June 2 is Festa della Repubblica in Italy … the country’s national holiday. We didn’t know that our first full day in Rome would be a national holiday and much of the city would be shut down. We also didn’t know that we would be waking to downpours … but we were. So, we planned a low key day.
We took some of the down time to check into things to do with the balance of our time in Rome. We checked into tickets to see the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican and found that that afternoon was the only time when tickets were available while we’re here. So we purchased those and had a plan for the afternoon.
In order to view the Sistine Chapel, you are channeled through much of the rest of the museum – which includes different rooms and halls which likely have major significance to those of the Roman Catholic faith or those with more time to appreciate the antiquity of the place, the historical significance, and the craftsmanship of the art displayed.
For me, being in the Vatican was not a completely positive experience and we both only decided to go there to see the Sistine Chapel and Michaelangelo’s famous work on the ceiling there. With all due respect to the right of our friends and family to have their own belief systems, I found it difficult to fully appreciate this city-state knowing that the Church actively campaigned against gay rights in the U.S. (Prop. 8 in California back in 2008), that they continue to subjugate women, and that the organization has a history of protecting pedophiles. Because of that many have suffered and even killed themselves (we have friends for whom this is the case). For me, that taints the experience and while I’d like to point out only how beautiful the art and architecture of the Vatican are, I personally feel it must also be balanced against what is unjust within this system. Stepping off my soapbox now and getting back to the tour …
After viewing the Sistine Chapel we made our way out of the maze and exited the Vatican, though not before encountering a couple other sour souls (one at the Vatican post office when Clint asked if they were able to stamp passports and the other in the cloak room as we were retrieving our checked umbrella). Walking just a couple blocks from the Vatican’s walls we found a little hole in the wall “mom & pop” restaurant (Piacere Molise) where we decided to dine. We’re by no means experts on Rome – or Italy for that matter – having only been in the country for a bit more than a week, but it does seem that nearly every restaurant is Italian and there’s not a mix of other cuisines you would find in other places outside of Italy. For example, in Paris, you can find French food for sure but also Italian, Asian, steak, etc. So not knowing too much about this place we were pretty much assured it was going to be Italian. It was! And it was very good!
The restaurant served Roman style pizza, called “pinsa.” Rather than being round, these are oval. I wish I had taken a photo of the pinsas, however I did get this shot … and it totally reminded me of Chef Boyardee:
After the delicious and memorable meal, we walked along the Tiber River back to our apartment in the Trastevere neighborhood.
Back home in our apartment, we spent the evening consuming more gelato (Clint had his regular: stratchiatella; I opted for something a bit different: mugo pine flavor … delizioso!) and we watched, maybe appropriate for today, Roman Holiday – a 1953 Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck flick.