Our last day in Rome was spent hoofing it out to the Vatican City. We took the metro and then walked the last 10 minutes to St. Peter’s and boy is that place big. Of course we had to weave and dodge the 1 million street vendors and tour guides offering us exclusive and “specially priced” tours of the museums and basilica. They are very aggressive, and on more than one occasion we’ve had to physically push past them to continue walking. Once there, we got through the security and dress code check into the basilica itself and while Tianna went in to look at the cathedral I stood in line to hike the bazillion stairs to the top of the dome.
Unfortunately we got there a bit late and with a time constraint due to our reservation for the museums at 13:45 I ended up having to ditch the line and just look at the inside of the dome and cathedral. It would have been neat to see Rome from way up there, but I guess I’ll just save it for next time! The inside of St. Peter’s is beautiful and filled with niches and side nooks with beautiful art and monuments to popes past and important figures in the church (like St. Peter himself). A really neat part of the basilica is that on the floor down the middle of the cathedral is the names of other cathedrals and duomos around the world; they are placed on the floor at the distance to which they would reach in comparison to St. Peter’s. It’s cool to see how big (or small) other churches stand in comparison. I wish people inside had been more respectful and quiet though…
My phone ended up going on the fritz while we were there and we got separated. We spent 30 minutes looking for each other before finally reuniting and practically running the 10 minutes down to the museum entrance so we wouldn’t be too late for our reservation! Once we got there we got stuck behind a large and particularly disorganized and slow tour group, so it didn’t matter anyway.
We wandered through the Egyptian museum and then kinda just hustled through the others to get to the Sistine Chapel. The museum closes at 16:30 or 17:00 too, so by the time we actually got there and got going we only had around 2 hours for the whole thing. You could easily spend a whole day going through everything if you’re really diligent and interested in all sorts of art and history. It was very busy though, so that was pretty annoying to have to push past people who don’t have any sort of spatial awareness or particular interest in actually learning about the art or space and are there because it’s “The Vatican”.
Going into the Sistine Chapel, they are very strict with covering your knees and shoulders, and ask that you be absolutely silent. There aren’t a ton of instructional signs prior to entering either, so I wasn’t actually aware that you couldn’t take photos until I tried to take one and a tour guide gave me a nasty look. My bad. It’s every bit as beautiful as you think it’ll be. We half listened to the Rick Steves podcast and half to our audio guides and between the two learned a ton about the frescoes. For example, the size of the figures on the far end (farthest from the altar) are much smaller and numerous than the ones on the near end to the altar. Why? When Michaelangelo started painting he just had this idea and went with it. When they took the scaffolding down and he looked up he was unhappy with how small and insignificant everyone looked. Thus, once he started on the second half he made the characters fewer in number and much larger than before so they would stand out more from the ground.
Every few minutes they ask (yell) that everyone be quiet, but people still talk and chatter away. It’s so rude. Even if you don’t believe in God or practice Christianity the least you can do is be respectful of the space and someone else’s religion! At one point a [priest?] spoke over the mic and welcomed everyone to the space and said that he was going to lead everyone in a prayer and asked that they be quiet. It got louder. He even explained it in 5 languages. This frustrates me to no end. Apparently it’s very difficult to breathe through your nose for 5-10 minutes and keep your mouth shut. It totally takes away from the experience when someone is yelling at the crowd to stop talking because they can’t follow one of the three rules for the space. *exasperated sigh*
After that we just popped into the art gallery and refilled our water bottles at an outside station. On the way out I stopped at the Vatican Post Office, which is different from the rest of Italy and mailed a few postcards. Kinda neat that they have their own postal service there! The stamps had the Pope on them too, so that’s hilarious. It’s also cheaper to mail things to Canada from the Vatican than it is from Italy in general! The museum was closing so we took our time going down the double helix staircase to leave and then found some gelato on the way back to the metro stop.
Thursday night we went out and met Olivia in Trastevere, a neighbourhood on the Southwest side of the river. Apparently there’s tons of great little restaurants in there, and we ended up getting pizza at a place a friend of Tianna’s recommended. They sell the pizza by weight instead of size or kind, so Tianna and I split a box and got 2 slices of 6 different kinds of pizza. So yummy! It was probably the best pizza we’ve had the whole trip so far. We sat on some steps in a little plaza and watched a guy drum on a bunch of buckets and tubes, fought off a guy trying to take our pizza box, and just chilled. Eventually we made it back to our hostel and got ready to leave the next morning.
We’re currently on the train to Manarola in Cinque Terre, so I’ll update you about our time in Florence later today or tomorrow. Then I’ll share a bit about our very brief time in Pisa!
Have a good day everyone!
PS. By the time we got to our hostel after getting off the train and realized how slow the wifi is here, I’ve decided to not include any photos for the sake of my sanity. I’ll include more on the next one!