When in Rome, Wine in Rome

We woke up for our Colosseum tour bright and early. Our cab shot through side streets and brick roads amidst a bevy of traffic, and we ran down a set of stairs to our meeting point at the exact start time. Our tour guide, Julia, introduced herself to the group and gave us our headsets, which came with one earbud. Mike, who’s deaf in one ear, insisted that this was “awesome” and that “all headsets should be made like this.”

The Colosseum is one of those monuments that you can easily and vividly imagine, but when you visit, it’s bigger, grander, and more stunning than you ever dreamed. What remains of it is truly a masterpiece. We reveled in the gargantuan sights and listened to factoids about the venue, none of which I remember now.

Our tour continued in the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, both of which have very little remaining of their original structures. Still, it was remarkable to see and imagine a bustling square laden with politicians and academics right where we stood. By the end of our tour, it was cold and rainy; we navigated the Roman subway with a little help from our guide and ate lunch in a tiny restaurant near the Vatican.

We wandered around the Vatican in an attempt to figure out where exactly to start. A salesman approached us and regaled us with a tale of a tour. But this was no ordinary tour. This tour included all the must-see stops in the Vatican, including the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica, the cupola, and much more. This tour also came with a guide and allowed us to skip the lines! Of course, this reasonably priced wonder of a tour was too good to be true. Naturally, we agreed to purchase tickets and go.

The salesman handed us off to a representative standing a few feet away, who then whisked us along a number of side streets to the tour office. We bought our tickets as that man left, and the woman at the counter told us her “colleague” would come shortly to bring us to our tour guide. Based on her delivery, we couldn’t tell if she meant something sinister when she said “colleague” or if she had just learned the word and was proud to say it. Either way, said “colleague” arrived shortly after and we were whisked off again, this time to the entrance with a tour group comprising a few folks from Holland, a quiet man who apparently bought half a tour and didn’t receive a headset, and a couple who never said a word.

We wound our way through the Vatican absorbing a wealth of information from our guide. She had studied Michelangelo for 20 years and was a veritable treasure trove of art history. For example, she knew that only one statue in the Vatican still had its…uh…male appendage attached because it was hidden by a leaf. The rest of them were cut off by some easily offended religious leader.

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The guide ushered us through a long, incredible hallway caked with paintings, tapestries, and sculptures. Each section of the hallway was more beautiful than the last. After that, we entered the Sistine Chapel, exceptionally detailed and gorgeously preserved. Guards at the front of the room repeatedly shushed all the occupants or occasionally yelled for us to be quiet, which seemed like hypocrisy to me. Still, it didn’t take away a sliver of the ceiling’s glory.


After the tour ended, we climbed the cupola of St. Peter’s Basilica (we climbed SO much on this trip) and observed Rome from the top of the dome. It offered amazing views of the city. We closed out our time in the Vatican inside the church, took a few pictures outside, and headed back to our hotel for a bit of rest.

Approximately one nap later, we had a nice dinner and a few glasses of wine at a bar in the middle of the city (or the center, or the bottom, I don’t really know where we were). With dinner securely in our bellies, we ventured to a wine bar nearby and consumed two bottles, on top of the few glasses we had with dinner.

This is the part in my travel notes where I wrote “Wine Wine Wine Vom.” That is, more or less, the story. We rode back to our hotel in a cab and stumbled up to our room. We all got into bed. As we were falling asleep, I began to succumb to my egregious inebriation and vomited into the trash can next to the bed, which drunk Cole had placed there due to his razor sharp foresight. I continued the process in the bathroom and returned to bed when I was certain the ordeal was over. Of course, this did nothing to taper my excitement for our winery tour the next day.

In my next post, I talk more about wine, but I keep it stateside.

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