Blog post for Wednesday, March 23…
Our final day in Rome was full of a lot of walking…and so I had MANY opportunities to take A LOT of pictures – but not much time to write about it, but I’ll try my best.
The day started with breakfast again at 7:30 and we got done early, so we spent some time walking around the grounds of our hotel. Because it was in the countryside it was full of beautiful plants, a rooster to wake us up in the morning…at about 4:45, and religious relics of its former life as a convent. I snapped today’s first photo of a plant growing at the hotel. I’m not sure what it is about me and extreme close-ups…but I love them.
The Barbies were late (by about 30 minutes) so we got another late start. Even though it wasn’t part of our original tour, there were a few stops that Annamaria wanted us to make before we got to the Vatican in the afternoon. The first stop was the Trevi Fountain. There is a legend that if someone throws a coin in the fountain, they will return to Rome. It is also said that that two coins will lead to a new romance and three will ensure either a marriage or divorce. All coins are supposed to be thrown with the right hand over the left shoulder. (I won’t tell you how many coins I threw). Annamaria told us that about 3,000 euros are thrown into the fountain every day – which the donate to needy people in Rome.
Our next stop on our speedy walking tour was the Pantheon. It is one of the best preserved buildings of all ancient Roman buildings and is very unique. The diameter of the interior circle is the same as the height – and the dome is still the largest reinforced concrete domes in the world. The oculus is wide open to the sky and is the only other source of light in the Pantheon besides the front door. We literally spent 20 minutes there, but I’m glad we got to spend that much time at least.
Directly outside the Pantheon is a fountain that I captured a fun picture of before we headed off to the next destination.
Following the Pantheon, the group joined in Josh’s quest to see as many Caravaggio paintings as he possibly could. Just a short walk from the Pantheon is the church of San Luigi dei Francesi. Inside this church are three works of Caravaggio…known as the Matthew trilogy, consisting of “The Calling of Saint Matthew”, “St. Matthew and the Angels”, and “The Matrydom of Saint Matthew.” Josh was like a kid in a candy store and it was cool to see these paintings for free. I also caught a shot of the pipe organ as we were leaving and I love how the angels are “holding up” the balcony.
From the church we walked through the Piazza Navona. This specific piazza is famous for being a place where many artists congregate to sell paintings to visitors of Rome. It is also know for several fountains and buildings surrounding the piazza…I didn’t get a fabulous shot of this place because we were trying to hurry…and I really wanted to stop and get some paintings, but because the Barbie’s were late we were in danger of arriving at the Vatican late.
We arrived at the Vatican just as the Pope was finishing his weekly blessing in the piazza. It was pretty cool to get to see him in person – even if he was a pretty long distance away – my photos aren’t great because he was so far away, but I figured you might want to see him! He’s the one in white under the awning – also, check out his guards…quite the outfits that they wear.
After seeing the Pope, we visited the Vatican store and grabbed a quick lunch before making our way to the Vatican Museum for our tour. The museum displays the many works of the collections built up by the Roman Catholic Church. There were many different rooms and many unique relics and artifacts – I won’t go into great detail, but I’ll just share with you some of the works that I thought were especially cool.
The first piece is called “Sphere Within Sphere” and was created by Italian artist Arnaldo Pomodoro. He has other versions that can be seen around the world. This sculpture was one of the first works of art we saw in the museum.
Then we saw many more sculptures as we made our way through the museum. Some I found interesting were the one with realistic eyes inserted and also the BIG foot (notice Amanda’s next to it).
Next we entered the hall of maps, and instead of looking at the maps, I found myself in awe of the ceiling instead…although there would be a ceiling later that would garner more attention.
Then we entered the Rapheal Rooms – which were really cool. The frescoes in these rooms were painted by Rapheal and his students. My personal favorite of the frescoes is entitled “The School of Athens.” It is cool because they say that nearly every Greek philosopher is depicted in the painting. There are certain ones that are recognizable, like Socrates, Plato, and Pythagoras…as well as a self portrait of Raphael himself.
After visiting the Rooms of Raphael, it was time to go to the Sistine Chapel…although I am unable to show you pictures of the chapel that I took, you can check out this LINK to get your own view of the amazing masterpiece of Michelangelo.
Once we completed our tour of the Vatican Museum, it was time to go to the Vatican (well, technically St. Peter’s Basilica, but you know what I mean)…and let me tell you IT WAS HUGE. I knew it was the biggest church in the world, and they weren’t lying. It was completely enormous! One of the draws of St. Peter’s is the Pieta. This masterpiece (also by Michelangelo) is a stirring depiction of the body of Jesus on the lap of Mary after the crucifixion. It is the only piece signed by Michelangelo – and is now housed behind bulletproof glass because of a crazy man who attacked the statue in 1972.
You can see the enormity of the basilica in the next picture. I love how the light is streaming in through the windows.
One piece I thoroughly enjoyed inside St. Peter’s was the stained glass window depicting the Holy Spirit as a dove which is above the altar. Amazingly the wingspan of the dove is 6 feet wide. CRAZY!
As we left St. Peter’s, I snapped one last shot of the basilica before we headed on to some shopping and more gelato. We had about 2 hours before we were supposed to meet back for dinner, so we went to sit for a little bit and get a drink. Well, Hannah, Tara and I decided about an hour and a half before dinner that we really wanted to try to get to the Piazza Navona to get some paintings. Well, the trouble was, it was kind of a far distance away, and we weren’t really sure where it was…but, armed with a map, we headed in search of it. It took us about 40 minutes to find it, so that left us about 20 minutes to shop, get gelato and then head back to our meeting spot…so no pictures…sorry. We found some great paintings and got some delicious gelato (chocolate and pistachio) and RAN back because we were not going to be late! We made it back with 10 minutes to spare!
We met and walked to our final dinner in Rome (and Italy) at a pizzeria. Rocio was elected to make our crust..and she did a great job. We had a nice dinner and great company. It was a good way to end a fun day in Rome. We headed back to the hotel and packed up all of our stuff (after making a call and Amanda leaving a “gift” for Annamaria in her room) and went to bed for our last time in Italy.