Day 9: Rain in Rome

Trevi fountain

We saw so many interesting things today that I don’t know where to begin. The weather in the morning was beautiful; it had rained over night and everything was shiny and fresh in the morning sunlight. We passed through St. Peter’s square at 7:30 am and there were already dozens of tour groups; many made up of teenagers. Dozens of people in the square were wearing matching scarves. We figured that they must belong to a large tour group.

There was something to see around every corner; beautiful, colourful buildings, busy squares, charming bridges, giant, imposing marble buildings with columns, and of course, ancient Roman ruins. We visited some of the major sights including the Pantheon and Trevi Fountain. We also explored the perimeter of ancient Rome. From the outside perimeter we could easily see the Roman Forum, Palatine Hill and Capitoline Hill. It was spectacular to look out and see the ruins with “newer” buildings. We took in the sights as we walked around the outside of the Colosseum. While roaming, we stumbled upon several excavation sights for lesser known ruins. We read that it is difficult to expand the subway or build new buildings in Rome because developers often have to forgo their projects after unearthing more ruins.

The on-and-off showers that started mid-morning, gave way to thunder, lightening and hail in the mid-afternoon. We hurried to find a cafe to rest, enjoy some cappuccino and get out of the rain.

We spent part of the afternoon in the Vatican Museum. Fortunately, we were able reserve a spot online which allowed us to squeeze past a huge lineup. We must have past thousands of people in line and saw another thousand inside. We skipped much of the museum to head straight for the Sistine Chapel. As we approached the chapel, there were a series of hallways divided into rooms. The ceilings in each room were covered in intricate murals painted in several tones including crimson and gold. The texture of the ceilings was incredible; the plaster was molded into frames, borders, vines, fruit, crests and other detailed designs.

As we entered the Sistine Chapel, we could hear a loudspeaker informing us to respect the sacred nature of the chapel by remaining silent and respecting the dress code (no shorts or tank tops). Entering the chapel caused sensory overload; frescoes covered the entire interior of the building from floor to ceiling. There was delicate music playing as the chapel guards shushed people who were speaking too loudly. According to our travel information, the frescoes on the ceiling depict the stories of Noah, Adam and Eve and The Creation. Michelangelo had an amazing ability to create depth; as I looked at the ceiling, the paintings appeared more and more three dimensional.

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