Rome was everything we had hoped that it would be! Oh, how I wish I could tell it all…but alas I cannot. If I were to share all we experienced it could take all day.
In lieu of taking all day, let’s just hit the high notes:
The Vatican: The very first thing we learned on our scenic route to the Vatican is that the Stato della Città del Vaticano, as it is called in Italy, is actually the world’s smallest country (or independent state, depending on how you look at it). Maybe you knew that, but I sure didn’t. It is 110 acres with a population of about 800 and though it sits in Rome, it is not at all governed by Rome. How cool is that?
God and Adam; the highlight of the Sistine Chapel
Yes, we saw all the sites that tourists would want to see in Rome, the Vatican Museum, St. Peter’s Basilica (it is a work of art all by itself), the Vatican Library, the Apostolic Palace and St. Peter’s Square just to name a few, but the crème de la crème, the proverbial icing on the cake, the cherry on top was of course the Sistine Chapel. It was indeed as awe inspiring as all the stories I have heard told and retold over the years of my short life.
Again, I cannot put words together that would ever express our experience there, except to say that it was yet another life changing moment.
Adam and Eve being driven from the Garden of Eden
The entire view of the Sistine Chapel, painted exactly to scale no matter where the on looker stands in the room, wow!!
The artistic genius behind the Sistine Chapel may have often been at odds with The Pope through the nine years of its creation, he may not have always been filled with the most positive of thoughts, but whatever he was thinking when he painted the breathtaking master piece, the finished product was that of sheer brilliance, sheer perfection…I was overwhelmed.
Michelangelo, the creator of the Sistine Chapel and of many other works of art, painted the ceiling lying on his back, in dim light for hours a day. At one point paint had dropped into his eyes blinding him till he could no longer see. What was his response to this unfortunate turn of events? He closed his eyes and envisioned the pictures in his head and let his hands guide him. Just in case you missed it. He painted with his eyes closed. Can we say it all together…Genius!
We saw other master pieces by Michelangelo, like the Pieta. This is the sculpture of Mary chiseled with the face of his own mother, holding the lifeless body of Christ Jesus. It brought tears to my eyes.
Michelangelo's Pieta (Mary has the face of his mother who died when he was five years old. In her open palm is the word "Mother".
The Colosseum (this is not a typo): It was originally called the Flavian Amphitheatre. This structure is considered to be the single most heralded piece of Roman architecture. We had the opportunity to briefly see this structure, we did not go inside, but just from the outside view I could again understand how it became a tourist attraction, if not for its longevity alone. Its construction began in 72 AD and it is still standing today. It was used for public speaking and gladiator events. It was also where plays were performed. It is where we get our blue print for coliseum construction today.
There is more to be said of amazing Rome, but maybe that will be a post for a different day…but for now…
Here is the synopsis: Rome was a fitting end to a wonderful trip. This European destination, Rome, Italy was so surreal to experience. It was interesting to walk the land that was mentioned in the Bible. It was also quite intriguing to experience the nation that was once the super power of the entire world.
St. Peter's Square
The entrance to the Vatican
Our ticket into the Vatican
Everywhere we turned there was a picture of Pope John Paul II.
He was clearly their favorite.
You’ve heard the saying, “all roads lead to Rome”, or how about, “when in Rome do as the Romans do", or even “Rome wasn’t built in a day”. Well, we now know the reason for these phrases. Our guide told us that the phrase “all roads lead to Rome” came from the fact that the roads of this major metropolis were historically built in a wheel spoke formation, sort of like a wagon wheel. For commerce and trade and other interactions with the surrounding areas these roads made easy access into Rome. Even today, with all the modern additions to the city, this concept remains true. Whether coming from Venice or Naples or Capri, all roads lead to Rome.
In addition to that, Rome is a city that was built in “layers”. There are some roads and streets that run under modern day Roman streets. There are many “eras” of building and construction in Rome. Some of the most famous structures took hundreds of years to complete leading one to agree with the notion that Rome was not built in a day.
AND when in Rome it is advantageous to comply with the rules of conduct in common courtesy (or lack thereof) and rules of the road and so on. It is essential for survival. Our guide explained to us that motorcyclist are like “mosquitoes”, no one pays them any attention they just get swatted. Pedestrians, old and young, better fear for their lives if they must cross the road on the “zebra lines”. He said it is Russian Roulette for them on a daily basis. Also, it is wise to adopt the eating habits and laid back culture. You could attempt to do as the Americans do, but I don’t know that you will get very far.
That concludes our story…for now. Of course we are planning our next adventure and this time we need your help. Stay tuned to help us decide where in the world we go next. Until then travel smart and travel safely!
Note: Photos of the Sistine Chapel are unfortunately not our own. Due to the rules of the State of the Vatican photographers are either not allowed to photograph at all or photograph with no flash rendering the photos dark and not worth of sharing. Therefore, I supplemented very nice Sistine Chapel photos courtesy of Wikipedia.