After our Abruzzo mountain adventure, it was time for a stretch of more "classical" Italian exploration: that of the great cities of central and northern Italy. The Itinerary we chose was fairly predictable, but irresistably so.
First stop on our cultural express: Rome, "the Eternal City". Although the saying goes "Rome wasn't built in a day", and my own followup "you can't see Rome in a day", we did. We left our Abruzzo campsite early in the morning and drove a couple of hours into Rome. I chose to park the car that resides under the Villa Borghese park (a place I've used before and come to value as a pretty good place to leave your car), and walk from there.
We wandered around a bit of the Villa Borghese before heading towards the Vatican, a place I wanted to show to Jenn. We passed through many wonderful piazze, including the Piazza del Popolo, a large and notable piazza just outside the Villa Borghese. Jenn was especially enamoured of the colorful distinctive streets we walked through on the way to the Vatican.
I had wanted to finally see the Sistine Chapel (for some reason I am always there when it is closed), but when I asked the guards about when we could visit, we got a vague answer about it having been closed for the day already. But it was only 2:30pm!!! How early do you have to get here? Foiled again!
Wandering around inside the Basilica, we appreciated the beautiful and immense (if somewhat dark and somber) interior. No one gave me a hard time about me snapping pictures here and there (for some reason, the Catholic Church has a wildly inconsistent policy on picture-taking within their facilities). We did the trek to the top of the dome at St. Peter's Basilica, where the clear sunny Roman day provided excellent views in all directions. Boy, talk about crowded up there.
From the Vatican City, we walked a pleasant couple of kilometres through more beautiful streets to the Roman Forum, taking a quick stroll through and admiring more excellent 2000-year-old classical roman ruins. From the front of the Coliseum, we took a quick subway ride back to a stop near the Villa Borghese and were soon back at the car. Rome in six hours! Rome deserves much more, but we were focused on sticking to our schedule.
The next time I am in Rome, the Sistine Chapel will not elude me!
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