Saturday, October 6, 2012

When in Rome ... Day 4 (Vatican City)

I am finally getting around to finishing up writing about our trip to Rome.  I actually just watched "Eat, Pray, Love" and seeing Julia Roberts' character's time in Rome inspired me to get this all finished up.  And it made me really want to return to Rome. 
You can read about Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3 by clicking on the links.
Day 4 was jam packed full of fun.  We started the day at St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City.  I didn't know a whole lot about the Vatican until I read Dan Brown's book, Angels and Demons.
One side of St. Peter's Square. 

Another side of St. Peter's Square.

Will and I in front of the church.
Entry to the church.

The Holy Door ... only opened for special celebrations.
Famous Michelangelo sculpture of The Pieta inside the church.

Many former Popes are memorialized in the church.

These massive pieces of art in the church are painted on ceramic tiles.  If they were painted on canvas or any other medium, they would not survive the humidity.

There were a couple of tombs of former Popes on display inside the church.  It was a little creepy!

A bronze statue of St. Peter ... it is supposed to be good luck to rub his feet.

The famous dome of St. Peter's Basilica ... designed by Michelangelo and modeled after the dome of the Pantheon.  This picture does not do it justice.

The large structure in the background is Bernini's baldacchino, which is the largest piece of bronze in the world.  It is 98 feet tall!  It stands under the dome and above the alter. 

The marble statues in the church were amazing!  This is St. Andrew and St. Veronica.

Looking up one of the bronze columns of the baldacchino to the dome.

The Vatican is a whole separate country from Italy.  This is the line that separates the Vatican from Italy.  So, technically, I am standing in 2 countries at the same time!

These are some beautiful photos of the Basilica that the professional photographer with our group took.  Get ready to be wowed!

The Swiss Guard serves as the de facto military in Vatican City.


After our lengthy tour of St. Peter's Basilica, we headed to the Piazza Navona for lunch and a little sightseeing.  It is a beautiful square and used to be the site of chariot races (which is why it is shaped like a track).
The Brazilian Embassy in Rome (it used to be a palace).  The small fountain is the Fontana del Moro.  There is a similar fountain on the north end of the square.

Lots of alresco dining on the square.  We had lunch here.

A better photo of the Pamphili Palace (current Brazilian Embassy).

Lots of local art vendors sold paintings in the square.

The famous Fountain of the Four Rivers (by Bernini) is in the center of the square.

Cute cafes along the square.

Afternoon espresso at Giolitti's (best known for its gelato).

Back to the Spanish Steps.

The fountain at the bottom of the Spanish Steps.

But wait, there's more ... Will's company rented out the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel for a private tour.  So, we headed back to Vatican City.
Entrance to the Vatican Museum

A beautiful view of St. Peter's dome at sunset.

Courtyard at the museum.

Lots of statues ...

The Hall of Tapestries.

Beautiful ceiling in the Hall of Maps.

Hall of Maps.

The Sistine Chapel ... we were told "no photos" but when we arrived, they permitted photos without the flash.
The ceiling of the chapel.  The center depicts stories from the book of Genesis.

Michelangelo's Last Judgment is painted on the wall above the alter.

The Eastern wall of the chapel.  The Southern wall was decorated with stories of Moses and the Northern wall was decorated with stories of Jesus.  It was really one of the most amazing things I have ever seen.

After we left the Vatican Museum, we headed back to Piazza Navona for dinner with another couple in our group.  Alfresco dining at night in Rome ... it really doesn't get any better than that.
After dinner, Will purchased an oil painting of the Colosseum from a local artist (pictured below).

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