Thursday, November 24, 2016

Italy Day 4: The Vatican

Hi everyone!  On to Day 4!   Today we went REALLY early to Vatican City--we were there by 7. 

We were probably there a bit too early for a normal day, but it ended up being a good thing, I think. 

Unfortunately, they had parts blocked off, including the Pieta, but we saw a sign much later in the day that said no admission after 12:30--the Pope gave a special announcement.

We also ended up going inside the church twice, and it was much more crowded and had more areas roped off the second time, so we were probably better off, if tired.

While in the church, I attended the American mass, where I even received communion!  That was definitely cool. 

We then left and, after a bit of confusion, went through security again so we could climb to the top of the dome. 

(A member of the Swiss guard)

Very pretty views once we got to the top. 

After that, we walked around the outside of the Vatican walls until we reached the entrance of the Vatican museum--a pretty long walk, actually. After waiting in a small line to pick up our tickets, we headed in and finally stopped and rested for a bit in a courtyard with views of the Basilica's dome. 

After dessert for breakfast, we headed into the museum.  We only did what Rick Steves recommended, and it was plenty--the Vatican museum is huge!

We saw Egyptian artifacts,

 Greek and Roman statutes,

(Belvedere Torso)


 Gallery of Maps

The Raphael rooms were amazing.

First the Constantine rooms, showing the move from paganism to Christianity.

The School of Athens, with lots of cameos from Renaissance notables, including Leonardo de Vinci (center) and Michelangelo, center front) 

The Sistine chapel we saw last, which was amazing since all the walls are works of art. Unfortunately, we couldn't take pictures inside.

By this point we had gone an extra 1.5 hours than we expected, so we reassessed our plan for the rest of the day (over a spaghetti lunch).

We went first to the nearby Castel Sant'Angelo, designed by Emperor Hadrian as his tomb (circa 139 A.D.).  It was a fortress and prison after Rome fell, and later was connected to the Vatican to be a last refuge for popes.

  We climbed a ramp and stairs to the top.

 The fortress was renamed for the Archangel Michael after a vision of the angel appeared over the fortress (AD 590).

 Very pretty views from here too.  We cabbed back to the hotel to rest a bit and saw two nearby churches, both with early examples of mosaic decoration. 

The church of Santa Prassede had beautiful 9th century mosaics.

(a relic of a piece of the pole Jesus was flogged on)

The church of Santa Maria Maggiore is one of Rome's oldest (AD 432).

The nave is lined with some of the best preserved Roman mosaics.

 Pilgrims came to this church to kneel before pieces of Christ's manger bed. 

After visiting the churches, we then he headed to the Piazza del Popolo. 

 Two matching church line one of the entrances to the square.

 On the left, Santa Maria in Montesanto

 and the right, Santa Maria dei Miraccoli,

We had dinner (I had lasagna) on this square. 

After a gelato,

we took a cab back to the hotel.  It had been a pretty long day!


  1. Sounds like you are having a wonderful trip! The artwork is stunning and the spaghetti looks pretty good too. Thanks for sharing these great photos. I've never been to Italy.

  2. LOL, our Vatican Day dysfunction… we went in so many circles that day. You omitted that we apparently illegally elevator-ed down from our cupola climb. Whoops. Cheating!

    I’m surprised you didn’t try for a stealth photo of the Sistine Chapel. I can’t remember— were there too many guards to risk it?

    I think that our spaghetti lunch was on the street where I’d stayed with my family a couple of years prior… and where that fight between employees of two nearby restaurants broke out while I was in the bathroom. :-P. I always miss everything interesting.


Thank you so much for your comment! I hope you have a wonderful day :)