Our second day in Rome opened with wandering through the Campo Dei Fiori – Rome’s oldest open-air marketplace. The market is fun to wander, with everything from clothes to spices available for purchase.
As a photographer, I found I preferred the hands-on activity of the fishermen at the Rialto Market in Venice to the relatively inactive sellers at the market in Rome, but there were plenty of fun shots to be had.
After walking through the various areas of clothes, food and flowers, we followed some small signs a couple of blocks toward the Pantheon, finally emerging in a large square where the ancient temple sat surrounded by modern apartment buildings.
Stepping inside the 1900-year-old building was a instant transport back to the days of ancient Rome, with the huge dome arcing overhead with one bright sunbeam coming through the center.
Nearby Piazza Navona was a sight to behold as well. The long, football-field shaped rectangle was once the home of chariot races. Now, artists tried to capture those scenes (possibly based on Ben-Hur), or the romantics walking by the huge fountains.
The biggest stops today, however, were the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica.
If there was one thing I wanted to see in Italy, it was the Sistine Chapel – I’ve been seeing that famous portion of the ceiling forever. But what you’re not prepared for is the sheer scope of Michaelangelo’s brilliance – the entire ceiling is a masterpiece.
There are photographs allowed everywhere except the chapel, and the guards are very vigilant about policing cameras.
After seeing the chapel, we made our way up to the top of St. Peter’s Basilica, for one of the best views of the trip. It was very crowded, though – the narrow steps to the top plus the dozens of people packed in hoping to see sunset made it borderline unnerving.
Once the sun went down and we escaped the masses, we had dinner at Spirito de Vino, a well-reviewed place on TripAdvisor. The meal earned the restaurant’s notices, as did the ancient wine cellar, which is allegedly older than the Colosseum.