I technically visited another country today!!! I booked my Vatican Museum/Sistine Chapel ticket online this morning, from the comfort of my bed as the loudest thunderstorm I'd ever heard went on outside. No waiting in line for me, and even better — no need for a waterproof poncho!
I booked for 1pm and was lucky enough to have the weather clear up just as I wanted to begin my walk. Once in the museums I wandered around totally lost for a while. The signs confused me and I could only find a few of the exhibitions. Eventually I figured everything out, only to then become a sardine within the crowds of people. I can honestly say not a lot in the museums interested me at all apart from an area tucked away from the main crowds where all the Papal vehicles from over the centuries were on display. It even had the vehicle that Pope John Paul II was in when he was shot!
Other than that, I found no interest in mostmof the other museums. The art collection was 99% religious, unsurprisingly, but there are only so many ‘Madonna and the child’ paintings I can handle. I decided to play a game in my head and count how many pieces showed women on their own without babies, and I counted three. I tried so hard not to be cynical about it, I promise! It just didn't work very well.
The Egyptian exhibition was also pretty cool. There was a real mummy!!!!!! That was the creepiest thing ever! By this stage though I was 110% over the crowds and just wanted to get to the Sistine Chapel so I could be done. I joined the sea of people heading in that direction. You know in ocean documentaries, when there are schools of thousands and thousands of fish all swimming in the same direction? That is what I felt like.
Luckily the chapel was worth it. It was amazing. How is it possible that somebody painted that? It's beyond belief. The whole room is a masterpiece. I knew going in to it that the ceiling was famous and was likely going to be impressive, but I didn't do much research so I was blown away. I instantly recognised one part of the painting where ‘God’ creates Adam. All cynicism washed away and I just appreciated the art for it’s value, rather than focising on what it depicted. Buuut, I eventually had to leave because my neck was aching from looking up for so long.
The highlight of the day then came after I'd left. Just beyond the walls of the Vatican is Old Bridge Gelateria… and I am convinced this is the home of the best gelato in Rome. If you are ever in the city you NEED to go here. I will crave their ricotta and pistachio flavour for the rest of my life.
My plan for after the chapel was St Peter's Basilica… well, until I saw the line. Nope. No chance. Despite skipping that I still feel like I had enough exposure to religion today to last me forever.
I finally went inside the Pantheon as well, as I walked back through town. I was mind blown by the dome. I can't wrap my head around how something like that can survive as it is, unsupported, for 2000 years. Roman architecture was insane.
By this point it was over seven hours since I'd eaten, minus the gelato, so I headed back to the hostel to have dinner before my stomach caved in on itself. I've been making couscous salads for dinner this week which my body (and bank account) has thanked me for. Yay for nutrition!
Tomorrow is my final day in Rome, and also Italy. I'm leaving the hostel and going to the Hilton Hotel at the airport for the night as I fly to Athens early on Friday morning. I haven't decided what I want to do with my day just yet, so that means I'll probably end up shopping. And eating as much gelato as I can while I'm still here.