We arrived in Rome March 30th and entered a time warp caused by the flight time change and the ancient time change.
We were beat, zombied out and stupid but everywhere we went Italians were there to help us out. We would ask someone about the trains walk 20 yards and ask someone else, eventually triangulating our position in a drunken haze.
I sort of remembered we were supposed to take the fast train named “Leonardo” but we choose the slow one…which was broken so they sent another one. We gazed with envy at the fast train as it zipped to the Termino – the central station in Rome. Nevertheless the slow train was filled with pleasant people. We engaged in conversation with a young woman about where we would get off near Travastere the neighborhood we had booked an Airbnb. Smiles but not much English and we had less Italian. We were overheard by Leslie Bird, a finance and corporate service person who had lived in Ithaca for nine years! She immediately paused her busy day to help us out. “There are no accidents” has always been my philosophy. Leslie was going the Travestere stop and walked out with us pointing the general direction we should go and gave us her card – then she dashed off, late already to her business appointment.
We wheeled our two little carry-ons (we were learning to travel light) the four or five blocks where we would stay for the next week. We entered an multilayer apartment building with our host who spoke no English and demonstrated three times in a pleasant but loud voice how to operate what she considered the most dangerous appliances …and then we were left on our own.
Thank God for Google Maps – the app that works offline. The little blue dot located us near the center of Rome in Travestere which literally means across the Tiber. We were to follow that little blue dot all over Rome while we asked Google maps where to go next. Google maps would guide us through the bus/tram/ metro system.
Getting had to sleep because in two days we would take a tour to the Vatican which included the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel. A tour we had booked in January.
We booked through City Wonders after we had researched which were the best guided tours. We did see the Vatican and learned quickly what the words “2500 people visit each day” really meant. We waded through enormous crowds of people as we struggled to keep up with our guide. In his defense he had nothing to do with how many people were on tour that day and he did a fair job of explaining the tiny percentage of what one can see as you hustle though the packed halls. We longed for just a few moments of being able to sit and take in the atmosphere.(which we did briefly outside in the square) while our guide oriented us to what we would see in the Sistine Chapel – the focal point of our tour. Here are a few photos that can’t begin to encapsulate a few of the things we saw.
Almost all the ceilings are richly decorated. However don’t expect any photos of the Sistine Chapel ceiling – photography is strictly prohibited in the Chapel, though not prohibited are the guards yelling out “No photography” in six language. Most other places in the Vatican it was no problem.
One of the hundreds of rich tapestries lining the walls of the main corridors.
Above, Polish knights saving Chrisendom from the Turks, our guide did mention in all fairness that the Arabic culture kept science alive when the rest of Europe was in the dark ages.
Michaelangelo’s frescos were not the only source of beautiful frescos in the Vatican.
A portion of a larger map that shows the territories of Italy.
Not all paintings in the Vatican Museum are centuries old. This is a more modern painting donated to the Vatican.
I believe this one is done by Chagall
Unfortunately we rushed passed this modern gallery. I did have the choice of staying behind and catching up later but I would have missed at least part of the Sistine Chapel.
In short it was a three hour tour filled with trade offs. Good explanations but short views, a lot covered quickly. Many rooms are seen but there is not a lot of depth. Still it’s probably the best way to see a beautiful setting that so many want to see at the same time.