After we left Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum sites we visited the tomb of the Unknown Soldier that was nearby. At places such as that, you remember that everywhere in the world there are soldiers that sacrifice to protect their people. It reminds me to be grateful to all the men and women that fight to protect my country and those around the world that fight to protect humanity.
We then headed to the Pantheon where we would spend the rest of our morning. The Pantheon is a church located in a plaza with many building, living quarters, and shops surrounding it. There is a fountain out front of it as well. When I came out of a side street and saw it there, it surprised me because it didn’t look like it was meant to be there. 55 years ago my mom’s dad was there at the Pantheon exploring Rome as I was. I never got to meet my grandpa Bill, but thinking about crossing some of the same paths he took made me feel less like a stranger to him. I tried to imagine what he might have thought seeing these things for the first time. Maybe we had similar thoughts, but I’m sure there weren’t people selling selfie sticks outside of it in his time.
It was stunning inside with the circular opening in the top letting the light shine through. There are different sections of the church with different monuments and murals dedicated to people and events throughout history in Rome. The first king of Italy is even buried here. It was such a peaceful place to walk through, with it’s marble floors and pillars. It was another glimpse of history that was so intriguing.
We had lunch in Piazza dell Rotonda, where the Pantheon is located. We sat outside under the sun right next to it. I had bruschetta with pizza (I’m sure that is a shock) while Conner had spaghetti and we both had red wine. It was the perfect setting and a perfect afternoon to enjoy our lunch and time together.
After relaxing out in the sun for a while following lunch, we visited The Church of San Luigi dei Francesi which we stumbled upon walking around. There are so many cathedrals and churches all over the city and they are all just as beautiful as the next, but all unique. We went to Piazza Navona where we visited the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi and there we watched a street artist make a painting, which I bought after. It will be a cool souvenir of Rome that we actually got to watch him make!
We stopped by our room to drop off some things and fill up our water bottles before making the trip to Vatican City. We walked through Piazza del Popolo and visited the Church of SS. Ambrogio e Carlo on our way. We passed the Castel Sant Angelo and finally spotted the Vatican in the near distance. Our entire afternoon was spent exploring the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel. It was so overwhelming seeing the thousands of statues and paintings throughout. It’s incredible to see such amazing art that was created so very long ago. I can’t imagine the time that was spent making it all, especially the murals on all the ceilings. The Sistine Chapel was what I looked forward to the most. I was very interested to see the paintings by Michelangelo that were done in the early 1500s, mainly The Creation of Adam. As most people know, this is a place that is meant to be silent and no pictures are allowed to be taken. We made our way into the chapel and immediately I was taken aback by its detail, but it was so hard after entering to focus on the site I was at because of the disrespect of other tourists visiting. It wasn’t quiet at all, I saw so many people take pictures, and people were even texting on their phones. We sat down and tried to drown out the people as we observed the work around us. It was such a neat piece of art that I am grateful to have been able to see, but I wish others weren’t taking away from the meaning behind it. It honestly made me wish at that moment that all of the sites I’ve been able to visit were picture free zones. I know it would make people appreciate it more and respect them for what they are. I know I’m guilty of it sometimes as well, but I do my best to really experience where I go more than to focus on the media behind it nowadays.
After we left the museums, we headed back to the Vatican. Conner and I went inside then. It is so huge! You know it’s huge from the outside, but when you walk in, it really makes you feel tiny. We spent a lot of time walking through and admiring it. The altar in the middle of the church is so neat. After leaving the inside of the Vatican we got to watch the sun go down behind it and the Christmas lights turn on in the tree beside the nativity scene right outside. It was an awing sight.
It was time for dinner by the time we left, so we made our way back near our hotel. We had an amazing dinner at Caffe Marmalade where I had Gnocchi with a pesto sauce and Conner had a four-cheese pizza outside near a fire. We talked about our favorite parts of the day and how fast our time has flown in Italy. It was a great last meal in Rome and in Italy. After dinner we of course went to get gelato for the last time before heading back to the Trevi Fountain to spend the rest of the evening. It was an amazing day in Rome and I am so grateful I was able to see and experience Italy over the past four days!
We got up this morning quite early and made our way to the train station where we got a bus to the airport. Our flight from Rome left at 8:45 and we have arrived in Greece! We are waiting now for our flight this evening at the Athens Airport.
Next stop: Santorini, Greece!