I absolutely LOVE staying in little places that aren’t internationally branded hotels. To know that I’m helping to support a family, a group of friends or even a single person grow a business makes me happy. I also love the friendliness of the staff- they treat you like family, and it just seems not just like a job to them. Casa Campo di Fiori was just like this. From Kristine at the front who was helping me when I was dilerious and panicking that we wouldn’t get to our hotel in time- to Elena #1 who made us breakfast every day complete with eggs, bacon and cappuccino. We also met Giuliano, a big Italian man with a great smile and willingness to help us get to the airport …..and remind us to come back and stay with them again in Rome. I just really enjoyed this place we stayed.
Our first day in Rome started with a trip to another country- Vatican City! Did you know that Vatican City is its own country? Kinda cool! After our great breakfast, we stepped outside onto the knobbly square, stone, streets and into a crystal blue day in Rome. Quite different than the last time I was here. Last time I was with an ex-boyfriend and it was chilly all over Europe as we had gone in the fall. Even though it wasn’t the peak of tourist season in Italy, I noticed that there were significantly more people flooding the streets than the last time I was here. After a leisurely mile walk, passing by Castel St. Angelo, we made it to St. Peter’s Square. The sun was so bright and bathed the white stone building, pillars and statues in an erethral light. This place is a Mecca of sorts to so many Catholics who have come to the largest church in the world, and also home to the Pope. The collection of artwork in the Vatican Museums and archives is staggering. It is incredible the wealth and preservation that has occurred in this massive building. For most people, the piece de resistance is the beautiful Sistine Chapel. But as you wander through the hallways, the paintings on ceilings and adorning the walls are equallly impressive. Heading into the Sistine Chapel, there’s a sense of history there, this is the place where new popes are elected, and where Michaelangelo spent a few years on his back, painting a pretty significant ceiling. Standing, craning our necks up at this masterpiece with hundreds of other tourists was just as impressive this time as it was before. We listened to our little headsets and learned so much about the different areas of painting and areas of the chapel. Taking pictures was a no-no, but I may or may not have snuck a picture before we left 🙂
Next up was St. Peter’s Cathedral. While we had “Skip the Line” passes for the Vatican, we had to stand in line in the hot sun for St. Peter’s. St. Peter’s is kind of a Mecca for Catholics all over the world. I also found out that St. Peter’s is the biggest church in the world. Fortunately, after we got out of the Vatican, the line had died down a bit and standing in line only took about an hour. It is undoubtedly a gorgeous building and the history is incredible. However, being a former Catholic, I am pretty discouraged at all the gilded columns and gold cases… I feel like if we sold all that gold, we could feed the world a million times over… so its this strange pull at admiring the beauty, and being cynical at the ridiculous spending of money donated to the church (or conquered by the church). Michaelangelo’s Pieta statue is also a gorgeous work of art in St. Peter’s- a stunning piece of white marble- which boggles my mind. I can barely shape things in my cake pops, but here is a gorgeous white marble masterpiece chisled with a hammer and chisel.
After wandering around on barely any sleep we decided to go back to our hotel and take a little rest before wandering out to get dinner and go to the Trevi Fountain.