PART III: History and High Living in the Eternal City
After catching a cab over to Florence's Santa Maria Novella Station we hopped onto something that only residents of the Northeast United States can
experience, a high speed train. Italy's rail system has improved greatly since my last visit and for 15 Euros apiece we were able to get reserved
seating in an air conditioned railcar that took us to Rome in under 1 1/2 hours with no intermediary stops. This was our train and it topped out at
close to 270KPH (170MPH) during the trip:
We pulled into Roma Termini in the early afternoon, grabbed a cab and headed up to the Rome Cavalieri
where I cashed in a pile of my Hilton Hotel points. The first day we took it easy, lounging by the pool and enjoying a
complimentary bottle of champagne (it was the wifey's B-day). The pool is fantastic as the hotel is on the top of Monte Mario which is the highest
point in Rome and located adjacent to the Vatican Hill. From our room we had great views of the city and sights.
If you travel and do not have a rewards program you need to get one. I accumulated so many points we had no idea what to do with them so we got a
suite for the remainder of the stay. Nothing like having a personal concierge to help book your sightseeing tours, I felt so 1%. Here is our room:
The pool was also amazing, both during the day:
And at night. If you look closely the lights in the middle background are the Colosseum:
The Michelin starred restaurant even whipped up a special tasting menu for us complete with wine pairings. Little advice for everyone-Happy Wife,
The next day we headed over to the
to redeem our pre-arranged expedited entrance to the site. A quick cappuccino and some Italian baked goods from across the street and we
were good to go.
The Vatican Museum, along with the Uffizi I posted earlier, are the two best museums in Rome and among the top in the world for sheer volume of
stupendous quality artwork. You could spend a week here and not see everything. It is the accumulated art and treasure of more than a millennia of
both the Roman Empire and the Roman Catholic Church and covers every aspect of European culture as well as many that it bordered. It also includes the
Sistine Chapel in the complex and an extensive garden with sculptures. I have many pictures but to keep the posts manageable I will only include some
of the more interesting.
We started by heading over to the Roman gallery which you reach by heading outside. In these shots you can get an idea of the scale of the complex.
Here is a close up of a fountain between the two flanking galleries and the main museum behind it:
And then pulled back:
Each of the galleries and wings were Papal apartments built by the various popes who came from wealthy families like the Piccolomini, Medici and
Borgias. Now they are filled with art and open to the public. One of the odder pieces is rather new, we called it the Death Star, since it looked
partially complete and was rotating, but it is actually called The Rotating Sphere
and was done by artist
The sculpture gallery was even more extensive than the one at the Uffizi and among the better pieces were a young Octavian:
Perseus and Medusa:
And Laocoom and his sons fighting the sea serpents. The Uffizi has the sister piece to this except they restored it incorrectly and place his arm well
above his head instead of pulling a water serpent from behind his back:
We spent many hours going through the Etruscan, Egyptian, Greek and Roman displays placed throughout the museum. Eventually we started to make our way
to the Sistine Chapel. I can tell you that it is much more impressive in person that you have seen in photos, movies and television. Sadly, there are
no pictures permitted and you are certainly not encouraged to linger. My sentiment is eventually it will be closed to the public as the 6 million
visitors a year are doing irreparable harm to the Michelangelo fresco adoring the ceiling and the Vatican has stated they are unsure how to preserve
them. If you can make it, go.
On the way to the Chapel you pass through I highly frescoed gallery with tapestries gracing each wall. This gallery is no less impressive than the
Sistine Chapel and photos are permitted. Here is a good series of them that gives you an idea what the Chapel looks like:
The walls also have additional frescos depicting he various regions of the Roman Catholic Church's rule. We managed to located one that our neighbor
might have been interested in:
Yup, that is San Casciano and cheese-rolling Celle right beneath it. Our friend got a kick out of that when we the wife posted it to Facebook.
We then headed over to another gallery where I found this guy who may look familiar:
We spent another hour of so perusing the various galleries taking in the fabulous pieces and magnificent art. After grabbing a quick bite to eat in
the garden we decided to head to Saint Peter's Basilica. Here is a picture of my favorite Evil Joooo getting itchy before she enters the biggest
Catholic church in the world which is looming in the background:
edit on 27-8-2015 by AugustusMasonicus because: networkdude non ha nessuna birra