Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Italy Day 2: Vatican City, the Pantheon, Piazzas and Roman Opera Dinner

With the trip we booked through Gate 1 Travel our package included a tour for our 2nd full day to Vatican City. The head of the Catholic Church, Vatican City is also a sovereign country within the city of Rome. While there we saw the Vatican Museums...

I loved these ceilings...painted to look multidimensional...but they're flat.

We also saw the Sistine Chapel. It's an experience that is hard to describe. First, you cannot talk there. It's a Holy place, so our guide told us everything we should look for before we entered. If someone does talk they are quickly hushed by those who work there. There are a lot of people...and you are all looking, far up, to see the artwork. You quickly get a crook in your neck looking for all the areas the guide has told you to be on the look-out for. It's incomprehensible that someone was actually up that high painting such detailed work. It's a beautiful work of art.  Truly a masterpiece.

After the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel we made our way to St. Peter's Basilica. Considered the most important Catholic church in the world it is also one of the largest.

The artwork in St. Peter's Basilica is breathtaking. Paintings and sculptures are everywhere, it's almost an overload for your eyes because you don't know where to look first.

For me, the piece of art that truly touched me the most was the Pietà. Sculpted by Michelangelo it is the piece of art that I enjoyed the experience of the most during our time in Italy. To see hard marble sculpted into a statue that appears to be so delicate in areas is awe-inspiring. While we were standing and taking it in our guide told us how Michelangelo sculpted a youthful Mary because he had an idea of his mother who he lost at a young age. And that for him he felt that the love of a mother for her son is the highest love...the only kind that can give us as human beings an idea of how great God's love for us is. Standing there with Little Man, and knowing how much I love him, these words and the sculpture truly touched me. In this Holy place I felt close to God.  It was truly a beautiful moment.

While taking in St.Peter's Basilica all three of us touched the foot of the statue of St. Peter which is said to bless those who do so.  I could talk for days about all the artwork in Vatican City, it's worth a Google search if you're interested in learning more!

After Vatican City we left the group for free time. We chose to navigate the streets of Rome and independently walk to some of the piazzas (we could have paid for an additional tour but chose to do it on our own which worked out great). Our first stop was the Piazza Navona. It has three water fountains, so it's perfect for a water feature lover like myself!

The largest fountain is Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi, or the "Fountain of the Four Rivers", i.e. the Danube, the Ganges, the Nile, and the Rio de la Plata.

We stopped and ate here and enjoyed the people watching, beautiful weather and the fountains. Lunch was SO delicious! We started with an appetizer of mozzarella stuffed zucchini flowers that had been fried.

We all had pizza...Little Man's with sausage...

and I had tuna fish and onion which is a truly Italian pizza that I had for the first time when I lived in Germany and have when I'm in Europe (I haven't seen it in the US!)

After checking out the last fountain...

...we wound our way to The Pantheon.

It was so grand! And, like everything,beautiful to to the point where you have a hard time describing it.

Next we wound our way through side streets to what I was really excited to see...Trevi Fountain! It would reopen not 2 weeks after we visited, but we could still see how beautiful it was!

It was surrounded by a wall while being restored, which made the tradition of throwing a coin over your shoulder to ensure you'll come back to Rome a little tricky!

After our afternoon of piazzas and fountains we made our way back to the hotel and rested for an hour before it was time to meet up with our group again for dinner. Dinner was at a Roman theater restaurant called Tanagra where we were able to enjoy opera performances (with some comedy added at times).

At one point one of the women opera singers went around to different men and sat in their laps or poured wine into their mouths...when she came for James I quickly laid a kiss on him and she handed wine to me instead...our group thought it was the best part of the performance!

The bald man with shaving cream on his face? He was part of our group!

The food was presented during performance breaks...and it felt like it just kept coming!

After dinner we went for a nighttime drive through Rome.

And that was our visit to Rome...jam-packed and beautiful!

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