Our departure was delayed by rain this morning, but I ventured out on my own for a brisk walk. I first saw a colossal foot not too far from the Pantheon, then continued through the Piazza Barberini (where the Bernini sculpture was being restored and was not visible) to the Cappuccini, the church of the Capuchin monks. There is a small museum and a crypt decorated (yes, decorated) with the bones of over 4,000 Capuchins—one of the weirdest things to see here, to be sure. I finished my walk with a trip to the top of the Spanish Steps, and then joined the group at Piazza Navona.
On the way to the Vatican, we saw the house where Dante lived and wrote, the Italian Supreme Court building (with a statue of Cicero out front), an unusually high Tiber River, and all the press getting ready for Pope Benedict’s last public audience. Highlights of the Vatican Museum were the Rooms of Constantine and Raphael, as well as the Sistine Chapel (the whole place was much less crowded than last summer, which made for a more pleasant experience). After a brief trip inside St. Peter’s, Henry took us briefly into the Hotel Columbus, where Pope Julius II (who pressured Michelangelo into painting the Sistine Chapel) once lived.
I walked home on my own, doing a little shopping on Via Cola di Rienzo near the Vatican, and continuing to Piazza del Popolo, past the Mausoleum of Augustus and Ara Pacis, and back to the hotel. For dinner, we ended up back at the same spot we ate at twice on Saturday, so after a rock-paper-scissors tournament (a tradition on the Lagors’ trips), I went with Jason King (a parent on the trip) to find better food. I had some homemade pasta with cheese and pepper and a glass of prosecco before heading back to Gelateria della Palma for a big cup of chocolate cannela gelato.
It has been an interesting few days in an unusually chilly Rome, and I am sad to be leaving but very much looking forward to seeing what Florence and Sicily have to offer. Arrivederci, Roma!