Turn the Lights on at the Vatican Experience: Did you ever think it could be possible to experience The Vatican without anyone around? The Vatican has 20,000 visitors a day. Now that is a lot of people. But, there is a brand new experience called, “Turning the Lights on at the Vatican Museums” by GetYourGuide and it is all very possible for anyone. The experience is all totally free.
The experience is like no other. When can you have a once in a lifetime opportunity while being surrounded by the Vatican museum, which is over 500 years old. Gianni Crea is the head key keeper that unlocks the doors to history before any visitor arrives each day. He and his team are in charge of almost 3,000 keys and opening 300 doors every day and night. He also gives you stories, viewpoints, and even rooms never seen by the public.
And, we got to be along for the ride. We arrived at 5:30 a.m. to join Gianni for his morning duties. The honor is something that Gianni holds very dearly that he gets to do everyday. He not only unlocks and opens each and every door, you also get to turn the lights on in every room along the way. One cannot describe the amazement and beauty when the museum lights turn on. The works of art, the colors and the history just come alive. This is something that I will never forget.
I felt the pressure and honor as I went around the Vatican opening doors and turning on the lights. Let me tell you it is way harder than it looks. There was mystery and emotion each time. I think Gianni would agree with me when I should keep my day job. Some of the skeleton keys are tricky! I needed his assistance on almost all of them.
But, the one that really stopped me in my tracks was the Sistine Chapel. There is a key to get into a lock box, which opens into another lock box, then to an envelope that holds the Sistine Chapel key. I had the honor to open the Sistine chapel. It was a moment that I will never forget. But, somethings should remain sacred. We could not film inside. But, we stood there alone in all its beauty. You are going to have to just book your trip to see it for yourself.
Does this sound too good to be true? I thought the same thing. But, it’s very real and very FREE. It is all on a first come first serve basis. They run the lottery every month and if you are the lucky winner you get to do just as I did. Head to getyourguide website to get a chance to experience this unbelievable opportunity.
Food & Drinks
Food is part of who you are in Italy. I was told that the last ingredient of any dish in Italy is love. They have true passion behind their food.
We took a street food tour around the city. We ate cured meat from the deli, drank wine out of plastic cups, ate local Italian cheese, experienced Roman pizza, tried suppli for the first time, and of course the world-famous Italian gelato. We learned about history through the food.
Roman style pizza is different than other Italian pizza. It’s square, super thin, crispy, and the dough rises for 48 hours. The original margarita had just cheese and sauce. They wanted to have Italy be represented, so they added basil to create the colors of the flag. Italians only use simple ingredients. The locals say if you have the right ingredients you do not need to add anything else.
Thirsty, yet? You can not go anywhere in Italy without seeing the refreshing orange cocktail of the Aperol Spritz. Aperol dates back to 1919 and created as an aperitif, which is a pre-meal drink that acts as an appetite stimulate. It is made from herbs and roots. This delicious cocktail is enjoyed year round in Italy.
I couldn’t leave Italy without learning to make pasta from scratch. So, we took a Pasta Making cooking class. There are many steps, but the process was therapeutic. It made every bite so special. I cannot believe that I made this! Instead of just eating when you travel, why not learn how to make that dish? Just three ingredients of Italian flour, egg, and salt. That’s it. Then the magic happens. A little patience, time, love and you will have the best meal of your life. The Italians really know how to eat. And, I am all about it.
Where to stay:
Anantara Palazzo Naiadi hotel in Rome. It is perfectly located in the Eternal City within walking distance to the Trevi Fountain. The crescent shaped hotel makes you feel like you just stepped onto a movie set and it was! They filmed scenes from House of Gucci here. Views of ancient Roman Baths are just from your hotel room. Go directly from your room to the bottom level and experience history all around you. The newly renovated lobby bar was my nightly go to for me aperitif. I love how they kept the classic molding and high ceilings, but updated it with a modern twist. I could stare at the chandeliers for days. Also, do not miss out on the rooftop pool and bar. A big thank you to Chef Heros De Agostinos for providing us an unforgettable meal. The chef has worked around the world in the most prestigious hotels alongside iconic chefs, which he plans this inspiration in the new restaurant opening inside Rome Anantara. You can stare at Rome and all her glory while enjoying the water!
The hotel have teamed up with a local tour company to create Eat, Pray, Love tour around the city. This isn’t your average tour. This is a tour on a side-car vespa. The 3-hour adventure takes you to all the sites. You also have a guide on another vespa that is walking you through everything. You learn about all the history and insights into what makes this city so special. Our guide Barbara went over and beyond. I really think the only way to experience Rome is by vespa. It is my new favorite thing!
Rome is full of magic. Every turn you have history, art, and culture. It truly is a special place that should be on everyone’s list.