Thursday, May 27, 2010

Day 2, Rome

Our second day in Rome started early. My alarm went off at 7 after
barely 5 hours of sleep. After informing Chris that that night, HE got
to do laundry!, we grabbed a quick breakfast of complimentary
cornflakes, croissant, and tea (hey, it's a hostel, not a 5-star
resort), we took off to see more of Rome.
The first stop was the Vatican, where we were accosted by independent
tour guides all through the walk from the stazione. Chris's Russian
came in handy, though- none of them spoke it, so when we answered it,
they left us alone.
As we entered St Peters Square, we saw a gigantic crowd around it.
Heartwarmingly, a black priest was asking to take a picture with two
Buddhist monks.
Wondering what was going on, we kept looking around and realized that
the Papal Pavilion had been set up- yes, we are some of the only
people in the world who can say that they accidentally saw the Pope.
We left his address early, using the crowd's interest in it to assure
a quieter crowd in the Museu Vaticani. It was... beyond words. The
Egyptian collection, which we saw first, make even Rome feel young.
The sarcophogi, nebti, amulets, tools, and even mummies defy
description. The colors are brilliant after 5000 years, and every
piece has it's own power, enough to stop the throat.
We wandered most of the Museum, seeing tapestries, maps, sculpture,
paintings, and every imaginable form of art. I was stunned after the
first half hour, walking around blind and dumb with wonder. It was the
Sistine Chapel that killed me, though. It was the ceiling of the
Sistine Chapel that made my head explode. I was IN the Sistine Chapel,
I SAW the most famous piece of religious art in the world.
When I wandered out, it was 30 minutes before I registered another
piece of art, before my numbed mind responded again.
I left the Vatican profoundly moved... and with a deep desire to sneak
into the Secret Archives. They have letters there from Galileo,
Lincoln, and Luxretia Borggia!

After we left the Vatican, another cup of gelato was called for, then
we went to the Pantheon. It was a religious kind of a day.
First, though, lunch at the spot my stepmom rexommended- DiRenzio's,
right off the piazza, and the best pasta carbonara I'm likely ever to
have. The paper shop across the street tempted me more than it should
have but that's not unusual.

I hadn't know the Pantheon had been converted to a church, and had
half-expected it to still have dedications to the Gods. I suppose I
should have known better. Still, though, it was hard to feel
disappointed a I stared at the sun through the oculus, the hole in the
center of the Pantheon. We spent over an hour there, just walking
around and looking. Utterly gorgeous.

Finally, though, we were tired and returned to the hostel early, where
I worked a bit and Chris lay down before we wandered our neighborhood
a bit. We ended up having dinner at a lovely little trattoria and
pizzeria around the corner from the hostel. Easily the best prices and
largest portions- and some of the best food- we've had in Rome.

The only real blasphemy is the refusal of joy. -"Jeffrey"

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