Europe: Day 14

Rome, Italy

My second day in Rome wasn’t as eventful as yesterday. There were only two other sites that I wanted to hit before leaving the city. St. Peter’s Square and Castel Sant’Angelo. I was looking forward to seeing these two sites because of what I’ve read about them in Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons.

As I walked closer to St. Peter’s square, I was approached by a guy trying to sell a tour of the basilica. From what he tells me, I can bypass the line up and go straight into the basilica but I had to hurry because the next English tour started in 15 minutes. A part of me wanted to take the tour but the other part didn’t like the fact that I was being rushed. The tour group was able to bypass by the line because of their pre-authorized tour guides. They have authorization to skip the line ups because the tour guide will keep an eye on everyone. I wasn’t sure exactly what he was talking about because the more he talked, the less interested I became. I didn’t say much when he was giving his spiel but he didn’t take the hint. By the end of it, I told him that I didn’t have €55 to spend on a tour. After that, we went our separate ways

St. Peter’s square was a large area with an obelisk in the middle and two fountains on the either side. Beyond the fountains were countless columns. And what I’ve noticed about the columns was that, on top of the columns were statues of saints. I tried counting them all but I kept losing track. Wikipedia says there are 140 saints in total. There was something to the symmetry of the place. Again, structures like this make me wonder how they were built given the tools of their time.

Not too far from St. Peter’s square was Castel Sant’Angelo. It was once a mausoleum but is now just a museum. I’ve heard that there’s a secret passage that goes from the Vatican to this castle. The castle was used as a fortress if the Vatican was ever attacked. There were a few tips on TripAdvisor that suggested taking the tour in the evening. I didn’t take the tour. I stayed on the outside looking in. The bridge that crosses the Tiber have a bunch of angels on them.

After taking a look at these two sites, I opted to head back towards the hotel and grab some food. I haven’t tried any of the local Italian food yet so I grabbed pizza and an Italian beer, Nastro Azzurro. It was a nice way to end the day. I headed back to the hotel a tad early because I thought I had an early train to catch but after checking my schedule, I had plenty of time.

I think that if I had taken the tour and entered the castle, I could have spend a few hours just wandering around and taking in the history. But most of this trip is on a budget so I didn’t spend money when I didn’t have to. I just wanted to get a preview so that I know what to do the next time I come back. That is, if I come back. A lot of Rome is very touristy so there wasn’t much there to make me want to come back.