Thursday, June 29, 2017: Peter and Paul probably did not intend for their feast day to be celebrated this way: Spending hours online trying to undo plans made weeks in advance of our two-week trip to Italy. But I blame them for keeping their holiday a secret within the city of Rome, and especially within the city-state of the Vatican, where the Vatican Museum – closed on holidays – happens to be located.
The Feast Day of Saints Peter and Paul was not a big deal in the Methodist Church of my upbringing and apparently something that slipped the mind of my fallen-away Catholic wife. So it wasn’t until the day before the holiday that we found out that our planned visit to the Vatican Museum fell on this saints’ day and the museum would be closed.
We had disobeyed this Roman commandment: Thou shalt make Vatican Museum online reservations weeks before you arrive.
Probably we’ll leave that to Cole to get it right next time he visits.
We tried to get a spot at the museum on Friday. No vacancies. We tried to rearrange travel plans to return to Rome a day early in the next week. That meant cancelling a night in Venice, which was a no go because our Airbnb reservation was a two-night minimum. In fiddling with Airbnb online I hosed up the app, probably made my credit card vulnerable and froze my cell phone. We may have messed up the car-rental agreement as well. We’ll find out when we go to pick the car up on Friday.
In the end, we left everything as originally planned, apologized to Cole for skipping the Sistine Chapel and hit the streets. It was noon by then, but we packed in a full day:
Spanish Steps: OK, they are beautiful and there are lots of them, but in the end they are just that: steps. Great place to hang out (lots of places to sit), wonder what it was like when Shelley, Keats and Byron lived nearby, watch people looking at steps and the church of Trinità dei Monti at the top of the stairs where there is a great view of Rome.
Capuchin Crypt: While the effort to make art out of human bones fails in my aesthetic opinion, you have to admire the faith and dedication these monks had. The bones were assembled there from the friars who died between 1528 and 1870 as a way, this website says, “of reminding themselves that death could come at anytime; one must always be ready to meet God. A plaque in the crypt reads: ‘What you are now, we once were; what we are now, you shall be.’” I loved that the sign leading into the crypt included a quote from the Marquis de Sade. As the website says, “Granted, the crypt was to his tastes.” (No photos allowed)
Trevi Fountain: The herd was gathered at the waters on this day.
Hundreds staring at the Bernini sculptures and making it an Ichiro throw from right field to home plate to toss a coin in this fountain – and chances would be pretty good he’d poke his eye out on a selfie stick, which were at full mast all around. Still, it’s a beautiful creation and one that should not be missed.
Foro de Caesar: This night time visit to the Forum was my favorite in Rome: A great history lesson brought alive with modern technology. This audio (English available) and visual tour features projections onto the remaining stones of what it must have looked like in the time of Julius Caesar. The bare stones of the monuments look as though they would make for cold living and working quarters. But with the images shone on the stones, it’s easy to see what life would have been 2,000 years ago.