After our original failure, we were determined to see the Vatican Museum on Friday. Since this was our last day in Rome, we were not going to screw this up; we were up, fed, and across the city by nine in the morning. And there was still a line-up half a block long! It moved pretty quickly, but I was still shocked at the number of people in what I’m told is a "slow month" for tourism.
Once we paid the fourteen Euro entrance fee, it was apparent this was totally worth it! Up to this point, we had bombed around the city, looking at amazing architecture, ruins, and buildings. This was our first chance to get inside something, and see the smaller, more personal artwork.
The Vatican Museum is divided into galleries, each with a specific theme. One was all of hundred year old tapestries, another’s walls had been commissioned by some past Pope to have detailed maps of all of Italy, etc. The best of it, though, was the Sistine Chapel itself. You are not allowed to take pictures inside of it, but pictures do not do it justice. The artwork in that room is stunning, even if you are not religious.
There were more sections to the Vatican Museum that we, unfortunately, did not have time to visit. I did shoot over to the giftshop to buy a postcard, which I promptly filled out and mailed from the Vatican City post office :) But we had more we wanted to see and little time, so after a couple hours, we moved on.
The next stop was the at the top of Capitoline Hill. But on the way, we decided to wander through the ruins of the Roman Forums. Here, we could walk amongst the most solid reminders of the city that stood on that spot over a thousand years ago. A victory arch, the remaining columns of temples, original roman roads... most of which you can reach out and touch.
Up the hill, we visited the museum there. Man, what we would have done for a map! We entered a single, two-story building, unaware that the museum was actually three interconnected buildings... so we had this surreal couple hours wandering around these amazing hallways and galleries, looking at all these beautiful statues and busts and paintings... all the time convinced we had been to this floor three times before and yet all this stuff is not what was here before! Like some sort of mobeus layout, we’d "go back" down the stairs and discover the first floor had completely changed! An amusing adventure... until we tried to find our way out! :P
Like the Vatican Museum, the Capitoline Museum divided it’s halls into themes. The Hall of the Faun featuring a red marble statue, the Hall of Philosophers featuring busts of many greek and roman thinkers, the Hall of the She-wolf featuring a famous statue of a Remus and Romulus nursed by a mother wolf. This museum, however, was smaller in each room size, and no where near as crowded. I enjoyed it more for that reason.
I must admit it wasn’t easy leaving Rome. It grows on you fast! I, as a visitor, could not imagine how you could live there and never be in awe at all the wonders surrounding you! But in the end, there was more of Italy to see... we said our goodbyes to Rome and boarded a train to La Spezia!