Day 9 (Day 8 with Ed) Pictures here.
Rome, the final frontier… these are the voyages of Ed and Jason: Their mission: to explore new sites… to boldly go, where many pickpockets have gone before.
Rome is a beautiful city, full of beautiful people, but you need to keep your wits about you.
After an uneventful train ride back to Rome, Ed and I decided that we wanted to try to see the catacombs. This is cool, but what we didn’t realize was that there are catacombs ALL AROUND ROME. Turns out that for many centuries, no one was allowed to be buried inside of Rome itself (for sanitation reasons). So we ended up going to one set of the catacombs. We hooked up again with Romaround tours (because they did a good job with the Colleseum). So Elane ended up taking us around the Circus Maximus, and telling us the story of this place, then telling us of various Roman burial rites, and then taking us to one set of Catacombs.
After that, we ended up at St. Peter in Chains, where the Horned Moses is housed. Michaelangelo felt that this was the greatest sculpture he had ever done. Though just after he finished it, he found out some news about the project as a whole, and flew into a rage. He actually threw a hammer at the statue and marred it around the knee area.
After this, we poked around the Colleseum area, and the Monumento de Vitoria Immanuel II, at sunset, which turned out pretty nice pictures.
Day 10 (Day 9 with Ed) Pictures here.
Well, on our second to last day together, Ed and I went on a bit of a meander around Roma. We first came to Santa Maria Maggorie where I found some Japaneese people offering mass… in English. Well, sorta. They offered the liturgical parts in English, but the readings, and the homily were in Japaneese. It was kinda surprising. After this we walked to the Piazza de Republica, where Santa Maria degli Angeli (yes, a second one) is situated. This church looks from the outside to be completely in ruins, but on the inside is rather beautiful. We then meandered around towards il Monumento (from last night, and then to Piazza de Navarra (where a really cool obelisk is, that has no support directly under the center weight of mass).
As a note, Billy Joel was in town, and performing a free concert by the Colleseum. So we were avoiding that area like the plague. I bring this up because around here there were a LOT of cops around Piazza Navarra. We started walking away from there, but we kept running into more and more police.
Anyway, after this time, we walked up towards the Medicci (the Balls! The Balls!) palace, where we found the Church of the Holy Trinity on the Mountain (I think that’s the translation). This church had this AMAZING rendition of the Pieta. We walked further from here to the Piazza de Publico, where I asked ed to pose for this picture.
We determined at this point that NONE of the places we had been to would make good places to get sunset pictures. This wasn’t making us happy… (and I for one was REALLY tired of walking by this point… this becomes germane later). So, we wander over by the Tiber, and then down to Castal San Angelo, which has these awesome angel statues around it.
Though this bridge is just INFESTED with street venders. You can tell this breed of vender by their cardboard holding boards (for sunglasses) or white sacks for handbags. We dodge them as best we can, but all of a sudden, they all start packing up (fast) and walking swiftly to one side of the bridge. About 1 minute later, two Italian police come slowly walking by. After a few minutes, they walk back the other way, and 2 minutes later, the street venders come walking back. This process repeats itself about once every half hour. It’s kinda funny to watch. The police are apparently not really interested in cracking down hard on these venders, but they do want to keep them under control, so they walk by… and probably arrest people on rare occasion (if they don’t run fast enough).
But after grabbing dinner, this proved to be an AWESOME place for sunset pictures. And even some very nice twilight pictures.
But our day wasn’t over yet. We’re pretty tired at this point… having walked probably 12 miles already. So we start walking towards Leopanto Metro station.
Only to find that it’s closed.
So we walk to the next one. Which is also closed.
THE ENTIRE ROMAN METRO IS CLOSED DOWN BECAUSE OF A STUPID CONCERT!!!!! AAARGH!
So we start walking towards are hotel. We finally spy some buses, and start walking quickly to where they all seem to be heading. We finally (after another mile or two of walking past the first Metro Station) get to a bus stop that will take us back to Termini. This bus is hyper crowded, but we get on, and get to Termini, and back to our hostel, faster than walking. I for one was VERY thankful for this.
Day 11 (Day 10 with Ed) Pictures here.
So, now it’s what you’ve been waiting for. You can’t be Catholic, and go to Roma without seeing the Vatican. Even Rick Steves suggests becoming Catholic for one day. The Sisteen Chapel/Vatican Museum is stunning. Someone once said that even without the chapel itself, the Vatican Museum is one of the top 2 or 3 art houses in all of Europe. The statues? Incredible. The Tapestries? Amazing. Even to the small detail pieces below the main ‘image’ of the tapestry… they were done up in this ‘sepia’ like tone, that had fantastic shadow detail. The art in this place just defies description. After this, we took the short cut to San Pietro.
Which is also stupendous. It was nice to just show it to Ed.
But, one of the highlights of the trip was before us. We grabbed some lunch, and then we went off to the Scavi tour. I had asked about 3 weeks before this to be admitted to this tour. The Vatican only lets 120 people go on it per day… (and it usually helps to have a priest do the asking). But the previous day, I had gotten an email saying that we could come on it. WhoHOO!
But there were some snags. The email clearly says that: “The Visitors are reminded that they are not allowed to bring bulky objects into the excavations (suitcases, backpacks, …).” We don’t have such, so we go inside (it’s really nice to have the Swiss Guards of the Vatican say that ‘Yes, you can come forward into this sealed off place’). So, we go to the office, and they say that ‘no bags are allowed’. They suggest going to the far side of St. Peters Square to check our bags. We RUN over there, only to find that San Pietro is closing down ‘for a meeting’. We run back to the information desk, and ask if we can check our bags there, and they say ‘no, go back where you were.’ We respond that that place is closed, and we’re told it’s not their problem (basically). Eventually after running back and forth for quite a while, we go back, trying to get in the tour at all. We find two tourists who are 1 euro short for their trip, and I offer them 1 euro for several reasons:
- They needed 1 Euro. I had one.
- They were in line ahead of us, and I needed them out of the way.
- If these officials see us being nice to other tourists, maybe they’ll be inclined to make an exception for us.
But it seemed to turn the trick… I wish it was totally altruistic, but it wasn’t (and Ed was a few seconds behind me in offering the Euro… for the same reasons… ). The officials decided to let us on the tour, with our bags (well, my large fanny pack, and Ed’s camera belt). It WAS a tight fit, but we made it through.
But WHY is the Scavi tour sooooo cool? Because the bones of St. Peter are there (and the Necropolis under St. Peters is also pretty interesting).
But no pictures are allowed.
So we get out of the Scavi tour, and notice that the Vatican is locked up pretty tight at this point. We go around to the outer/side door, and see… about 2 THOUSAND German kids. We had seen them ALL OVER ROME for the past few days. What we didn’t know was that B16 was hosting a special meeting for them all in St. Peters Square… which is why St. Peters was closing early ‘for a meeting’. So now we had to fight our way through these HUGE masses of German high school students… so that we could get out the other side of the Vatican to where the metro station is. At least it’s open this time.
So, we head back to the hostel, and start packing, for Ed leaves in the morning. I take this final picture from our hostel room (too bad he’s facing the ‘wrong’ direction).
Ed has arrangements to be picked up by one of the hostel workers at 4:30 AM to get to the airport for his 6:55 AM flight (this was FAR cheaper than a Taxi, and long before the Leonardo di Vinci train starts up), and that’s it for his trip. I get up in the morning, and decide where to go. It ends up being down to Cinque Terra, and Pompeii…
And I chose Cinque Terra, which was a great blessing. But that will be the next post.