Continuing on my growing love of sculpture, I arrived in Rome. There's a small museum called Galleria Borghese. It has wonderful sculpture by one of my new favorite sculptors, Gian Lorenzo Bernini.
There's another very significant sculpture that influenced Rome quite a bit, and it doesn't even exist anymore. Nero had a 30 meter sculpture of him made. After he died, it was changed, renamed, and moved next to a big amphitheater built called the Flavian Amphitheater. It was renamed to Colossus Solis. The amphitheater was eventually better known by its nickname, Colosseum.
I've always thought walking out of the tunnels and into a large stadium is a magical experience. Walking into the Colosseum for the first time is no exception. It has seen better days, no doubt, but it is still a wonder.
Recently, they opened up the underground to a lucky few who book a tour in advance. This is where the gladiators and animals were held. We were also able to see the nose-bleed section where you get a nice view from the top as well as a nice view of outside the amphitheater and a landscape of Rome.
Tucked away in alleyways between buildings is Trevi Fountain. It's a large fountain with more sculptures that I really like. This is where, according to legend, if you drop a coin in, you are destined to return to Rome. There's a place called Piazza Navona with 3 smaller but nice fountains with more sculptures by Bernini and another sculptor that's also really nice.
Yet another famous sculpture, Michelangelo's Pieta is in St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City. Museums usually snatch up works of art like this, but not this one. I seriously doubt St. Peter's Basilica is going to let this one out of its site. Considering the venue, it might as well be a museum. The church is massive, and not surprisingly, there's other really nice works of art there too.
The Sistine Chapel was smaller than I had imagined, but still impressive. The art is great, but being there is really annoying. There's tons of tourists of course, but the worst part is their unending struggle with the unpleasant staff who are camera and noise Nazis. Tourists aren't allowed to take pictures. I read that the reason is because that a Japanese company helped fund the restoration in exchange for exclusive photography rights. The staff is constantly shouting to keep the always rising noise level down. And it drives me crazy when tourists think that museum rules don't apply to them, touching artifacts, continuing to talk when there is supposed to be respectful silence. I've been to places where usually either the museum rules/staff win out and the tourists abide, or the tourists just don't care about the rules and neither do the staff. But inside the Sistine Chapel, it's a constant struggle between the most annoying ends of the spectrum. The unstoppable tourists meet the immovable staff. Nice art, though.
This is Pantheon. Couldn't tell you anything about it except that Raphael is buried here. Pretty sure I saw all the TMNTs in Italy.
The food I had in Rome wasn't the best. It looks good in pictures, but didn't really taste all that great. My favorite meal(s) was at a sandwich shop just outside the Vatican called Duecento Gradi which means 200 degrees, the temperature of their ovens. The bread was excellent. And they only cost a bit more than the rip off cheap sandwiches you get from street vendors.
The other interesting thing I ate was my at a Mexican restaurant. It was my first night, I was starving, and there was nowhere else to eat. I had the chimichanga. The sauce tasted more like lasagna sauce than Mexican sauce. Not terrible, but certainly not the Mexican I'm used to.
Tomorrow, I meet my dad and some other people for a 12-day cruise of the Mediterranean. No planning where to go, what to do, where to eat, where to sleep. It's all taken care of. It will be my vacation from vacation. I can't wait.