Dragging ourselves out of bed early and eating takeaway breakfast prepared with love by Massimo was quite the bittersweet ending to our time in Rome. Saying goodbye can turn out to be pretty stressful too. Tackling the morning metro crowd, navigating the unfamiliar Termini station and having to constantly check for the train’s arrival.
Once on board, it was fairly straightforward. Look for seat, store luggage, sit and wait for train conductor to collect tickets. Before you know it, the stress returns and you’re scrambling to buy bus tickets and searching high and low for the right bus stop.
Stepping inside the historic center of Florence, we realised that Florence is quite a different kettle of fish. The roads are easier on the feet, the pace is a bit less rushed and its winds a little bit biting.
Lunch was takeaway sandwiches from I Fratellini which was yummy and easy to order. After satisfying out tummies, we dived straight into the Duomo.
#1 POW! | LC-A+ RL | Lucky 200
Ok, maybe this is not as powerful as the title sounds, but the actual scene was quite a sight to behold. Masses of people just crowding around, trying their darnedest to capture the Duomo from all sorts of angle and distance.
Today’s main feature is Vatican City which we had already pre-booked a half day tour with Dark Rome tour operator. With the tour we would be able to access some restricted areas and (most importantly) skip the entry queue. You know its money well spent when you see snaking queues forming outside the entrance at 8:15am.
We got to the meeting place quite easily and everyone else in our group were on time. From then onwards, our guide when about clearing all the administrative stuffs to ensure our entry was fuss free.
The guide then gave a general introduction of Vatican City, touching on its minute population (around 800 if I remember correctly), the Swiss guards who had to live within the compound and how the dome of St Peter’s Basilica was designed to be just slightly smaller than that of the Pantheon by Michelangelo (can’t quite recall the exact reason). She also shared various interesting facts and trivia which helped saved our brains from shutting off.
We first explored the Pinacoteca, the Vatican art gallery where the famous works of Caravaggio (The Entombment of Christ is pretty epic), Leonardo and Raphael can be found. It was mentioned that Raphael took inspiration from Michelangelo, especially from his Sistine Chapel frescoes to capture the gestures and movements of the characters in his Transfiguration. It is pretty evident that the stances of the characters from his earlier work, The Crowning of the Virgin Mary (which can also be found in the Pinacoteca) are less vivid in comparison.
Oh look at me going on and on like a sir.