ROME, ITALYMay 4 in Italy
Waking up in a 16th century AirBnB in Campo di Fiori!!
48 hours into this incredible city- a whirlwind! Staying in the most amazing 1500's apartment. You drive through a maze of narrow, cobbled streets to get here. The building front has super-thick massive wooden security doors which lead through an arched hallway into a 4-story courtyard complex, smack in the middle of an authentically Italian neighbourhood- but also within walking distance of all the main sights. Even though it has been modernised, the exposed hand-carved wooden ceiling seems to be the real thing, as well as a few stone features.
Yesterday we started off wandering about with no specific intentions- just in the direction of the Colosseum. We found ourselves in the Jewish Ghetto (in the 1500s the Pope made all the Jews live there), then strolling past the Teatro de Marcello and ruins from the Temple of Apollo. Wandered into a gorgeous church (randomly), and then in front of a National War Memorial, which had a lift that took you to amazing rooftop views of Rome. Brief pizza/gelato stop to recharge the batteries and then into the Colosseum and a stroll through Palatine Hill area.
Jesse definitely seems to have fractured his tibia from skiing. Our amazing AirBnB host had a spare crutch to lend us. He carried on like a champ but was hurting a lot by the end of the day.
Today we hit the Vatican, St Peter's Basilica, and Sistine Chapel. Took a 3-hour tour which was sooooo interesting and worthwhile. Boys' history (& mine) definitely schooled up. Maria, the tour guide, pointed out so many historical anecdotes and small details that I would have never noticed. The Vatican lets in 35,000 visitors per day, though- so we were packed in like a Chinese subway carriage. And there's just too many amazing pieces of art- by the end of the Museum part of the tour we just walked passed original works from Chagall, Dali, Matisse, etc. because there's literally too much to see.
I do struggle a lot with the grotesque wealth of the Church and how so much of that wealth has been acquired in very dubious ways (to put it mildly), as well as the massive scale of abuses they have tolerated- even supported- which has become even more clear in recent years. So I was actually against taking us to the Vatican, as if felt somehow complicit to get tickets. But Buz vetoed me... & it is a jaw-dropping place (even the boys appreciated that). but I had to suppress a gag when the tour guide said at the beginning that the Vatican has few ways to make money - it relies on the generosity of the Catholic community. You only have to look at the priceless artwork in there to understand how they are one of the most wealthy institutions in the world.
To avoid the dangers of dreaded 'hanger' after that 3-hour tour we grabbed a taxi to Piazza Navona and watched artists make some cool stuff and then feasted on beer, pasta, and a shameless platter of desserts!
Tomorrow should be an easier day of a short stroll to the Pantheon and lots of gelato breaks.Read more