I caught the train out from Florence again - towards Rome. There is so much to see in Rome, with its layer after layer of history. Rome has been populated by human beings since Neolithic times, it was the seat of power for the Roman empire and from 300AD, the centre of the Catholic world. It has ancient ruins, Renaissance art and so many other amazing things.
I saw a lot in one particularly big day of sightseeing.
I started my day early, packed my lunch and headed off towards the Vatican. On the way I glimpsed Castel Sant Angelo across the Tiber river. I headed up towards the Vatican, which is technically an independent country! I climbed up the winding staircase to the top of St. Peters dome, there are amazing views from the top, all the way across Rome. Then I looked around St. Peters Basillica, the art is amazing. I went to the Vatican treasury - photos weren't permitted but it included displays of papal hats and treasures from throughout the ages. I've included a photo of a crepuscular ray of light - the building is designed to allow shafts of light to filter through the cathedral at certain times of the day. On the way out I saw some of the Vatican guards in their amazing brightly coloured costumes. It really is an incredible place to see!
After this I headed towards the Vatican museum. This is the site of the famous Sistine chapel. As I'd heard, there were big queues. To be honest, I didn't find it that bad, in the morning the queue is shaded by a large wall, and I had plenty of water, and a book to read as I waited in the queue. It was still hot however, and a lady in the queue actually collapsed in the heat and was taken away in an ambulance. After 2 and a half hours, the entrance to the museum was in sight! The museum itself was incredible, there were ancient art works, thousands of years old, from greek, roman and Eygyptian times. Sometimes I wonder if in a way, Renaissance artists almost started to worship these times, as they were discovered to be so sophisticated and had a massive influence on the innovations of the Renaissance. The museum also passed through the Boirge apartments, interesting to me, as I had just finished a book on the Boirge family.
Eventually the path through the giant museum reaches the famous Sistene chapel. It really is amazing. Painted meticulously by Michelangelo, it does kind of overwhelm the senses.
After seeing the Vatican museum I took a stroll around the Vatican gardens, had something to eat, and then I took a walk along the Tiber river towards the roman ruins. It was amazing to see such ancient constructions, two thousand years old and still standing. It was such a sophisticated civilization as well, it was amazing to see the remains of roman bathhouses where water was piped, the detailed remains of carved monuments to successful battles, the roman forum, where disputes were settled and decisions made, the temple constructed by Emperor Maximus as a tomb for his son, who died before he did - nearly 2000 years old, the temple still stands, and the lock on the bronze door still works. I also saw the huge Colosseum, the huge stadium that could hold up to 80,000 people. On my way back to the hostel the sun was getting lower across the Tiber river. I had been on my feet for 12 and a half hours and was glad to get back and put my feet up, but what a day it had been!