Rome for the Holidays: Part 2

It’s difficult to capture the glamour of the night with a camera. I did my best! I mentioned previously that the sun began to descend by 4:30pm. That didn’t leave us a whole lot of daylight to explore the city. Thankfully, Rome is just as glorious at night as it is by day. Actually, the city becomes even more colossal at night. The icons of the city become less crowded, making the experience much more enjoyable for those who desire an authentic experience. With that being said, the majority of my photos in this post were taken at sunset or later! (or indoors!)

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This is a little church that was decking its halls or “hanging the greens” late on this Thursday afternoon! While the sun was already going down, mind you.

In my first Roman blog post, I left you hanging after describing our authentic Jewish dinner experience. To catch up on the first two days of the trip, click here!  After dinner we walked through the neighborhood of Travestere and took in the sights and sounds of a Thursday night in Rome. It included accordion players and lit-up churches. I found the Piazza Santa Maria to be charming and cute, but my boyfriend found it to be loud and obnoxious. 😀 FYI the lime green streak in the photos below is a product of one of the thousands of street vendors in Rome, selling everything from selfie sticks to whatever this glowing green ball he is throwing.

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We walked everywhere in Rome, rarely taking the subway. A perk of that was getting to see the Foro Romano and its surroundings every time we walked home! Here is Trajan’s forum (feat. Trajan’s Column) at night. I love how everything glows at night in Rome!

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I loved seeing the ruins by night.

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Friday, The Vatican City

“God is in the details.” – Mies Van Der Rohe

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“Jamie, why are you using a Mies Van Der Rohe quote to describe Renaissance architecture?” -Hypotethical quote from all my former architecture professors.

Because St. Peter’s Basilica is the most DETAILED PLACE I’VE EVER SEEN IN MY LIFE. Even the details have details!

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The two photos above are from the Gallery of Maps, one of the most stunning rooms I’ve ever entered. I mean, the maps are cool and all, but the perspective is just incredible. The maps are actually nearing 500 years old! It’s amazing to think of the geographer, Ignazio Danti, doing this job in 1580 without the technology we have today. But I suppose that’s exactly how I feel about all of Rome!

The Vatican visit wouldn’t be complete without a long ogle of the Capella Sistina, Sistine Chapel, with the pristine work of the likes of Michelangelo and Botticelli. You are technically not allowed to take any photos inside, and for once I followed the rules! I don’t have any personal photos of the Sistine Chapel, but here is a link to an image search!

There are a few reasons I respected the rules. 1. We were in a sacred space. Although I can say with confidence it’s largely touristic, there was still a priest praying inside and in multiple languages which was pretty cool! You must remain quiet in the chapel, or else one of the many Italian guards will yell at you! Because I’m the mature angel that we all know I am, I had to suppress a giggle when one of the guards took the mic from the priest and said, “SILENCIO.” 2. Taking photos may be a fun hobby for me, but it’s hard to be mindful of what I’m experiencing and take photos at the same time. I take photos for many reasons. They help me to remember that particular moment and I love sharing the art with others. But I try not to get too caught up in the activity. I love Instagram and Snapchat, but I feel pity for those who use them for every second of their days. When they reflect on the day do they have any memory of what they did? Besides filming, captioning and posting? IDK

With that, I will use the art of prose to describe to you what the inside of the Sistine Chapel looks like. It feels eternal. Frescos line every inch of the interior, which is already epic in size. The people depicted, particularly in the ceiling paintings by Michelangelo, seem to pop right off the surface. Every male body is muscular. It doesn’t matter if the body depicted is old, young, or even an angel, they are defined hahaha. There are bodies everywhere. Each panel of the structure contains a scene from the Bible. Which is why it feels eternal. There are painted people above you and actual people beside you; everywhere you look there are people. It is a sensory overload to say the least.

The actual visit of the chapel and the art was great. But the logistics of getting there were terrible. You have to pass through what feels like hundreds of tourist-traps– people with “official-” looking name tags promising “free” information for tourists. Once we got past that and found our way to the entrance of the Vatican museum, we had to pass through another scam, three “gentlemen” wearing suits, telling people they couldn’t pass without a ticket. One actually touched my shoulder as if to stop me. I shared some words with him… I don’t like that. Beware of these people if you’re headed to the Vatican. They are by no means dangerous, but they are annoying and disrespectful in my opinion.

Here are some more lovely details from various parts of St. Peter’s!

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We loved this ceiling in particular because all the details you see were actually painted on! Nothing is 3-dimensional. It was just painted to look that way!
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The enormous Christmas Tree in front of the Vatican.

Friday was such a busy day. After we visited the Vatican Museum, we returned to a cafe we visited on our first visit for some Italian espresso. Later, we hung out on the Spanish Steps, or Piazza di Spagna, which happens to be next to the Valentino Atelier, pictured in the post’s cover photo! On the Steps, we shared more of our favorite Italian treats- spiced olives, speck ham, and mozzarella cheese. We tried to eat our treats until the guards told us to put our food away baha. After that, we found some streets lit up for Christmas on our way to an early dinner– early for Italy. 7pm. We both chose pumpkin lasagna with smoked cheese. Sometime between Friday evening and Saturday night, I had multiple servings of gelato. I told you that we did a lot of eating!

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The picture may be blurry, but my memories are vivid! 🙂

Saturday – LSAT Day

On Saturday I did something that people don’t normally do on vacation… I took a standardized test! The entire trip to Rome was actually organized around my need to take the LSAT, the Law School Admission Test. I needed to take the test this year, and it is offered in major European cities. So we chose Rome! Unfortunately the test was scheduled for 2pm, a far cry from American test centers that schedule the tests for the butt crack of dawn. The perks of that are obvious– you get it out of the way so you can enjoy, or at least try, the rest of your day! But the late testing time had its perks too. For one, I could sleep in and have a relaxed morning without rushing to the testing center in hopes that I wouldn’t get lost. Sometime before noon, my boyfriend, who was the absolute best during this ordeal, went out to get us pizza before we took the train to the testing center. He brought back several surprises, including the pumpkin pizza I mentioned in my previous post! If you missed it, it was topped with shaved pumpkin slices, gorgonzola cheese, pine nuts, and star anise. A perfect pre-test meal! A perfect anytime meal if I’m being real. I had a second slice of potato pizza, and he surprised me with Arabic baklava. A true keeper, that one is.

As relaxed as my morning was, I still lost the majority of my day to the LSAT. I finished early thanks to the hustle of the Italian facilitators. It only took 4 hours instead of 5. LOL. Anyway, I finished by 6:10pm, and L and I had agreed to meet up at 7. Plot twist: I didn’t have my phone because they are not allowed in testing centers. I had almost an hour to kill, so I took a stroll around the neighborhood while I waited for him. Fortunately for me, he arrived a little bit early. We were both pretty tired and hungry, so we found a restaurant in the neighborhood that served “fast” food. I use fast in quotation marks because fast food is really not a thing in Europe quite like it is at home. This restaurant was modeled similarly to Chipotle, if that gives you any idea. There were several types of pizza to choose from. I chose something new- a fried something or other with shrimp, cheese and rice inside. It was delicious! It was kind of like a cross between an American cheese stick and a Spanish croqueta. I had another with ham (normally I don’t eat meat, but when in Rome…) and another with eggplant and parmesan. Plus another slice of potato pizza. It was a cheap, impromptu meal to conclude our meals in Rome. We wandered back to the Foro Romano to say our goodbyes. It was a beautiful night!

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