|Long entry about this weekend
||[Sep. 25th, 2006|02:34 am]
This weekend my friends were on a sailing trip, so I decided to do some heavy duty sightseeing.|
Saturday morning I woke up very early to go to the Vatican Museum. I had planned to be there when they opened at 8:45, but I managed to get on the wrong bus and ended up some place that was off of my map. Luckily, I decided to get off the bus before I ended up somewhere really far away and when I did I saw a metro stop that connected to the Vatican Museum stop, so I got on and wasn’t lost anymore. But I get to the entrance of the museum at 9:45 and I start walking down the line. And keep walking. And keep walking. The line is literally a mile and a half long. So I decide to nix the museum and to go back on Monday afternoon (my only class is from 5-6:30 and it was canceled!) when crowds are reputed to be at the lowest. It turned out to be a good idea to go straight to St. Peter’s because I had only allowed a half hour for it but I needed much more time. First I walked around the square a little and then I noticed that the line to go through security was growing steadily, so I got in line and waited about a half hour to go through security. I finally get through and pull out my handy Rick Steve’s guide and start my tour. Walking into the building is a big wow experience. It’s so big! And crowded, boo. But I see all the sights: the dome, the statue of St. Peter, the dead Pope under glass, and Michelangelo’s Pieta (smaller than I imagined). I didn’t get to go into the Crypt because although I found the staircase, it was behind a gate, and I didn’t know if I could go down. But I’ll come back another day and take the extensive underground tour and see it then. I also decided that going to the top of the dome could wait for another day.
From St. Peter’s I got on the Metro and was whisked to the Piazza della Repubblica, where I went back to the National Museum of Rome because my ticket from class on Thursday was still valid. The museum is great if you love busts of old Romans, which I do, so it was good. They have a statue of Augustus that I really liked from my Roman Art class last semester and a couple other busts that I recognized. The busts and statues were nice, but I thought the collection of floor mosaics and wall paintings was the best part. They had whole slabs of mosaics from excavated villas. They had little rooms with the wall paintings set up like they would be in a villa and you could walk in and feel like you were in an ancient room. A very cool experience. In the basement they had some Roman luxury items like jewelry and house stuff. They jewelry was absolutely amazing! There was this ring that had a blue stone that was probably the size of a pencil eraser, and on the stone was a tiny black camel. Then there was a huge room chronicling Roman coins, all in order up to the euro. It was interesting at first, there was so much that I ended up breezing through most of it.
After the National Museum I got a yummy cannoli from “the best Sicilian pastry shop in Rome” according to one of my professors. Then I went to Santa Maria Vittoria to see Bernini’s Santa Teresa in Ecstasy but I got there at 3 and it didn’t reopen until 3:30. So I reversed my plans and went to see the Cappuccin Crypt because it opened at 3. The crypt was definitely worth seeing. The crypt is decorated with the bones of 4,000 monks who died between 1528 and 1870 as well as a couple of Barberini children. The bones are all separated and arranged into patterns on the ceilings and the walls. The skulls make up some altars and shelves. There are even several whole skeletons hanging out in niches. I especially liked the “winged” skulls, with the wings made out of hip bones. Unfortunately, they don’t allow photography, so I had to settle for a postcard.
When I was finished with the Cappuccins, I went back to Santa Maria Vittoria which was open. It’s a pretty little church, with tons of Baroque decoration. The Bernini was beautiful, just what I expected, although I thought it was a little high up. They also had a realistic, colored statue of St. Victoria in a “coffin” under one of the altars. I thought that was cool.
Then I got on the bus to go home, and there were ticket inspectors! Of course I had a valid ticket, but I had never seen anyone checking tickets before. I think I even saw them giving a couple of people tickets for not having them. The fine is 100 euro. Then I got home and collapsed from exhaustion.
Sunday, I got up early again and went to the Roman Forum. I learned a lot about it in my Roman Art class last semester, but being there is amazing. What’s left of the Basilica of Constantine is so huge, it’s hard to imagine it was even bigger. The whole site is so big, it’s incredible that it was all filled with public buildings and people walking around. I had meant to go to the Capitoline Museums first and the forum after, but I decided it would be better to go earlier so it would be cooler. So I went to the Capitoline Museums after the Forum (they are connected). For some reason, which I still don’t know, the Capitoline museums were free that day, so that was most excellent. I saw all the important sites: the statue of Marcus Aurelius, the dying Gaul, the boy extracting a thorn, the She-Wolf nursing Romulus and Remus, Bernini’s Medusa, and Commodus as Hercules. There were also tons of other statues which tend to run together and a lovely painting gallery with lots of Venetian medieval and Renaissance paintings. The coolest thing about the museum is that it used to be some sort of government building and the rooms are all still decorated with frescos on the walls and everything. The least cool part was the horribly confusing layout with bad signs. I had lunch in the museum café, the food was eh, but the view was beautiful.
Then I caught a bus to the Via del Corso, which is the main shopping area. I wanted to go to Zara, which is a kind of Spain-based H&M. I thought the clothes were really cool and reasonably priced, but nothing particularly stuck out at me, so I left empty-handed. Then I walked to the Parthenon, got some gelato from a place the Rick Steve’s recommended (rose and zablione, interesting combination), sat on a column base of the Parthenon porch and people watched. I even had a short conversation with the people advertising for the opera, which was interesting.
I also saw 3 brides and a baby ready for Christening this weekend.