After sharing Florence with my relatives, a city that I have dwelled in for 3+ months, we decided to take a trip to somewhere new, something that we could all share together for the first time.
Welcome to our view into the city of Rome.
I can’t tell you that we took the same view of it as most tourists.
We sang, we danced, we ate too much food. We would have had an amazing time no matter what city we chose to “play in.”
We arrived in Rome Termini and immediately realized that we had no idea where we were going. Rather than taking a cab, we decided to follow a “tourist information” man, who had a pretty shady looking badge that was probably hand made (by himself). And being ignorant of our hotels ridiculously close proximity to the train station, we followed him.
We immediately realized that this city was nothing like Florence.
But, we did arrive safely to our adorable orange themed hotel and decided that we needed pizza.
Now, I’ve had some pretty delicious pizzas in Italy, but none that have had a lasting impact on me (other than the pear and pecorino from Siena). So, I was hopeful for an excellent slice of Roman pizza.
We found a Bar Pizzeria that translated to “Hot Slice” and we went on in, hoping to find succulent bites of wonder.
Oh and did we ever.
Literally, this made ahead and re-heated Roman pizza was the best I’ve had in Italy.
Above, was a tomato and zucchini flower pizza.
Left: Zuchini pizza and on the right (my absolute favorite) was a pesto, tomato, and broccoli pizza.
I would have gone back there every day.
I don’t even understand WHY it was so good.
We then met up with our personal tour guide, Eros, and started our journey. He had been recommended to us by a friend of my mother;s and was apparently a master at “tour guiding.” It was so brilliant not to have to plan, organize and orchestrate every detail of the trip. We were simply able to follow.
Or at least pretend to follow while we were distracted by things like vendors selling and pretty fountains.
And because of my need to navigate unknown waters every single day of my life here in Florence, being able to be distracted and follow aimlessly was incredibly amazing.
The entire first day was devoted to the Vatican Museum and square.
Because we were prohibited from taking pictures in the Sistine Chapel, Eros, spent over an hour explaining each painting, who painted it, and what its significance was to the overall mural.
We fell in love with Eros the minute we met him. He was sassy, passionate, and obsessed with woman.
He also had this habit of making sounds for specific words.
Like, when something was “madness,” we had to sing the word really loudly so that everyone would hear us and look at us as if we were foreign freaks.
Which, is exactly what we were.
He was actually just helping us with some self-realization exercises.
He is also not a fan of walking on grates that cover the sewage.
So of course, I walked on every grate that I could find.
His thorough explanation of every detail of the Sistine Chapel made our visit to the actual chapel so much less overwhelming than it would have been. I was able to pinpoint all of the things that he told us to look for, and rather than stressing over the meaning of things, I was able to be in awe of its splendor.
God is pictured in pink, and is in the center of the ceiling mural by Michelangelo.
This mural is painted inside of the front walls of the chapel, it is Michelangelo’s representation of a time in Roman history where children and woman were being killed by Romans. Those who were guilty of the crime were being sent to the underworld, while those who were not guilty were being rescued by “angels” (who surprisingly, did not have wings.)
In the bottom right hand corner, pictured up close below, is the portrait of Minos, the judge of the underworld.
When Michelangelo invited all of the elite nobles and the pope to view the chapel, one man blasted out in furry because of the illustration of naked bodies in the front of the chapel. The man continued in a rage and was finally asked to leave.
Michelangelo, being frustrated by the ignorance of the significance of his painting, kept the keys to the chapel and came in by night to change the face of Minos to reflect the face of the man who raged about naked bodies.
Michelangelo had a bit of an entertaining personality.
I like that.
I reacted to the Sistine Chapel the same way I react to a slice of Red Velvet layer cake.
Yeah. I couldn’t believe it either.
I had a very inspirational moment with myself as I was gazing at the beautiful works of art strewn across the long ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. It was the history that I had been taught as a child coming to life in front of my very eyes.
It was absolutely brilliant.
And then Eros made me take a picture of this statue.
I’m not really sure why.
Eros insisted that we take a break to taste the milk of the Vatican “holy cows.” Apparently this milk is only available in the Vatican city to its residents. Like this is so serious that you need a special “milk card” to even buy it.
We saw this really shiny carriage that the popes rode in the 1800s.
And then we went into a gallery called the Pinacoteca. Eros also insisted that I take a picture of this so that I remembered where I was. I’m so glad I did, what would I have done without this picture!!?
We saw a replica of the Pitti, the first sculpture that Michelangelo did before he was famous. In fact, this sculpture is what MADE him famous, at the ripe age of 24. Eros also showed us a pregnant Madonna, very rare in art.
Here is an angel. Eros told me to make a Christmas card out of it.
The Vatican is also home to Leonardo Da Vinci’s work studio, where the Mona Lisa hung next to his bed for a time.
We then made our way to St. Peter’s Basillica, which was ornately decorated with dead pope’s bones, sculptures, paintings, and lots of shiny material.
It was expansive and quite awe-inspiring.
We even saw a married couple get wedding pictures. (Aww!!)
And I was stunned when we saw the ORIGINAL Pitti, that we had seen a copy of before.
I was truly taken back by the immense about of significant art in one space. Hundreds of world renowned works of art are strewn across the walls of the Vatican.
Every hall way and every corador is filled with wonder and beauty.
After we spent many many hours inside of the Vatican’s museum, we ventured outside of the city to enjoy the evening views. Before we went on, Eros explained that the architect of the Vatican city actually planned it so that the circle in the middle would look like Jesus’ arms wrapping around the world. The face of Jesus was the Vatican dome. Look at the picture and try to picture it!
Incredible. These architects were painters, and theologists, and thinkers, and scientists.
Vatican square was full of dim light and glory as we made our way around the tiny city’s limits.
It shined in glory.
And then Jayme stood in the center of the Vatican.
Because well, Eros told us to.
And we listen to Eros.
You can slightly see the peak of the Sistine Chapel in far middle background. I’m still numb because of it.
After seeing lots of art work, walking too much, and having our necks permanently bent backwards because of gazing at murals, we were hungry.
Eros took us to the Ristorante da Francesco.
The food was forgettable but the company was very entertaining.
This man, above, was quite passionate about his mushrooms.
I love a man passionate about his food.
We ordered assorted bruschettas, which were covered in olive paste, black truffle puree, and tomatoes.
Eros lives a very healthy vegetarian lifestyle and consequently recommended all meatless dishes. Now, I have absolutely no problem with that because I myself eat a very limited amount of meat, and go many days without eating any at all.
However, today was different.
This girl wanted meat.
After a 5 minute argument between Eros and I about ordering meatballs, I finally told him that I wanted it and I would order it if I wanted to. I didn’t even care that they were made for Americans.
I WANTED MEATBALLS!
So I ordered them.
I think Eros felt defeated.
Eros also knew exactly when the Pope would show up on the screen at the Vatican museum (I think he has done this several times before). So we all braced ourselves and got a group picture next to the Pope Giant.
I wonder if he is actually that size.
That would be awkward.
And we took another group picture (trying to be dinosaurs) at a tall monument type thing.
And we took another group photo at some columns.
And then I realized….wow…this man likes his group photos.
These are just A FEW of our group photos from the trip.
He kept insisting that I would thank him later.
And, to my dismay, I am thanking him later.
Rome day one with my family was absolutely mind blowing We were in a city full of history, we were together, we had a crazy Italian tour guide that injected a wealth of knowledge and entertainment into our craniums, and it was a beautiful day. What more could one want?
Oh, and that pizza.
Ciao for now!