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Day Two in Rome - March 12, 2003

View Photos from March 12 (77 images)

Again on Wednesday, we woke up early. We wanted to squeeze a lot in, this being our last day in Rome. After breakfast, we hiked across the river on our way to the Vatican. After stopping in a couple stores for some final shopping, we reached the Vatican. We decided to go first to the famous Musei Vaticani, then to find the even-more-famous Sistine chapel, then afterward to go to the just-about-as-famous St. Peter's Basilica. The line of people streaming into the museum was probably 1 km long, and took us half an hour to get through. Once inside, we wound through the hallways for a couple hours for sure.

The first stop in the museum was an exhibit displaying stuff from Egypt older than 2500 B.C., most notably a mummified woman's body. Then on to other exhibits, including ones with artifacts from the reigns of Nebbuchadnezzar, Senacherib, and Sargon, among others. We walked through halls with literally thousands of statues of animals and Greek and Roman looking people, exquisitely painted halls, and more halls with huge tapestries. Finally, we reached the Sistine chapel, full of people craning their heads straight up to gaze at Michelangelo's handiwork. Then it was out to more gaudy halls on the way out of the museum.

On the way to St. Peter's Basilica in the afternoon, we stopped at a little sidewalk cafe for a pasta lunch. Oops, they didn't take credit cards, so I had to walk up and down the streets to find an ATM so I could get cash!

After lunch, we continued to St. Peter's Square, and walked around in the famed St. Peter's Basilica. Lots of statues, carvings, and paintings, as well as "relics" such as splinter of wood that some people claimed are from the cross that Jesus was crucified on. Oh, yeah, and glass cases housing several dead popes. Really.

After leaving St. Peter's, we made our way to the Castel de St. Angelo, a nearby castle overlooking the river. As we approached, there was a scuffle in the street just ahead of us, with swinging fists and people taking off running. Cars and vans with "Guardia di Finanza" painted on the side had driven up, letting out several officers who apprehended and arrested some guys selling hand bags and other items.

Because of our two previous misfires with arranged transportation, when we got back to the hotel we called the transport company to ensure that our driver would really meet us in the hotel lobby early the next morning. Out flight was at 7:00 am, so we weren't taking any chances! After being assured that the transportation was all set up, we set out for a couple more sights. We walked down Via Del Corso to one of the plazas, Piazza Del Popolo. One item of note was a painting inside the Basilica Di Santa Maria in Montesanto depicting Jesus with someone in medieval dress and another person in modern jeans and tennis shoes. Then it was on to the Spanish Steps, crowded with people including a group of apparently high-school age kids waving a Spanish flag and singing something in Spanish.

We tried to find La Locanda del Tempio, the same place as the night before, for dinner. After walking past a bunch of very expensive shops on Via Del Babuino and Via Condotti, we got turned around a bit, but finally realized where the restaurant was and found it again. And, of course, we had to return to the gelato place too! Before returning to the hotel, we stopped by the Pantheon once more and ate our gelato on the steps of a fountain our front.