Friday, April 20, 2007

April 10th - Today we had a pre-booked half day tour of the Vatican. They took us quickly through one wing on the Vatican Museum to the Sistine Chapel. Unlike the Coliseum/Palatine Hill tour we did, this tour allowed no free time so we didn't get to see a lot of things in the huge Vatican Museum, particularly some of the works by Raphael that I would have liked to see.

The Vatican was a zoo. There were tons and tons of people there, particularly tour groups. The floor of the Sistine Chapel was crowded like a cattle car. The art itself was glorious. After that, we went straight into St. Peter's Basilica, which is massive. We didn't end up being able to go the part right in the center (above where Peter is supposed to be buried) due to it being set up for some kind of papal visit. Afterwards, we mailed some postcards from the Vatican post office.

After we left Vatican City, we grabbed lunch in the neighborhood and then walked around to check out the areas around it, like the Parti neighborhood. Then we took the Metro back to the Spanish Steps in order to visit the Keats-Shelley Museum. This is located in the apartment next to the Spanish Steps were Keats died of tuberculosis. It has a recreation of the furniture in the room where he did and a lot of memorabilia (letters, paintings, etc.) of everyone related to Keats and friends - Shelley, Byron, Polidori, etc.

From there we made our way back to the Pantheon to check out the interior we missed yesterday - very impressive. Too bad it was converted into site honouring Christian martyrs but it did result in it being preserved better than a lot of similar sites from the same era.

After a break at the hotel, we had a fixed-price, fixed menu meal at a local restaurant - a semi-traditional 5 course Roman meal and some of the best food we've had on the trip.

On the way back to the hotel, we stumbled across some ruins of a couple of temples where historians think Julius Caesar was killed. Then we stopped by the Coliseum to see it at night.

Rome is an interesting city at night since a lot of the tourists are still hanging around with people peddling little toys and some Roman teens.

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