Many of you are probably thinking how the heck did I do Rome in a day? It was a lot, yes, but abroad is a crazy adventure so I did some crazy things. Tim and I took the train from Florence on a Friday morning, and we made it to Rome by 8:30 AM. From here, we took the metro to the Colosseum by 9 am where we got a tour that was an hour and a half.
This is the tour that I mentioned in the Amsterdam post as not being the best. It was a tour that we prepaid for and you could tell that the tour guide was not enthusiastic and just looking past us. While we were outside the Colosseum and he was talking, I do not think he made eye contact with me once (we were a group of four people.) You would have thought it would have been a little more personalized. The experience is why I fully support the idea of working for the value of the tour.
Outside of the tour guide’s attitude, he filled us with a lot of information, and I am happy we spent the morning doing this. If we hadn’t done a tour, we would have had no idea what we were looking at; I would highly recommend a tour. We learned everything from the toilets of the Ancient Romans to people living there during the Middle Ages.
After this, we walked to the Pantheon, and we didn’t do a tour because we knew we wanted to make it to Vatican City and spend a majority of our time there. From the Pantheon, it was easy to get to the Trevi Fountain; then if you turn right and keep walking, it brought us directly to the Spanish steps. It was now about 1 PM, and we were feeling confident about our timeline. We headed towards Vatican City, and this is where we spent the rest of the day.
Walking up to Saint Peter’s Square was an intense feeling. As a Catholic, I had always heard about and seen it on TV where they show coverage of the Pope, but I never thought I would be able actually to stand there and take it all in. Standing out front, the two wings of the church welcome you in like it’s hugging you. After standing in the security line, you get to walk right by the pope’s pulpit, and it’s surreal to think about him preaching right there. Then as soon as we stepped into the basilica, all of our jaws dropped. Wow. The basilicas and cathedrals of Europe just keep getting better. The detail in the Basilica was amazing. We did not take a tour, but we took our phones out and did some research. It is incredible to look at the architecture and think about how long ago the builders worked on it, and yet it is still standing. It took so long to build, the people who started construction weren’t even able to have their grandkids see its completion. We probably spent about an hour in the basilica and then exited and made our way to the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel.
We easily spent three hours doing this. We were lucky that there weren’t long lines, so we were able to get in quick and cheaply with our student IDs. We didn’t understand the lay out of everything until we were half way through the Vatican Museum. We then realized that we had to go through the whole museum to get to the Sistine Chapel. The museum was insane and filled with old statues, and the paintings and tapestries filled the walls. My neck was hurting by the end of the three hours from looking up so much. The amount of detail that went into even the ceiling was remarkable.
We finally and made it to the Sistine Chapel and it gave me the chills. Everything is so beautiful and ornate even than what I imagined: for example, the walls, which look like curtains, are painted on, but they look so real. Every part of the walls and ceiling was overwhelming to see the emotion and detail that went into the scenes. I wish I could have taken a picture so you could see it, but security guards are yelling at people with phones or cameras. I guess you will all need to go to Rome to experience yourself. Darn.
Even though it took a long time to get to the Sistine Chapel, I am happy the pathway forced you through the museum because otherwise, I would have missed out on seeing all of the other artwork. We left Vatican City around 5:30 and started to head back to catch our train back to Florence. Yes, Rome was crazy in a day, but I got to see the things that were most important to me. It is a trip that I will not forget even though it was such a small piece of my time here.