Traveling: Rome in Half a Day

Cristina and I in front of the St. Peter's Basilica

Cristina and I in front of the St. Peter’s Basilica

After we left Cristina’s family, we took the train to Rome. We were going to arrive around noon and that was the only day we had in Rome. We had to decide what to do and quickly. It wasn’t that hard of a decision. We decided to leave Rome and head to Vatican city and then try to catch the Coliseum before it closed.

After a forgettable meal near our restaurant, we took a cab to Vatican City. Being raised catholic, this was a moment I have wanted to experience literally my entire life. It didn’t disappoint.

Entering the square was one of those pinch me moments. I’ve always been fascinated by religious history and most of that happened here. Even though it is the smallest country in the world, I was struck by the enormity of the place. And the grandness. The inside of St. Peter’s Baslica is a weird mix of tourists and true believers on a pilgrimage. Here, we got to see our third Pieta by Michelangelo. This is the pieta that most people think of when they hear the word. It is a beautiful, angelic work unlike the rough movements of his other pieta’s. We also toured the crypt which can be slightly creepy when you think about what you are doing. While most people huddled around John Paul II’s area, I was really taken back by the grave of the rock, St. Peter.

The Pieta by Michelangelo

The Pieta by Michelangelo

Interior of St. Peter's Basilica

Interior of St. Peter’s Basilica

The Grave of St. Peter

The Grave of St. Peter

When then headed to the Vatican Museum. I could write about all the sculpture and paintings in there but really just make it a point in your life time to go see it. Paintings that you’ve seen for years in books and on television do take on their own life when you see them up close. My favorite part of the museum wasn’t actually a painting though. There was a tour group who for some reason must have struck their guide as being uninterested. All flustered, she repeatedly kept reminding the group that they were walking on history. Of course, we used that quote for the rest of the trip.

Entrance to the Vatican Museum

Entrance to the Vatican Museum

Raphael's The School of Athens

Raphael’s The School of Athens

View from Vatican Museum

I think everyone who has visited the Vatican has this picture.

There is a scene in Good Will Hunting where Robin William’s character reminds Will that for all his knowledge of Michelangelo, he has no idea what the Sistine Chapel really looks and smells like. He’s right. You really can’t be prepared for it. My first response was “My God…” which, when you really think about it, is the appropriate response. I don’t really have a bucket list, but if I did, that is now checked off.

After, we bought some souvenirs from the Vatican gift shop (because you always exit through the gift shop), and enjoyed our best meal in Rome. A scoop of gelato. Darin, Cara, Cristina and I just sat on some steps across from the Vatican museum. As grand as the memories are in the Vatican, small moments like that are just as amazing.

We then took a taxi to the Colosseum. When we took a turn and it was just right there in front of us, I suddenly felt as if I was in a movie. It seemed like one amazing set; not quite entirely real. It’s very real. While touring it, I couldn’t help but thinking that we were walking on history (see what I did there).

Cristina and the Colosseum

Cristina and the Colosseum

The Colosseum

Being bathed in sunlight at the Colosseum

Exhausted, we headed back to the hotel and ate at a little restaurant near our hotel. Not the greatest of meals, but not horrible either.

The next day we headed to Brescia in Northern Italy to spend time with Cristina and Cara’s cousin. There we had the best homemade lasagna and pizza I ever had. I had a piece, ok several pieces, of each kind of pizza that she had.

Before, we got to Italy I had lost about 10 pounds from all the walking. After Italy, I gained it all back plus some. The next time we go, I plan on doing the same.

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