, 2012 – Rome & Vatican City

This morning a Topdeck optional extra was a tour of the Vatican City Museum, this included a bright and early start, and given last nights festivities this didn’t agree with too many people.

Our tour guide was the most knowledgeable and enthusiastic person we could have had to show us around the Vatican museum, every little thing we stopped and looked at made her excited. She defiantly made the tour a lot more interesting given I’m no lover of art or even understand what I’m looking at, at least this way I actually wanted to know about the art work I was looking at.

After our tour of Vatican City we were then left alone for our free day in Rome, from here we visited the Vatican Post Office as I wanted to send a postcard home and thought it would be a unique location to send one from. We then walked out of the city trying to find a train station to make our way to the Colosseum, finding the train station proved harder than we thought, but we eventually found it.

After having a quick bite to eat we eventually made it to the Colosseum, it was a smart move on our part to pre purchase our entry ticket as we walked straight in past all the queues. We spent a reasonable amount of time looking around and walked around the entire monument, there really isn’t a lot to see unless you take a guided tour, but by this time it was mid afternoon and thought considering we have seen most of Rome, achieved our main goal of going to the Colosseum that we would head back and have a lazy afternoon by the pool. After all it was day 17 of our trip to Europe and we haven’t really sat down and relaxed yet.

We caught the train back followed by the bus to our campsite, the rest of the afternoon was devoted to absolutely nothing, a quite lazy afternoon at our accommodation. Tomorrow we take the coach to the Italian west coast and board our overnight ferry to Greece, not the most impressive day ahead of us, but many more exciting adventures to come.

DOWNLOAD: Topdeck Rome City Guide

NEXT: Rome to Greece via Ferry: Day 16 Topdeck Mega European Tour

PREVIOUS: Venice to Florence: Day 12 & 13 Topdeck Mega European Tour

Just your average guy doing his 9 - 5 job as a Senior Payroll Officer by day, writing about his travel adventures and hopefully giving you inspiration and ideas for your next travel adventure here at loneXplorer...

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