First thing in the morning, our group went to the top floor of our hotel to eat breakfast. One of the girls had Vegemite with her. I asked her what it tastes like as I hadn’t heard many good things about it. She broke me off a bit of her bun, spread some on and let me try it. I am not sure that I would try it again, it is very bitter, but I can happily say that I tried.
Day 9: Rome
After breakfast we made our way on public transit to the Vatican. As we are a tour group we are able to skip the lines. We go inside and stop are some large interactive touch screen boards. Our tour guide explains some of the different rooms and paintings that we will see, particularly the Sistine Chapel. It seemed to take an hour even though it was evident that we were getting a very abbreviated version.
Off we went into the crowded Vatican, seeing statues, paintings, tapestries and beautiful buildings. Then we came to the Sistine Chapel. It was smaller than I had imagined but the beauty of the art was breathtaking. I had goosebumps while standing in that room, looking at the walls and ceilings in complete awe. To think that one man had painted it all – there was so much work involved. I was also happy that they had removed much of the candle smoke stain from the walls and ceiling. It was very vibrant because of this. No one was suppose to talk or take pictures. We all just took in the moment before it was over.
After the Sistine Chapel, we went to Saint Peter’s Basilica. Again, absolutely stunning. The pity statue of Mary holding Jesus’ body, the altar, the dove window behind the altar. So many things that I could be here a while listing them.
We were quite hungry after the Vatican. Luckily our tour manager knew of one of the best pizza places and it was very close to the Vatican. Oh boy… The pizza! They had to flavours without cheese so I tried them both. The potato and Rosemary pizza was a little boring but the other one I had was drool worthy. It was like bruschetta without the cheese. I ate it slowly to enjoy every bite. It was incredible, absolutely incredible. If anyone gets a chance, go to Alice’s for pizza in Rome. You may want to bring a napkin for your drool.
The afternoon brought our second tour for the day: the Roman Forum and Coliseum. Just wow. Wow wow wow. The history, the architecture, the ruins, the labour and pride that went into this area is unlike anything else. There was the tomb of Julius Cesar, the remnants of their government buildings, homes, churches, statues, etc. There were so many things to see. We went through the forum and the made our way to the coliseum. We were lucky because they had just taken down a lot of the scaffolding and we were able to take some amazing pictures. Our guide explained to us what the games were like and what different areas of the arena were for. It was amazing. I must say though that I’m glad those games do not continue today. They were brutal.
Once that your was complete, a few of the girls and I headed to a smaller church about 10 minutes away. Here there is a very old set of stairs. It is said that these are the stairs that Jesus would have used when he received his sentence from Pontius Pilate. They were stolen from Jerusalem and brought to Rome. To go up these delicate stairs, you must be on your knees. It gave me the chills. Another experience that is incomparable to anything at home.
We had a lovely Italian dinner. I had fettuccini with bolognese sauce. So delicious and different from pasta back home. I will try to recreate it when I go back to Canada. Of course, we made sure to get in another gelato before turning in for the night. This time I had coconut. It was amazing, with real coconut shavings in it. I will miss the food here in Rome for sure!