@JERRLIFE

Rome Diary Day 2

Missed Day 1? Check it out here!

The second day in Rome was really our first full day in Rome. We were rested - sort of - and ready to walk 40 000 steps. No more of this 20 000 pussy steps like the first day. Let's get to exploring.



Bless this angel for having freaky good sense of direction. Let's join Amazing Race Canada

Vatican City

We decided to go to the Vatican first. The Vatican is the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church and considered to be a holy place - if not the holiest. A city within Rome (like Quebec but if it made sense). Papa Francisco lives there. Some of the most beautiful, historic, and oldest artwork and architecture in the world can be found here. How am I here?

Disclosure: I'm actually pretty clueless about said artwork and architecture in Rome. I can recognize them but I don't know their significance let alone their name most of the time. So if I refer to something incorrectly, let me know. If I refer to something as 'that thing over there', I'm sorry.

E.g. We arrived at St. Peter's Square and my friend was being particularly sassy that day about being on schedule or something so I decided to sass her back:

Me: Where are we?
Aleks: St. Peter's Square
*5 minutes later*
Me: This is cool and all but don't we need to go to the Vatican?
Aleks: I know you're trying to be sassy, but St. Peter's Square is at the Vatican JR. *death stare*

*looks at that pretty thing in the opposite direction*

Anyway Vatican City is the reason for the word beautiful. If you want to see the world's most beautiful architecture, go here. St. Peter's Square which is a misnomer because it's, in fact, circular. The large collonades surround it and above them are 90 statues of saints. Below them are numerous surveillance cameras. I felt secure. In the square itself there are two fountains and an obelisk right in the centre. Fun fact: Rome has the most obelisks in the world (8) and they were taken from Egyptians.

Directly across from St. Peter's Square is St. Peter's Basilica. We decided not to get in line - I don't really remember why since we lined up anyway afterwards. More on that later.


Vatican Museum

Instead we lined up for the Vatican Museum a.k.a let's go see the Sistine Chapel! Again, I don't really know much about Rome so it turned out to be a lot more than that.

The line up was awful. Not only because we waited - I want to say more than an hour - but because there, again, were vendors. They made it really confusing. When someone lined up they would bombard you with a pitch on skipping the line. Convenient, sure, but like every street vendor there, it was sketchy. Plus, it was more expensive I think.

Also it was particularly hooooot that day so I was desperate to get in. #thatswhathesaid

My friend wanted to get refreshments. She also came back with gelato for abandoning me in line so we were cool after - figuratively and literally (which is the best kind don't you think?).

Boiling and next in line to enter. 
Finally we got in. We had to go up a spiral stair (there weren't actually steps, so like, an incline??). The crowd walked really slow and we didn't appreciate that. So we zoomed our way through. We have art to look at people.

We first went to the Belvedere Court. There we saw the Fontana della Pigna which literally translates to Pinecone Fountain. I didn't really get it. Thematically, a pinecone just felt out of place in the Vatican's Baroque/Renaissance style. The Sphere Within Sphere, a bronze sculpture, is located in the middle of the court. That was cool too.

(I had to google all those things I name checked. I was oblivious to the significance of everything other than they were beautiful)

Sphere Within Sphere

Afterwards we proceeded into the long halls of the Vatican Museum and immediately became awestruck. Seriously, try to articulate the sensory overload of this place I dare you. We entered and boom: there are large artworks hanging on the wall and above, the ceilings are covered with ornate paintings. It was insaaaane. It was rooms and rooms and rooms of this. I googled it right now and we went to the Borgia Apartments, Raphael Rooms, and the Sistine Chapel.

Probably more to be honest. Again I wasn't sure where I was, when what ended where and what started where, but I was having multiple visceral responses to what I was witnessing that was an afterthought.

Here are some photos. Awe away:


Afterwards, we needed to take a moment, collect ourselves, and eat. They had a cafeteria there. My friend sent some postcards and exited the museum.

Next up, St. Peter's Basilica!

St. Peter's Basilica

We returned back to St. Peter's Square where the line to the Basilica remained everlong. The line probably had 400 people but we got in in about 30 minutes. Also perks of being in a holy area: no vendors. Bless, literally.


Like the Vatican Museum, what is impressive about St. Peter's Basilica is that it is massive and detailed. I wish we did a tour so we could learn more about the art and architecture - but we didn't (ahem, Aleks...). I did keep eavesdropping on tour guides. I learned Michaelangelo's last piece is located in St. Peter's Basilica for free :). Read here for some c00l facts.

After exploring the floor we found an entrance to the Pope tomb. Yeah, there are Popes buried here. It was a grim but also holy place. I guess I knew this but it's incredible the papacy is centuries old tradition. I didn't know however there were Popes who reigned only for days.

We saw a bishop while we were down there! It was thrilling.

We were not allowed to take pictures in the tomb, obviously.

What is a Cupola?

After, we ended up exiting to an outdoor area of the Basilica. On one side there was a tour group all listening to their tour guide through their headphones. I'm mentioning this because it was weird and lol. There was just a group of people silently staring at one person . I tried to eavesdrop but I think they were speaking a differently language...


On the other side there was a line. It said 'CUPOLA.' We were like, what is a CUPOLA? We tried to gather clues and figure it out, but no dice. There was a  long line - not as long as the other ones we've lined up in - so we gather it must be worthwhile.

There were 2 prices: 5 euros walking or 7 euros for the elevator. It said too, that it was 1000 steps. After the traumatizing stair situation in Paris and tbh our whole vacation of walking 40 000 steps a day, we were like, what's another 1000 steps? "LET'S DO IT FOR THE EXPERIENCE." my friend exclaimed and chose to walk.

This was our catchphrase every time we we faced uncertain situations which was often.

It was a spiral staircase and as my friend suspected, these stairs were not going to be your average stairs. I don't know what the Romans were thinking, but these were like pancake stairs. They were so wide each step was more like 2-3 steps. But that's probably just the 21st century in me...

PARIS IS HAPPENING AGAIN.

In addition to walking in a spiral, what was terrible was we didn't know when it would end. I kept sprinting hoping that turn would be the last but it just kept turning. We passed by older people catching their breath.

Until finally, an exit.

It was an outdoor area and I thought this was the Cupola. I started to think Cupola was like a grail and it's like a greeting or something. Like cup and ola - as in hello. Anyway, there were another set of stairs, I'm assuming led to the mystery that is the Cupola. Us and a couple other people stopped here to catch their breath. We also took some photos.

Why are we so dramatic here??

Seriously, what is the Cupola? Are we getting ordained??

This climb was brief. We were on the ceiling right on the centre of St. Peter's Basilica (trivia: it's the shape of a crucifix). The view was beautiful and the artwork on the ceiling was too.


Then slowly, I saw people exit through another entrance and I thought this is the Cupola now let's go back down. But the stairs continued to ascend...

This is when it starts to get scary. There were different sets of stairs. At first, it just started to narrow. Then the walls started to curve.

I wouldn't call myself fat and I felt squeezed in. I'm not exactly claustrophobic and I was freaking out inside. There were quite a few people up there and I didn't know how long I was going to be in this situation.

I found a video of what we climbed. Watch to the 3+ minute mark to have a better understanding of what we're dealing with here.


At this point too people are exhausted. Thankfully there were windows with cool breeze coming through. People sat there to take a break. I however was anxious to just get to wherever it was we were going. Is the Cupola next? Are there any more surprises along the way? Uncertainty gives me anxiety and I didn't know much more I could endure without losing my chill.

Seriously, what is the Cupola? I hope it's an escalator.

Moments later an exit and a breeze of cool air. WE HAVE ARRIVED AT THE CUPOLA.

Turns out the Cupola, is the highest point of St. Peter's Basilica. The Cupola is the dome above the Basilica. From here we could see what feels like all of Rome. The view of St. Peter's Square hundreds (thousands?) of feet below is incredible and you appreciate it more after walking 1000 steps.

A selfie at the Cupola. Do you have one of those??

We stayed at the Cupola for a bit. It was beautiful and breathtaking. We were sweating but up here there was a cool breeze; a rarity in Rome. It was crowded but that was okay. After walking that much to get here, we just wanted to take the moment in. This was such an experience. I didn't know when I'd be here again.

If I want to do that again.

It was horrifying and gratifying. It was a story to tell. And we accomplished what we set out to do: LET'S DO IT FOR THE EXPERIENCE.

On the way down, we exited through a different side of the Cupola. It was so similar I tripped out. The difference was there was a bathroom and a gift shop here. I bought a figurine for my mother and made our way back to the ground.


Let's Eat

After we left Vatican City to get food. Finding good food in Rome is very challenging. Most of it is subpar Italian food catered aggressively to easily persuaded tourists who don't know any better. Most restaurants have servers outside waiting to pounce on you and blown up menus to make you stop and look.

We know better. Sort of.

My friend's relative recommended a restaurant. First of, Rome has a lot of these small narrow streets with uneven cobble stones which we got lost in. Second, many of them don't have names. Like are these "alleys"? Eventually we found the place and it was closed. We were in distraught. We've walked so much and just wanted an amazing meal. The restaurant had so many award stickers on their door. :(

So we looked for an alternative. We passed by dozens of restaurants with menus outside and servers waiting to chat us up. One was playing Ooops I Did It Again, so I was sold but my friend did not like their chairs. That's the third thing, no generic-we-bought-this-at-home-depot chairs. They need to be homely or old.


For people who just walked maybe 30 000 steps at this point, we were pretty persistent about going to a good restaurant (soon exhausted). We weren't going to settle for mediocre tourist food.

Eventually, we did. The place had wi-fi okay.

They had vegetables and fruits for decorations. They had I believe, flowers suspended upside down from the ceiling. And in the entrance plates of food surrounded by a variety of fruits and vegetable. It was strange but okay.

My friend's pretty accommodating with shooting our food, but she was like get it quickly I want to inhale this for this meal.
My friend hated her lasagna and I was okay with my spaghetti. She liked it too so we switched halfway because I'm such a good friend.

The wi-fi was good though. #snapchat #instagram #tweet (ps. @jerrlife on all platforms hollaaa)

Afterwards we had gelato. We decided we were going to get one every single day. This was my favourite one during our stay. The serving was big and they covered it in that chocolate drizzle that goes hard. Soooooooooooo good.


My friend got gelato on her dress and was not happy about it. She sat down on the bench and her dress touched the ground which had gelato spill...

But we fixed it - sort of - and we walked back home.


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