We left Florence at 815 am and it was off to Rome for a short ride with no stops. We were all really excited and dressed to the 9's because we were headed straight to the Vatican! The ride was not bad at all and I slept on the way. We arrived a bit early for our Vatican tour, so Zac took us all to one of his favorite pizza places. On the way walking to it though, this sweet and quite persistent older woman stopped Zac, seeing the large group we had, and insisted we eat at her restaurant. She was literally stalking him, every time he stopped, she did, and although it was apparent she was driving him insane, we all found it hilarious. The pizza was pretty good, I got prosciutto and mozzarella, because it got so crowded with just with us there that I couldn’t see all the other toppings they offered. We sat outside on the steps and curb when Zoe (being her sweet semi clumsy self) dropped a piece of pizza on the ground which made for entertainment for the rest of us as we cheered on the little birds versus the big pigeons for who would get it. Come on lil’ sparrows! We all finished up and hurried over to where we all set to meet, which was closer to St. Peter’s square. I am pretty sure we were all together anyways, but we met there and had to back track past the pizza parlor to the entrance to the Vatican! That is where out tour guide met us and handed out our headphones. Thank goodness it was not like in Florence where the guide had a speaker around her neck like a dog collar, with us all huddled around her like puppies trying to hear about the history. It was hot as the dickens outside, and being in a long black dress, I had purchased the day before in Florence, was not helping. It was 6 inches too long to begin with and my wonderful Emma saved me by safety pinning the whole thing. I tucked the middle of the dress into my belt/underware, hoping to lift it up enough to get a nice breeze in between my legs….in the Vatican. Well, I didn’t burn up in flames, so God couldn’t have been too upset. She is quite understand I hear J We hurried inside, past the massive line and right above us were televisions with all the things to see, and if they were open or not. Stanze di Raffaello was open! I had a feeling that we would be skipping that room on this tour, so I made a mental note I had to come back to the Vatican to spend the proper amount of time staring at it/crying at it/leaping for joy at it/being overwhelmed by it. It was at this moment I was happy to be staying in Rome and not going on to Greece. That moment quickly faded as I saw Rachel and Ellie put on the smocks they bought in a vending machine in Florence, just to enter be considered, “church dress.” The tickets in had the, “School of Athens,” on them and I took it as a sign from the pretty lady upstairs that I would definitely be needing to come back. The tour guide was pretty informative, but rushed. We saw the many tapestries and Gallery of Maps. We got to a sign that said, “Stanze di Raffaello,” and an arrow pointing in the opposite direction of the one we turned to. Mental Note Taken. We got outside of the Sistine Chapel and were told there was absolutely no photography in the Chapel and no one was allowed to speak, out of respect. I totally understand and really respect it. Plus I don’t want to hear anyone’s opinion, especially uneducated American tourists opinions, on anything in regards to the Vatican or masterpieces inside. The Chapel was packed like sardines. And it was on the quieter side, except for the guards that every 45 seconds would shout out, “NO PHOTO OR VIDEO…SHHHHHH!” I thought the frescos were going to crack right off the ceilings/walls, as they were doing in the hallways we had seen before. I took one glance at the ceiling, teared up, and knew I would be back. They have long benches along the side of the room, but people were waiting in line to sit down, so that would not be happening on this trip. Our tour guide continued on whispering about the masterpieces on the ceiling of the, “Creation,” and the alter of the, “Last Judgment.” Since we had the headphones in our ears, we were not disrupting anyone around us. We met at the back and headed out of the Sistine Chapel. Next stop, St. Peter’s Basilica. It was still hot as balls outside. We saw the Holy Door, which is walled up until the first day of the Holy year, when the current Pope knocks it down with a silver hammer. Inside, I saw my favorite sculpture. Michelangelo's Pieta had always moved me. It made me always envision a mother loosing her child and how that is just not the way it is supposed to be. Out of all religious artwork or all mediums, this is by far my favorite. Since my beliefs are a bit different from others, especially Catholic, the Pieta really moves me, showing the mortality of Jesus. It hurts my heart that it has to hide behind glass now, since an idiot threw a rock at it many years ago. This was the second thing to move me to tears and it was only like noon. There were many people praying and taking pictures of everything. The inside was so grand. It still astounds me that structures like this existed before modern time. Don’t architects feel the need to create something that moves people the way this moves everyone. Anyways… we had to opportunity to wander around a bit more before we all headed outside to the square. We met at the obelisk in the middle, which in Angels & Demons, represented, “Air.” We all said our goodbyes to the guide and headed out to the bus. Since we were cutting our Rome time in half, Zac had to desperately squeeze everything into today and the little time we had in the morning. After driving by the, “Il Vittoriano," or Tomb of the unknown solider or as locals call it, “The wedding cake,” due to its size and obvious difference to the brown, aged structures all around it. We were let off around there and walked over to the Spanish Steps. There are men that give out flowers there, ask for nothing, then as you walk away ask for money and get angry you didn’t offer them money…even if you insisted. I yi yi. This part was a bit of a blur, because we were all so hot and a bit tired at this point. We walked to the Pantheon, where I knew there was something I had been wanting to see in there that was very significant, but was having trouble with what it was. EUREKA! I almost screamed when I saw RAPHAEL’S TOMB! I forget who had spotted it, but knew it was fate. I was just a few years (and the wrong sex, apparently) too late. When I calmed down, Ellie, Rachel and I walked outside. I give Zac props for a little less than dragging us around the city. We saw all the major sites in a very short amount of time. He luckily, didn’t let us rest for too long before it was on to the next magnificent site. We went to the Trevi Fountain, where there is no breeze what-so-ever and quickly made our wishes with our coins and took some quick pictures. I freaked out because I was melting and threw the coin over my back, forgetting which shoulder I was supposed to throw it over. Luckily, my subconscious was flying on pilot mode and threw it over the correct one. Piazza Novena was out last site of the night and also where we would branch off for dinner. I was finished with making decisions and opted to go to the restaurant Zac had recommended, where he would be. I wasn’t feeling like leaving his or my groups side and could not walk around anymore. We walked a few blocks outside of Piazza Navona to S.Q.P.T., a pasta place with a great reputation. I ordered wine before anything. We had great conversation and laughter at our table that consisted of Emma, Alexis, Zac and a few others. Our group took up the entire inside. Zac and I bonded over our love of stupid commercials and I think the tiredness really had gotten to everyone, because we were all laughing hysterically at everything. Someone told a stupid joke about Cars…or something else weird and Emma and I were the only ones who didn’t get it. Everyone joked that it was because we were blonde, but I think it was because we over analyzed the stupid joke. STUPID JOKE! This was when I got really upset, thinking about how when I spent time in Rome after everyone left, I would be crying at dinner alone, by myself. This is when the idea to potentially continue on with my Contiki family really sounded amazing. “It isn’t going to be the same without you,” Zac said in passing at the table, as we were all crying from laughing. I still didn’t have my STUPID credit card and I didn’t want to make any plans for anything until that damn thing was in my hands. Zac skipped out on the bill, but he seemed so stressed, I think our table was fine with all dividing it. Plus he left his water bottle, which I drank a little/all of. We got back to the bus and headed to the campgrounds. Right before departing the bus, Zac let us Rome people know we would need to meet him at the picnic tables to do exit paperwork. Wah. I grabbed my phone and put my bag in my cabin and headed over there. I went to the front desk thing to see if I had received mail. The lady said she had signed for something for a Palmer and had to pay money for it. Don’t get too excited, I thought. A nice guy, who worked as a site rep for Contiki there walked me all over the site to look for it, but we found out that it was at the front desk the whole time. IT WAS HERE!!! I have never been so excited to see a panda visa card in my LIFE! I used Zac’s ipad to call through Skype to activate the card. ACTIVATED! Then he took us over to go over our reviews of him, tipping, etc. After all that was done and we were beginning our reviews, I casually asked him, “So hypothetically, if I was to want to continue on to Greece, could I?,” He responded back immediately with, “Yea, DO YOU?” I thought for a few moments and answer, “Yes, definitely yes.” I stopped my paperwork and he said he couldn’t make any promises, considering I gave him about 6 hours to make it happen, but he would try. I was letting myself be at about a 6 ½ on the happy/excited scale. I ran into my girls, aka Zoe, Rachel and Ellie on my way down to the cabin and Zoe almost fell down the stairs when I told her. I wouldn’t find out till the morning, but would PARTY ANYWAYS. That was short lived when we realized we hadn’t gotten to the front desk before it closed for the night. This campground worked on a, “token,” system and you had to get tokens to buy anything on the grounds, including alcohol. The tokens could only be distributed at the front desk. Balls. Oh well, it was hot and we were all beat. We went back to the cabin, where Rachel was my roommate and Ellie had lost in the game called, “who is rooming with the weird girl.”
The original entrance...notice Michelangelo & Raphael as the figures above the entrance.
The beautiful ceiling is cracking. Nets and what looked like tape is keeping it all together.
"The Great Castration," by Piux IX. Now, there are leaves on the missing parts.
The blue is lapis lazuli which is found in Crested Butte, CO :)
There is nothing missing from this statue. It was meant to look that crazy.
The Holy Door
The other side of the Holy Door.
Tomb of the unknown solider.
Gorgonzola Gnoochi....best meal I had in Europe.
Morning came quickly, and I showered and headed over to the breakfast place, still not wanting to eat, but this time because I already had a stomachache from the nerves of this potentially being my last meal with everyone. I brought my bag and everything out of the cabin anyways, deciding that if I were to stay in Rome, that this campsite was not going to make the cut of accommodations I would be staying in, to cry in all night. Zac confronts me in front of the bus and says, “guess what? You aren’t going anywhere,” with a grin. This through me for a loop for a moment. If I’m not going anywhere, than I was staying in Rome? Fuck. Then I realized he probably wouldn’t be smiling if I was. Fuck, I don’t know him well enough to figure out what he means! In the 4 seconds all this ran through my head, I hadn’t reacted the way he expected and said, “you are staying on!.”……. YYYYAAAYYYY!!! The first sigh of relief I had felt since Barcelona!! I had my credit card and would be staying with my crew for 6 more days! Pompeii and GREECE!!I was beyond words as I packed my bags and said goodbye to Zach and Bethany, a couple who’s animated sweet relationship had proved to be very entertaining for all of us. How dreamy to travel with the person you love! I guess I was kind of doing that…just with 30 people I loved…maybe more like 24 people I liked/loved and 6 I loved loved. We headed out to the Coliseum. When we arrived, we walked down to it. Rachel slipped down the stairs in her, “jandels,” that were hanging on by their very last thread. It was hilarious, but I knew she had really hurt her ass. We all decided, even though we couldn’t talk the man outside of the Coliseum into giving us a group rate of 25 € per person instead of the 27€ rate, in order to skip the lines and get the cliff’s notes version, we would need to bit the bullet and pay the extra money and get the tour. It was one of those damn, “loud speaker,” tours very similar to the one in Florence. Dammit. Oh well, she was very smart and told us a lot about the Coliseum. Rachel was still hurting on her ass and leg from falling, but she was always good at complaining, but making everyone laugh at it. Inside, we took a range of pictures and the guide was good about getting us in shade to talk, so we didn’t melt outside…I was going to have to show my face in Pompeii AND Sorrento today, and could not have it down my face J We said our goodbyes to the Americans and Tanya, that were all staying in Rome. Tanya was so on the same level I was, refusing to stay at the campsite and having her bags with her to take a taxi to a hotel. George, the Greek kid, and I were the only ones holding it down for America from here on out….Off to Pompeii!
Bye everyone...Lots of Love!
Arrivederci Rome! Ciao Sorrento!