Monday, September 15, 2014

ITALY: ROME {TREVI FOUNTAIN, VATICAN CITY, PANTHEON, PIAZZA NAVONNA}


Sleep: Hotel San Silvestro, Via del Gambero 3, Roma, Italy (they had a nice little complimentary continental breakfast!) 

Eat: Osterio de Anima (and order the pear and cheese pasta in carrot sauce- life changing); in general: Bruschetta.. the olive oil and tomatoes are SO fresh and delicious over there, and pizza..everywhere...duh. 

See: Vatican City (St. Peter's Square, St. Peter's Basilica, Tomb of St. Peter, Vatican Museum, Sistene Chapel, THE POPE HIMSELF), Colosseum, Pantheon, Piazza Navona, Piazza di Spagna (and the Spanish Steps), Villa Borghese (didn't go inside, just wandered the park that surrounded it), Trevi Fountain (hopefully for you it won't be under construction- seriously the biggest womp ever), tons and tons of neighborhood churches- wander inside and be prepared to be amazed. 

Our first stop on our Italian whirlwind was Rome. 
Rome was incredibly busy and hot. We spent 3 full days there and this may make me declasse but that was enough for me. We didn't go into every museum (zero, in fact, besides the Vatican), but I think we saw the BIG sights and feel good about our time spent there. 

We got to town Saturday afternoon and fought jetlag to wander around our neighborhood, which was in the center of a triangle made up by the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon. I was tipped off to this before our trip but was quite devastated to find out the Trevi was under major renovations and was drained and mostly covered by scaffolding. I had imagined M and I getting some cheese and wine from a street vendor and wandering back to the fountain at night to beat the crowds and soak in some authentic Rome. Sadly, as you'll see, this was not possible. If there was one reason alone I'd return to Rome, at least for a few hours, it'd be to see the fountain. Day 1 we mostly wandered and got our bearings. 

{Trevi Fountain...:( }
The morning of Day 2 we trekked about 20 minutes across the river to Vatican City.

TIP: GO EARLY. Italians sleep in and you'll have the place largely to yourself, the earlier you go places. Also, the security line for both the Vatican Museum and St. Peter's gets out of control quickly. It also so happened it was the last Sunday of the month, which meant the Tomb of St. Peter and the museums were free AND since it was a Sunday- if the Pope was in town we knew he'd be greeting the crowd in the square and giving a blessing at noon.


I make no secret of the fact that I'm not a great Catholic, yet still a Catholic all the same. 
There was something really special about being at the Vatican and knowing what a special and instrumental place it is for so, so many people, myself included. 

If there's one very general thing I could say about Europe in general is my God, the architecture and detail. Everything is so ornate and it's so difficult to wrap your mind around how it was constructed thousands of years ago. St. Peter's Basilica was no exception. 

TIP: short skirts and bare shoulders aren't allowed inside- bring a sweater. We saw many a lady getting turned away only after waiting in line in security for having bare shoulders. Many were forced to buy scarfs in the gift shop to avoid the line again. 

Unfortunately we didn't heed our own advice and we were unable to climb the cupola (dome) of the basilica because we wanted to get to the Sistene Chapel before they stopped letting people in (it closes earlier on the last Sunday of the month and is actually usually closed on Sundays in general). We could've gone back but just never made it back that way.

{carvings on tombs at the museum}
{the ceiling winding through the museum on the way to the Sistine Chapel}

The Sistine Chapel was at the end of the museum and unfortunately didn't allow photos (which, unbeknownst to me did not stop M from taking one)- they had guards walking around telling people to stop, and I watched one grab the lens of a tourist and yank it down. It was a VERY small chapel, it was PACKED, and they hustled you in and out pretty quickly. It was neat to see the the most famous portion of the painting on the ceiling in person (that part was tiny!). 

After we finished in the chapel, we had a half hour before the Pope would be blessing the crowd, if he was there. We weren't sure at the time, so we started to make our way back to St. Peter's Square. Except, the "exit" of the museum took nearly 30 minutes as we wound through more exhibits and were trapped by slow walkers. 

I figured even if he was there, we'd missed him, and didn't see much value in hurrying. We got outside and sort of power walked a bit but it wasn't until we rounded one of the exterior walls that we could hear it on the loud speaker and what could only be a giant crowd of people clapping: it was latin. It was the Pope. We sprinted the last couple hundred feet into the square to see him on some big screens speaking. It took a few minutes to orient ourselves to where he was speaking from..

{the earlier photo of me standing in the square? WALL TO WALL humans}
 We finally got back far enough into the crowd and saw him in the window:


He was itty bitty, but I'm glad we got to actually see him (and not just on the big screen). Definitely a very cool moment. 

After standing and/or walking for close to 5 hours, we crawled back to our neighborhood to eat and then took a serious nap. Upon waking, we decided a casual evening in the 'hood would be perfect, and wandered over to the Pantheon. 

Perhaps the most amazing thing I noticed about Rome, and Italy (and probably Europe in general) is that the city simply exists around these world famous centuries old monuments and historical sites. In the United States we tape these off, place 10 security guards at the entrance, and won't let you within 100 feet without payment. A lot, if not most of, Rome's most historical treasures are free and literally just appear after walking around a corner. None of those was in such stark contrast as the Pantheon. We found ourselves here at dusk, grabbed some gelato, and just sat on the steps of the fountain outside. Entrance is free, and they still have daily mass inside. It's such a unique and amazing blend of old and new. They still USE these places every day. 

The Pantheon dates back to 126 A.D.

{The first king of Italy is buried here}
{caramel crema, there is no need for any other flavor of gelato. nom.}
After wandering around the Pantheon we walked a block over to Piazza Navona, which also boasted quite the impressive fountain.

We stumbled into another ornate and beautiful church before making our way back home for the evening. 

Up next: Colosseum, Palatine Hill, Roman Forum, and a bitchin' dinner. 

7 comments:

  1. Ahh so cool. I've only been to Venice, Italy but I remember being in awe of the ornate architecture and how old everything is (because there's nothing even remotely that old in the US). It's amazing to see!

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  2. OMG. I need to go to Italy. What an amazing trip, Kelly!

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  3. amazing amazing amazing.
    and I had to google "déclassé".

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  4. 1. Stunning.
    2. Holy photos, Batman! You're getting so good at your DSLR, and I love seeing the trip through your eye.
    3. You are ROCKING that bun.

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  5. Holy cow. HOLY COW. I want your life. The photos are AMAZING and this trip, just WOW! I'm not gonna lie - I am a big chicken shit and I would be so afraid to get lost or hurt or generally act like a DUMB AMERICAN in Rome... but wow. What a trip!

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  6. I've been waiting for your recaps. The photos are GORGEOUS but don't do it justice to seeing it in person I'm sure. So cool you got to see the pope. :)

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  7. your photos are gorgeous!! :) and i was so bummed about the trevi fountain too - except i hadn't heard it was under construction so it was a bit of a surprise. but with so many amazing things to see and piazzas to explore, i wasn't heartbroken for long. and like you said, the best part about rome is that life and time marches on all around these places and that you turn a corner and look there's a hidden piazza or a massive ancient ruin or city wall. it was incredible!! :)

    your recaps are making me want to go back already. and do some of the things i missed. and that pear and cheese pasta sounds superb!!

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