Rome – Day 2
9:20am, Sistine Chapel, Rome
Up at 6am and out at an ungodly hour. I took the metro to Vatican City, indulged in an overpriced cappuccino, and met up with the Rome Museums tour company. A guide brought a big group of us in, bypassing the queue. We joined the group line, allowing entry at 8am before the official 10am opening. We were in by 8:30 and unleashed in the museum by 8:40. I pushed through massive tour groups to get to the Sistine Chapel, which paid off because it wasnâ€™t that crowded. I had the entire back section to myself, save for a group of 5. God, itâ€™s stunning. The whole chapel is covered in gorgeous paintings. The ceiling is by Michelangelo, and is dominated by those typical gross muscley guys â€“ but itâ€™s neat because they seem to be coming out of the ceiling, as if in 3-D. I actually am more impressed with the paintings on the sides of the chapel â€“ those bright, high contrast, colorful paintings by other Renaissance artists like Botticelli. Theyâ€™re all framed/divided by gold adorned borders. Wow. Itâ€™s so crazy because apparently Michelangelo didnâ€™t even want to take this job of painting the chapel and considered himself a sculptor rather than a painter. Seriously?!
The guards in here are like Nazis â€“ â€œturn cameras offâ€, â€œshhhhhhh!â€. They keep shushing us every few minutes. Butâ€¦ I am the queen of stealth and snuck a few photos when I was in the back. I rule. Iâ€™m going to stay in here for an hour or so and just stare at the walls, then go back and see the museum.
3:30pm, Orange Garden, Avetine Hill, Rome
The Vatican Museum was AWESOME. A lot of the rooms (e.g. the library) were covered in paintings on the ceiling. I took so many ceiling photos! Saw some pinacoteca (paintings), some Egyptian art (in stone), and then ran into hordes or people en route to the chapel (where the exit is). It was reeeeeeeally crowded; there definitely needed to be some AC. Ugh. So glad I got in early to see the chapel earlier because when I was exiting, it was PACKED. I also really enjoyed the Raphael rooms, with colorful paintings all over the walls/ceilings, including â€˜The School of Athensâ€™ featuring Socrates and Aristotle. Classic. The floors were made of mosaics in some of the rooms, too.
Getting out of the chapel was really annoying â€“ of course I got stuck in a crowd of old people that wouldnâ€™t move. In all, I was there from 8:30-11:30am, at which point it was blistering hot out. Definitely a 90+ degree day, gross!
Made my way to Trastevere, a cute neighborhood that seemed much less chaotic and more attractive. I bought bread/yogurt/apples and ate in the square, then checked out the Basilica di Santa Maria, which had gold mosaics all around the altar â€“ sooooo pretty. All of these chuches are amazing and so decorative! Iâ€™m in constant awe.
I crossed back over the river and went up to Avetine Hill, where I got to look through the famous keyhole and see St. Peterâ€™s dome through a green-leaved garden tunnel. Down the road, I sought refuge in the Orange Garden (yes, there are oranges on the ground) and had a fabulous view of the city from above. Being in the shade makes a world of difference on a sweltering day, thatâ€™s for sure.
Oh, and just for recordâ€™s sake, I saw a few more churches this afternoon:
â€¢ Chiesa di Carlo ai Catinari
â€¢ Chiesa di Pantaleo e San Giuseppe Calasanzio
â€¢ Basilica di Santâ€™Andrea della Valle
â€¢ Chiesa del Gesu (this one was really cool, and had angel sculptures coming out of the walls)
7:55pm, Pizzeria Ivo, Trastevere, Rome
I really like this area of Rome! Very liveable. Lots of cheap restaurants, too. Iâ€™m currently eating a pizza margherita (sauce, garlic, oregano) at Pizzaria Ivo, which LP claims is known as one of the top pizza places here. Yes, Lonely Planet is my bible when it comes to travel. The pizza was delicious. The Roman pizza crust is super thin and crunchy, but I still loved it. The restaurant is situated on a cobblestone street amidst parked vespas and cars, and Iâ€™ve got a table right on the street. Perfection â˜º
I then ventured back through the center, past the Pantheon and Trevi Fountain, failed to find a gelato place Iâ€™d been looking for, and finally got online at the hostel. I also talked a bit with Kirstie, my British roommateâ€¦ sheâ€™s so nice! Sheâ€™s studying Italian in Rome for a few weeks, then working down in Sicily for the summer. Unfortunately sheâ€™s switching rooms tomorrow, so I doubt Iâ€™ll be seeing much of her.