Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Day 22: Heart of the city

We began day 22 (satuday) nice and early, with a delicious breakfast (well, as far as hotel breakfasts go), and headed to Castle Sant'Angelo which is supposedly where the Illuminati met, and was also the location of where Angels and Demons was filmed (I haven't seen it, but I'm totally into the whole Illuminati thing). The logic is that the brotherhood could meet right under the "pope's nose" so they wouldn't be caught. The castle was originally the mausoleum of the Roman emporer Haidran...and we got to see it ! 
Here we are by the river before entering:

Api gave us these super touristy / james bond earpieces so that we were all able to hear the commentary:

The castle was filled with all kinds of sketchy incoves like this one: 
And this super cool statue of the arch angel
 But when we reached the top, there was SUCH an amazing view of rome.

 The dome in the distance is Saint Peter's basilica...

 Afterward we stopped for a quickie lunch at a small deli nearby. While most of the students headed to the more touristy bakery, the place we stopped was complete with italian men in the back playing cards with an old as sin dog at their feet, and a robust old woman ready to make our sandwiches. She spoke no english, but the combination of rudimentary italian and sign language got me this awesome sandwich:
 Which gave me enough fuel to enter into the vatican city (two cities in one day!!), and check out Saint Peter's Basilica. The line was incredibly long to enter...and go through security, but moved quickly.

Inside the church

 These pictures truly do not do its beauty justice. The ceilings were so amazingly high, and every square inch of it is covered in art. The scale is truly amazing...breathtaking really.

Afterward we headed to the vatican museum. I didn't take many pictures there, which I was happy I didn't. The museum attendants would bellow NO PHOTO every few moments....and I sure didn't want to be on the wrong end of it. But again the magnitude and scale of the art was absolutely amazing. Of course we got to see the sistine chapel, which actually had some slightly scary paintings on it. On the far right wall, on the painting of the judgement, the depictions of the demons actually were a bit unsettling. This is actually a bit of a cheat, because I learned this when I went back to Rome with my family, but in the bottom right hand corner, there is an image of a man in hell, with donkey's ears and a snake wrapped around him biting This man supposedly was the disgruntled Michaelangelo's enemy, who disapproved of his depiction of nudity in paintings. Another fun fact is that all of the figures in the paintings used to be nude, but then were painted over using magically placed and precarious pieces of cloth. Also, the pannels on the ceiling represent the stages of creation ( seperation of land and sea, light and dark, creation of man, of woman ect.) Okay okay ONE MORE fun fact. In the image you can see a man holding his own skin. He was supposedly skinned in real life. Another man was grilled to death, and you can see him holding the stake he was tied to. Another woman was holding a broken wheel, and she was wheeled to death. Totally morbid but interesting right?

We then headed back to the spanish steps and the fountain to try to get some pictures while it wasn't prime-time tourist hours.

When we went to find our roomates, they were no where to be found. So Colleen and I decided to try and navigate ourselves back to the hotel....without a map. Made it a few blocks away after an hour in the McDonalds bathroom line and screaming feet (We were both trying to break in new shoes. Genius right?) and then decided to get a taxi. Not only did this man have some SERIOUS road rage, he also decided to make the sidewalk a road, and jam on the breaks right before we were sitting in the person in front of us's back seat. By the time we made it there, I handed him the euros jingling in my hand from shaking so much, and quickly exited. Colleen was in such a state that she left cash on the seat and had to bang on the window for the driver to let her back in. Though we were scared crapless, it was hilarious in retrospect. 

After getting ready we went to Tony's which was bustling with people (always a good sign) Michelle and I split chicken parm and another chicken dish, and it was great. Im getting nauseous thinking about the food coma I went the best way possible.

 Afterward, we went to a bar called "The Drunken Ship", which was full of college students, but was pretty laid back and fun.

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