Ooh, it's a never before seen combo entry. The reason being is that no pictures are allowed in the Sistine Chapel so I decided to combine them since the Vatican is listed in the Rome entry of The List.
We started our day at the Trevi Fountain. Well, actually we started the day leaving Civitavecchia before dawn and driving a couple of hours to Rome. On the way I spotted this:
Where are we meeting? At this place? No, no the other place, Rome.
Anyway, on to Trevi Fountain ... it was designed by Nicolo Salvi (based on a Bernini design) and completed in 1762. I always thought it was a stand alone fountain in the middle of a square, not so. It is built up against a building and you have to walk down a narrow little alley to get to it.
The legend is that if you toss a coin into the "sea" of the fountain you will return to Rome. So, of course, I did.
And then I bought a coconut gelato which was so delicious that the dream of having another will be what actually brings me back to Rome.
The central figure is Neptune, Roman god of the sea.
He is riding a chariot shaped like a shell pulled by two sea horses.
Each sea horse is guided by a Triton.
One of the horses is calm and obedient,
the other agitated and wild.
They symbolize the fluctuating nature of the sea.
On the left side of Neptune is a statue representing abundance,
On his right a statue representing heath and well-being.
After the fountain we walked over to the Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II (Monument of Victor Emanuel). He was the King of Sardinia and became the symbol of the movement to unify Italy. After his army defeated the papal army in 1861 he was proclaimed king of the Kingdom of Italy.
Rumor has it that Romans actually hate the monument because they used this bright white marble that won't mellow to the desired ochre color of surrounding architecture. They have nick-named the monument
- The False Teeth
- The Typewriter
- The Wedding Cake
The monument is on Piazza Venezia where Mussolini would speechify (including declaring war on England during WWII).
If you walk around the side of The Wedding Cake you can see where Michelangelo lived. I mean, they tore down the actual building, but they put up a lovely plaque.
And kiddy-corner to both is BOOM!
Trajan's Column! Which, can I just say, I grew up seeing this in art history books and I turned around and it was right there.
And it is located in the Forum Romanum, the center of Roman life in the time of the republic, which you really need a guide or map to fully appreciate. I had a guide, but she was kind of awful so I've just got a bunch of random pictures. I know what a few of them are...
This was were the senate assembled. This building was built by Diocletian in 283 AD and could seat up to 200 senators.
Temple of Castor and Pollux
Temple of Antoninus and Faustina (I think)
After the Roman Forum we walked to the Colosseum. It was originally known as the Flavian Amphitheater and was started in 72 AD by Emperor Vespasian and completed and inaugurated in 80 AD by his son, Titus.
Meet the Colosseum...it was being renovated.
The Colosseum could accommodate 55,000 spectators that entered through no less than 80 entrances (they were numbered...you are in portal 53). Combat was the usual entertainment - using men, animals, ships...everything.
The pitting isn't from age. At some point it was discovered that the builders had stablized the structure with iron rods. Iron was valuable and people started drilling into the walls and stealing the beams.
Arch of Titus
Arch of Constantine
After a delicious lunch, it was time for Vatican City.
I had been really looking forward to seeing the Vatican Museums, but basically our tour group just ran through a couple of rooms on the way to the Sistine Chapel.
This ceiling is amazing. It is not three dimensional. Totally flat, total trickery, including the shadows. It is astounding.
This ceiling is 3D
While visitors are still allowed to visit the Sistine Chapel the Vatican insists on silence and respect inside - including not allowing any photography. I will tell you however that the actual experience is a bit of a mixed bag. The ceiling is awe-inspiring. The Last Judgment is incredibly powerful. The fact that a bazillion people (some of whom do not behave in a manner suitable to one of the Church's most sacred places) is jarring and maddening.
I am old enough to remember the controversy when the ceiling was restored and the vibrant hues of the original paints were uncovered. There is a small square in the upper right hand corner that was left un-restored so visitors can see the difference. It is remarkable, actually, I can see why everyone was so completely stunned by the revelation of Michelangelo's original palette.
The last stop of the day was St. Peter's Basilica. I have watched midnight mass for several years, mostly so I could gape at the glory that is this house of worship.
The Holy Door - only opened during a "Holy Year" (Jubilee), which happens every 25 years.
Michelangelo's Pieta, the only sculpture he ever signed.
Just to give an idea of the scale of this place - the letters are six feet tall.
This is where Pope John Paul II was reburied. Also, if you come to see the amazing paintings be prepared for disappointment. Due to problems with climate/humidity control in the basilica the paintings have been replaced with exact replica mosaics.
The baldacchino...I have loved since I first saw it in an art history book. I knew I would cry when I saw it in person.
This is the balcony where announcements of a new pope are made. The pope also uses this balcony periodically to deliver blessings.
These markers run the length of the basilica marking off the sizes of other famous churches.
St. Paul's in London is the next largest.
It doesn't even come close to San Pietra
The papal apartments are in the gray building
The roof of the Sistine Chapel.
I cannot wait to go back to Rome, armed with my own guidebook, meandering through the ruins at my own pace, and visiting St. Peter's without a guide in my ear.