Wednesday was an exceptional day! We started class with a fun quiz about Italian facts, as we normally do, and then we went over some information regarding our project. Then, we watched a short film about the history and architecture of Rome. One thing I was surprised to learn is that Romans perfected the use of concrete and that we basically use the same formula they used thousands of years ago.
After class, we grabbed a quick bite at a great sandwich shop called KeCiVuoi. From there, we walked as a group to our event of the day: a tour of the Vatican! We met our tour guide who gave us audio equipment so we could hear him among the crowds. I was surprised to find out that we did not need passports to enter, even though it is a different country. Then again, I have not needed my passport since entering Paris.
The Vatican was absolutely incredible. We were immersed in history and art as we walked through the museum’s halls filled with hundreds of years worth of alter decorations, paintings and tapestries. One of the many things the tour guide explained to us was the difference in painting style as time passed. It was interesting learning about the opposition between two famous artists who lived during the 13th and 14th centuries, Michelangelo and Raphael. Michelangelo apparently was a control freak, while Raphael often painted with many other artists who worked under his name. The painted walls and sculpted ceilings were absolutely stunning, and the famous piece de resistance, the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, was gorgeous. I cannot imagine one person painting that whole ceiling with its many scenes and impressive attention to detail.
Although the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel is astounding, that chapel is nowhere near the grandeur that is St. Peter’s Basilica. It is striking with its marble floors and columns and mosaics of holy scenes. Apparently, the dome is so high that the Statue of Liberty can fit inside it with 20 meters to spare. The scale of this basilica is absolutely shocking, and its décor is even more incredible.
After we completed our in-depth tour, some of our class went back to the university, while others stayed to climb up to the top of the dome at St. Peter’s. I was one of those who stayed. Although Professor Hillebrand recommended that we pay extra and take the elevator, I was determined to climb its over 500 stairs. It was an exciting journey up, and the climb was worth the views. The small break we had while climbing upwards was to walk out around the interior of the dome, so we could see the inside of the church from above. It was yet another stupendous sight. The outside of the top of St. Peter’s overlooked the Vatican grounds as well as Rome. Similarly to when we were at the top of Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II, we pointed out some key sights in Rome. We actually stayed at the top of the dome for a decent amount of time, enjoying the view and each other’s company.
Once we all made it back to St. John’s, we rested, showered and worked on our homework assignments. Then, 8/11 of us went out to my favorite place, 3Quarti. Everyone enjoyed it and I was so glad my recommendation worked out. From dinner, we had about an hour to continue to work on homework, and then we went out for an incredible night on the town.