Death by Jambon and a Trip to the Vatican: Day 9, Rome
Day one in Rome was dedicated to our trip to the Vatican, which we had thankfully thought ton plan and book in advance to avoid the outrageous line. I read recently that around 20,000 people visited the Vatican every day, which seemed like an extreme exaggeration and I was excited to see if this was true.
Our tickets were for 11 am, so we stopped at a café to get yet another pain au chocolat and cappuccino, both of which were just €2 each. We decided to take our breakfast and eat it at a nearby fountain on the way to the Metro, in order to avoid the table charge when our breakfast was so inexpensive. In Italy, they charge you a fee if you choose to eat your meal at a table in the restaurant of usually around €3, regardless of the cost of your food. By far the biggest highlight of your our breakfast was the glorious flyer advertising the stereotypical "American Breakfast" that advertised a cornucopia of breakfast foods galore that would make Ron Swanson proud.
We had no issue with purchasing a metro ticket and I found it easy to navigate the metro map and determine which train to board. I've traveled in big cities a good bit and feel very comfortable with that type of public transportation, thanks mainly to observing my mom effortlessly travel when I was a kid. In addition to this, I played a Nancy Drew game more recently than I would prefer to admit in which you has to navigate the inner workings of a Japanese subway system, so you could say that I'm a pro by now.
We arrived at the Vatican with fifteen minutes to spare and got in line to go through security. It quickly became clear to me that 20,000 was probably a very valid estimate of how many people visit the Vatican each day, which is absolutely incredible. We went through security and to my surprise, the wine opener I had bought in Cinque Terre was in my purse still from when I had purchased it. Oops. Of course this happens at the Vatican, of all places. Luckily the security man still let me keep it, despite the sharp edge and with my promise that I (obviously) was not going to use it there.
We began our tour with following the signs that would eventually lead us to the Sistine Chapel. Every room was more stunning and incredible than the last and the art left me in awe for the entire two hours we were there. The intricacy of details in even the menial and seemingly unimportant aspects of the architecture and art was unreal, making it one of the mosey beautiful buildings I had ever seen. Raphael’s work was very recognizable and I loved getting to truly experience it, as we continued to follow the signs and masses of people towards the Sistine Chapel. At long last, we heard a tour guide whisper to a nearby group that we were finally about to get to see Michelangelo’s famed Sistine Chapel. I had seen many of these paintings in books, but until you see it in person it doesn't seem real. The archways and 30 foot ceilings are breathtaking and I didn't know where to look because there was simply so much to see. Because it is such a sacred place, I followed the rules and didn't take a picture out of respect. (insert side-eyes emoji)
When I go back to the Vatican, I will not be on as tight of a budget and definitely want to get a tour while I'm there because the majority of everything is in Italian, without any translations.
We continued on with our day by going touring St. Peter's Cathedral, which is the largest domed cathedral in the world. The second and third are located in Florence and London, respectively. The arched ceilings and paintings were beautiful and I loved in particular how the church was still used for its intended purpose, rather than just a museum. Throughout the different areas, there were people sitting in pews or kneeling near the
When I go back to the Vatican, I will not be on as tight of a budget and definitely want to get a tour while I'm there because the majority of everything is in Italian, without any translations. All around us tour groups paraded around, marked by a torch of usually an American flag or umbrella, to signify their location to all group members.
After the Vatican, we decided that we should probably eat lunch since it was looming on early afternoon and the croissants just weren't going to cut it for much longer. We decided to take optimistic chance at the Vatican pizzeria, since pizza is always a safe bet especially in Italy. Right?
This begins the segment of my blog that I would like to appropriately title "Jambon: 1, Lucy and Margaret 0". At the "pizzeria", we discovered a mediocre middle school cafe but with worse food, featuring the alleged ham, front and center. Pizza with arugula and what seemingly appeared to be prosciutto seemed like a delicious, safe option for lunch. Boy were we wrong. The pizza can only be described as gummy and writing this hours later, makes my stomach still churn. The jambon will forever be the only negative aspect of our otherwise incredible visit to the Vatican and Marge and I will most certainly be writing a strongly worded review of the "Vatican Pizzeria" or "Cafe Gummy Jambon" on Trip Advisor.
We continued on with our day by going touring St. Peter's Cathedral, which is the largest domed cathedral in the world. The second and third are located in Florence and London, respectively. The arched ceilings and paintings were beautiful and I loved in particular how the church was still used for its intended purpose, rather than just a museum. Throughout the different areas, there were people sitting in pews or kneeling near the alter praying. It was beautiful to witness thousands of people praying, where a language difference has no effect on their faith.
After visiting the cathedral, we decided that it was time to head back to more central Rome and stopped at a cafe to get a snack and decide on a gameplan for the reminder of the day. We were approached by a man not selling selfie sticks for once, who asked us if we had already gotten our tickets for the Vatican. I responded with "Si", which of course means "yes" in Italian, but the man looked at me and said "oh you wanted Espanol!" For some reason, he assumed that I was Hispanic which gave me a good laugh.
When I was in second grade, I thought that I was Hispanic because my dad grew up in Venezuela for the first 15 years of his life. Yet, the truth was revealed to me when I asked my mom if my dad was American and she responded to me and explained through her laughter that my dad was born in Shreveport, Louisiana. Whoops. Yet this makes the fact that people have now mistaken me as Italian 7 times and Hispanic twice even more fitting.