It’s the last of our Roman Holiday.
Wednesday, May 4th 2011: Rome
Longest… day… in… Rome… ever.
I’m really glad I didn’t get drunk the night before, because having a hangover on a day like this one would have sucked. Just like Florence and Venice, the walking tour was very slow and this one was jam-packed with more history than could fully be absorbed. Our guide led us through the Colosseum and, while I was sure of the pertinence of all the knowledge he imparted, I would be lying if I said I was listening. I was pleased just to be there seeing it for myself, walking through the stands, looking down at the main arena and taking pictures of The Arch of Constantine.
We walked over to the Roman Forum, where our guide was talking for a good hour at least. I could not imagine doing this mid-summer in the blazing heat! We looped around and ended up back near where we started and finally broke for lunch. Pizza and gelato under a shady tree with a view of the Colosseum next to the Arch and the Temple of Venus & Roma wasn’t bad for my last midday meal here. Wasn’t bad at all.
Over at the Vatican for the second half of the walking tour, we slowly made our way through the gardens and it was very hard to stay focused on all the information we were getting in such a short time frame. But once we got inside, things picked up a little as we walked through the hallways and down to the Sistine Chapel. There were countless beautiful statues that were worthy of long gazes. Every wall, from floor to ceiling, (and even the actual floor and ceiling in some places) was painted, carved or decorated with some kind of artwork boasting phenomenal detail. There was a distinct feeling of reverence and of solemness. We were surrounded by murals of angels, saints and important biblical events that were all framed with carved ornate borders accented with gold paint. The halls gradually got smaller and led right into the Sistine Chapel, where ushers were constantly ‘shhh-ing’ to quiet the crowd, and no photography was allowed (though they know people sneak snapshots left, right and centre, and make no joke to stop you if they catch you).
Next, we followed our guide and the crowd over to St. Peter’s Basilica. This was also alot to take in because of the awe-inspiring size and general magnificence of the whole building. The place… was… huge. I was particularly amazed at the statues of two cherubs around a basin of holy water near the exit. Built to scale and placed at ground level (where my head was at just around their shoulders), their purpose was to give you an idea of the real size of the statues that are way up in the far reaches of the high ceilings that appear to be so tiny. A little holy water on my fingers and a quick the sign of cross, then I ran to catch up with the group.
Going back out into the square, we snapped photos of the Swiss Guard and our tour (finally) ended in a gift shop just off to the left of St. Peter’s. Lots of us bought souvenirs and then some parted ways to finish the day on their own. About a block away, I stopped for a glass of wine with Mel, and she had her last gelato as we waited for Cornelius and the bus. My trip had pretty much come full circle – I started the tour at the Vatican with Mel and ended it as such.
Last bus ride, last day song… blah. I hate this part of travelling – the end. Everything feels so… final. Lizzie, Mic, Shannon and I walked to a nearby restaurant, Primé, for dinner. On our way back up to the room, I noticed some younger looking folk walking around the hotel lobby, and figured they must be with the next/another Contiki group that was just starting because of how ‘fresh’ they all looked. And of course I was jealous. Getting ready for bed, it was hard to believe there would be no wake-up call, no breakfast, bus, or day song the next morning…