May 17, 2009: A packed day in sultry Rome
We took full advantage of our first full day in Rome... we were out sightseeing for over eight hours. We started the day at 8:15 with a walk to the nearby Basilicas of Santa Maria Maggiore and San Pietro in Vincoli. After a view of the Colosseum last night, we returned there today for a full tour. The Roman Forum, the center of ancient Rome, was also nearby and we meandered through the ruins of temples, markets, and government buildings of it. We also saw the “wedding cake” of Rome: the huge white Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II. While in this area, we saw over 40,000 Italians participating in their Race for the Cure event! We hopped on Rome’s subway to the Vatican, and when we arrived, we were pleasantly surprised to find short lines. (Dr. Anderson told us it is common to wait up to a few hours to see St. Peter’s Basilica.) We climbed the massive dome (nearly 550 steps) to the cupola and toured the basilica. Tomorrow, we will visit the enormous Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel. After lunch, we strolled along the Tiber River for awhile, taking advantage of the tree-lined sidewalks during the heat of the day. Dr. Anderson’s surprise for the day was taking us to the crypts of Capuchin monks. These were a series of tombs decorated with bones of over 4,000 dead monks... we never expected to see anything like this. Sadly, they strictly prohibited photos here. Our last stop of the afternoon was the Basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano, which is the church of the Bishop of Rome (i.e. the Pope). People commonly think of St. Peter’s Basilica as the “top” church for Catholics, but in reality, this basilica is. We took full advantage of the early evening to rest and journal, and then we headed to a wonderful dinner at 8:00pm to experience authentic Italian food. Of course, we followed this up with true Italian gelato! We are all exhausted, but still eager to see more of Rome tomorrow before we head to Florence.
Inside the Colosseum.
Viewing the Arch of Titus in the Roman Forum, which depicts the fall of Jerusalem.
The Race for the Cure near the Roman Forum.
A close-up of the dome.
A grand view of St. Peter’s Square from the Cupola (top of the dome).
Inside St. Peter’s Basilica.
Exhausted from climbing up and down St. Peter’s Basilica, Kearina, Laura, Stephen, Dan, Amy, and Lisa are excited for lunch.
Walking along the Tiber River.