This morning was a littttttle bit hectic. We checked out of our "Sweet Home Hotel". I snored all night apparently and had no idea that it was noisy as heck outside, but it was not the best. I woke up with a bunch of bites (I'm thinking it was actually from a mosquito attack that I was aware of in Florence). We walked to Rome Termini, took the H bus on a 40 minute trip to the outskirts of Rome, then walked a hard 20 minutes up a hill, around a corner, etc.
Sweaty and tired, we arrived at the Atahotel Villa Pamphili. We were thrilled at the location (needing a break from the hustle and bustle of Rome). The hotel backs up to a huge park. The room is big with soft beds, a big clean bathroom with tub and shower, a balcony overlooking lot of trees and best of all there is a shuttle bus from the hotel to the Vatican that runs every hour for only 1.50 Euro. So, we unloaded our luggage and took off to Vatican City by 1pm.
Upon arrival, we walked around the huge wall surrounding the Vatican and ended up at St Peter's Basilica. The entrances were manned by Swiss Guards (in fancy pants uniforms).
And occasionally dudes with guns.
The huge area in front of the basilica is an oval of columns. From the first column to the right side of the basilica to the last column on the right was the line to get in. It was an estimated 2 1/2 hours long. I'm not big on long lines and made some friends towards the front of the line. They were from Newcastle (self proclaimed Geordies) and I loved them immediately. Kate and I joined them in line and spent the next 45 minutes chatting about travel, jobs, etc. We had a great time.
Once we went through the metal detectors, we veered to the right and paid 7 Euro to take an elevator up to the cupola. Better than paying 5 Euro and walking up 360 stairs.
On the roof, we got coffee (technically not in Italy as we were in another country - Vatican City). We also went to the gift shop (run by nuns). It was surreal honestly, but it wasn't until we took the elevator down and entered the basilica itself that we were totally blown away.
I can't begin to tell you how big and intricate it is inside. How magnificent and ornate. I was completely in awe of the ceilings, the sculptures, the marble everywhere, the paintings...and then...AND THEN! The Pietá. I have wanted to see this Michelangelo masterpiece (which he created when he was only 23) since I was in college. It is THE religious piece of art. I turned the corner and saw it, which surprised me so much I immediately teared up (which you can see is a theme for me with these amazing Michelangelo sculptures).
Note: There is no window behind it. The sculpture is behind panes of glass, which reflect a window on the other side of the basilica.
Afterwards, we had dessert (first) and then dinner in Vatican City. I had a small dinner of zucchini flowers. At 8:20pm, we caught the shuttle back to our hotel and settled in for an evening of bad Italian television.
I may not be able to blog again while in Rome due to limited free wi-fi at the hotel. If not, I will do my best to catch up when in Copenhagen (on May 4th).