Took the Metro. I gave everyone a stern lecture on appropriate Metro behavior. Don't stare at the map the entire time, don't call out which stop you're getting off at, don't count down the stops, etc. Try to not look like a tourist. So, immediatly upon boarding the Metro, the majority of our group started talking loudly about how many stops we had left, which stop was ours, PREPARE TO EXIT AT THE NEXT STOP! THE NEXT STOP IS OURS! Good tourists. Bad listeners :)
Grabbed some lunch at a place that Doug found on Yelp. Pretty good. This lunch was much better than the tourist trap we ate at yesterday. The pizza was not frozen and not microwaved, for one ;) It had a nice charred crust. Ridiculously cheap - 4 pizzas for about 35 euro fed 7 people.
|Mushroom, onion, and a spicy pork sausage.|
You can see a margarita pizza in the back, and in the front, a prosciutto - olive - egg - artichoke - mushroom pizza. At first we thought they were just being totally lazy with the ingredients. It looks like they just threw on whatever they had left and cooked it. However, upon further inspections at other Italian eateries, this appears to be an actual thing - I saw replicas of it in menus and in other cafe storefronts. I forget the name of it - I'll try to notate it next time I see it (unless someone out there knows what this is called?).
|No, not a lazy distribution of toppings. This is on purpose.|
|Osteria Pizzaria near Vatican City.|
Ok, anyway, I guess I shouldn't lie in this post - sorry G. We actually booked our tour of the Vatican a few weeks ago online because it would supposedly cut down on the line. Once again, Rick Steves has the spot-on recomendation. We cruised past the 3+ hour line, headed straight in, and were in the Vatican Museum in about 5 minutes.
The Vatican is not as overwhelming as the Louve, but it's pretty damn close. It's got an enourmous amount of artwork. We took a lot of pics - but there's no point in posting a ton here. We know what's in the Vatican and we've all heard of Michelangelo and Raphael. And if you think I'm referring to the Ninja Turtles, you're on the wrong blog (Donatello was the best video game character anyhow). So the pics here are things I was surprised to see.
This is Apoxyomenos. You can't really tell but he's cleaning up with a bar of soap. I love it. I've got a streak that's over 20 years old of taking a shower every single night before bed. I related to this man and his quest for cleanliness (is Godliness).
There is an entire section dedicated to Egyptian art. Doug asked if these were the first foosball sets.
There is a giant room of tapestries that are HUGE. Pretty spectacular. This one is my favorite. I think it was titled "What up, bitches! I'm back!"
Michaelangelo, fresco style!
What has been really interesting for me to see is the fresco style of painting (directly on the wall). At the (many) other museums I've been to, you don't really think about how most of the famous paintings can be moved and shown in different places/angles/lights/etc. With a painting that's directly on the wall, the art becomes a permanent part of the structure. Much of the art in the Vatican that's popular is directly on the walls. So to see it, you must come to the Vatican. It can't be loaned out. I've never seen so much famous and beautiful fresco painting, and it was a new way to experience a museum and art. Totally wish my Mom was here with me!
In the section dedicated to modern art, they have a Van Gogh. This was the only painting of a religious theme done by him, I belive, for his sister.
The Vatican gets crowded as FUCK. The nice part about coming in the afternoon and in to the other areas of the museums are that you can enjoy the art (while you prepare to enter the Sistine Chapel) in relative peace and quiet, with plenty of space.
This is a large print by Henri Matisse. I didn't expect this, as well as other modern and ancient pieces from around the world, in the Vatican Muesum. You can see a blurry patron walking by - it was a large print and there were several in this room.
And then, you get what everybody came for.
|My spouse and the Sistine Chapel. Both beautiful works of art :)|
|I want to make a Ferris Bueller joke here but I'm tired and can't quite think of one.|
After the Chapel, everyone was pretty cranky. I think it was a combination of fatigue, hunger, dehydration, and being, or being with, a teenager. Some snacks and espressos at the Vatican cafe perked us right up, though. (I have yet to have a bad cup of espresso, latte, or cappuccino - even in the touristy shops and cafes, all of the espresso has been excellent in Rome. Much different than in the U.S., where it's hit and miss, and usually a miss, for the coffee/espresso at many popular locations. The Vatican did not disappoint - the espresso was excellent).
We viewed a few more rooms, took a view of the balcony, and headed over to St. Peter's Basillica. Which was way more massive than I anticipated.
|Outside of St. Peter's|
|Consensus: We could kick this guard's ass.|
This place was absolutly amazing. I was not prepared, pictures cannot capture it, and words cannot describe it. At least, my pictures and my words can't. Rick Steves calls it "the richest and grandest church on Earth"... which makes Brycen's original comment of "I don't want to see St. Peter's - just Michaelangelo's Pieta near the entrance and then I'm leaving" extra amusing :) (he did walk around and check out the church after all).
Entrance is free so we knew we'd get a line, but, instead of the 3+ hour mess that was happening earlier in the day, we had a 20 minute wait, part of it in the shade, and entered in at a time that was streaming sunlight throught the glass.
It called for a "come to me, my children" pose, obviously.
Amazing! Had I realized that this would have been my favorite site to see in Vatican City, I would have budgeted more time so that I could have climbed to the top of the dome and gotten views of the Vatican City and other areas of Rome - but we left too late. I was bummed, but, the light streaming in through the ceiling was so beautiful I don't think I would have wanted to arrive any earlier than 5PM (again, thank you Rick Steves for the time-of-day advice).
That night, Doug and I decided to go out on a date together in Italy. We found a restaurant with good reviews (in English and in Italian) a little further from the tourist track near the Colluseum. Ai Tre Scalini.
We had an amazing meal, again, for a great price. A few (ahem) glasses of good wine (while a litre of house wine is a great deal, it's also swill.... gets the job done but can be a challenge to stomach) some small bites and a few plates for just 32 Euro.
BOMB beef carpaccio with fresh arugula and shaved parmesean cheese.
Served free with the wine - a few small cheese cracker bites (somewhat bland) and some tasty focaccia with gorgonzola (excellent).
|Cheese donut thing.|
|Focaccia + Gorgonzola|
We ordered some BOMB beef carpaccio with arugula and olives, lasagna that was made by the portion (not a giant sheet), and meatballs with red sauce (divine, esp. w/ some bread to mop up the extra sauce).
I felt it was a good sign that several Italian-speakers were drinking beers (one holding a baby) in the front of the restaurant outside the open area we were sitting. We're still pretty close to the touristy area of Rome but this felt like a place where several locals congregate to eat and drink.
The ambiance was nice.
|View of the restaurant from across the street.|
The nights here are so pleasant. In fact the weather in general has been perfect - about 80 degrees and slightly balmy. So the walk home (at about 10PM - we're adjusting and eating late dinners here) was really nice.
Here's a shot right outside our apartment. Have I mentioned we're staying near the Colosseum?
|Door of our apartment.|
|Yes! Cheesy kissy face shot from the living room window :)|
|View from our bedroom.|
|Accordian player on the sidewalk. View from above.|
The rest of the group reported back that they had a great meal as well. Tanya had Mule Lasagna. I'll leave it at that.