we got a late start today… judy was the last one up! so i figured that if something got cut out it would be shopping.
after attempting to figure out the bus situation (we went a few stops too far and had to backtrack) we made it to the vatican, stopping to grab a sandwich before entering st. peter’s square. it was surreal! joann and i immediately located the bas-relief from angels&demons which served as the “air” alter of science.
we filled our water bottles from one of the many fountains then trekked along the wall of vatican city to the musei vaticani entrance. following rick steves’ italy, we made our way to the sistene chapel through the egyptian rooms, where mom found a sarcophagus that “would make a really good planter,” past the greek and roman statues and the cortile della pigna, through the octagonal courtyard, the hall of tapestries and the gallery of maps, which was my favorite.
the chapel was crowded, making it difficult to truly appreciate. not going to lie, i was a little underwhelmed, and maybe i’d feel different if it wasn’t shoulder-to-shoulder. we slipped out a “secret door” which led to st. peter’s basilica, saving us a lot of walking. being inside the basilica was as unbelievable as being in notre dame. we saw the holy door, which won’t be open again until the next jubilee year, the purple circle which is the site of charlemagne’s coronation, michelangelo’s pieta which he completed at 25, and much more… it was extremely crowded and a huge tour group separated us from mom and grandma. we didn’t worry because we figured they would just be waiting for us at the exit, but were nowhere to be found. i convinced one of the guards to let me go back in the exit to look for them. got nothing. we checked the gift store and some benches that we sat on before we walked through. no sign of them. so finally after about 30 minutes of searching we called mom and luckily she had on her phone. all she said was “i can see you” before she hung up. great. that helps. eventually we found them but by that point we needed a break.
we stopped for a rest and revived ourselves with gelato, the first of the trip. from the vatican we walked down via conciliazone to castel sant’angelo where mom and gma sat while jo, gay, and i climbed to the top for a spectacular view of rome and upclose view of the angelic statue. once we got back down the exit, i realized that all my pictures were somehow erased. considering all the time and effort i put into getting quality pictures, i was devastated. i tried everything i could to figure out if they were somehow hidden, but eventually i had to face the reality of the situation. so as soon as i could i did some retail therapy – buying postcards for every place we had been and every place we would go.
by this time it was getting dark… perfect timing for our rick steve’s guided night stroll. we started at pianna navona where we had a delicious dinner complete with an adorable waiter. he was even able to find wines for all of us, including my mom! since he was young and handsome, the others insisted that he and i take a photo together, and we exchanged facebook/email info so i could send it to him.
the piazza retains the shape of the original racetrack built by the emperor domitian. in the center is the fountain where robert langdon fought the hassassin in angels & demons. the four rivers fountain was one of bernini’s designs with four gods representing the four known continents of the time. the nile has his head covered, the ganges holds an oar, the danube turns to admire the obelisk, and rio de la plata tumbles backward in shock of making the top four. (all of this is information i found in rick’s book. i also read afterwards about the armadillo behind the plata river statue and wish i had seen it… guess i’ll just have to go back!)
i’m so glad i got to finish the book before coming because being here and seeing everything in person gives the story more life - and it also helped me to orient myself in the city, of which i had no geographical understanding prior to this trip. navona was filled with artists, musicians, cafes, and plenty of people. it was magical at night with various lights casting a golden glow on everything and everyone. i didn’t want to leave, but there was still plenty more to experience.
next we made our way to the pantheon, which was unfortunately closed by this time, so we took a picture of the outside and headed toward trevi fountain. i learned from rick that no one street approaches the fountain directly so as you come closer, the roar grows louder, until all of the sudden…. you’re there! the fountain is actually breathtaking despite being completely surrounded by people. we tossed our coins while making wishes and admired the beauty before moving on. i know that had i been alone i could have sat there on the steps, if i could even find a spot, watching the people all night long.
on the way to the spanish steps we stopped to notice various buildings and obelisks, which isn’t hard considering there seems to be one in every square. piazza di spagna was not as enthralling for me, but i did walk the steps while everyone else sat at the base around the fountain of the old boat. we then had to window shop of course the surrounding stores include YSL, gucci, prada, and more.
after a back roads cab-ride home, we stopped at our café next door for pastries, sad our old-man-friend wasn’t there to say bye. back at home it was tea for them, wine for me, and then we all passed out, exhausted and not excited about leaving roma in the am…
(this night started a tradition in which we would get home from a day of sightseeing, shopping, strolling, and stuffing our bellies to look at the bottoms of our feet. we would determine the cleanliness of a city, or lack thereof, by how dirty our feet were. this day in rome definitely won, hence the title of the post!)