This morning I was up and running at 8am in order to make it to the Vatican on time for my reserved tour of the Gardens. I mostly wanted to see the gardens because we had talked about them in class, and also because they’re pretty much the least seen part of the Vatican and very pretty. Also because I don’t like crowds, and I thought the gardens would be a good alternative. Well… my tour was packed full. The guide was an older lady who seemed to be flustered by everything. We had a 20 minute delay at the beginning of the tour because a woman in a wheelchair really wanted to see the gardens, but it turns out that they are not handicap accessible… Quite interesting because it would be so simple to make them be, but nonetheless, they turned her away.
Then our tour was underway, and we were rewarded with great views of he back of Vatican city and the rear of St. Peters basilica. I got to see the famous loggia with its intricate details and mosaics up close in the garden. We also walked along the ancient walls enclosing Vatican City, and saw the Rock Garden as well as many sculptures and fountains. The route through the gardens was very pretty, but afterwards I continued on the the Vatican Museums, which also ought to be very pretty except for the fact that they are packed full of people; making it extremely hard to move, let alone appreciate the famous art there. I do not like large crowds, so I was not able to really take in all of the treasures there. Particularly disconcerting is the Sistine Chapel, a gorgeous work of art by Michelangelo but I’m not quite sure how to enjoy it when it is packed wall to wall with people. You literally have to fight your way through the crowd to make it to the other side of the room. Although the paintings inside are beautiful, it’s almost as if you’d be better off studying them online or in a book than battling with such a large crowd.
After my morning experience at the Vatican, I was quite ready for a break! I got lunch at Tre Pupuzi, and enjoyed a delicious fettuccine with truffle sauce complemented by some Chianti wine. After my lunch, I continued on to get a good look at Castle St. Angelo, but I didn’t venture inside because the entry fee is 10 Euros! I then crossed the Bridge of Angels in front of the castle, the angels on the bridge were carefully sculpted by Bernini to give the entrance up to St. Angelo an impressive touch.
The next thing I did was to take a walk through Rome towards the Vittorio Emmanuelle monument. Although I had seen it at night, I wanted to walk up the steps and see the tomb of the unknown soldier. I also wanted to take in the view of the forum from several stories high. The view made me excited to get down there and explore, so I hurried down and bought my combo pass and went to explore the forum first.
I couldn’t believe I was actually walking through the Roman Forum in real life! I had my nook with me, so I sat under the Temple of Jupiter and read a few chapters about the history of the forum in front of me as I connected which buildings were which and imagined what life must have been like so long ago. I wandered through the forum, stopping to check out each ruin and then spent a little bit of time checking out the gardens of the Palatine Hill overlooking the ruins of the forum, and looking at what used to be the houses of the rich and famous on the hill. At 5 30, the forum area closed and I headed to the metro to ride out towards the suburbs to the convention center where I could check in for the marathon. After checking in, I wandered around the expo for a bit, drank some Gatorade and ate some pasta. I was still hungry after, so I was back on the metro and I used my nook to try to find a good pizza place from Trip Advisor.
Since Rome is super hard to navigate, I wasn’t able to find for the place I wanted to go so I ended up at Pizza Cico instead. That was ok though because I enjoyed an amazing pizza with buffalo mozzarella, sweet tomatoes, and Spinach. It was the king of pizza you had to eat with a crust, the dough was thin and soft. I decided to top it off with some gelato and stumbled across a Gelateria on my way back to my hotel. I got some delicious vanilla gelato, and ate it in the square by one of Bernini’s first works composed by the Barberini family, the Triton fountain. After a long and packed day, I showered and immediately went to bed.