My class and I went on a three day trip to Rome last weekend. I have to say that I don’t think we had enough time to explore everything but we did end up seeing quite a bit of the main attractions that Rome has to offer. First off, no trip to Rome is ever complete without a visit to Vatican City. We stayed at a hotel called Residence Candia on Via Candia which is just a few blocks outside of the Vatican walls. We ended up touring the Vatican for three hours! Vatican City is literally a tiny walled city inside of Rome, an independent city-state. That blows my mind.
The Vatican is ruled by the Popes, it is the seat of the world’s Catholicism. It has some of the greatest architectural achievements of the Renaissance. A word to the wise: You must wear appropriate clothing that covers the shoulders and knees upon entering, dresscode is strictly enforced. The Sistine chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica is considered a holy place. That means for ladies wear scarves and long skirts! But boy is it hot!
Basilica di San Pietro – The largest church of Christendom, it covers 18,000 square yards, extends 212 yards in length, and carries a dome that rises 435 feet and measures 138 feet across. Inside the chapel is Michaelangelo’s famous sculpture of the Virgin Mary holding Jesus after the crucifixion called the Pieta. Emperor Constantine built this church in AD 319 over the site of St. Peter’s tomb. (Shocked that I was getting good signal on my internet data plan on my phone inside the church! A friend made a joke about the cardinals and priests there being addicted to the their social media! Sure enough I tweeted a photo of Vatican City and a cardinal from Rome favorited it! Too funny)
The Grotte Vaticane – in the basilica contains the tombs of John Paul II and St. Peter’s. The Stanzi di Raffaelo – Rooms decorated with biblical scenes by Raphael.
Musei Vaticani – The Vatican palace is the papal residence since 1377, estimated at 1400 rooms, with chapels and galleries. The main attraction here is the Sistine Chapel and the ceiling was painted by Michaelangelo. He worked on the ceilings alone for 4 years, which he stood on scaffolding and painted up! The painted ceiling tell creation stories of Adam and Eve, the temptation and exclusion of paradise, and the stories of Noah and the arc. He was considered a special man during his time since he lived until he was 90 and in those days people died young. The frescoes are also a must see as Raphael’s famous frescoe “The School of Athens” was painted on one of the walls of the Vatican Palace, he was 26 when he painted this and died at 37. The Italians thought it was a miracle that all theses geniuses were born during this time.
Castel Sant’ Angelo – For hundreds of years this fortress guarded the Vatican. According to legend it got its name during the black plague in 590 when Pope Gregory had a vision of an angel sheathing its sword atop the stone ramparts. Originally this was built as a tomb for Emperor Hadrian in AD 135.