City Walk: Rome and the Vatican City
Date: Sunday 1st May 2016
Company: Just myself

On Sunday 1st May, I awoke to a day of rain in Sorrento. I ventured up to the hotel restaurant for breakfast at 7am and while eating breakfast had a flash of inspiration. I decided to go to Rome for the day . I quickly finished breakfast, headed back to my hotel room to pack a few essentials into a rucksack and then made my way along to the Circumvesuviana railway station in Sorrento to catch the train to Naples.

I only had a few minutes to wait for the Circumvesuviana train which costs less than 8 Euros for a return ticket from Sorrento to Naples. The Circumvesuviana is a fantastic narrow-gauge railway which runs the 29 miles between Sorrento and Naples, stopping at many stations along the way including Pompeii Scavi and Ercolano Scavi (Herculaneum).

As this trip was a last-minute flash of inspiration, I knew nothing of my onward journey to Rome. I used my iPhone, whilst on the Circumvesuviana train, to start planning my day. My only concern was that it was Sunday, thus the train service between Naples and Rome might be less frequent. If I got stuck in Rome overnight, c'est la vie!

Despite the phone signal frequently jumping between 4G, 3G, GPRS and No Signal, I managed to pull up train times for the next stage of the journey between Naples and Rome. I was pleased to find that despite it being Sunday, there was still a frequent service. I could catch a train taking circa 2.5Hrs to get to Rome, or I could pay a bit more and catch a high-speed train which would run from Naples to Rome directly without stopping taking only 1Hr 10Mins. I opted for the high-speed train in order to maximise my time in Rome. The high-speed train cost 44 Euros each way. For less than 100 Euros overall, I was visiting Rome .

However, I made an error on arriving in Naples in that I stayed on the Circumvesuviana to the final station, Napoli Porta, when I should have got off at Napoli Garibaldi (which ajoins Napoli Centrale). I therefore had to quickly exit the station, input Napoli Centrale into my iPhone and walk very quickly through part of Naples to get to Napoli Centrale from where I would catch the train to Rome. Thanks to the iPhone Maps app this walk took less than 10 minutes.

On arriving at Napoli Centrale, I now only had seven minutes to purchase a ticket from the self-service ticket machine and then get to the correct platform. I managed this fine but didn't really account for the length of the train which seemed to be about 0.5km long! I managed to get onto the correct carriage in time and would be in Rome exactly 1 hour thereafter.

During the journey to Rome, as well as enjoying the views, I again used my iPhone to work out what I wanted to see in Rome. I looked up several sites detailing the main things to see in Rome and made a list on the Notes app on my phone. I then looked up each place on the Maps apps in an attempt to work out some kind of walking circuit between them all.

On arrival in Rome, I input "the Colosseum" into the Maps app as my first destination and thereafter set of walking on what would turn out to be a fantastic city tour on foot .

To get to the Colosseum, my phone directed me past Giardini Nicola Calipari. I had no idea what many of the sites and buildings en-route were until using Google Streetview at home to re-do my walk.

Ruins in Giardini Nicola Calipari:

I soon decided not to strictly follow my phone directions. Every time I saw something interesting I would take a detour. My first detour was to walk through Parco Del Colle Oppio to get to the Colesseum instead of walking along the roads.

Walking through Parco Del Colle Oppio en-route to Colosseum:

It was great to catch my first glimpse of the Colesseum. I couldn't believe I was actually in Rome!

The Colosseum:

I took numerous photos of the Colesseum from various vantage points. On finding a good vantage point, I took four photos which I later stitched together into the single photo below. It is an impressive building.

There was no chance whatsoever of getting inside the Colesseum without joining a queue which I estimate would have taken 2-3 hours to get inside! Given my limited time availability, I would purely be seeing sites from the outside.

The Colosseum:

Next to the Colosseum is the Arco di Costantino.

Arco di Costantino:

From the Colosseum, I followed a track leading up to the Arco di Tito but again decided against queuing to enter the Foro Romano (Roman Forum) as the queue was long. Instead, I walked up the hill to the church San Bonaventura al Palatino.

Track to Arco di Tito and Foro Romano:

Rear of the Colosseum:

Arco di Tito:

I had a quick look inside the church before making my way back towards the Colosseum.

Inside San Bonaventura al Palatino:

Next, I input "Trevi Fountain" into the Maps app on my phone and followed the directions to get there. En-route to the Trevi fountain, I passed the Foro Romano and got good enough views of it from the outside. Having walked round Pompeii the day previous, and having the intention to walk round Herculaneum the day subsequent, I really didn't need to see yet more Roman ruins up close.

Foro Romano:

Foro Romano:

An unexpected highlight of the walk from the Colosseum to the Trevi Fountain was passing the splendid Palazzo Venezia. It is a lovely building that I had not heard of previously and which did not appear on my list of things to see. It is definitely worth seeing.

Palazzo Venezia:

Palazzo Venezia:

San Marcello al Corso:

The Trevi Fountain, or Fontana di Trevi, is absolutely worth seeing. I can fully understand why it is thought to be the most beautiful fountain in the world.

To actually see the fountain, I had to negotiate my way through a fairly large crowd. It was however fairly hard to get any decent photos without getting heads and arms into the photos.

Fontana di Trevi:

Fontana di Trevi:

Fontana di Trevi:

At the Trevi Fountain, I next input the Pantheon into my phone and thereafter set off walking towards the Pantheon. En-route to the Pantheon, I passed several interesting buildings and an open area with numerous street artists. The queue to get into the Pantheon was again incredibly long. I think heading to Rome on the Sunday of a May Bank Holiday was possibly not the best idea for crowd avoidance.


I spent circa ten minutes sitting at the Fontana del Pantheon before deciding to have some lunch. I decided to have my first pizza of the trip.

Fontana del Pantheon:


I decided to sit at the tables outside a pizzeria located right next to the Pantheon. Pizza at the Pantheon, a pleasant change from the fancy food at my last-minute-deal four star hotel in Sorrento.

Rear of Pantheon:

While having lunch, I attempted several times to input my final destination into the phone but without success. The Maps app didn't allow me to program in anywhere within the Vatican City. Not sure if this is for security reasons or what! Instead I had to input somewhere just outside the Vatican City to get me heading in the right direction.

Fontana del Nettuno, Piazza Navona:

I approached the Vatican City via a lovely bridge leading to Castel Sant' Angelo.

Castel Sant' Angelo from Ponte Sant'Angelo:

It was nice to cross the bridge and see the Tiber, a river I had heard so much about at school whilst reading Ecce Romani in Latin classes! "Ecce, in pictura est puella. Puella est parva!" Aaaaaaaaaaargh, I still remember it!



Despite being neither Catholic nor Christian, I did enjoy seeing the very impressive St. Peter's Basilica. I believe Michaelangelo was involved in its design.

St. Peter's Basilica:

St. Peter's Basilica:

Entrance to St. Peter's Basilica:

I had no idea who the colourful gents were standing at the entrance but subsequently found out they are the Swiss Guard.

Swiss Guard:

St. Peter's Basilica:

After spending some time looking around the Vatican City, I made my way back to the Railway station which was now circa 4 miles away.

Tiber and Castel Sant' Angelo:

I just enjoyed the views on the way back without stopping to take many photos.

Opera Pia Arciconfraternita S. Giovanni De' Fiorentini:

On arriving at the train station, I had only four minutes to buy my ticket, get to the platform and get on the train. I made it with not much time to spare! The journey back to Naples took only an hour and the Circumvesuivio back to Sorrento took one further hour. Outstanding that you can get from Sorrento to Rome in only two hours, assuming no wait between trains.

I made it back to Sorrento in plenty time for my evening meal at the hotel after which I headed out into town for some drinks. Got to sample the Limoncello!

A splendid taster of Rome but I absolutely need to go back to do it all again, and see more, at a more relaxed pace.