Rome. The ancient city! It is a city that seems to have history everywhere you look. I was in Rome for around 5 days and those 5 days were the busiest consecutive days of my trip so far. Everyday had an agenda! And while not every day in Rome went according to plan, I was able to see everything I wanted to see before moving on to Naples! Check out what I’ve been up to these past few days in Rome!
Vatican City – The Pope, Parades, and Patience
I ended up breaking Vatican City into a few separate days. I spent one day just looking around St. Peter’s Square, another day was strictly for the papal mass, and the last day was touring St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel. There were always a lot of crowds at the Vatican, so splitting it up made the crowds seem more manageable.
I have been to a very small amount of Catholic masses in my life. The service on Sunday was a very short service lead by Pope Francis. It was given in Italian and from a window overlooking St. Peter’s Square. There were hundreds of people in the square and everyone cheered the minute the Pope appeared! Even in Italian he seems like a pretty cool guy! His voice is just soothing!
The service started at about noon. Everything we read said that the service would be around two hours and that seating would be available in the front. So, we left the hotel at 9:00 and get to the square around 10:00. And then we stood. And stood. And stood. Until noon. The service was about 15 minutes on the dot. There are also services on Wednesdays, so perhaps we were only reading information on Wednesdays. Nonetheless, I really enjoyed attending a mass led by the Pope and I would definitely recommend it to anybody heading to Rome!
Later that evening, on my way back to the hotel after getting some gelato it looked like there would be a parade right outside out hotel! I asked a police officer what was going on, and it turns out the Corpus Christi Feast pilgrimage would be passing through! Including the Pope! So, I ended up attending a ‘Pope Parade’ just feet away from where I was staying in Rome! I couldn’t get a picture of the Pope, but it was neat to see priests and clergy people and nuns and fraternities and kids all coming out for this festival!
St. Peter’s Basilica
St. Peter’s Basilica was a giant basilica and definitely my favorite church/cathedral/Duomo I have seen in Italy! It was absolutely HUGE with statues all around basilica. The basilica was certainly flashy but it wasn’t overwhelming. There was also a separate place for quite prayer. Pictures weren’t allowed there, but it was nice to just sit in a quiet place and pray. Throughout the school year I typically go to church twice a week. Combining that routine with a week in Taize, I have been missing my church time!
This was REALLY cool! The Sistine Chapel is something you need to see in person to really appreciate it! To get to the chapel, you have to first walk through the Vatican Museums. We were cutting it a bit close to closing time, so we went through the museum pretty quick. The Sistine Chapel was at the very end of our ‘tour’ but totally worth the walk! When you are looking up at the ceiling, you can really see Michelangelo’s expertise and skill. On a curved chapel ceiling, he was able to make the people and images seem three dimensional. No picture or postcard or poster can recreate the ceiling. I just stood there craning my neck for what seemed like forever. This was worth every penny! Unfortunately, you aren’t allowed to take photos of the ceiling.
Colosseum, Roman Forum & Pantheon
I lived about a 10 minute walk from the Colosseum and Roman Forum, so I took advantage of that and checked out these ancient ruins as the sun was setting. I have said before that I like Italy at night much more, and that rings even more true after seeing the Colosseum at night! It is sad to see that the walls have been falling and there have been obvious fixes over the years, but I am grateful that there is some semblance of the ancient Colosseum. I didn’t go into the Roman Forum but I was able to look over the ruins of the Roman Forum. I am was surprised by how much lower the ruins are compared to today’s ground level. I also checked out the Pantheon real quick! It was a giant dome with an alter opposite the door (I guess it is a church). There were statues all around the room. I think it is most important to remember of these structures the time these were built with the technologies available at the time!
Trevi Fountain & Spanish Steps
I also visited the Trevi Fountain at night! My mom went to Rome while she was in college and saw the fountain at night, so I really wanted to ‘recreate’ the experience! I was hoping there would be less tourists at night, but it was absolutely packed! There were so many people trying to get pictures and selfies of the fountain. I was able to squeeze in an get a few pictures as well as make a few wishes, so I am very happy with the experience!
I also made a quick trip to the Spanish Steps. The steps have been a meeting place for artists and authors and poets from around the world. They were pretty packed but I am glad I was able to make a quick stop to see them!
Rome was busy and hot and crowded but also beautiful and historical with lots of hidden secrets! I enjoyed my time in Rome but I am happy to finally be in a town that is a bit slower paced. I arrived in Naples today and while it is much warmer, there are definitely less tourists. We have two day trips planned (Amalfi Coast and Pompeii) and other than that, Naples is an open book for us! Only a week left in Italy! Time has flown by!