Day two of Italy was such a beautiful whirlwind. I started out with breakfast (REAL DOUGHNUT) at the hostel and then headed out to find the metro. I was so happy to figure out that in Rome the metro consists of two lines, and each goes in two directions. That’s really all there is. Hallelujah. There was a direct route from where I was staying, so I hopped on the metro and headed to my first location: The Vatican.
While I was riding the metro I was reminded of how terrified I was of the tube when I made my first ever backpacking trip. I wouldn’t take it. I took buses around London for an entire week. And if you’ve ever been to London, you’ll know how incredibly insane that is. But here I was, sitting on the metro in Rome, Italy thinking, “Well this is easy.” Paris has changed me in a lot of ways. I had to smile when I thought about how “young” I seemed on my first trip, even though it was only a couple years ago. So much can change in two years.
The Vatican was as crazy as you can imagine. Going on Easter weekend was an absolute dream in most regards, to be honest. There were so many more benefits than negatives. But when it came to The Vatican, there was the single negative; it seemed like the entirety of Italy (and maybe everywhere else, too) was there. The line was wrapping around the entire piazza and everyone was buzzing with excitement. It was a pretty amazing experience. EVERYONE was there – from the elderly to tours filled with children. I didn’t wait in the line, because I knew that I had limited time to see the whole city, but I did take some awesome pictures of the surrounding area. So fresh, so clean. I love Roman architecture.
My next stop was the Castel Sant Angelo, which was amazing and absolutely enormous. I kind of wish I had gone in, but there was just so much to see and I was on a time crunch. I loved walking along the “Fiume Tevere”. The water seemed so clear in comparison to The Seine and since the sun was out and shining all day it was the best place to be.
Like I said, I really think I went at the best time that I could have. I had all the street vendors to myself and picked up some amazing “Roman Holiday” (Audrey Hepburn) prints, which I’m definitely going to get framed when I get back to the US. The Piazza Cavour was one of the most beautiful sights you could ever imagine. I’m so used to the (sorry France) gaudy Parisian architecture that it was refreshing to see the clean, but nonetheless ornate and beautiful, architecture of Rome.
My next stop was the Piazza Navona, where I bought some gelato and simply laid in the sun next to a fountain as a jazz band played next to where I was sitting. Sounds perfect, right? It was.
I stopped in on quite a few churches while I was in Rome. I loved how simplistic they looked on the exterior, but how ornate they were on the inside. I spent a lot of time just sitting and mediating in one of the smaller chapels next to the Piazza. Such beauty.
At this point I decided that I needed to see at least one actual museum so I jumped in the one that was nearest to me. Of course (because I can never escape France) it was the Napoleon museum, which was actually amazing and beautiful and I loved it. When I walked in, though, I walked straight up to the huge Napoleon painting and said “Well, I didn’t expect to see you here.” I’m pretty sure the security guards thought I was insane. Oh, well.
My next stop was the Pantheon, which was an absolute madhouse (in all the best ways). There were just SO MANY PEOPLE THERE. I loved being able to walk around amidst the beehive of people inside, though. The ceiling was one of those moments that seems like a cut from a movie montage. You just stand there and turn around and around. How did people build this so long ago? How is it still here? Why do I get to come here?
After the Pantheon I picked up some postcards and walked up along the Tiber River. I headed up to Piazza del Popolo where there was the coolest obelisk. That was another favorite thing about Rome, since I’ve always been in love with ancient Egypt (I dressed up as Cleopatra probably 5 Halloweens in my childhood). I loved being able to see these massive obelisks engraved with hieroglyphics. I mean, come on. At this point I was just thinking – what even is this life that I’m living?
NOTE: This whole trip I had to keep pinching myself. How was it real that I was there? How was I there? How was it real?
After the Piazza I made my way along the Via del Corso, which is pretty much just a huge extension of shop after shop after shop. I did buy a wallet, because I figured that going to Italy and not buying something made out of Italian leather would have been a crime.
Another thing I really enjoyed about Rome was that, even though it’s such a massive city, there are still live street musicians and artists. There were some absolutely incredible chalk artists on the streets there, and I could not believe how well they were replicating famous works of art.
The next stop on my adventure were the Spanish stairs – and I really don’t have much to say about them because my little introvert self saw that many people sitting in that one place, and ran for the hills.
Or rather, Trevi Fountain, which was under construction (the saddest thing ever) but was still lovely. Hopefully someday, when I go back, I’ll be able to see it with actual water in it. Wouldn’t that be nice?
The Quirinale was my next stop, and I arrived just in time to see the Italian version of the changing of the guards. The whole ceremony was pretty awesome, but I don’t think it’s publicized because there weren’t a whole ton of people there. Those of us who were there, though, loved every moment.
Phew. I’m getting tired just writing all of this out (and you’re probably getting tired of reading it) but just image that this was 12 hours straight of walking. Fun times.
On my way back to my hostel I found an old church (like all the churches in Rome are old, so I don’t know why I needed to add that), and wrote out the postcards I needed to send out – all while being surrounded by gold and renaissance style paintings. Think angels with outstretched fingers. That.
Piazza Republica was my next stop on my way back to my hostel, where I dropped off my postcards, and went back to the hostel to collapse. Unfortunately, it was then that I realized I had forgotten to get Spaghetti (I had checked off Panini and gelato already during the day) somewhere, so I dragged myself back out of bed and across the street for a plate. I will say this about that meal: I don’t think I’ll ever be able to enjoy bread anywhere, ever again, now that I’ve lived in France.