Europe Day 11 – Rome

Europe Day 11 – Rome

No Bus ride this morning – or at least only a few minutes to get to the train station. Once at the subway station, we managed to cram our way onto the subway during rush hour and then back off at the Coliseum without getting anything stolen. I then took a few more pictures of the Coliseum while we waited on our tour guide to show up. Our tour lady arrived and we headed off to start our tour of the Coliseum, Forum, St. Paul’s Prison, and The Monument. We walked around the outside of the Coliseum and learned about why it was in the state it is currently in as well as how it was used “back in the day.” We then proceeded to go through the Roman Forum where apparently all the political activities happened many hundreds of years ago including the Julius Caesar incident. After finally making our way through the many ruins of The Forum, we arrived at St. Paul’s Prison where Paul was chained when in Rome. We didn’t go into the prison and headed back to The Monument. I don’t know what this monument is for; it’s apparently only a couple hundred years old and therefore not that exciting compared to the ruins of the Roman Empire. This concluded our tour, and we met with Shell for the next activity of the day.
Shell then got us moving quickly to the Vatican City Museum. After only a fifteen minute wait we made it into the museum area. Wow, it is enormous – everything. There were so many different smaller museums with so much artwork and sculptures dating back to BC. I went through room after room of paintings and sculptures following the signs to the Sistine Chapel. I never thought I would make it there, but eventually it was upon me after many exquisite pieces of art. It’s too bad I didn’t know the background on any of the artwork or that I don’t have any real appreciation for art. Nevertheless, I made it into the Sistine Chapel and spent my time looking at the many stories depicted high above and all around me on the ceiling and walls. It was quite amazing to think that it took seven years to paint this large room. I snuck a few pictures of it even though the signs said no photography whatsoever. I saw others taking pictures and I couldn’t understand why it would matter as long as I didn’t use my flash. After some time, it was time to head out. I thought that would be easy, but no. I must have walked through a mile or two of rooms already to make my way into the chapel and it seemed to take another quarter mile of rooms with artwork to finally make it out of the museum.
Trying to take in that much artwork and history in such a short amount of time was impossibly and left me quite exhausted, but I still had half a day of sightseeing to do. So I took a quick stop on the way to St. Peter’s Basilica to get some pizza (of course I’m in Italy). The pizza in Italy is nothing like what you find at Papa John’s, Dominos, or Pizza Hut; I don’t know why it’s so different, but I do know that I think I prefer the American version of pizza I am used to. After the short break for lunch, it was time to see St. Peter’s Basilica.
It was about a twenty minute wait to get into St. Peter’s; so I thought I would optimize my time and write a birthday card. Apparently the best place to send mail from the part of Europe is inside Vatican City, so I had to get the card in the mail before I left St. Peter’s. This church was absolutely enormous. I don’t quite get the point of several hundred foot ceilings because it just seems like so much wasted space and then somebody has to meticulously paint ornate Bible stories from floor to ceiling. It was a spectacle nonetheless. There is a statue of St. Peter where some seem to believe it has some special power if you kiss the foot of the statue. I didn’t go as far as to kiss it, but I did get a picture with my hand on the shiny foot. I then thought that I would see what a confessional looks like, so I stepped into one of those – never being in one before.
This was the end of the Vatican City and I managed to get the card into the mail before leaving. I wanted to see the inside of the Pantheon because I only got to see the outside yesterday. So I made my way over to there and went inside. It was definitely bland when compared to what I just saw at the Sistine Chapel, maybe I shouldn’t be comparing to the magnificent artwork of the Vatican, but I did just come from there. After a short time here, it was time to see the inside of the Coliseum.
Again, a bit of a wait to enter the Coliseum but soon I was inside. I walked around as much of it was I could and looked at the ruins. There really wasn’t a whole lot to see. There didn’t seem to be any seats left, so I couldn’t visualize exactly where the crowds would have been cheering during the fights. Also, there was no floor either, but I did get to see the many hallways that ran under the floor that would allow the animals and fighters to move around. It was good to see the inside of the Coliseum even though I wasn’t able to get a full grasp on how magnificent it was during its glory days.
It was getting late now, but I wanted to see St. Peter’s Chains and then Paul’s Prison before the end of the day. We got slightly lost on our way to see the chains St. Peter was bound in when in jail. But we eventually made it there, and I took a look at the chains. Definitly primitive chains compared to what I am used to seeing, but then again this was a couple thousand years ago. Apparently, these chains were cut half going with Peter and half staying at the jail he was leaving. Then when the half of the chains was brought back to the prison with the other, the two halves miraculously fused back together. The chain was inside a glass case at the front of the church. After taking a look at the chain, I wanted to make it to Paul’s prison, but it apparently closed at 5. Disappointed and tired, I was ready to head back home to have some dinner. So we began walking back to the Coliseum train stop where we found Vince and Star. The train and bus ride back to the hotel was uneventful and we it back just in time for dinner, although the dinner wasn’t very good. I then thought I would take a nap before heading back out. It’s been a long and tiring day. My feet and legs ache, maybe the nap along with a good night’s sleep will heal the sore muscles for a day in Florence.

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Jason Lund

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