EuroAdventure Day 21: Vatican City

(posted by Emily)

Wednesday 16 July
Daily Step Count: 27,305

Alright, everyone. Let's try this again! Day 21 take two!

Wednesday was a day I had been really looking forward to--when deciding what to do in Rome, we both knew we wanted to go to Vatican City. I was so excited to see so many famous pieces of art and architecture all in one place! Our hotel was only a half mile walk away, and we headed out around 9am. 

walking up to the Vatican
Rick had done the research ahead of time about how to best utilize your time at the Vatican. He booked our tickets ahead of time online, and we jumped to the front of the queue, passing a line was easily three blocks long. I'm guessing those people had been in line for a while, as I didn't see them move the entire time we were walking past. Good job, Barclay--Thanks for helping us beat the crowds!

entrance to the Vatican Museums
Once inside the museums, I didn't take a whole lot of pictures. Our favorite rooms had tapestries, and maps, and globes, but we were very focused on getting to the Sistene Chapel.

In Rick's researchng, he learned that the chapel can get so full of people that it is shoulder to shoulder, standing room only by noon. We were hoping to have a less chaotic experience than that, so it was our first real stop of the day. The Sistene Chapel was the first place we encountered the Vatican's dress code--knees and shoulders covered on both women and men. We had planned ahead for this, which is why Rick was wearing jeans on such a hot day. I had a shirt with lace over the shoulders, but wore a scarf just in case. Before the entrance to the Sistene Chapel, the guards were distributing disposable shawls to anyone who was under dressed.

Pictures aren't allowed in the Sistene Chapel......but, if you are sneaky enough whie sitting down, the front facing camera on an iPhone just might do the trick without being too obvious...... :)

Sistene selfie
If you look closely at the photo below, you will see the most famous panel Michelangelo painted, second from the left. It is the one with God and Adam touching fingertips.

There used to be a Vatican gardens tour available, but it was closed during our visit. I would have loved to see it, because the green spaces within the city were vast, and much more well kept than in Rome proper. 

so much green space
A tapestry of "The Last Supper" in one of the museums.

There are many different museums and galleries that are part of the Vatican Museums, but one of the most interesting was dedicated to modes of papal transport. It housed horse liveries, litters, carriages, and cars that have been used to transport the Pope over the past few hundred years. 

This white car was the vehicle Pope John Paul II was riding in during the assassination attempt on his life in 1981. Rick had asked me about it before coming to the Vactican, but I had really no idea about the story. The video and placard near the car did a great job explaining the incident. 

On the way out of the museum, we exited down the famous spiral staircase, another work of Michelangelo's, as I understand it designed by Giuseppe Momo. It looks like it chronicles the Popes through time as you move along it. 

Once outside the walls of Vatican City, we headed to the line for St. Peter's Basilica. Though the line for security looked long, it moved quickly. Admission to the church is free. 

line to go in to the basilica
We were curious to see the enforcement of the dress code for the Basilica. We were prepared, as we had read ahead about appropriate dress, but there were a number of people around us with short shorts and bare shoulders. 

dress code sign
Coming up to the front of the church. 

Sure enough, there was a little booth where everyone's dress was scrutinized. Unlike the Sistene Chapel, people (mostly women) who were inappropriately dressed were turned away or asked to put something over themselves in order to be presentable. Rick got a kick out of watching people plead their cases, and I think he probably could have watched all afternoon if I didn't keep him moving.

getting their clothes okayed
Inside, the basilica is impressive and grandiose. There aren't any pews inside, so as to allow more room for people to walk around. The basilica was built on top of the spot where St. Peter was crucified. Shrines to the saint were built on the spot and gradually replaced, until finally this building was designed by Michelangelo and constructed.

We saw a number of interred Popes, a service of some sort being conducted, the main altar, the church's dome, and the spot where 99 oil lamps continuously burn at the shrine of St. Peter.

a Pope's final resting place

a service in session
the main altar
the dome

the shrine of St. Peter were the 99 oil lamps burn
Pope John Paul II is buried here inside the church, and this area is a very popular spot to pray.

We finished up at the Vatican around 1pm. It was an inspiring place to visit, and is a sight not be missed by Catholics and non-Catholics aliked. So much history and beauty all in one spot!

Back at the hotel, we changed clothes and headed down the street to Gino e Pietro for lunch. Things were going well (bread and oil, salad, wine), until our dishes came out with tons of parmesan cheese dumped on top. Unfortunately, we're pretty sure they just scraped the cheese off and replated the pasta, because we both felt pretty gross afterwards. 

Rick's olive bruschetta
We still had one free museum admission to use, and I picked the Capitoline Museums as our destination. It is the oldest public museum in the world!

Spotted on the way: 

At the museum, we enjoyed looking at artifacts, scuplture, and a special exhibit about Michelangelo. Upstairs, in one of the galleries, we ran into a former Academy drum corps member and his family. The last thing I expected to hear in a museum in Rome was "Emily Fetcho!" What a small world.

the famous statue of Romulus, Remus, and the She-wolf that nursed them

After our time at the museum, we were feeling pretty worn out. Whether it was the long day or the bad food, it was time for a break. We went back to the hotel to enjoy some water, air conditioning, and our own bathroom. 

It was late when we went back out, but I was pleased to find CamBio Vita still open. Gelato was exactly what I needed :) 

One of our goals was to see the Colosseum lit up at nght, so off we went!

We stopped for a snack on the way back--bruschetta, pizza with olive oil and rosemary, and of course bread and olive oil! 

We ended the evening back at Piazza Navona, to see the fountain lit up at night. Beautiful!

One more shot of Castel San Angelo:

Gelato Flavor Inventory:
Pistachio (x2)
Dark Chocolate (x2) 
Mixed Berry 

We have really loved Rome--the weather, the ruins, the food, the architecture. We will definitely be sad to leave! 



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