Rome Travel Blog› entry 1 of 4 › view all entries
Before coming to Rome I had only been to Milano and Como when I was very young. I remembered great pizza and nice scenic walks. But the Rome I was expecting was extracted by the pictures in my art history book and the stories told to me by my devout Catholic family about their visits to the Vatican.
The flight provided me with my first experience with the Italian lifestyle. Every time I stood up and walked to the back of the plane there were the stewardesses laughing and chatting drinking cups of coffee and having a great time. Ah… la dolce vita.
In order to get to the convent we had booked as our hotel my mother decided to get a taxi as we didn’t know how to get around.
Although we felt sleepy and all airport-stale, clothes crumpled, legs aching, etc… we were too excited to let any time pass without seeing Roma. Since the Convent was located on Viale Vaticano we walked five minutes to St. Peter’s. An enormous line stretched out between us and the basilica, in the persistent yet light rain a crowd of tourists waited or pushed to get inside.
With the dismay on our faces apparent, a young man approached us asking if we spoke English. He offered us to join a tour group that would take us inside the museums without waiting in line for 25 euro. Although we had intended to see the basilica, we made our way to the museum tour group, only to find out that not only did we have to pay an additional 14 euro of an entrance fee but we would only have one hour to see all of the museum. As a student of art I thought this ludicrous and a waste. To run past each precious piece of art! Unimaginable.
We waited in the regular line and finally got inside where we invested 4 euro each in an audio guide. On our way to the Egyptian exhibit the ceilings were already decorated in the baroque style, absolutely wonderful. I stared up at the ceiling almost tripping up the stairs a few times before I stumbled into the first Egyptian room.
On our way through the museum there were several incredibly famous pieces which I dragged my mother so that I could display my knowledge of styles and lore. As we neared the Sistine chapel more and more people kept running past us, ignoring the highly decorated ceilings and sculptures. I had read that the chapel was not as impressive as it is made out to be, but I felt quite the opposite. Michelangelo’s mastery of balance and composition kept me standing in the center for nearly half an hour. Then I sat on either side where there were benches to contemplate the painted walls. As the audio guide explained, the Last Judgment was not originally there and when I faced the other way it all culminated in the centerpiece of negative space between Adam and God.
After we exited the museum I felt absolutely disgusting. The feeling of being without a shower for an abnormal amount of time was further developed by the rain that had permeated my jacket before we entered the museum. The convent was not far away so we quickly went back to shower and get out our rain gear.
After this we tried again at St. Peter’s, but unfortunately they had just closed and the Swiss Guards clad in their navy blue ponchos swished us away. It was about eight o’clock and an outpouring of nuns, clergymen, and audience members started pouring out of the Vatican City all at the same time. The current created by this sudden departure was immense and we got swept into the crowd running in the direction opposite of our convent.
Because of our curiosity, we decided to simply follow these people to see where everybody was going. Down the Viale Vaticano and then down some stairs, to the left, up a ramp, into a tunnel, following the herd blindly we found ourselves in a parking lot in which no car of ours was parked. Dismayed we went back into the tunnel where we walked against the crowd until we found the uscita and back to the Vatican square. By this time it was lit up and gorgeous so we stood around a bit in the square seeing all the fountains and trying to walk as close to St. Peter’s as possible without upsetting the guards.