Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Day 2 in Rome, the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, the Pantheon & other sites in Rome

I got up around 9 this morning, had the bread based hostel breakfast and started planning my day.  I spoke to my hostel mate from Germany, asked if she had gone to the Colosseum yet.  My German hostel mate got to Rome a couple days before me, I was going to ask her about lines at the Colosseum, turned out she had not gone yet, we decided to go together.  Then our plans changed, we decided to try to see the Vatican, I went online to book the tickets, there was a time slot open for today.  I booked the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel tickets for 12:30 pm. 

We left the hostel around 10:30 am and walked to Vatican City, less than 10 minutes from our hostel.  It is hard to believe, tiny Vatican city, is an independent state, in the middle of Rome.  We walked through the passageway, left Rome, arriving in Vatican city.  A few more steps and we were in the crowd in St. Peter's square, my hostel mate said the other two days, there was no crowd, there were long lines to go into St. Peter's Basilica, at least a 2 hour wait, but the square was not crowded. 

Today was the papal audience, the pope speaks on Wednesday mornings to worshipers in St. Peter's Square.  We had no idea we chose this morning to go to the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel, but I am glad I got to see it.  I could not see the Pope, but he was on the projection TVs in the square, I could not understand the pope, he spoke in Latin and other languages I do not speak.  

Lynnae in St. Peter's Square during Papal Audience
After the Papal Audience we visited a German cemetery in Vatican City, my German hostel mate had been there before, the cemetery is guarded by the Swiss.  The cemetery was small, the landscape was nice, it had a Chapel, there were not many people there, I am sure many people do not know it exists.

German Cemetery in Vatican City
After the cemetery we stopped at a cafe, me for the bathroom, my hostel mate got some Italian coffee.  Around noon, we started walking to the Vatican museum, about a ten minute walk from St. Peter's Square.  The museums were extensive, there was too much to see, a lot of detail, all of the Vatican's history in one place.  I did not get the audio guide, so I spent my time going from painting to painting looking at different things.  When we entered the museum near the Sistine Chapel, the crowd grew, many guided tours, lots of people.  The Sistine Chapel was packed when we entered, no photos allowed, we could take pictures in the museums.  I looked up at the ceiling looking for the famous Michelangelo Frescoes.

Lynane in Vatican Museum 
We spent about 2.5 hours in the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel.  I debated what to do next, we got food at the Sistine Chapel, it was decent, what you would expect to get at a tourist site, I got the pizza.  We walked to Castel Sant Angelo next, my hostel mate had gone there and said it had a nice view of Rome.  Since she had already been to the Castel Sant Angelo, we parted ways there.  I debated whether to go, then decided I would walk around Rome instead, go back to the Castel tomorrow, time permitting.

Castel Sant Angelo 
I left Castel Sant' Angelo, crossed the Ponte Sant' Angelo Bridge and began exploring Rome. I had a map and a lot of places the woman at reception had marked as places to visit, first on the map was Piazza Navona, this Piazza had a fountain, an Obelisk and a church.  After Piazza Navona, I headed to Campo de Fiori, going there was a waste of time, I had been there last night for dinner.  My next destination was the Pantheon, I ended up backtrcking to Piazza Navona and asking a shopkeeper where the Pantheon was, he pointed me in the right direction.

Lynnae in front of fountain at Piazza Navona 
I found the Pantheon, was interesting to see this well-preserved Roman building in the middle of a modern city.  Everywhere you go in Rome there is a historical building or monument, the Pantheon was one of those, and the first ancient Roman building I had seen, I visit the Colosseum and the Roman Forum tomorrow. I went inside of the Pantheon, it is a church, no longer a temple to Roman gods.

Lynnae outside the Pantheon

Lynnae inside the Pantheon
I followed my map to what I thought was the Fontana di Trevi after leaving the Pantheon, it was not hard to do, there were signs pointing the way.  Rome is one of  the best tourist cities I have been to, when I am looking for something, I often look up, and there is a sign  pointing me in the right direction.  If there is no sign, there are always friendly Italian police officers willing to help with directions, the police seem to be everywhere in Rome. I arrived at the Quirinale, the Presidential Palace instead, just as a changing of the guards ceremony was ending. I asked to police officer what the building was, he said it was the Presidential Palace.  I went to see the Fontana di Trevi, I may try to find the Fontana di Trevi tomorrow.

Lynnae at Fountain across from Presidential Palace
I thought I had gone to the Fontana di Trevi, until I looked it up on the internet while writing this blog post. From the Presidential Palace I went to the Piazza di Spagna, where the Spanish steps are located and a fountain shaped like a boat.  From there I headed to the Piazza del Popolo.  My final destination today was the Monumento a Vittorio Emmanuele II, I saw this monument from a distance, I was tired by that point and ready to eat, get back to my hostel and relax.  Rome is beautiful, lots of stunning architecture, was nice walking around and seeing the sights today.

Lynnae at the Spanish Steps 

Lynnae near boat fountain at bottom of Spanish

Lynnae at Piazza del Popolo 

Lynnae near Monumento a Vittorio Emmanuale II
I went to get dinner near Piazza Navona after seeing Monumento a Vittorio Emmanuale II from a distance.  I will get an up close view of it tomorrow when I walk to the Coliseum.  After dinner, I walked back to the Castel Sant' Angelo, I wanted to go to the Vatican after sunset, the French students I had dinner with yesterday said it was beautiful at night, they were right, plus the crowds had left St. Peter's Square, also the nice thing about going after sunset.

Lynnae at the Vatican after Sunset
I left the Vatican and walked back to my hostel, I had a full day sightseeing in Rome.

Day 2 in Rome Photo Album

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