By far, this is our best moment. We had prepaid the €19 bus-transfer to Rome by SmartCruiseTours.com for 9:30am pickup at port. So no need for wakeup call and had ample time for breakfast then disembarked, took the free Epic bus shuttle to port building at 9am. Outside the port building, the SmartCruiseTours people has staged an area advertising the bus transfer for the same fare (so no need to prebook if you don't want to).
Arrived at Rome parking area shortly after 11am, 5 minutes walk from Vatican City. We were given a city map and told to meet at 4:30pm for trip back.
Walked to Vatican along the Tiber river. Rome Marathon was taking place in the Vatican square area which congested the area more than normal. We dared not lineup for any ticket or inside tour as the line was long. Unable to see the inside of Sistine Chapel as it required ticket and lineup. Perhaps next time in Rome, not as port of call visitor.
The nearest metro station from Vatican is Ottaviano, a few minutes walk away. Took metro (€1.50) to Spagna (Spanish Step) to begin our 20000+ steps of doing Rome in 5 hours.
From Spanish Steps we walked about 10 minutes to Trevi Fountain. The navigation was complicated by the fact that in Rome as in Barcelona, street signs are not easily seen as they are on the side of a building only some of the times. So trying to determine what street you are on is a challenge. You can always try to follow the crowd if lost.
Trevi Fountain is a mess, not at all impressive and much too small to accommodate 500 people trying to throw a coin in the fountain in an area meant for less than 100 people. You will be squeezed and elbowed away when trying to get in or get out of the way. All we got was a not-so-nice photo of a non-functioning fountain and hurried out of the madness.
From Trevi Fountain to Pantheon is quite a long walk through a few non-parallel streets with hidden street names. On the way we stumbled upon a faked Pantheon which could be mistaken for the real one because it had real weathered columns that seems like 2000 year-old. Since it has no name or inscription and few tourists gathering, we proceeded onwards along the map route and found the real Pantheon 10 minutes later. We could have a better time if we had the foresight of downloading google map of Rome for offline use and navigate using GPS and google map direction. Well, now I know.
About 2:30pm, we walked to Piazza Navona to marvel at the big square with an impressive sculpture. The longest walk from Navona to Colosseum was about to begin when I sensed that my wife was a little jet lagged. I asked a nearby waiting taxi how much to go to Colosseum, he did not answer and waved to me to get inside the taxi. After asking 2 more times, in his exasperation, he said €15. I became suspicious and decided to walk, after wife reassured me she would be okay. The long trek should take 30 minutes or so according to person at Tourist Info in P. Navona, but we did it less time with a pleasantly surprised stop at Alice Pizza along the way where we had a really good square pizza sold by 100g and the place is a standing room only establishment. Bonus was that it has a washroom and free wifi.
At intersection of via Vittorio and Imperiali, we saw Altar of the Fatherland, the wedding cake monument. It deserved a tourist snapshot. From here the Colosseum was in sight, albeit some 1 or 2km away. Colosseum and Forum can easily consume a few hours of exploration, but not for this pair of port-of-call cruisers with a 4:30pm pickup time.
At 3:30pm, my wife was getting nervous feeling that I might not know the way back. But I knew there was a metro stop near Colosseum (the metro map shows Collosseo). After being assured that Colosseum and Collosseo are one and the same, the metro ride back to Ottaviano station was only 5 minute requiring a transfer from blue line to green line at Termini station.
Back at meeting place at 4:00pm, we had time to browse and linger around the bridge over Tiber river. Rome-in-a-day final tally: 20000 steps, 12 km, 4.5 hours. 12 km may sound intimidating, but we never felt it, never felt tired, perhaps we were really excited about the unscripted Rome exploration.
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