The last leg of our whirlwind Italian tour would bring us back to Rome, but we took a quick detour. We found a small town that was mostly empty because of August vacations; but with one open restaurant. The food was serviceable but in hindsight we probably should have stopped at one of the Autogrill cafes off of the Autostrada cafeterias. You can’t always pick winners. C’est la vie!
Tip Time: Autogrill, unlike in the United States were rest stop food can be downright awful, Italian rest stops often have a large selection of good quick meals, wine, coffee and snacks for low prices. They are reliable places to stop while traveling, and you will be pleasantly surprised with how good the food is. Cuisine changes by region and usually has local specialties.
My only requirements for our hotel in Rome were free or cheap parking and a swimming pool, so I chose the Crown Plaza Rome St Peters. The rooms are large & clean with very convenient parking.Even though we were in a more residential neighborhood, there were several good restaurants within walking distance.
A quick note on the pools at the Crown Plaza Rome St Peters – the outdoor pool was really nice and they have ample lounge chairs and bar service. There isn’t much shallow area in the big outdoor pool, most of it is over 5 ft/1.52 m deep. This hotel also has a small outdoor children’s pool, and an indoor pool that is open all year for anyone sixteen or older.
Vatican City was our only planned activity the last day. We paid for the skip the line entrance tickets and guided tour. I was happy to be able to bypass the lengthy lines for entrance on yet another extremely hot day. Dress code information is found on their visitor site, but it was not tightly enforced. Some women who had very short shorts or skimpy tops were given the paper gowns like you get at the doctor to cover up. I didn’t want to risk anyone having to wear that so my mother and I wore dresses that covered our knees, and the boys wore longer shorts. If it had been cooler I believe we would have stayed a lot longer than we did. We only briefly visited the museum and took a tour of some of the elaborate halls before we entered the Sistine Chapel, which was the reason we had come.
The Sistine Chapel ceiling mural is gorgeous and it is definitely worth seeing in person, at least once. It was however extremely crowded, and we only stayed in there about 15 minutes. Our kids were very amused by the guards in the room that just continually yelled “silensio, shhhh,” which was ironic to them. Zack said, “If he wants us to be quiet why won’t he stop yelling?” Now when anyone thinks it’s noisy in our house, that’s the go to announcement; “Silensio, shhhhh!” I would return to the Vatican again for a more extensive tour, perhaps one of the evening tours that has special access to different sections, but it would have to be off season.
Our final dinner in Italy was a huge delight, and I was happy we were able to have cuisine-induced euphoria for one last time before we headed back to the hotel for a swim.
The next morning we drove to the airport while the city was still waking up and listened to Arrivederci Roma on the radio.