Previously posted as part of the Travel Pod Series "Furry Beard Hops the Pond" on Saturday, March 29, 2014
This was the first morning we spent in our Roman apartment. These accommodations included a kitchen and a stocked fridge for breakfast. We celebrated by making some fried eggs! We were so excited to have a non-bread breakfast!
Our confusion about the busses continued again this morning. We boarded a bus that brought us to a piazza made a loop around town and then returned us to the same piazza. Once we figured out where to be, we walked around the wall of the Vatican, and luckily "skipped the line" to get into the Vatican museums.
After checking our backpack and camera tripod, we hit the cafeteria for some caffeine. Today we would try to see the highlights of Vatican City, including the Vatican museums, St. Peter's Square and St. Peter's Basilica. We came up with a game plan and time schedule to make it all happen and then set out to the Pinacoteca.
This museum housed religious pieces of art, large and small. There were alters, huge paintings, tapestries, frescoes that had been moved there, and a large Garden of Eden painting. A few of the other things we saw were a series of paintings showing the moon, stars and planets, an unfinished Leonardo Da Vinci drawing and way too many tour groups.
Apparently eating an actual breakfast wakened our appetite because we were ready for lunch before noon. Neil had some pizza and I had a focaccia bread sandwich that smelled like rosemary. It was pretty overpriced but okay.
Since our time was ticking we chose to skip over some rooms to get to the Sistine Chapel. We anxiously followed the Capella Sistina signs and came to a room with an intricately painted ceiling. We looked up for about 1/3 the length of the giant room but were surprised by the maps on the wall and non-specific religious art on the ceiling. There was a turn style with postcards, including ones for the "Sistine Chapel." It was only at this point we realized that we weren't in the Sistine Chapel yet. So on we go!
We walked down a long hallway, standing in line, and then arrived in the actual Sistine Chapel. There were signs telling us not to take photos and to be respectful of the space. It was beautiful and so peaceful to take it all in. We both enjoyed the few minutes we spent there and continued on to see more religious artifacts and what seemed to be confessional rooms. A quick stop in the gift shop for some post cards to the grandmothers and then another at the Vatican City post office to send them out.
Now it was on to St. Peter's square. It was huge and amazing! We kept having flashes from Angels and Demons and where Robert Langdon and the Camerlengo ran to and fro. We even found one of the plaques on the ground with the cherub blowing wind.
In order to enter St. Peters Basilica, you need to wait in line, no skip the line here. It was strangely warm so we shed our layers and enjoyed it. Our plan included us climbing the Coppola in St. Peters Basilica so we patiently followed the crowd. When we came to the front door we were informed it was too late to climb, so we put on our headphones and attempted to follow Rick Steve's tour around the church.
The church was gigantic! The statues were like 15 feet tall and stacked on top of each other, the length was 2 football fields and so was the height. The decorations were opulent and on display to flex Rome's muscles. Michelangelo designed the space and was then recommissioned but he died before it was finished. They did not follow his original design, it was much more over the top. Unfortunately it wasn't as peaceful as our visit to Notre Dame during the service. It almost didn't seem respectful. Something we both found pretty surprising was the preservation of former popes on display.
Rick Steve recommended we wait until the end to see the sculpture of Pieta, with Mary holding Jesus after he was killed. Michelangelo created this piece too and we learned how the scale of the figures in this sculpture were altered and that the artist carved his name on the ribbon across Mary's chest. This was a nice sculpture and helped us leave without thinking about the extravagant nature of the building. Our hostess suggested we visit the neighborhood of Trastevere so we caught the bus over to check it out. Without knowing a specific restaurant or area we just looked at some menus and went from there. During our trip research we came across some foods to try in Rome. One of them was artichokes so we asked if the restaurant had any and our decision was made.
The language barrier was a little tricky but we found out they boiled their artichokes, so we ordered one as an appetizer. Neil ordered some sausage and lasagna and I got Veal Marsala. It finally felt like we had almost a complete meal and even tried some wine. It was pretty tasty.
We caught another bus back to the apartment and went on a small quest for dessert in our neighborhood. We found a ricotta pie which was okay but a little salty. Super tired, we decided we should probably get some rest before we continue exploring Rome tomorrow.