lunes, 11 de mayo de 2015

May 8 - Vatican City, Vatican and Rome, Italy

Musei Vatican
So, turns out the entrance to the museum is actually on the right side of the Vatican from St. Peter's Square, not the left. And if you try to enter through that gate, the guards don't particularly like you. In fact, they are quite rude... Good thing I showed up early! Also, good thing I bought a ticket online, because there were several hundred people waiting in line just to buy their ticket, which I was able to bypass completely! The museum is a large collection of paintings, sculptures, fountains, pottery, tapestries, etc. There are several pieces within the museum that are quite impressive. Of course, everyone wants to speed through the museum to just get to the Sistine Chapel, but I decided I wanted to check out everything the museum had to offer.

Cappella Sistina
Toward the end of the tour route is the Sistine Chapel. I overheard a gentleman saying how the moment is almost ruined because of the sheer amount of tourists packed into the room, which is actually kind if true. It would be a phenomenal to have the opportunity to go in there after hours and enjoy the various paintings in complete serenity. It Is indeed very impressive though with everything looking so 3D, even though it's just a 2D painting!

Piazza San Pietro
This large plaza can hold several thousand people during when the Pope gives speeches, etc. It's very cool to see with all the pillars surrounding it, the entrance between Rome and the Vatican.

Basilica di San Pietro
This is the largest church in the world. And woah, it is beautiful and quite impressive to see. It's free to enter, though you have to wait in a line and go through security to enter. The intricate detail of every square inch is actually quite ridiculous. One interesting aspect is you can go below the church and see the crypts of several of the previous Popes over the last 2000 years.

As a Catholic, visiting the Vatican is a wonderful journey for me to have taken. I can't imagine it has quite as much effect on those who either don't believe in God or believe in some other deity. It would have been neat to have been in the Vatican when the Pope was speaking, especially since I really enjoy this Pope and his thoughts. The direction the Catholic church has taken since he took the reins has given me hope again for Catholicism; it seems like we are finally, at least to some degree, catching up with society. It actually shocks me how against LGBTQ rights the Catholic church has been throughout history considering there are literally hundreds of naked men in the paintings and sculptures throughout the Vatican!

Campo do Fiori
So this plaza used to be a flower field, hence its name. The majority of the plaza has never had a building on it. Instead, it has been a place of trade, largely for fruits, vegetables, and fish. There has been a market there every morning for over 150 years. In the afternoons, kids gather there to play soccer, and at night it's full of people meeting up and having a good time. Ages ago, this plaza was also used for public burnings at the stake of people. In the center of the plaza, there's a statue of Giordano Bruno, who was burnt alive for heresy in the year 1600. Quite the multi-utilization, eh?

Larga Argentina
While this is indeed where Cesar was assassinated, now it's a cat sanctuary. Yup, a famous landmark has been converted into a cat playground. It's kind if ingenious, really to use it when it otherwise would just be sitting empty. Interesting though...

Piazza del Popolo
The Plaza of the People is a giant plaza in Rome with a central fountain. It's themed in Egyptian and is interesting to see. However, if you climb the stairs up to the park, you'll find a great view of the city and it's skyline. You'll also find couples making out, friends passing the time, others drinking, some street band performers, dogs playing with each other, and more...

I honestly thought that Rome would be kind of run down and just full of ruins, so I was surprised when I saw it is decently modern and the old has been blended well with the new(er). In addition, the city is pretty well kept up and enjoyable to visit.

One genius aspect of the city is there are water fountains all throughout the city that have water running non-stop, and it's all drinkable water, so if you carry a water bottle with you, you can just fill it up throughout the day and it's easy to stay hydrated! The only thing that is weird to me is that they run all the time. I wonder what happens to the water that isn't consumed. Where does it go?

Shout out to my fraternity brother, Josh Meyer, for giving me pointers on what to do since he studied abroad in Rome last fall! I definitely enjoyed your city!

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