The second day involved even more walking than the first day. Seriously, at least 50 miles. Ok so maybe not 50, but a fair few of miles were walked. We started the day with our hostel breakfast which consisted of coffee, juice and a few croissants. We wanted an early start because we were off to the Vatican and the Vatican Museum. The last time I went to the Vatican, I waited in a queue something like 3 hours to get inside. Granted, this is February and before was June- peak travel time- but better be on the safe side than waste precious hours standing in a queue. We walked straight in. Off season is awesome.
Rhys has never been to Rome and the Vatican and Sistine Chapel were top on his list of things to do. He was not disappointed. How can you be when you are seeing things like this
Even when you are surrounded, wall to wall, with incredible paintings by Raphel (and the like)
After 4 hours in the Vatican we ventured over to St. Peter's square to have a look around inside the basilica and the tombs of the popes. breathtaking (the basilica, not the tombs)
Here Rhys is kneeling on the original slab of porphyry which the emperors used to kneel upon for their coronation. It dates back to the old basilica (around 319 AD) and it is thought that Constantine accepted his role as emperor on this very stone. As a side note I should say that is no way was this stone marked in the basilica. It pays to have a thorough and informative guide book. (Blue Guide all the way!!)
After a nice pizza for lunch, our next stop was Fontana di Trevi. A fairly recent structure, the fountain was started in the 15th century but updated and most of what we can see today was built in the 18th century. Interestingly though, the water used to supply the fountain are those of the Acqua Vergine Antica which is an ancient aqueduct built almost entirely underground. The aqueduct, supplied from a spring 20k east of the city, was built by Agrippa to supply the bath in the Pantheon in 19 BC. Now that is old. The same aqueduct channels and spring are still used to supply the fountain with water even today.
As the sun was beginning to set, we found ourselves at the Piazza del Popolo. It was built in the 15th century as an entrance to Rome from the north. While that date is 'modern' compared to some of the ancient ruins left around the city, there is an obelisk (not pictured) which dates from the 12th century BC. 12 century BC. that is crazy old.
As an interesting side note, Queen Christina (often noted: Kristina) of Sweden made her entry into Rome through this very area in 1655, dressed as an amazon. For the sake of space (and most people's interest) I will not go into all the details here, but if you are the least bit interested in history, I would recommend reading about Queen Christian. She is the only not emperor, not religious person to be buried in St. Peter's. Look at that, another interesting fact. I am just full of them ;)
We finished the night off with a great dinner of gnocchi and wine at a very picturesque Italian cafe. We went to bet tired and sore from the massive amount of walking, but pleased to have another successful day under our belts.