Day 13 – Rome, Italy
The man at the front desk greeted us in English, but when I replied “ciao,” he responded, “In Italy, you speak Italian! Bravo!” I learned to say a few more things in Italian and he was very happy to hear my attempts at conversation. I practiced saying 239, our room number, but by the time I got it memorized, the man already knew our room number by heart. He went to hand me the key, but I said, “Wait! I practiced it!” So he waited patiently for me to tell him the room number in Italian. We were both pleased.
It was a rainy day, so we decided to skip the Coliseum and head for the Vatican Museum instead. We walked to the Termini station, about a 5-minute walk, and purchased a 2-day open bus pass, so we could hop on and off this bus to the major sites. As Rome is a very large and spread out city, each bus trip took 2 hours round trip. We ended up seeing the entire city about 6 times over two days. If you are in a hurry, you’re better off with a taxi. We liked it because the top was open, and we could view the sites while listening to commentary in our headphones.
St Peter’s Basilica is a very beautiful church. The lines were long, but it took only a half hour to queue through. Then we grabbed some pizza for 10 euro. We walked about 10 minutes to the Vatican museum, between rain and sunshine.
We breezed through the hallways and headed straight for the Sistine Chapel. We thought we had found the it, and we were surprised that it looked more like a long skinny hallway. The walls and ceilings were covered with magnificent paintings, but it was not the Sistine Chapel.
Then we found the real thing. It was astounding, imagining that poor Michelangelo spent 4 years on his back with a very sore arm painting this chapel, when he insisted that he was truly a sculptor, not a painter.
The Pieta, Da Vinci’s sculpture in the Basilica of Mary holding a crucified Jesus was gorgeous. Apparently, the story goes that when it was first completed, Michelangelo overheard two people looking at the sculpture. He heard them comment that some middle rate sculptor had done it. This made him so mad that he chiseled his name onto Mary’s sleeve so everyone would know that it was his work.
We took shortcut out of the Museum through the tour group exit, saving us a half hour walk. Then we hopped on the open bus, because we thought the sunshine would allow us to see the Coliseum. But, by the time we neared there, an hour later on our open tour bus, it started raining again. So, instead we decided to get off at Termini and go back to the hotel.
When we arrived at Santa Susanna to pick up our tickets for the audience with the Pope, they hadn’t arrived yet. After a half hour, the priest announced a mix up and no tickets would be sent. We could just show up on Wednesday with no tickets.
We found Hard Rock cafe on the map, and had an American dinner, thank goodness. Nothing like a good old BLT and strawberry daiquiri to hit the spot after 2 weeks of pizza and gnocchis. And bread, lots and lots of bread.