Tuesday, May 21, 2013

When in Rome...

...see all the things!  We certainly tried to.  On Friday, we checked out the Pantheon, which is awesome in and of itself but also as a bonus, it's free to visit, unlike so much of Rome.  We walked in during a church service, which is somewhat amusing since this building was originally constructed to honor all the gods of ancient Rome, but is now used to honor just one.  The original sculptures of the Roman gods have been replaced with figures important to Christianity.  It's a truly impressive structure that's been very well-preserved, probably thanks in large part to its continued use as a church:
St. Peter's Basilica (also free!) was awe-inspiring as well.  Like the School of Athens painting I mentioned in the last post, I had forgotten just how big this church is.  I know it's big, but it's hard to appreciate just how big until you're inside.  Rick Steves' audio tour said the distance from the entrance to the far wall behind the altar (straight ahead in the photo below) is two football fields.
And it contains Michelangelo's Pietà, which is beautiful:
We are both impressed, especially Paul, by how young Michelangelo was when he accomplished so many great works.  He sculpted both this piece and the famous David in his 20s.

We also walked past the building that everyone refers to as the "wedding cake" several times during our stay in Rome:
And visited the Trevi Fountain at night:
We sat there for quite a while waiting for it to get dark enough and were amused/annoyed watching all the guys (scam artists?) with instant print cameras (of incredibly poor quality, from what we could see) try to trick tourists into buying a photo.  They did this by volunteering (quite vehemently) to take photos for tourists using the tourists' cameras and then badgered the tourists into buying an instant photo from them.  One guy was particularly awful.  He was able to talk a tourist into a photo and then proceeded to force her to pay for a photo that showed pretty much none of the fountain - just the tourist.  They fought about it for quite a while.  

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