We saw the Pope! Well, he was on a screen. The city was celebrating Epiphany, aka Three Kings Day, in a Mass at the Vatican. We just caught the end of his speech and got to hear a few sentences and an “Arrivederci” before the parade started. It was very different from the parade in Barcelona; there weren’t any floats and it seemed more integrated into the streets. The parade route wasn’t gated off, and so viewers were able to basically walk right into the middle of the parade if they wished. It heavily focused on religion rather than catering towards children. It had a different vibe, and was interesting in its own way.
For lunch I bought a sandwich and made a pizza with some bread, tomato sauce, and mozzarella cheese balls out of a package. It was great! Then we headed over to see Castel Sant’Angelo, Piazza Navona, and then Trevi Fountain. There was a cute little market going on in the piazza where there were many vendors,artists, and entertainment for children. Near the center there was one huge painting that kids could add their own art to! It seems like everything in Rome is always under construction. We wanted to throw a coin into the fountain, but the water wasn’t even running and it just looked sad. So no wishes for us. Instead, we ate some gelato. Pistacchio and dark chocolate, yum.
Then we saw the Pantheon, the Roman Forum, and Piazza Venezia. The Roman Forum was a huge area of ancient remains of old structures. We couldn’t figure out how to get down to explore the area but enjoyed the views anyway. This piazza had a showing of street buskers, where we saw one man’s dance and movement performance with a huge crane (strange but cool to see), and there was also an area where many people were walking on tightropes and kids could pay to try balancing on them.
Then to the Colosseum! It was closed when we got there (it closes super early, at 3:30 PM!) but we still took the classic tourist photos in front of it. Then we had a great Italian dinner in a nearby restaurant! I had a mushroom risotto.
The next day we went back to the Vatican to visit all of the attractions that had been closed for Epiphany. We went into the Vatican Museums and saw the Sistine Chapel, which was breathtaking. There was no photography allowed and it was very quiet, despite how many people were there. Walking into a huge, silent room really commands your attention. We saw “The Creation of Adam” and other beautiful works. The skill in the artwork was amazing – every single painting looked as if it were three-dimensional and that the subjects were actually in the room with us. I could sit there for hours and hours. It was captivating.
After exploring the rest of the Vatican, we wandered the streets of Rome. They colours of the city tended to be pretty rustic, with lots of warm colours, which made the city look very friendly. There were so many little stalls of people selling things like bags and souvenirs. But all of the products seemed to be the same among most of the stores, at least those in the touristy areas, and it felt like I was looking at the same shop over and over again. The owners were also pretty aggressive, and we were even kicked out of a store for discussing the quality of a leather bag. People were always trying to sell us something whether it was a bag, a tour, or a selfie stick. During our walk we stumbled upon a group of people filming some kind of movie or TV show. We weren’t sure what was going on, but I noticed on the clapboard that it was called “Allegiance.” An important-looking man, who ended up being one of the men filming, talked to us and said “Keep it up, you’re doing great!” Maybe he thought we were extras. We looked up the title after and realized it was an upcoming TV show and that the man was George Nolfi, the writer of the screenplay for The Bourne Ultimatum! Cool!
For a pre-dinner snack we had authentic Italian pizza. They sold it by weight, which was interesting, and it was delicious! Then we ate in an actual restaurant and I got lasagna, my favourite. It was mmmm. We wrapped up our Italy experience with some more gelato – pistacchio and tiramisu!
Rome in two days! Who would have thought it was possible? We saw everything, ate everything, and had so much fun. It was the last time the four of us would be travelling together, at least for this trip, and this was a great city to end off in!