Homer's Travels: Rome 2023 - Days Three, Four, and Five

Thursday, October 05, 2023

Rome 2023 - Days Three, Four, and Five

Day Three (Monday)

On our third day we visited the Vatican museum.  For the past couple days we'd watched the huge lines going into the museum from our hotel window.  We decided to do a skip-the-line tour to save us four to six hours of waiting in line.  There was a lot of cool stuff to see once you got used to the herd of people you were a part of.  The tour ends in the Sistine Chapel.  Photos are not allowed in the chapel since Nippon TV helped restore the chapel for exclusive rights to the image and videos of Michelangelo's frescoes.  Capitalism ... Such a humanitarian system.

The very cool spiral stairs near the entrance of the Vatican museum.
Since our tour didn't cover the Borgia apartments we separated from our tour guide after the Sistine Chapel and, after eating some lunch, went through the whole museum again. This mostly meant finding holes in the crowd we could move through quickly. We left through the Sistine Chapel again not even stopping to look again. I'm sure people who saw us wondered why we didn't care about all the beauty around us as we rushed through the chapel for our second time.

Stature of Pope Pius IX in Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore.
In the afternoon we took the metro to Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore.  The Wife has decreed that Italian churches are too flat and that she prefers Spanish churches that have more texture.  I have to say I see where she's coming from.  The churches are beautiful but they lack something.  Next to the Basilica is a gelato vendor that sells only one flavor.  The flavor was specially made for the basilica to commemorate a time when it snowed in Rome.  It is a lemon gelato with crunchy meringue bits.  It was refreshing.

The slightly overhyped Trevi Fountain.
We then walked to the Trevi fountain.  While it is beautiful and all it is just a pretty fountain surrounded by a crowd of people.  We did not throw the three coins into the fountain. I'm happy I got to see it though.

Day Four (Tuesday)

Inside of Saint Peter's dome.
Today was an early day.  We took a tour up to the Saint Peter's Basilica Dome.  By law no building can be taller than this dome so the view from up there is pretty magnificent.  The dome climb is around five hundred and fifty steps but we took the elevator that skips three hundred and thirty steps. The remaining two hundred and twenty are a mix of ramps, narrow slanting stairs and winding spiral staircases. Besides the views of Rome you also get an up close view of the mosaics on the inside of the dome.

A close up of one of the mosaics on the inside of the dome.
After the dome we explored the rest of St Peters.  It is very big and all the mosaic tile work is incredible (all 'paintings' in Saint Peters are actually mosaics made of small tiles).  Still, it too was a bit flat.

Inside Saint Peters - it is definitely a big place.
We exited through the crypts and, of course, the gift shop where we found the best prices so we loaded up with Pope blessed souvenirs, gifts, and magnets.

View of the Tiber river from the top of castel Sant'Angelo.
After leaving St Peters we walked to the castel Sant'Angelo also known as Hadrian's Mausoleum.  It was hot and there were more stairs.  Today definitely was stairs day.  At the top we had more great views including views of the Tiber river. 

Day Five (Wednesday)

This morning we attended an audience with the Pope.  We were seated in St Peter's Square with at least eighteen thousand other people or at least that was the number on our ticket.  The Pope entered in his Pope mobile and drove around the crowd a few times before driving up the stairs of St Peters and getting out.  Since there were people from several countries everything he said and mother representatives said was repeated in several languages including Italian, English, German, Spanish, Polish, Czech, and French.  This lengthened out the proceedings a bit.

Pope Francis driving through the crowd in the popemobile.
In the afternoon we took the metro to the Basilica of Saint John Lateran. Another big, beautiful but flat church.  This was the seat for the Pope before Vatican city was built. We ate lunch in a nice bistro nearby. 

A carving in Saint John Lateran Basilica presaging how
I would feel when we got lost on the way to the Pantheon.
We got back on the metro and headed to the Pantheon.  At least we tried.  After leaving the metro station and following Google maps directions we ended up going in nearly the opposite direction than we should.  It is disconcerting, when you are following a map closely, that the ETA gets longer and longer.  We eventually gave up, got on at another metro station, and went back to our hotel hot, sweaty, tired, and disappointed.

Saint Agnes.
After resting in our room we tried again, this time walking to the Piazza Navona. We made it there without incident and enjoyed the fountains and explored churches dedicated to St Agnes and St Mary before walking back past St Peters on the way back to our hotel.

Photographs can be found in my 2023 Rome Google Photo's album.

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