Throwing it back to November. I swear I wrote this back then – and edited out some of the sass more recently – but again, not apologizing. Anyways, as Audrey says “By all means, Rome. I will cherish my visit here in memory as long as I live.”
We woke up early to make it to our morning Vatican Museum ticket time. A hasty meal of cheese, toast, and coffee and we then had to catch our first metro in Rome, which was only slightly stressful in the huge Termini station. During breakfast, I mapped out our day and Food had provided entertainment by taking a sip of my water, not knowing it was sparkling, and saving me the experience of that discovery. She summarily choked and had water come out of her nose; it was absolutely hysterical for me and a near-death experience for her. After glaring at me for a solid five minutes, Food led the way to the Termini station and we stared perplexed at train boarding times until we realized the metro would be underground (duh). We joined with what felt like the entire population of Italy on the stairs to the metro and blundered our way through buying a ticket on the Italian-only machines. Little did we know this would be the least of our concerns.
After making it through to the platform, we were surrounded by approximately a million people. I muscled my way through the crowd, grasping Food’s hand as if it were the only thing keeping her from being crushed by the masses, and we pushed our way onto the third metro to come by after realizing that Rome is a lot less like Barcelona, in which everyone waiting can quite easily fit on the metro, and a bit more like Beijing. We were packed in like sardines and there were still easily hundreds of people waiting on the platform when we finally left the station.
Getting off the train was much easier, and then we walked to the Vatican, which was also quite simple – just go until you see a huge brick wall blocking you off from some unknown world. The line for the Vatican was wrapped around this wall, but, having bought our tickets here early, we got to skip this line and walk up to a tall, imposing man and flash him a phone screen to gain entrance to the lobby where we obtained physical tickets. We began our dip into art and history with some ancient plaques featuring Greek, Hebrew, and whole slew of languages I can’t read or speak. Then onto sarcophagi, dating from the mid-300s on, which I found fascinating, and in front of which Food threw up gang signs.
A few dozen rooms of tapestries, paintings and more and we joined with the huge crowd headed through the main areas. I had to explain the whole ivy leaf thing to Food, who didn’t understand why a Pope was allowed to chop off the genitals of dozens of priceless works of art. Same. We wandered through it for a good four hours, spending in inordinate of time in the Raphael rooms, and then limped into to the Sistine Chapel. Shockingly, I was a little underwhelmed. Maybe I was just so in awe of being in these famed locations the first time I went to the Vatican, but this time I just rattled off a few facts to Food, “Michaelangelo had dozens of apprentices who helped him with the painting. He supposedly included himself in the back as one of the damned souls, as he was certain he wasn’t going to any sort of heaven after death. He also painted a cherub flipping off the pope at the time, who was renowned for being a bit of a…” She was too busy trying to plot how to sneak into St. Peter’s Basilica to notice. That plan failed (miserably) because a security guard had the eyes of a hawk and noticed that we were the only two people in a largely East Asian tour group… with the guide speaking what I’m guessing was Korean judging by the flag she was carrying. Conspicuous? Not at all.
We exited the Vatican Museums and basked in the sunshine while Food retied her shoes for the umpteenth time (seriously, wear more practical stuff, Mads) and walked around the big huge wall for the second time and into St. Peter’s Square. There was a line to get into St. Peter’s Basilica wrapped literally all the way around the huge expanse of the circle and so we ditched that idea – I’d already seen it, and while it is majestic and I loved it, Food had less interest after just wandering through rooms of art for hours upon hours. A quick walk down to Castel Sant’Angelo along the Tiber, and then we were definitely ready for lunch. Post-lunch we basically dragged ourselves to the Spanish Steps – the only thing keeping Food going was the fact that #1) she could basically be Audrey Hepburn in her next Instagram and #2) I promised her gelato if she made it to the steps and then back to our hotel. Sadly, our Roman Holiday pose was nixed by ongoing construction and also large groups of random people, some of whom were taking pictures with a large banner and screaming like they’d just won the lottery, so instead we window-shopped through a series of stores we cannot afford. I’m talking to you, Prada.
Food got her gelato – I made her try the pistachio, and she was pleasantly surprised – and we headed back to the hotel for a quick nap before getting ready for dinner. We made reservations through our hotel for this place called Trattoria Vecchia, but upon arriving at the restaurant were told that neither Reagan nor Madison were names they had written down. We told them our hotel name. No dice. They asked if my name was Veronica. Ehhh… no. So, for the next five minutes, servers and staff wandered around the restaurant yelling at each other to ask if anyone had gotten a reservation for “REAGAAAANNN!” while pointing at me, causing every person in the restaurant to take a good long look at the two American tourists who evidently didn’t make a reservation. Now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure my name changed to Veronica that very moment.
There was so much food. My sister convinced me that it was a fantastic idea for each of us to get a pasta and then to share this amazing chicken concoction, but when our pasta came out it was literally a mountain. Admittedly, Food had asked our server how much we should get and he just kind of kept telling us to add food. I blame any weight gain on him. The three drinks ordered by random Italians we later met at this laid-back bar called BlackMarket, probably didn’t help anything, but I learned how to order things and a few phrases in Italian, so I’m counting that as a win. Also we had a guy from California walk up to us speaking Italian, so either we look like we’re Italian (HIGHLY doubt it), or someone is a bit full of himself.
Full day. I could’ve slept through a hurricane that night.