January 11th: Our flight to Rome wasn’t until 4:50pm so we had time to get another delicious gyro from Savvas! The flight was uneventful and we made it to our Air BnB in Rome by 8:30pm. Since grocery stores were closed, we got to have pizza for dinner! When in Rome….

January 12th: We took this day to rest, grocery shop, and do laundry. In the late afternoon we went for a walk to a nearby park and were treated to a beautiful sunset.

Stone pines in the park.

January 13th: We got an early-ish start and walked to the Vatican to check it out.

Piazza San Pietro
St. Peter’s Basilica, the burial site of St. Peter.

We had to wait about 15 minutes in a security line for St. Peter’s Basilica but it was so worth it (and apparently that’s nothing compared to the summer). It was by far the most beautifully decorated church I’ve ever seen.

Monument to Gregory XIII made by sculptor Camillo Rusconi between 1715 and 1723.
The baldacchino beneath the dome was designed by Bernini and built between 1623 and 1634.
Monument to Alexander VII designed by Bernini, then in his 80s. Apparently most of the work was carried out by other ridiculously skilled sculptors with Bernini likely touching up the face of the pope. Alexander is surrounded by four statues representing virtues: charity, truth, prudence, and justice. Truth is on the right and has her foot on a globe, specifically on England where the pope had strived to squash the growth of Anglicanism.

From the Vatican, we walked around and visited some viewpoints and fountains. Rome has so much!

January 14th: It was a crisp sunny day so we walked instead of busing and checked out a graveyard and some basilicas.

The Pyramid of Cestius: a tomb built between 16 and 18 BC when all things Egypt were in fashion.
The graves of John Keats and Joseph Severn. I’ve never been a fan of Keats’ poetry but he was a character in the science fiction book “Hyperion” which I really enjoyed, so this was cool to see.
This cat made me smile. Every time he swished his tail it brushed the plastic bag, making a noise and he looked down curiously. On repeat.
View from Punto Panoramico (an observation deck)
Saint Valentine’s skull in the Basilica of Santa Maria.
Just one of the nice views during the day.
The Basilica di San Bartolomeo all’Isola in the setting sun.
Bakery stop! Something custard filled – it was delicious.
The preserved (wax covered) body of Anna Maria Taigi in the Basilica of San Crisogono.

January 15th: Another day of sunshine meant another day of walking around. We checked out a house with monsters framing the doors and windows and walked down the Spanish Steps. We found half priced gelato which naturally meant we went back for seconds (6 scoops for each of us!) We visited the ruins of an alchemy door and the Arch of Gallienus. We ended our day with a visit to the Basilica Papale di Santa Maria Maggiore.

Palazzetto Zuccari (aka ‘the monster house’) was built in 1590 as a studio for Federico Zuccari.
Break time at the Column of the Immaculate Conception.
The Basilica Papale di Santa Maria Maggiore.
The Crypt of the Nativity with the statue of Pope Pius IX (by Ignazio Jacometti). In front of the statue is a crystal reliquary that is said to contain a sacred relic of the Holy Crib, part of the manger where Baby Jesus was laid.

January 16th: We woke up early to go to mass lead by Pope Francis. It was unlike any previous church experiences I’ve had. As he walked down the aisle to the stage, everyone stood on their chairs to try to get a view. During mass, various groups of people waved flags and cheered when Pope Francis spoke. People had their phones out constantly – taking photos or videos or even Skyping! The norms of church behavior seemed to be on pause.


After mass, we went to the Vatican Museums. We had heard that the queue for the museums can be hours long in the summer so we were braced for the worst. No need! There was NO LINE! It was beautiful inside. We took many many pictures…


In the Gallery of Tapestries.
In the Gallery of Maps.
Les is trying to figure out on Google Maps, if the lake on the map really does drain in three directions.
The ceiling in the Gallery of Maps was almost more beautiful than the maps.
I really liked this elephant. I’m guessing this artist saw a drawing once and went from there.
Raphael’s ‘The Transfiguration’


I liked this wall. The woman on the left is holding a man’s detached head while the woman on the right is pulling a lamb out of a lion’s mouth. The artwork was so violent.


The river god Nile reclining against a Sphinx.
A bronze statue of Hercules (centre), holding his club and lion skin.
Bust of Pope Pius XI


Cool mosaic on the floor.
The famous spiral staircase.

January 17th: After a busy couple days, we decided to take this one easy. We spent most of the day reading and planning the next parts of our trip. Eventually we decided to go out for a walk and got dumped on.

Fontana dell’Acqua Paola, right before the rain got us.

January 18th: We went to the Galleria Borghese, a beautiful collection of sculpture and paintings dominated by Bernini and Caravaggio. It was once the private Borghese family art collection, but has since been sold to the Italian government.

Bernini’s ‘The Rape of Prosperpina’
Bernini’s ‘Apollo and Daphne’. The level of detail in this statue is amazing. The short version of the story: Apollo mocks Cupid’s bow and arrow so Cupid shoots him with a love-arrow for Daphne. Cupid also shoots Daphne with a love-repelling-arrow and she rejects Apollo’s advances. Apollo does not leaf her alone so Daphne pleads to her father to change her body so that Apollo loses interest. Her father turns her into a laurel tree. This statue is the moment that Daphne begins to turn into a tree.


Bernini’s ‘David’ where David is about the hurl the last stone to knock out Goliath.
Antonio Canova’s sculpture of Pauline Bonaparte (Napoleon’s sister). We were so impressed by how well done the cushions were done.

After a couple hours in the Borghese, we left and strolled through the park that used to be the Borghese family villa and gardens.


From the park, we went in search of the best gelato in Rome (and the world???) and succeeded! At Gioletti we got 3 scoops: candied fig, cinnamon, and cream. It was delicious!!

The best!
The Library of Archeology and History: where Mussolini made speeches from the balcony.
The Altar of the Fatherland

January 19th: We went inside the Colosseum after watching National Geographic’s documentary. More than a million people are thought to have died in the Colosseum! That is insane. Apparently Romans reenacted Greek myths like Icarus and the sun; they would strap wings to convicts and catapult them into the arena.




View from the Colosseum.

From the Colosseum, we headed to the Altar of the Fatherland and the Roman Forum.

The Arch of Janus with a rhino art installation.
View from the Altar of the Fatherland.
View from the Altar of the Fatherland, looking towards the Roman Forum.
The Roman Forum




January 20th: We walked around and got soaked! We managed to check out the Castel Sant’Angelo (or the Mausoleum of Hadrian), the Jewish Ghetto, and the Pantheon.

On the bridge to the Castel Sant’Angelo.
The fountain at Piazza Navona
The Pantheon used to be a Roman temple and is now a church.
The ceiling inside the Pantheon
This is Il Tempio di’Adriano – the closest known location of Cesar’s murder. Below is the tapestry scene from the Vatican Museums of Cesar’s murder.

January 21st: This was our last day in Rome. It was raining heavily so we stayed inside and planned the next bit of travel 🙂 We went out once, to buy some exciting new broccoli! New to me at least: it’s been around since the 1600s.

Our new favorite vegetable! I wish I had tried it earlier in life so I could have eaten more.

Next stop, Jordan!

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