Sunday, October 16, 2011

Monday: The Amazing, Incredible Vatican

Monday morning was another sunny, beautiful fall day in Rome, and we were looking forward to our Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel tour.  We left our apartment with plenty of time to spare, and rode that lovely Metro (not!) to the Vatican stop.

But first: A Le$$on Learned

We were, of course, very early, so decided that an espresso and marmaletta were in order.  We'll need plenty of energy for this day!

We chose a small espresso cafe on a side street a few blocks from the Vatican.  We ordered our usual--two espressos and two pastries.  The staff was so friendly, it was a lovely modern spot, and we settled right into those nice white leather chairs to enjoy our mini breakfast.  After a quick trip to their "toilette" (also very nice and spotlessly clean),  I went to the cash resgister to pay for our little snack.  I handed the nice young man a 20 Euro note, and he gave me back just 2 Euros.  I politely said "that was a 20, not a 10".  He quickly informed me our total was 18 Euros.  That's over $24!!   For two small espressos and two small pastries??  Holy Moly!  Those espressos were 6 Euros EACH--about $8.50-EACH!  Now, I LOVE that good Italian espresso, but......

Lesson learned:  If there is no price listed, ALWAYS ask!  We foolishly assumed it would be about the same as we had been paying all over Italy.

Oh well! Nothing to do now, so we quickly put it out of our mind.  We have a wonderful day ahead of us!

We walked the few blocks to the Vatican, and were greeted with THIS line, snaking around the wall, about 1 1/2 blocks long.  These poor people were waiting to buy tickets.

We were so glad we had pre-purchased tickets and didn't have to wait in this line.  We probably would have taken one look and said "forget it"!

The ticket holder line was much shorter, a soon we were inside the Vatican Museum. We exchanged our internet voucher for actual tickets, met up with our tour guide and were outfitted with our headphones.

Our first stop was a small courtyard set up with an in depth introduction to the Sistine Chapel.  Since there is no talking allowed in the Chapel,  our guide gave us a very interesting introduction to Michelangelo's masterpiece.  She presented a very thorough explanation of the history of the Chapel, the painting, and shared interesting information about each area of the painting.  Quite educational!

The main part of our tour was the Vatican Museum--it's HUGE!  There are many, many parts to the museum, and they have an amazing collection of beautiful, ancient works of art.  It would be impossible to post pictures of even a small portion, but here are a few of our favorite areas:

As usual, I loved the marble mosaic floors:

And of course, the ceilings were amazing:

There were several marble statues, and even a few bronze:

And the walls were frescoed, too--just amazing, beautiful work:

I really liked this trompe l'oiel style, it was very large, and one had to really look to see that it wasn't carved:

Look at the painting in this room below--every square inch is decorated.  There were rooms and rooms just like this--quite overwhelming!

Next up: The biggie--The Sistine Chapel!  Oh, MY!! It is stunning:

Did you know Michelangelo put his self portrait in the ceiling?

Although I loved Michelangelo's beautiful ceiling,  my very favorite part of the Sistine Chapel were the fresco'd walls, again in trompe l'oeil style.  (This part of the Chapel was not painted by Michelangelo.)  Just look at that beautiful draped fabric, the entire lower half of the room was painted in this pattern.  The detail was amazing, with each section a different pattern and color.

We both loved the chapel, and David thought the crowds were stunning.  Look at his face--that's his "get me outta here right now" look!

We stayed about 5 minutes.   We were feeling a bit crowded.....

Our tour ended here,  we'd spent 3 hours trying to soak it all up--but we would need a year to fully appreciate all the Vatican Museum has to offer.  We both agree we'd love to go back, on our own--no tour, so we could spend all day there.  It is indescribable......

At the end of our tour, our lovely guide mentioned that we could exit to visit St. Peter's Basilica, or we could climb the dome.  CLIMB THE DOME?   Oh YES!!

We decided we'd better have a bite of lunch, that climbing is hard work!  We found the snack bar near the exit,  had a sandwich and a cold drink.  (for less than a third of what we paid for our morning e$pre$$os!)  We waited in line to use the facilities-- at the Vatican even the restrooms are beautiful!  Here's a pretty view of the gardens from the window:

We soon joined the line to buy tickets for the Dome, and it was moving quickly.   Even waiting in line at the Vatican there is beauty to behold,  here's a series of beautiful mosaics in the courtyard.  They really sparkled in the sun:

In short time we were at the ticket window, and had a choice to make: the elevator or the stairs??  I admit, as much as I wanted to climb the entire way, the elevator saved 220 steps to the lower part of the dome.  So we wussed out and paid the extra 2E for the elevator--but we still climbed 350 steps up and 350 back down!

After the elevator, the first part of the climb was easy--just a wide, winding ramp up toward the base of the dome:
We came to a door, and found ourselves inside that big, beautiful dome!  WOW!  It was a great close-up view of the mosaics we had seen from the basilica on Sunday.  They are breathtaking!!

We also had a wonderful view of the very top part of the dome:

It was a long ways down to the floor of the Basilica:

We admired this interior view of the dome for a few minutes, then exited to the stairs for the next level.  They were getting just a bit narrower and steeper, but not too bad.....
Along the way there were windows looking out onto Rome--a beautiful view from every window, and also a good place for a "breather"

Soon the steps were going round and round, and getting steeper......

And the next and final set of steps were even steeper, and we could really feel the curve of the dome in the narrow passage way:

Wait a minute--that's NOT the last set of steps! Surely it can't be much further..... With a bit of huffing and puffing, we climbed this section, very narrow, steep and windy.......

Nope, still not there!  One final short section of steps--actually more like a ladder: straight up.  There was a rope to hang on to to pull ourselves up--I didn't even let go to take a picture!

But we'd made it, with only very minor huffing and puffing from the Lundburys.  (I have to admit--I felt a bit smug as we passed many much younger climbers who had to stop for frequent rests.  Thanks to David for working my rear end off to get in shape!!)

As usual, worth every step--just look at these amazing views over The Vatican:

Detail of the landscaped crest:

Views around the Vatican grounds:

And over the beautiful city of Rome:

And here we are, those crazy Climbin' Lundburys:

We stayed at the top for about 20 minutes, enjoying the view and resting our tired legs.  Time to head back down those 350 steps.  The way down is a different route than the way up--thank goodness!  There would be major traffic jams if it wasn't.   Around and down 350 of these:
 We came out into the sunlight again--on the roof of St. Peter's at the level of the base of the big  dome.  It's a great "backside" view of the beautiful saint statues on the church:

We met a nice couple from Canada, and "traded" pictures.  Here we are:

There was even one of those great  fountains to fill our water bottle:

And a gift shop and snack bar!! No snack for us, but I did visit the gift shop! 

 Hmmmm--what did I buy??

We enjoyed the view for a few minutes, then rode the rest of the way down in the elevator.  We were tired and hungry, but still not ready to leave the Vatican!

We couldn't leave without one more look inside beautiful, amazing St. Peters Basilica.  Even though there were more visitors than on Sunday, we enjoyed it all over again.   It is truly a spectacular and moving sanctuary.

One last farewell to St. Peter:

We walked out of these beautiful doors one last time:

And spent a few minutes admiring St. Peters Square:

Cute couple!

What a perfect day!  The highlight of our trip, and absolutely the most amazing, beautiful church I've ever seen. 

 Gee, I wonder if the Pope would let us move to Vatican City??  They've got plenty of extra rooms, and I'd even promise to dust every day.

It's good to have a dream....

1 comment:

  1. It was the incredible vatican. What a gorgeous church and area. I could tell you both loved it minus the crowds and lesson on breakfast. I love the pictures of you two together...smiling and loving life. Pictures are beyond describing...breathtaking. What a wonderful, fantastic vacation this has been. And what a joy for us back home! Love...Brenda