rome & the vatican

The ninth day was very hot.

Well, all the days were very hot, but the heat was ten times more noticeable on this day since we spent the entirety of it outside walking in the sun.

We left the hostel pretty early — around 7-7:30am — since Rome is about an hour away from Narni. We listened to music on the bus for a while, but eventually, we all fell asleep and took a short nap to make up for the hours we had missed.

I didn’t sleep too well on the bus, so once we began arriving in Rome I woke up and looked out the window. I noticed a sudden increase in both traffic and street art.

Here’s the first piece of street art I saw. Hidden in the left-hand corner it says “1984 No Control,” and on the right side it says, ““F*CK NAZIS.” I can’t decipher what anything else says.

We drove around for a while and passed by the Colosseum. Sadly we didn’t get to go to it, but it was neat to see it even from the outside. Since it was so hot, the majority of our group was wearing shorts and short-sleeved shirts, so some of the girls had to use giant paper shawls to cover up their oh-so-scandalous shoulders and knees. I had a sweater with me, so I tied it around my waist like a skirt. Quite the fashion statement.

For the majority of the day, we had one tour guide, so once we met up with him, we began the tour at a cafe. We all were a little hungry when we arrived in Rome, so we stopped and ate chips, coca-cola, and other random European snacks.

After eating, we headed to the first sight: San Paolo Fuori Le Mura which translates to “Saint Paul Outside The Walls.”

Outside of the basilica.
Here’s the main view when you first walk in. It was very empty, surprisingly, so I got a decent photo here. You can use the person walking to visualize how big it is. The image of Jesus at the end — and the dome behind it — is all mosaic.
The phenomenal gold ceiling.
I was looking at some info online, and I found out that the windows are not stained glass; instead, the designs on them are made from fine alabaster.
Here’s a little better view of the mosaics. What I seem to love the most about all these churches and pieces of art in Italy is the mixing of styles. Part of it is mosaic, part of it is paint, part of it is sculpture, etc., but it all fits together into one magnificent structure.

After visiting this basilica, we walked a little bit through the city towards a museum very close to the Altare Della Patria. I have done extensive research online but still cannot find the name of this museum! It was cool, though, because it was a mix of art, history, and other random aspects of Italian culture.

Lots and lots of stickers.
A charming house with pretty flowers in the foreground.
This is Dante’s The Divine Comedy inside the unknown museum. I’m not sure if it’s the original copy because online it says that the original is in Firenze…
Oh, boy. This was one of the coolest pieces of art I saw. It’s titled “Tutto” and is by the artist Alighiero Boetti whose embroidery work is just amazing.

After the museum, we walked around some more and made our way to an area with a bunch of restaurants so we could have lunch.

I love this building’s geometric design on the bottom half.

Once we picked a meeting spot, we were allowed to break up into small groups and find lunch. My friends and I walked for about three minutes before a man at one of the nearby restaurants tempted us by saying, “We have air conditioning!” We looked at the menu quickly and decided to eat there, a decision we may have regretted later…

Sitting on the bench in the hot sun. 

Once we got a seat at the restaurant, we were pleasantly surprised to see bread on the table. We were all starving, so we began to eat and drink water. We ordered pizza: one was regular Margherita, one was Margherita con Mozzarella di Bufala (buffalo milk cheese), and one was Pizza ai Funghi (mushrooms). Don’t get me wrong: it was all absolutely delicious; plus, we hadn’t had pizza on the trip until this day, so we were all craving it. But when we got the check, I was a little annoyed ’cause we got scammed big time!

They charged us 12 euro for the bread (which no one ordered anyway) and 4 euro for the water (ugh!) and then the pizzas were around 10 euro each. Looking back, it makes sense that this happened since we were in a pretty touristy area of Rome and we were pretty obviously tourists. We all split the bill, so it ended up being fine, but I was a little ticked off. Oh, well… being scammed was bound to happen at some point in my travels.

We were still a little hungry after the pizza, so we walked around some more and found a fruit stand to grab a snack. Albiccoche (apricots) may be my favorite word in the Italian language thus far. And ciliege (cherries).

The design of this building is so random and scattered, but I think that just adds to its charm. 

After meeting up with the rest of the group, we continued the tour and explored more of Rome.

This was one of my favorite pieces of street art. 
This woman was making sand sculptures of dogs that are creepily accurate. 
More stickers on a mailbox. I was reminded of the mailbox I saw in Enna, Sicily earlier that year! I still really admire its design. 
More stickers — “This beautiful moment is ours.” I found this artist’s website online. 
Ok ok this is the last photo of stickers, I swear. We were only in Rome for a day which isn’t nearly enough to explore its entirety, but for the short time I was there, I was really attracted to the street art and how much it brightened up the city. 

Next we went to the Trevi Fountain. It was the middle of July — peak tourist season — so the whole area was extremely crowded. I’m glad I can cross this off of my bucket list. It’s great to see the touristy places once or twice, but I know that there are plenty of other areas that allow for a more immersive travel experience I’d like to visit next time.

And yes, I did throw coins into the fountain! 

After that, we headed to yet another church. This one was one of my favorites: Chiesa di Sant’ Ignazio di Loyola. The paintings within it are just mindblowing.

This isn’t a great picture, but the ceiling looks like it has a dome structure, right? Well, I learned that it’s actually an illusion and the ceiling is really just flat…so freaking cool! 

On the way to the bus, we stopped by the Fontana Dei Quattro Fiumi. The lighting was so pretty here, and I really like these two pictures:

Oh, and I can’t forget to show you this hilarity…

Some of the group wanted to get water and/or gelato, so we stopped at a gelateria. I didn’t want to get anything, so I just walked around and looked at the flavors. Then I came across the neon blue-colored one and discovered that its flavor was…Viagra. Everyone was cracking up and slightly confused. I later found a couple articles online about it. So weird!

We hopped on the bus and drove a couple minutes until we reached the Vatican City. I guess I technically visited two countries on this trip!

Oh, God… it was so hot and there was absolutely no shade in sight. That’s the one thing I don’t miss about this trip! We had to stand in line for a half-hour to get inside St. Peter’s Basilica, so everyone was very cranky and sweaty. 
Right outside of St. Peter’s Basilica. 

Despite the heat and the long wait, I’m glad I got to visit this basilica. I could say this about nearly all the churches I’ve seen in Italy, but the amount of time and dedication put towards their creation astounds me.

This was probably the biggest of all the churches we saw, so you could easily spend a whole day exploring it. We only had about twenty minutes, so here are some photos I took as we wandered around.

Perfect spotlight on two of the statues outside the basilica.

Once we left the church, we headed back to the bus and made our way back to Narni. We changed out of our sweaty clothes and watched a very memorable student performance that ended around 11:30. After that, we probably had more gelato and then went to bed.

The day we spent in Rome had its ups and downs, but I really liked this city and am excited to visit again someday when I can spend more than a day exploring!

There are only two days left of the trip to share with you 😦 Writing about it and sharing photos makes me sad because it feels like I have to say goodbye all over again. My friends and I would try our best to live in the moment every day, but as our departure date drew nearer, it got harder and harder to not think about saying goodbye. But anyway… there are still two more full days left, so it ain’t over ’til it’s over.

Ok, buonanotte!