Friday, July 26, 2013

Touring Rome in 3 days - Day 3

For our third day in Rome our goal was to go check out the Vatican and St. Peter's Basilica. We thought we would just start out walking and taking in the city and if it was too far we would get a taxi. It ended up being a fine walking. 

Another beautiful door knocker. 

On our way we found Piazza Nuova, a gorgeous piazza with a beautiful fountain in the middle. There was an art show going on that day. We got a delicious iced coffee and espresso. 

We crossed the river and got a great view of St. Peter's Basilica. It was so big! 

We signed up for a tour with a tour guide from Rome named Francesca. She took us all the way around the back of Vatican City and entered the Vatican museum  from there. The museum was so amazing and elaborate I can't even describe it!

The museum was so full of art and history it was hard to absorb it all. There are halls of tapestries made in the 1500's with scenes of Jesus's ministry woven in to them, halls of maps of the different areas of Italy, and ceilings that had every inch of them covered with art.  

The information and story that the paintings in the Sistine Chapel tell are so symbolic. Francesca our guide spent 45 minutes going over the signs outside the chapel explaining everything to us. 

The dome of St. Peter's behind Garrett.

A room inside the Vatican Museum. Ever inch of the museum is covered with elegance and meaning.
This is the hall of maps. We were more interested in the ceiling than the maps on the walls! Look how intricate it is!

At the end of the Vatican museum is the Sistine chapel. You have to walk through these tiny hallways FULL of people to get into the chapel. It was so hard for me not to freak out because I can get claustrophobic sometimes, but I made it through and we got to view the inside of the chapel. You have to whisper and can't take pictures in there. The information and story's that the painting in the Sistine Chapel tell are incredibly symbolic and we were glad that we did the tour so we could learn all about it before we went in. The walls and ceiling of the chapel were recently cleaned by a Japanese film crew in 1994 and they filmed the entire process so you can see what a difference it made. 
Two weeks before we were there, they held the conclave in the Sistine Chapel to elect the new pope, Pope Francis. It was really interesting to be able to see inside the building where it all happens. 

After you exit the chapel, you get to go through the fast entry line into St. Peter's Basilica. 

Inside St. Peter's

After our tour ended we walked to a Roman neighborhood called Trastevere. A friend recommended that we check that area out because it is where a lot of the locals go. The walk there was much longer than I had hoped, and we went the wrong way down a one-way road, but we survived.
We stumbled along this amazing look-out point where you could see all of Rome! 

This is right behind you at the look-out. Gorgeous fountain and building. 
Cute truck I saw while we were walking.

We got an aperitif at a little wine bar and relaxed in the sunshine. 
Vino de la casa blanca. - White wine of the house. :)

We ended up eating a delicious dinner at Marco G. So good! We had fennel and orange salad, fusilli pasta with truffle and drank a Brunelo di Montalcino. We walked (again!) back to our hotel along this path that was full of Italians on their evening walk after dinner. 

I was so tired after our long day that that I fell right to sleep when we got back to our room. But I didn't sleep long... Garrett's back muscles were seizing up at 2:00 am and I had to go down to the lobby to get some ice. (Try asking for this in Italian at 2:00 AM! It took a while but me and the concierge finally understood each other and he found me some ice.)

All in all, another amazing day in Italy. The next day we were headed to the train station to pick up our rental car and drive to Tuscany!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Touring Rome in 3 days - Day 2

On our second day in Rome we woke up feeling pretty jet lagged. It really took a lot out of us to fly that long! We had to find a new hotel to move to because our hotel double booked us. We found a small cafe and researched a new hotel. I had my first Italian espresso! I put a whole pack of sugar in it and loved it! Very strong. We found an opening at Hotel Cosmopolitan and it looked nice and was in a great location next to the Colosseum. We checked in and dropped our stuff off and walked to the Republic building, and ate lunch at the Pantheon.

We ate a delicious lunch outside of the Pantheon. Melon and Prosciutto di Parma, delicious white wine, and bruschetta. 
The Pantheon was so interesting and surreal to us because of how long ago it was built. It is apparently one of the best preserved Roman buildings that was built in 126 AD. It is almost 2,000 years old!!! And we got to walk inside of it! The Pantheon's dome is still the world's largest unreinforced concrete dome. The oculus in the middle is open and it often rains through the middle and the water goes down a drain inside the building. I read that this is a really special place to be when it snows.

After lunch we walked to the Colosseum. The line wasn't very long and we got inside in about 10 minutes. The stadium was so massive and hard to believe it is still standing. I can't imagine what it would have took to build it back then. It was really cool to see the structure, but kind  of creepy to think about how many lives were lost there. 

We saw these guys on our way to the Colosseum. Pretty tricky!

Trying my first drink out of the Roman Aqueducts. 

The weather changed a lot throughout the day. Good thing we wore a lot of layers. It was rainy and windy in the morning and a little chilly, and then the sun would come out and I would be sweating! 

Our tickets to the Colosseum got us into the Roman Forum and Palatine. the Palatine was gorgeous. The Palatine (meaning Palace) excavations show that many affluent Romans lived there since around 1000 BC. Even including Caesar Augustus! You get to walk right through both exhibits and experience all of the old ruins.

This is the view from inside the Roman Forum looking back at the Colosseum.

The view from the top of the Palatine.

A gorgeous building inside the Roman Forum.

This is Palatine Hill with the Roman Forum beneath it. 
We took a break from walking around and soaked in the sun for a while on some steps. We definitely didn't eat enough or drink enough water and we felt so weird because our core temperatures we fluctuating constantly and we were freezing during the day and really hot at night. We looked it up and it can take up to one day per hour of time change for your core temperature to finally regulate.

From the top of the Palatine Hill, there is a gorgeous view of the city

Our hotel was just to the left of this ruin/museum. 
We got back to our hotel and took a nap from 6-7 and then had dinner at a cute little pizza restaurant close to the Pantheon. We thoroughly enjoyed our second day in Rome and were excited to check out the Vatican on our 3rd day.