Kelley and I wanted to go somewhere Christmas-ie in December and what better place (we thought) than Rome and the Vatican. Well… it turns out there was probably more Christmas spirit in Galway than Rome but it was still a great trip. You cannot go wrong with Italian wine, food, and a dash of chaos that is Italy.
We arrived late on a Wednesday night and had some time before we met our Airbnb host, so we decided to grab a bite at Trapizzino Trilussa, which had a great selection of wines and these triangular shaped tramezzino sandwiches filled with with deliciousness like oxtail simmered with tomato and celery. It’s also quite cheap (Kelley: code for “we ate a lot”)!
The next day we had reservations to enter the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel around 11. We first caught a bite at Mercato Trionfale, which had quite the array of foodstuffs considering it was December. I think we were hungry because it all looked delicious!
I was in Rome in summer of 2006 and had memories of lines hundreds of meters long but December apparently is not as popular – who knew! So, we were actually able to spend some quality time in the Vatican museum instead of being shuttled around like cattle.
Unfortunately there are no pictures allowed in the Sistine Chapel, so you will just have to go to Rome to see it! It’s definitely worth it! To give you a sense for the scale of the work, the fresco covers 5,900 square feet!!! Michelangelo painted the entire history of the world until Jesus, spending four years six stories up painting the fresco on his back until it was finally finished! I can barely keep my arms up long enough for a sun salutation, let alone painting something so marvellous!
After the Sistine Chapel we headed to St. Peter’s, which is the largest church in the world and a renowned piece of Renaissance architecture and art – plus it is free!
The next day we did a walking tour through ancient Rome. In hindsight and one drown iPhone later (Kelley: facepalm) it may have been best to complete the outside walking tour on a day it wasn’t forecast to rain 20-30 mm (Kelley: thats about an inch but I swear it was like 5 inches. It was SOOOO wet….wet upon wet upon wet! we were SOAKED from head to toe from morning to night! My “rain jacket” proved it met its limit by refusing to keep me or my phone dry for one more day. In hindsight, Matt bought me the jacket for our first Christmas…..which we realized was 8 years ago, so I’d say we got our money and adventures worth out of it!….and I got a new jacket…..but sadly had to downgrade to an older phone…..you win some you lose some…..)…..Anyways, we still saw some cool stuff!
Welcome to the Colosseum! Built in A.D. 80, as Rome was at its peak, it could accommodate over 50,000 screaming fans! All that remains today is the concrete skeleton but it was once covered with a veneer of brilliant white marble. Inside you really gain an appreciation for the immensity of the space and can still hear the scream of the gladiators and the roar of the lions that once fought within its walls.
In front of the Colosseum is the the Arch of Constantine. It commemorates Constantine’s defeat of his rival, Maxentius, in A.D. 312, becoming emperor and most significantly legalising Christianity. Making the once obscure Jewish sect into the state religion of the entire Western world.
After the Colosseum, we headed to the Roman Forum, which was the political, religious, and commercial center of ancient Rome. All that remains of the Forum today are ruins in a state of arrested decay but imagine yourself being a spectator watching a victorious general returning from the faraway frontier with wagons of booty! This valley would be glittering with brilliant white marble buildings topped with bronze roofs and peppered with colorful monuments and statues (most of the statues were originally painted in brilliant colors). The parade would be immense with exotic animals from the newly conquered lands, prisoners and the captive king, and finally the general himself in a four-horse chariot, with rose petals strewn in his path! So what we see today is a monochrome version of a once HD color past.
For our last day in Rome, we just casually strolled through the heart of Rome to see where our legs took us…
And of course some night photography!
Here is our planning map from the trip if you are interested. Cheers!