What an overwhelming day! We began with a private tour of the Vatican City. But before I try to capture the experience, I must first mention our driver. Allesandro is a classic Italian man – beautiful to look at, with a voice and Italian accent as smooth as butter. He had me at “Buongiorno Bella.” And he may not admit it, but I think Mark had a man crush on him! We sadly said goodbye after our short drive to the Vatican. But I digress…
It’s difficult to put into words the feelings of walking through the Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica. We were in awe at every turn. We both were beyond moved by Michelangelo’s incredible works in the Sistine Chapel and, of course, La Pietá. Michelangelo's first statue ever created is of the Virgin Mary holding Jesus just after he died. He created this when he was just 24 and unknown as an artist. It's carved out of a single block of marble - the detail is unbelievable. It's one of the only statues behind a glass wall (which is why the photo is not great), because a crazy man in the 1970s took a hammer to Mary's nose, trying to destroy it.
The photo below is of the Hall of Maps in the Vatican Museum – the ceiling represents the Baroque period – stunning!
After a brief stop back at the hotel, we ventured out on foot yet again. First stopping for an incredible slice of pizza, we headed to Campo di Fiori (a large square filled with fresh flower vendors and outdoor cafes) and Piazza Navona, with one of Bernini's greatest works - the Four Rivers Fountain.
It was time then for our gelato stop for the day - this time it was coconut and pistachio for me and a repeat of limone for Mark. It didn't disappoint!
Our next stop was the Pantheon – a magnificent site! We agree with Rick Steves – it truly must be one of the most awe-inspiring buildings in the world.
Our last stop on our evening stroll back to the hotel was a small sidewalk cafe for antipasti and wine. Our waiter, "Casanova" (totally made this name up), kept us entertained by hitting on all the tourist women walking by to get them into the cafe and serenading us with bad 80's music. The food was incredible - first time to have a fried artichoke flower with lemon and white wine sauce. So tasty!
Our feet feel like they are going to fall off. But we must rally in the morning, for we're off to Ancient Rome!! And, of course, more gelato! Caio!