26 July 2008

Rome - Vatican Museums, Catacombs, and Shopping

Today was my second full day in Rome and I feel like I’m starting to understand the layout of the city and how the buses work as well as just how much walking this city requires! Rome is full of history, obviously, but it bluntly confronts you, completely differently than the subtlety of London or Paris, which disguises a former palace as a museum. I’ll be walking down a street or riding on the bus and suddenly there’s a Baroque piazza, turn the corner, and Roman ruin.
I’m also finding traveling solo to be much more difficult than I had speculated, even though I knew it would be tough. I feel like I have to be extra aware of potential dangers and risks since there’s no backup if my purse gets stolen and there’s no one to check in with in the evening. Being lonely, though, is what’s really giving me issues. Apparently people don’t really eat alone here, so when I ask for a table for uno, I get an array of strange looks from the waiters and the other customers. The language barrier hasn’t helped with the feeling of isolation since carrying on a conversation in Italian is way past my very basic language skills, and not hearing English when I’m out accentuates the reality that I am a foreigner. Yesterday was the most difficult for some reason, probably a combination of residual jet lag and frustration, and I think I tested my parents’ worry threshold by calling home pretty upset.
On a happier note, I did lots of sightseeing today, starting off at the Vatican Museums, primarily to go through the Pinacoteca, but of course also to see the Sistene Chapel and the Raphael Stanze. It was already crowded at 8:30 when I got there, but the line moved reasonably quickly. The Stanze della Signatura was beautiful, though smaller and more intimate than I expected while the Sistene Chapel, despite being packed full of people, was much more spacious than I had imagined. In both instances, seeing such famous frescoes in person felt surreal, but at the same time didn’t have the impact I had anticipated.
Climate control in the Vatican Museums

Raphael's 'Liberation of St. Peter from Prison'

Early Christian depiction of Christ as the Good Shepherd

Courtyard of the Vatican Museums

Laocoön

Raphael's 'School of Athens'

After spending the morning at the Vatican Museums, I took the metro to St. John Lateran and from there picked up the bus which runs along the Via Appia Antiqua to the Catacomb of Callixtus. The tour was quite brief and I would have liked to have seen more of the extensive complex, but I felt the sense of history and gravity of the place.

Pretty scenery around the catacomb

To end another long day, I took the bus back to the metro and headed up to the Spanish Steps where I had to contain the temptation to do lots of shopping.

The Spanish Steps - completely anticlimactic apart from the shopping.

People everywhere; looking down the Via Condotti.

Casa di Santa Brigida, Piazza Farnese

The French embassy in Pza. Farnese

View of Piazza Farnese from the terrace.

Flowers and the French embassy on the terrace.

Gelato count: 2

1 comment:

Odyssey said...

What a lovely post on Rome! You make my heart to go back to Italy ! You have a stunning blog ! I have always dreamed of visiting Italy!
I would love to enjoy Catacombs Tours in Rome!! Thanx for sharing excellent informations.
................................................................................
Rome Skip the line tours