Monday, October 26, 2015

Day 296: Exploring Rome

This morning we woke up and ate a quick breakfast. We ate at the small coffee shop under our apartment. The adults enjoyed croissants and cappuccino and the kids split a ham and cheese sandwich. 

We walked down to the Colosseum to meet up with our tour guide, Francesca. She was recommended to us by a good friend in Warsaw, so we were so happy to have her. 

We began at the Colosseum and heard all about its history. It was hard to imagine that it once stood the way described. It was one solid structure and the top would be covered when the gladiators fought. The top was made of cotton and took two days to raise in order for it to be covered. She explained where the materials came from and also where the people, including the Emperor, sat. 
Our next stop was the to the Trevi Fountain. We walked a few minutes and then arrived to it under renovation. It was being cleaned. Francesca also told us that the fountain brings in 700,000 Euro. She added that it's definitely a moneymaker! 
Once we left the fountain we walked over to the Pantheon. This building is still used as a church and continues to hold a regular mass.  It was an amazing site and the solid granite columns were huge! It was so hard to imagine how each building was built thousands of years ago! 
Finally, lunch! Francesca recommended a great pasta and pizza place, so we had both. She left to run a few errands and we devoured lunch. It was great and we left happy and full. 

Francesca returned and took us to The Vatican. On our walk there she explained that The Vatican is in a different country, Vatican City. When we entered we walked through the museum. It was amazing. We saw many sculptures and tapestries. We also enjoyed numerous wall paintings. 
This is just a small section of one of the ceilings. 
This map was hand painted onto the wall many, many years ago. 
This is a tapestry. It's Jesus after His crucifixion. 

To top it all off, we walked through and saw the Sistine Chapel. Prior to entering the tour guide mentioned how Michelangelo was asked by The Pope to create this masterpiece and how he declined as he said he was a sculptor not a painter. He was later given an ultimatum: paint the ceilings or go to prison. He obviously chose to paint, and he worked on it for four years. 

Michelangelo was told that he could not sign his work so he created a scene with his face in it. 

30 years later Michelangelo was asked to come back and paint one of the walls. He painted numerous scenes on the wall representing Christ, heaven, hell and more. As he worked one of the men (a banker) constantly critiqued the painting and such, so he placed the banker in hell with donkey ears (because he was an ass) and a serpent wrapped around his body biting his private. The story was quite intriguing and the art was amazing to see in person. 

After leaving this area we went into St. Peter's Basilica. It was such an amazing site and its larger than I could have ever imagined. The letters across the walls are approximately 9' tall and this cathedral is the largest in the world. It was an incredible site. We also bypassed the lines because we entered with a guide and also toured the other stuff first. 
We said ciao to Francesca and made our way to a shop to get gelato and a few souvenirs. It was nice! 

We sank into the chairs when we returned to the apartment. After a full day of touring and the busy metro to get us back, we were done! 

We sat around for a little while and then headed to get dinner. We sat down at a pizzeria, enjoyed some dinner and then went back and went to bed. It's was such an amazing tour and we cannot wait to see more of Italy tomorrow. 

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