Vatican City

Our first real day in Rome was spent in Vatican City. We had 9:30 entry tickets to the museum and arrived there (along with at least 4000 others) right at that time. With the tickets already bought we walked right past the throngs waiting and after the very Italian process of trading one piece of paper with a bar code for another one, we were set to go in.

We used Rick Steve’s audio app and followed his tour all the way through to the Sistine Chapel.

Mike snuck some pictures inside. Shhh, don’t tell Francis.

Leaving the Chapel, we headed up the elevator to the base of the dome. Last time Mike and I were here almost six years ago, we did the climb all the way to the top. You can read about that here: https://cruisinwithclay.com/2013/04/25/rome-in-a-whirlwind/. Unfortunately most of the pictures have been stripped out to save space. But I don’t think I have it in me to make that climb ever again…at least without an on call ambulance.

But I do love walking around the drum of the dome, especially for anyone who hasn’t visited St. Peter’s. From this position, one can see just how huge the dome is, how high (448 feet -more than a football field!) above the floor it is and how intricate the mosaics are that decorate it. From the floor, these mosaics appear to be paintings or frescos.

From the dome we went out into the roof. Here is the site of my favorite souvenir shop where the nuns assure you that their trinkets are better than the ones elsewhere in Rome because they have been blessed by the Pope. When you push it, the agree that in reality they are blessed with his “authority”. I envision some poor first year priest stuck in a warehouse in the belly of Vatican City blessing box after box of St John Paul II rosaries and Pope Frank key rings! Lois purchased some souvenirs and a beautiful cross for a friend in Virginia.

The roof is also the location of my favorite restroom in Rome. Lois enjoyed her wait in line there and Mike was lucky and got to see what has to be one of the last stand up toilets in town.

I was amazed (appalled?) at the condition of some of the roofs-while I know maintaining a huge Church must be expensive, you’d think they could get rid of the weeds!

The roof is also a favorite of mine for gaining a sense of scale. The statues which line the roof are 18 feet tall but from the plaza below they appear pretty small.

The roof also let’s you see some of the incredible decoration on the exterior of the dome.

After the roof we finally went inside St Peter’s- the largest church in the world. As you can see in the title picture above, Lois was (as expected) blown away. We visited the Pieta, the new (at least to me) Chapel where St John Paul II is now buried and his former burial site with the other popes under the altar before leaving the church.

After a quick walk through St Peter’s square we headed for lunch.

That was the last time Lois was smiling for awhile. We accidentally took her on a death march for lunch. We were trying to get to one of our Airbnb’s host restaurant recommendations but after the Vatican Road Rally, she (and Mike and I too) were running on empty. Unfortunately when we got there, it was of course closed but luckily there was another place across the street. After we all shared pizza and salad, we all felt much better.

We didn’t feel better enough to walk back to the apartment but thankfully there are plenty of taxis in Rome. We got back to our apartment about 4:30 and all crashed.

A tiring but wonderful day!

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