So when I found out that Rome was just 2 hours by train from Naples, I knew I couldn't pass up the opportunity to go there. So began to research the feasibility of a day trip. I know that a day is not long enough to see all that Rome has to offer, but when you find out that there is just one thing that I've been desperate for YEARS to see and it's in Rome (actually its in Vatican City, no not the Pope), you'll understand my crazed efforts to run up there and back. Not to mention that I had already booked my hotel here in Napoli and had no intentions of canceling the booking in order to re-book for a few days here and a few days there. I had PLANNED a trip to Napoli and was more than content with just that... well, until I found out that Rome is SO CLOSE!!
Anyway, I began to research by getting in touch with my friend Google. I asked how to get from Naples to Rome and a whole bunch of sites came up but the one that was useful was the Italylogue site as it had links to the things I needed to know and got me online with the train system here in Italy. I booked my train tickets and that was easy. Then I decided to book a tour for the Vatican since I had been told that lines are astronomical, even in winter and more so because it was the Christmas season. So I went to a website that books tours etc for you. And they were great! They were able to get me 2 tours for decent prices and that fit inside the time constraints that I had. I love the Internet sometimes!!
Anyway, I hopped my train at 7am (and just so you know, no cat calling that early... all the cool guys are sleeping and it was a fairly peaceful walk to the train station) and was off and running. Taking the train in Italy is really easy. I had booked online, so I didn't need a ticket, just my confirmation number (it gives me a seat and car too, so no jostling around for a seat). Anyway, once on the train, I was absorbed in watching daylight come to the GORGEOUS Italian countryside and 2 hours zipped by.
Rome was FREEZING! So much colder than Naples and I was not aware so I had my winter coat and boots, scarf and hat, but NO gloves! And I was taking an open air, hop-on/hop-off tour bus first!! ACK! My fingers nearly fell off several times but I got some fantastic shots of the city. I didn't get off at any of the stops until the Vatican. I simply didn't have time and it wasn't part of the plan. Part of the life plan is to go back though. What a gorgeous city.
At the Vatican, I found a cafe, had some lunch and wrote a couple of postcards. I wanted them posted from the actual Vatican so, I had to do it there. I was also fortunate enough to swat away an adorable waiter who thought I should spend Christmas having coffee with him and maybe dinner. Too cute! He was crestfallen when I told him that my plans were to be in Napoli.
Next came my tour of the Vatican. And, surprise of surprises, the Vatican was nearly empty that afternoon. Even our guide was shocked. She said that in the summer 25,000 (yes, THOUSAND) people go through there in a DAY. So much so that she cannot point out the mosaics on the floor or spend more than 5 minutes in the Sistine Chapel. That would have annoyed me to have paid and be pushed through. Anyway, I went, I saw and then the ONE thing I was waiting for:
I've loved this sculpture for my whole lifetime it seems. Something in Mary's face breaks my heart in a way I can't describe or even truly understand myself. Something in the gentle folds in her dress leaves me breathless. And this is why I HAD to go to Rome, I had to see it up close. Michelangelo was just 23 when he started creating this. It is the ONLY piece he signed. She was special to him and she is to me too.
After I saw her, gazed at her beauty and soaked in the atmosphere, I was done. I took the bus back to the station, seeing some more gorgeous sites and then rode the train back to Napoli. A day well spent.