Finally! I've been excited to write about this but have been too exhausted to write a proper post. Now that I'm in Norway, I've been able to catch up on some much-needed sleep.
Last Thursday, I set out for the Vatican. I wanted to save it for a day later in my stay because I knew it would be one of the most impressive things I'd see and Thursday is one of its least busy days. To get there, I walked to the main train station and took the Metro. Rome's metro system was a relief after Paris; there are only two lines so it's very straightforward.
I got off at the stop a couple blocks away from the Vatican Museums and got in line along the Vatican wall. My guidebook warned me that ticket lines could be up to two hours long; fortunately, I only had to wait for 30 minutes. Next time I'd definitely go for their online ticket reservations, though.
The moment I was in the museum complex I knew I was in for a treat. Those who are able can walk up a circular ramp with model ships from cultures all around the world.
At the top, I could choose between going to a number of different museums. First, I went to a museum with a lot of early Christian art and then the Ethnological Museum. In the Ethnological Museum I was impressed by not only the works but also by the creativity of some of the displays.
Next, I think I went to a section with Renaissance art, but I was too excited about the Greco-Roman museum to concentrate and I backtracked. I entered through the Egyptian rooms. They were packed with school groups so I hurried through, but I got to see some neat things including legal notices and envelopes made out of clay.
When I got to the Greco-Roman rooms, I was so excited that I don't know how I didn't combust. It was so cool. My favorite parts were the Hall of Muses and Round Hall, both of which had many statues dating from the time of the Roman emperor Hadrian.
Afterwards, I walked down the Gallery of Maps, where there are huge maps of every region in Italy painted on the walls. The ceiling was pretty interesting, too:
Having thoroughly scoured the museums, I walked to the Sistine Chapel. When I entered the room, my jaw dropped. It seemed like every inch of the ceiling and walls was covered in frescoes and it took a long time to take it all in. I stood directly underneath Michelangelo's The Creation of Adam and it felt unreal.
Next up, I headed to St. Peter's Basilica. Admission is free but you have to wait in a long line to get in. The line looped around St. Peter's Square and I was glad that it was a sunny day; the light filled up the square beautifully. A few magnificent clouds floated by overhead.
When I entered St. Peter's Basilica, I had another jaw-dropping moment. It's absolutely MASSIVE, and everything about it is scaled up accordingly. Pictures can't capture how tiny I felt in comparison to the building.
I walked around in a clockwise way. Because it was late afternoon, some sections were closed, and I had to content myself with looking from afar. I was very purposeful in how I went about the basilica because lastly I came to Michelangelo's statue Pietà. This is my favorite statue, period. Compared to everything else in the basilica, it's much more life-sized, but no less awe-inducing. The statue is separated from the public by a layer of bulletproof glass and I couldn't get a good picture of it, but I was okay with this because I wanted to stay in the moment anyway. After observing for a while, I left St. Peter's Basilica and the Vatican. It was sunset and a huge beam of sunlight shone on the basilica and the clouds were incredible.
Before taking the metro back, I stopped at Old Bridge Gelato. It was delicious and I'd definitely recommend it to anyone who might go to Rome in the future!
Thus concluded one of my best days in Rome. The museums were amazing and I hope that I get to go back one day!