The Altar of Peace is a prime bit of ancient Rome. IIRC, built because Augustus had returned from Gual after putting down rebellion and assuring peace in the land. It was an altar for sacrifice near the Mausoleum of Augustus (which he had already begun to build by that time) which were both on essentially empty fields outside of Rome at the time that acted as parade and practice grounds. Although lost in one of the sacking of Rome, it was found in the 18th century and reconstructed in the 19th. I found it interesting that the seemingly Western American trope of cow skulls is thousands of years old. I also remember thinking that somebody's acedemic career is based on knowing what each fruit and plant is in that wreath and later found a diagram explaining just that. Also part of the Altar were various scenes of Roman history and Lore as well as one with a who's who of the Caeser's family which included more than a few future Caesers.
From there, I walked down the Tiber and took pictures of the various buildings, statues and bridges along the way. There were churches, a fortress, and a bridge covered with statues of angels. A few bridges down I crossed the Tiber and headed towards the Vatican.
The Vatican was about as you would expect it. Huge, impressive, and organized. Yet another Egyptian obelisk in the center of things surrounded by water fountains with people filling up their water bottles. The line into St. Peter's was huge as I was warned it would be early in the day so I headed towards the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museum which are all the same thing essentially. Went into the Vatican Museum and saw the Egyptian, greek, and Roman stuff while skipping most of the Christian stuff. There are only so many medieval depictions of Christ and the saints that I care to look at, let alone contemporary ones (although the Dalis were nice). I took the "expedited tour" which skipped a lot of stuff and ran though because the only bathrooms are at the end and still spent hours in there. Highlights were the map room (as Chuckie said it would be) which was a loooong hall with the walls painted with maps and the ceiling covered with colorful paintings. The Sistine Chapel was also neat but dark and Adam and God thing most people see is rather small as it is only one of about 30 paintings on the ceiling of which most people probably see one or two of normally. From there I had espresso in the Vatican Cafe (thought about getting some whiskey as they have that also, but was more in need of espresso).
The map room.
By then, it was later and the line into St. Peter's was relatively non-existant. It was huge and awesome as a church can probably be. Filled with people, art, and incense.
Inside St. Peter's.
Let me tell you that the beggars of Rome are what beggars are meant to be. The few men I saw were horribly disfigured or mutilated without being intrusive. Their was a guy outside the Vatican that had no hands. I gave him some euros and it squicked me when I missed his hat and he was able to pick up the change with his arm bone nubs and put it in the hat with a smile. Every church seems to have an ancient little Italian lady in traditional garb outside of it on her knees wailing and praying.
From there I went home and decided to try out a trattoria I had seen my first day in Rome. Walking to the Colosseum I had taken a picture of it because it looked like a nice street scene. On the way back I ended up walking down an alley way where people were conjugating to see what was going on. As I went down the street, the cafes got more and more empty, until I ended up passing the one I had take a picture of and it was packed. I made it my goal today to go to that trattoria and have dinner. I did so and ended up next to some guys from Vancouver who said they'd been coming to Rome for ten years and this was their favorite place to eat. I can see why. Carafe of wine, bread, and wonderful food for cheap. I followed up my lasagna with tiramisu and a limoncello.
From there I stumbled (remember the cheap wine, 2.50 a half liter) through the local park as it was still light out (pics are on my other camera and not up yet). Turns out the ruins there were Trajan's Baths. I then went down some other back roads to my hotel and ended up passing a metal shop on the way. I did a double take as it obviously was a metal shop and looked exactly like Hazard Factory all fit into one 10'x30' room. This caught the attention of the owner. He did not speak English, but was originally Cuban and my Spanish was enough for us to sit around and talk for an hour or so.