24 hours in Rome

Our flight back to London from Beirut was broken by a 24 hour stopover in Rome – lucky us!

Arriving in Rome on Saturday evening, we checked into our hotel and immediately charged out to try and catch a late dinner.

Staying near to the Pantheon, there were plenty of tourist restaurants, but with a bit of searching down the backstreets we found a suitably local little dive, full of boisterous Italian families eating and making merry.

We squeezed into a corner table, and ordered cheap pizzas and house red, and had the best dinner ever soaking in the atmosphere.

Not wanting to go home yet, we decided on a tiny, busy wine bar, where we could perch up at the bar and tasted two different local reds, and snapped pictures of every single corner of the tiny deli.

Next morning, we were on a mission – to walk from our hotel to the Vatican by midday, taking in as many sites as possible on the way.  Naturally, because it was just our luck, it was raining.

Our first stop was the impressive Piazza Navona, followed by a visit to the Pantheon, and the Trevi Fountain – which unfortunately cannot be spotted for all the scaffolding around it, and the lack of all water.

We made it to the Vatican in time to see the Pope appear and give his Sunday midday speech to the crowds assembled there.  Quite the showman, he paused frequently for applause, laughter, and cheering, before waving everyone off on their ways.

We stood in the 40 minute queue to visit the St Peter basilica, which was simply stunning and definitely worth the wait. Inside the basilica is covered in ornate gold paintings and mosaics, and statues of previous popes stand guard around the walls.  Pope John-Paul II’s tomb is also in one of the alcoves.

Running out of time, we started plodding our way back to the hotel, stopping off for lunch at another local dive.

The stereotyped Italian service was at full force, with the owner-waitress refusing point-blank our request for cheese on our pasta, mumbling angrily about how our meals would be ruined if we put cheese on them before stomping off to ignore us for a while longer.

Nonetheless we enjoyed our wine and pasta, before rushing off to the hotel to grab our bags and get back to the airport, for our flight home.

24 hours in Rome was stunning, but not nearly enough. We evidently barely scratched the surface of a truly wonderful city, and it’s with a very heavy heart that we realise our holidays are over.