They say Rome wasn't built in a day, and you certainly can't see all it has to offer in that amount of time either, but we did our best to take in several of the most famous sites. We were only briefly detained by yet another strike amongst transportation workers, this time the taxi drivers. We had arrived at the airport late Friday night, truly Saturday morning, and had missed any buses into the city. Taxis were nowhere to be found. We made several phone calls, and think several of "our"cabs arrived, only to be snagged by other desperate victims of the strike. Thankfully, we were staying in a fancy, schmancy hotel, courtesy of my sister's Starwood discount, and I doubt they would be compelled to leave guests of theirs sitting in the parking lot of the local airport. I spoke with the concierge, who politely told me that although there was a strike, he would see what he could do. A few minutes later, he called back to say that a cab was on its way. By this time, it was about 1:30 in the morning and we were starting to wonder what a night in Ciampino's parking lot might look like. I'm glad I didn't have to find out.
Saturday morning we ventured out and headed down the Spanish steps and over to the Vatican Museum and St. Peter's Basilica. It is interesting to note that you do see quite a few religious individuals mulling about...priests, nuns, etc. Perhaps they, too, are hoping for an audience with the Pope.
|Me, on the Spanish steps|
The Vatican Museum is monstrous. I had no idea it would be so large and that every surface in the building is in its own right a work of art. Every floor, every ceiling, every surface seems decorated to the fullest capacity. I loved the ceilings, so much geometry. Perhaps the next time I get to paint my own place I can do the ceiling too. Just call me the next Michelangelo!
|One of the ceilings in the Vatican Museum|
My only complaint about the Vatican Museum was that they allow photos to be taken. While this allows you to take some great shots, it is a hassle maneuvering around cameras at every turn. The only room you can't take pictures in is the Sistine Chapel, but security is so lax everywhere else they seem to have a hard time enforcing the rules. Here is how hard the security guard was working in the Octagonal Garden.
|Hey buddy- don't forget to text your wife you'll be home in time for dinner.|
Anyways, the museum is really something else and the Sistine Chapel was made even better by the free audio guide you can download from Rick Steves. So nice if you're traveling in Europe-- put that expensive iPod to good use. After lunch, Kate and I headed to St. Peter's Basilica. Once again, you can take pictures inside, which I find a little strange for a church, but if the Pope says it's okay, who am I to argue. The church is really huge and once again I was so thankful for the audio guide that pointed out all the interesting details about the interior...and how everything was made to make it feel smaller than it really is. While we were there mass was getting ready to start. If we had more time on our hands, I would have been inclined to stay. I'm sure mass there, in Italian, would be quite the experience. There's always next time. (See, don't you all want to come work in Europe?)
Outside in St. Peter's square, the Pope (or his many assistants) like to leave the light on in his study to make you feel like you're only an arm's reach away from him when you visit.
|They say the top floor, far right window is the Pope's bedroom|
and the next windows belong to his study.
Sunday morning we headed out for a quick jaunt to the Colosseum. I found the outside rather impressive. The inside excited me less, but perhaps a date with Russell Crowe as "The Gladiator" would change my opinion. We'll see. However, the trip to this historic site was capped off by a gypsy teenager playing an accordian on the metro. Only in Italy, I say, only in Italy.
|Nancy, look at all the famous places|
your cowl has been!