05.19.2014 - 05.22.2014 70 °F
Ahh Roma, the bustling streets, the ancient ruins, the architectural masterpieces…(okay that's enough, but I hope you read that in one of the voices from the travel channel haha). Walking into Rome, I was immediately hit with how different it is from Venice, the laid back island. It is definitely a metropolis similar to NY. Everyone has somewhere to be and the cars and buses don't care about all the pedestrians. But the one main difference: All of this is happening with ancient ruins all around them! As a tourist, you stop and wonder how the Colosseum was built or look at the amazing buildings, but the people that live there are already so used to it all.
Our first day, Alex and I arrived in Rome and it was a little gloomy but we decided to still do Ancient Rome: Colosseum and the Roman Forum. I was glad to start with this part of Rome because you get an idea of all the history.
The Colosseum was awesome. (First of all, can I say how many stairs I've had to walk up in this whole trip just to get some of these pictures?!) The engineer in me came out and the whole time I was just thinking, how the heck did they make this in AD 72? Not to mention, that amphitheaters are still designed in a similar way today (of course it's built with machines and different materials now).
The Roman Forum are ruins of temples, basilicas and other public spaces. This area was actually the social, political and commercial heart of the Roman world. I don't remember what all the buildings were used for, but we rented a videoguide that came on an iPod touch and the video showed images of what the buildings would have looked like.
Day 2: On the second day we saw the Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, and Galleria Borghese. We've seen lots of fountains in the middle of squares, but Trevi Fountain is Rome's largest. This is Neptune in a shell-shaped chariot and Trevi just means 'tre vie' or 3 roads that converge at the fountain. I tossed a coin in, and legend has it that it ensures your return to Rome. My travel book says that on average 3000 Euros are tossed in daily!
My favorite part of the day was going to the Villa Borghese. Before going to the Gallery, Alex and I had a picnic in the park that surrounds the museum. We picked up some cheese, meat, bread, and a baby bottle of wine (but we got white wine and since it was hot it was so gross!).
Surprisingly, I really enjoyed the Galleria Borghese. If you know me, you know that I'm not really a museum person, but this trip is quickly changing that. Luckily, I was able to meet up with my friend from my internships at Pratt & Whitney, Margalit, and her boyfriend. It was really nice because then we had 2 more people to talk about the art with. This museum is in Borghese's palace (he was a cardinal) and we mainly saw Baroque (the time period after the Renaissance) sculptures. In each room, the centerpiece was sculpted by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, and after this museum whenever I heard there was a Bernini somewhere I would ask to go. We couldn't take pictures but my two favorites were: David and Apollo & Daphne.
Day 3: Vatican
Alex killed me today. I really thought my feet were going to fall off. But, I think that is common considering the Vatican is ENORGMOUS! On Wednesdays, the Pope comes out and talks to the people so we made it in time to see that. Alex was able to get some shots above the masses of the Pope!
We had about 3 hours before our scheduled time to enter the Vatican. Alex mentioned that there was a Castle, Castel Sant' Angelo, that had "Rome's most beautiful pedestrian bridges" with angels all along it. He said it was a 15 minute walk, I quickly said "No thanks!"…But I changed my mind when he said who the angels were made by…Did you guess it?...Bernini!
The castle was made as a fortress to guard the Vatican and in there is the "lair of the Illuminati" ( if you read Dan Brown's Angels & Demons). I didn't care too much after seeing the angels though
We then walked back to where we heard the Pope speak, which was in front of Basilica di San Pietro (St. Peter's Basilica). This was a horrible idea - basically most of those people who came earlier to listen to the Pope waited around to go into the Basilica when it opened. It definitely was worth the hot and long wait in the sun though.
When you first walk in to your right is Michelangelo's Pieta. The baldacchino or canopy, made by…Bernini!...is underneath the dome designed by Michelangelo. This was Alex's favorite dome and whenever we could see it at different points he would ask me to take a picture (I'm thinking of making a collage of all of the pictures lol)
Here Alex and I saw some pretty cool paintings, but when we looked closer they were actually Mosaics. It just made it 10 times more amazing.
Afterwards, we went to the Vatican Museums. At this point, I'm already exhausted. I felt like I had just completed Tough Mudder and then I was forced to do another lap of it, except this lap was just longer and saturated with more obstacles. In this case, the obstacles are just more art! There is way too much to remember, but my favorite parts were Stanze di Raffaello (Raphael Rooms) and the Sistine Chapel.
Raphael's Rooms are 4 rooms that Pope Julius II asked Raphael to paint frescoes (paintings on the wall) with papal history and biblical scenes. The School of Athens is Raphael's most famous piece of work. It includes Plato and Aristotle at the center.
Day 4: Pantheon and Sant' Ignazio (another church!)
The Pantheon, not to be confused with the Parthenon (the one with the replica in Nashville ) is probably the biggest dome we saw and was the largest dome until the 15th century. Again the engineer in me thought this was interesting, the diameter of the dome is exactly equal to the interior height. The light coming through in the picture is because the dome has an oculus, or hole in the dome.
Last, but not least, Sant' Ignazio, a 17th century Jesuit church, may have been my favorite site in Rome. When you walk in there is a huge fresco with flying angels and you can see how 3D it looks.
But the real kicker is the main dome. Well…Sant' Ignazio actually doesn't have a huge dome, but even after reading that in the book I was still tricked. The "dome" is a fresco made to look 3D because funds to build the real dome dried up. Like what the heck! The only reason I figured it out was because the sky from the windows was gloomier and darker than it actually was that day!
Later that day, we got onto the train to Florence. As you can see, my time in Rome was a whirlwind. There was so much to do, and so little time. But I am very happy with everything we saw. I'm also glad I was able to see Margalit, who I haven't seen for 1.5 years, and we were able to have a really nice double date!
P.S. I already miss Pepsi.