Thursday, June 11, 2009

Day 4 - Rome, Vatican Tour

The pictures I've been posting are the low-resolution versions of what I actually took so I don't kill the blog. The big guys are located here for Day 4:

Our first full day in Rome, we had a tour scheduled around 1:00-ish to see the Vatican in all of its glory. Since we didn't wake up until around 9:30, we didn't have a whole lot of time to get out and about and see stuff in the morning. We meandered a bit around a couple shopping areas, and found a pizza place that had long square pizzas. You showed them how much you wanted of the pizza, they cut it off where you pointed, then you paid according to weight. It was awesome! I got 4 Formaggi and the cheese was so tasty, plus it was only 13 euro for all of us to have a quick bite to eat for lunch before our tour.

We also noticed that every Italian apartment building seemed to have like 4,000 tv antennaes on it. Maybe they haven't heard about cable yet?

We met our tour guide, Silvio (although it could have been Silviano, who knows) and away we went on the Vatican tour. And away it was. Silvio walked with PURPOSE and his steps equalled like three of mine. The dude was F-A-S-T. We headed past the lines and throngs of tourists, and headed up an escalator to a main lobby-ish area. Silvio explained that this structure we went past on the escalator was either designed or inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright. Kind of cool.
Once in the main area, Silvio used a display to explain some basic things about the Vatican.
And we proceeded to run all over the place, checking out random things and listening to short history lessons from Silvio. At one point he got all fired up at another tour guide for hogging a display, and called a guard over. They were SCREAMING in Italian, he was saying in English that he would meet her outside... we were in a small courtyard where all 1,000 heads looked our way. We were so embarrassed. But hey, it's a great story! (Our guide the next day, Armando, told us that Silvio was "not a soul at peace".... hahahaha)

The place was teeming with tourist and history. I guess alot of the statues and works of art that used to be all over Rome have been moved to the Vatican over time. So there is a ton there. Here are a few of my favorite shots:

Hey, check it out. All roads DO lead to Rome. At least the ones around Rome, anyways.
At the end of seeing a ton of halls of art and statues, etc, Silvio led us into the Sistine Chapel and told us to "let Michelangelo speak to you. I'll meet you in the back in 10 minutes." The Sistine chapel was amazing - there is a part that got knocked off from an explosion in a nearby ammunition room and no one will dare repair it for fear of messing up Michelangelo's work. We weren't allowed to talk OR take pictures in there, which kind of stunk. But it was amazing all the same. Kind of surreal, like, is this really happening?

After that we headed into St Peter's Basilica. Which was massive and awe-inspiring. We also got to go down underneath it where a lot of Popes (including Peter and the most recent John Paul) are buried. No pictures allowed down there either!

Walking out into the square, we stopped to get more water. "This is way better than your water back home," said Silvio "Straight from the old aqueducts!" Dad decided that it was holy water, since it was from the Vatican!

At this point, I decided I needed a fisheye lens, b.c I couldn't get all of St Peter's Basilica and the square in the same shot. It's HUGE.

It's also got some optical illusions. Like, when you're on the edge or outside of the square it looks huge and impressive, but when you're in the square the basilica actually looks rather close "it brings you in" - Silvio said.

After the tour we hit up a happy hour with some snacks and white wine with Silvio and got a new victory sign to do, as Silvio pumped his whole arms up and down to celebrate a successful tour. We walked across a super old Roman footbridge to get to the wine bar.
Dinner was near the Colosseum where I took the pic in front of it that I posted right when I got back. It was again awe-inspiring to be eating minestrone right across from such a huge piece of history!!