I just got back from a great impromptu trip to Rome last week and had to write about it. My friend was traveling there for work and I had been itching to take a “quick” trip to Europe (as in less than my usual 10-day trips). My friend warned me that they’d be busy mostly every day with work so as long as I didn’t mind having to keep myself entertained. Keep myself entertained in Rome? Not a problem.
I had been to The Eternal City many times before and was constantly getting lost wandering around aimlessly and having the most amazing time in the process. But for some reason this time I was actually interested in taking a tour. Perhaps it was because I hadn’t been on one since my college years but I figured enough of time had passed since then. Especially since the forecast was predicting rain almost every day the week I was going to be in Rome. Not the most ideal weather for a passeggiata.
I did some investigating, poking around the usual travel blogs & forums and came across an 8:30 am private walking tour with Eden Walks. For those that know me, I am NOT a morning person, nor do I really like tours. However, the reviews for this tour totally convinced me.
I woke up super early that morning so I had almost 2 hours before my tour. Excited to venture out at that hour (secretly hoping it was too early for anyone to be out yet) I would soon find that I had the streets of Rome all to myself. Which soon became the theme for my day.
On my walk over from the B&B I was staying at in Trastevere, I scouted around for a small café to have my first REAL cafe in almost two years. I was ecstatic to find the perfect little place – whose name totally escapes me at the moment. But even if I did remember, I wouldn’t want to divulge the name in fear of ruining the local feel of this spot. After a cup of glorious cappuccino (and a cornetto) I decided to walk along the Tiber River. It’s not exactly the quickest route, but I still had some time. Besides, it was one of my favorite vantage points of the city.
I knew seconds upon entering that I had found the ideal tour for me. It’s before the Vatican opens to the general public, so you almost have the entire place to yourself. And being such a small group makes the whole experience that much more intimate.
We lucked out bigtime with our tour guide – who was absolutely amazing. Always attentive to every individual in the group and incredibly knowledgeable on all subjects. From the meaningful details of history – to random, funny anecdotes, he continuously kept the entire group captivated from beginning to end.
We started with the Raphael Rooms and continued past other famous works of art before eventually making our way to the Sistine Chapel. Words cannot describe the feeling that comes over you once you walk through. I am by no means a religious person but seeing the Sistine Chapel in this way left me with goosebumps. You simply have to experience it for yourself.
The ground we covered was impressive. I usually get tired from these things pretty quickly but these two and a half hours just flew by! I’ve seen both the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and St. Peters Basilica a few times before and can honestly say I can’t remember any of it. But this tour was so different. This is the ONLY way to see the Vatican. Not merely my opinion but a fact. Unless you are a fan of crowds and not a fan of having the sights practically all to yourself.
I will definitely try another Eden Walks tour the next time I am in Rome. And highly recommend them to any friends or family that plan on visiting The Eternal City in the near future.