To say that I was unprepared for this trip is an understatement. My workload over the past few months (the past few weeks, in particular) was incredibly overwhelming…so it was tough to find time to sit down and find a hotel to book, let alone figure out what I was going to do and when. But…that was also the joy of coming here…just taking each day, one by one, and letting my heart, stomach and camera guide me to where I wanted to be.
After a rainy Wednesday, I woke up to a gloriously sunny morning here on Via Veneto. I lounged in bed for a bit because while this is Rome and there are countless things to do and see…I am also on vacation, and I am catching up on a lot of missed sleep. After getting my bearings last night, I knew right where to go…the Metro…and then onto the Musei Vaticani stop. Today, I marveled at the St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museum. The Vatican museum was very crowded and very touristy, though I suppose the 30 minute wait to get in was relatively reasonable. I broke away from the heavy lines headed directly to the Sistine Chapel, and wandered through the Egyptian and Greek rooms – – which were very peaceful and calming. And I have to say that even greeting the guards with a pleasant "buon giorno" was gratifying, because I get the distinct impression that they are largely ignored by the hordes of tourists. I continued on through the museum, finally ending at the Sistine Chapel. While it was stunning, I was disappointed by the fact that cameras were not permitted…so I gazed for a while, and promptly took the ‘secret’ exit on the right and began the tour of St. Peter’s.
St. Peter’s is…in a word…magnificent. As I write this entry, I am struggling to find words to sufficiently describe the beauty and grandeur of this, the world’s largest church. I climbed all the way to the top of the cupola…and all the while, I was thanking my lucky stars that I was a) in shape…b)not claustrophobic …and c)not afraid of heights. The view of St. Peter’s Square down below was breathtaking…and the deep blue sky as a backdrop for the statues adorning the rooftop was a pleasure to see through the lens of my camera. I could have spent an entire day at St. Peter’s, and for me…despite the awe-inspiring size and beauty so many aspects of the church, the most incredible sight was Michaelangelo’s Pieta. The sculpture was a powerful and moving sight, one of which will be marked as a highlight of this Italian adventure.
After getting lost for a good 30 minutes, I finally found a good restaurant and had a delightful lunch while chatting with a couple from Rochester, NY. It was a treat to find somebody from my neck of the woods, and they were greatly helpful in directing me on some side trips, several of which I hope to take.
Upon leaving the cafe, it began to rain, ever so gently. I rapidly walked to Castel Sant’Angelo and enjoyed the contrast of this fortress and castle, from the rich grandeur of the Vatican. At this point, I’d hoped to head to the Trastevere neighborhood, but got lost (once again) and ended up at Piazza Del Popolo, which was disappointing only in that it was then too dark to continue photographing. In the steady rain, I ventured down Via Del Corso and Via Babuino, admiring all of the ‘too expensive for my budget’ clothing, jewelry and furniture. And to think that for a minute, I actually considered buying a $200 hand embroidered dress for my sweet 4 year old!
The Spanish Steps signified I was close to ‘home’, and I briskly walked back to the hotel to shower and head out to dinner. A good friend warned me on several occasions, that eating at a ristorante would be tough on my wallet…but…I did not heed the advice. Tonight…I spent nearly $75 on an avocado and shrimp salad and a glass of red wine. Yes, SEVENTY FIVE DOLLARS. It’s a good thing I didn’t buy the dress…