Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The BIG three in Rome: St. Peter's Basilica, The Vatican, and the Colosseum

After a wonderful little jaunt in Florence, Rome was next our our list. After seeing "The David" and a wine tasting in the Tuscan hills, it would be a hard city to beat. Even with high expectations, Rome never failed to disappoint. The best part of Rome was my parents; my parents surprised me a day early in Rome and we had the best time together. Since they came early, they tagged along on some of our little trips!

Of course, we hit many of the tourist spots, like St. Peter's Basilica where we had an amazing once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in the ruins below. Underneath St. Peter's Basilica, lies the Scavi where the tomb of St. Peter lies. Due to the importance of this sight, only 250 guests are allowed per day to visit this burial ground. For our tour, we wandered below St. Peter's Basilica, exploring the burial ground, seeing St. Peter's bones. Our tour guide was incredibly informative; it seemed as though she barely took a breath during her perfectly rehearsed speech. This was such an important event and I am thankful that I was able to see this burial ground in person. After visiting the Scavi, we toured the Basilica and I had a difficult time enjoying it if I am completely honest. There is so much to look at in the Basilica from statues like the Pieta to the marble detailing on the floor. For me, it was too much stimulation for me to truly enjoy all of the art. It also bothers me that people are only taking pictures, not really enjoying their surroundings. (This explains why I have no pictures of the interior of the Basilica and we were not allowed pictures in the Scavi.) While we were inside, there was even a mass being held in one of the side chapels and I was disturbed that people were walking, talking, and taking pictures while this spiritual service was going on. That would have disturbed me regardless of the religious location. Regardless of my personal opinions, I am glad I visited the Basilica and the Scavi.

St. Peter's from the yard of the Vatican Museum

The Vatican Museum was another museum we had the opportunity to visit. Much like my idea of St. Peter's, I did not take any pictures inside. Rather I chose to enjoy my surroundings in the moment. When I think of the Vatican, the Sistine Chapel is the first thing that comes to mind. After studying Michelangelo in detail during my art history course, the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and the "Last Judgment" were high on my list of art works I needed to see in Europe. After wandering through the museum, and it is gigantic mind you and I had no idea how large it was, the Sistine Chapel was the last spot on our tour. How could the artwork disappoint? It is absolutely stunning. I loved seeing in in person. The "Last Judgment" commands attention. I spent a long time with my neck stretched upward, looking at the "Creation of Adam" and the "Separation of Light and Dark." Seeing the Sistine Chapel was a highpoint of Rome for me, without a doubt.

After spending ten days with my Loyola group, we parted ways in Rome. my friends jetted around the continent and I spent a few more days in Rome with my parents before going to Barcelona! (I will cover Barcelona in a forthcoming post!) As luck would have it, a family friend from Cleveland was living in Rome for work, so my parents had a place to stay and someone from home to spend time with, which was incredibly nice. Cynthia, and her son Will, were wonderful hosts-one night she even made burritos and for anyone that knows me, this was a huge deal as I live for Mexican food! While Cynthia worked during the day, my parents, Will, and I spent time wandering the city doing things like visiting the Colosseum. The Colosseum was magnificent. The fact that people of the past were able to create these feats of engineering without modern equipment is fascinating to me. One thing I never knew about the Colosseum was that they used to fill it with water and use it for naval races! I cannot even begin to fathom how they filled it with water and how they kept it inside the Colosseum! Seeing the Colosseum is certainly a must-see in Rome!

The Colosseum 

Rome is a beautiful city full of culture and must-see attractions from the Vatican to the Scavi to the pizza to the Colosseum. Everything I saw in Rome was something that I only ever dreamed about seeing, so this was an incredible trip! Stay tuned for my next post about my few days in Barcelona with my parents!

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