We left Australia on 15 April, since then we have been in a number of home exchanges in Turkey, Greece and Italy. We are currently staying in the village of Rocca di Mezzo in Italy. We are about one and half hours drive from Rome. The easiest way to avoid the city traffic when visiting the city, is to drive to the outskirts of Rome, which we do. We park at Tubertina Station and take the metro into Rome. Metro rides in Rome are certainly unusual. We have found ourselves squashed in like sardines. They pack as many people in, as will fit into the carriages. We are careful with our belongings, as we have heard tales of pickpockets.
We spent a day in and around the Vatican City, and St Peter’s Square, and St Peter’s Basilica. The enormity of St Peter’s Square and Basilica has to be seen to be believed. It is frequently televised however only when actually standing there can you appreciate the size. The Swiss guards who guard the Holy City are really Swiss Nationals.
After queuing for about an hour to enter the Basilica, we were informed that we were lucky, as one hour is considered a short queue. It felt very long in the hot sun, but the wait was worthwhile, to see the amazing interior, with so many religious artifacts.
We then visited the many museums within the Vatican. There were beautiful wall hangings and tapestries; statues dating back to Roman times and beyond; paintings by all the famous names like Da Vinci; and of course the very famous Sistine Chapel with its magnificent ceiling and wall masterpieces. We were surprised to be able to relax by wandering around the gardens inside the Vatican too. They were neatly trimmed and planted.
One thing that I found very strange was that I felt I was being herded through, similar to the Ikea experience. We seemed unable to select where we wanted to go, instead being on a particular route that would not allow us to omit passing through any of the huge museum rooms. I am sure there were short cuts to the Sistine Chapel at the end of the route, but neither I, nor others I spoke to, could find one. We were continually told to follow the one direction by the guards. It truly felt like an Ikea experience!
We were happy to return safely to our little village and go to our local pizzeria to eat their amazing local food. If you are in Rome it is worth making the journey to visiting this little restaurant hidden amongst the pine trees. It is called Baita Deipini and bookings can be made at email@example.com.
Prices here are so very reasonable. For example in Rome two coffees cost E6. In Rocca Di Mezzo, and in other nearby villages, two coffees cost E2. My advice is if you are eating out, go outside the city!
By the way, after years of excellent home exchanges we finally discovered the Home Exchange from Hell! No, not where we are staying now, but a home we spent only a few days in. One of the questions I am always asked, is what my worst experience has been. Until this trip, it has been an impossible question to answer, as all the homes we have exchanged with met or surpassed our expectations. Sometime in July, I will reveal the House from Hell! Stay tuned…….