Even though we arrived in Rome yesterday, today is the first day we really got out to explore and see the sights. Our first stop was technically not a part of Rome, but the independent city state of Vatican City is reason enough to come to Italy. The most visible landmark when you arrive is the massive St. Peter’s Basilica, which was designed by Michelangelo.
The canopy over the altar was amazing to see in person. It is the first thing you notice when you walk into the basilica and when you get closer you can really notice the work that went into making it. Tt really emphasizes the grand scale of everything inside and makes you feel very small.
We also walked though parts of the Vatican Museums and stopped at the amazing Sistine Chapel, the ceiling of which is perhaps one of Michelangelo’s most famous creations. Needless to say Michelangelo really left his mark here, and produced some really amazing work.
After the trip to the Vatican, I had the afternoon free. Our Tour Director Derek recommended the Palazzo Massimo Museum, part of the National Museum of Rome. The museum is four floors and holds a very large collection of Roman sculptures, paintings, mosaics and jewels. I went primarily to see the sculptures, but really enjoyed the rest of their collection. Notable works included the Boxer of Quirinal, which was made in 330 B.C. in a high-quality bronze considered more desirable than marble, and two versions of the discus thrower.
I met up with the group again after the museum and we had a very fun night planned—the optional Dinner with Tenors. We were served a three-course meal while watching four opera singers perform many Italian classics. I am by no means an opera expert, but I was very surprised that I recognized almost every song that they performed. They really knew how to get the crowd involved and it was a really nice way to experience such a big part of Italian culture.
Tomorrow will be another very busy day in Rome and I am excited just thinking about it. We will visit the Roman Forum, the Colosseum, have our farewell dinner and then go on a nighttime walking tour of the city—I think that should be enough to distract me from thinking about how it’s the last day of my trip.