Our final city in Italy- Rome. Our first night in Rome, I admit I was not impressed. Compared to the other two cities, Rome feels huge and intimidating. We literally spent the first afternoon-evening wandering around trying to find things. We were tired and a little grouchy- which didn't help. Possibly, we should have rest some, but HELLO. We were in Rome! I kept thinking to myself, I need to be doing something! We managed to come across St. Peter's Chains. The supposed chains that held Peter in prison, so it wasn't completely pointless rome-ing (haha).
Our second day, we had booked breakfast, starting at 6:50am at the Vatican. This meant we got to enjoy the Rafael rooms and the Sistine Chapel with crowds, but from what I've heard, quite a smaller crowd.
The Sistine Chapel was amazing, but I have to say, I enjoyed the Rafael rooms more. I wasn't disappointed or anything, I just didn't well up in tears like I thought I might. It's kind of the crowds that ruin it too. Your trying to admire the art and there are these guards yelling, "NO PICTURES" at the people that decided to forgo the very clear instructions and point their phones up at the ceiling anyways. And then after security yells and gets everyone stirred up they yell, "SHHHHH!!" So, I dunno, just not what your expecting from all the hype and high expectations.
Inside St. Peter's Basilica. Truly a beautiful church (and perhaps a bit gaudy, but what church in Italy isn't). It is ENORMOUS. If you look right above the "L" you can barely make out a man in a blue shirt that is cleaning the ceiling. I mean, huge!
We had about two hours in between to make it to our private underground colosseum tour. If you get a chance to go to the colosseum, spend the extra money for the underground tour. Yes it is expensive, but well worth it! You get to go on the floor of the arena, underground where the animals and gladiators were kept, and you get to see the wooden elevator that was JUST re-created and put in to place THIS AUGUST. So exclusive. You also get to go to the top most layer of the arena as well.
We took this tour and I would highly recommend it! Our guide was actually from North Carolina and she had the answer to EVERY question we asked her, even if it had nothing to do with the colosseum. I felt very enlightened yet very dumb at the same time. Like, she knew A LOT.
The Vatican was neat, but this tour definitely salvaged my opinion of Rome, and was probably my favorite "tour" of the trip. Though gruesome in history (i.e. the Colosseum), the Roman empire is SO interesting. Like our tour guide explained to us, with the fall of the Roman empire, civilization went from bathing every day and even slaves knowing how to read to people thinking bathing regularly was bad for you and only individuals higher up in economic status knowing how to read. And although it's great and all that Constantine allowed Christianity into the Roman scene, it is sad to see how much was lost due to the Christian impact. At the time, people weren't interested in preserving history, things were only salvaged to decorate churches and buildings. So a lot of the ruins are indeed ruins from individuals basically recycling the materials to build their basilicas (like the one at the Vatican).
Our second day we left open once again. We had planned on doing the whole Hop-on Hop-off tour bus, but our tour guide from the day before encouraged us to once get off of the beaten path. MORE walking and taking the metro. In the morning we started out going to see Rome's pyramid (bet you didn't know Rome had an ancient pyramid! neither did we!) and visiting the church in which Paul's remains are kept.
We spent our afternoon going to see the Trevi, the Spanish steps, and the Pantheon. I knew the Trevi had been under construction this year, but that WAS disappointing. I couldn't even throw in a coin! Now how am I supposed to ensure my return to Rome? And the Spanish steps were under construction as well. Had to stick my camera through the fence. Dang restoration projects.
Rafael's remains are held at the Pantheon. The Pantheon was a Roman temple to many god's and when Rome converted to Christianity was salvaged and kept for the one true God. We had every intention of visiting another church that held the supposed steps (Scala Santa) in which Jesus walked up to receive his fate from Pontius Pilot. Constantine's mother apparently brought them to Rome after Constantine's death. However, we were very very tired at this point and decided we had seen enough churches for the day. Although now, I kind of regret it, so if you get to go to Rome, you should totally go see them.
So that was our last destination in Italy. Lots of tears have been shed. If you ever have any questions about our trip I would probably pay you to ask them because I can't shut up about it basically. But seriously, I had so much fun planning this trip and have considered becoming a travel agent since (basically tripadvisor.com and viator are your best friends from trip planning). Or at least one of those travel guide book authors. I mean get paid to travel? That would be fab. Anywho, It will probably be a while until our next big vacation. We have been pretty spoiled with doing two this year (gotta live it up before kids, right?). I think our next international travel will be to Japan, as that is Josh's dream destination. If you've been there before, I'd love to hear of your escapades there.
So yeah. Italy was the best and I hope you enjoyed my reliving of it!