Saturday began with an early morning trip to the Vatican. We took a beautiful 45-minute walk along the Tiber River to meet our guide for the morning, Francesca Zambini.
As we planned this trip, we didn’t realize that Easter in Italy is a two-week celebration. Consequently, tickets for many of the main attractions were almost impossible to get. By using a guide, we were able to get tickets that were otherwise unavailable. As it turned out, Francesca was great, incredibly helpful and greatly added to our appreciation of the Vatican.
As nearly everyone says, despite having seen photographs of the Sistine Chapel for years, nothing prepares you for the experience. Likewise, I was not prepared for the sheer size, beauty and grandeur of St. Peter’s Cathedral. Mass was being celebrated in an alcove of the cathedral while we were there. Hearing the chanting of the priests echoing throughout the cathedral, even with the background noise of the crowd created a sacred feeling. Seeing the Pieta was a highlight.
Then it was on to the Borghese Gallery, best known for its large collection of Bernini sculpture. I’m not usually a sculpture fan, but even I couldn’t help but be impressed. In addition, it seems like ever ceiling in every cathedral and palazzo is frescoed.
Following a morning and early afternoon of museums, it was time to take a walk through Roma on our way back to our home away from home in Trastavere.
On our way, we came across Harry’s Bar Roma on the Via Venetto and knew it was the perfect spot for a mid-afternoon break. Harry’s Bar originally came to fame in Fellini’s La Dolce Vita and was the hot spot in Roma for celebrities in the 60s. I’ll describe our experience at Harry’s Bar more in a later post.
We resumed our walk through Roma and were constantly reminded that Roma is a city in every respect. In this case, on a Saturday afternoon, the crowds were oppressive. Along the way, we saw the Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon. I’m sure they are impressive, but the crowds tempered the enjoyment.