The Venerable Vatican
Well it has been a few days since I added anything here. We have had three very busy and long days and instead of facing the computer I put my head on a pillow and crashed. I will catch up...eventually.
October 3, we had our early morning Vatican tour with The Tour Guy. But it really was a tour gal.
We met our guide at 7:30 am for Basilica Papale di San Pietro in Vaticano (St. Peter’s Basilica to most of us), and the Vatican Museums. A tour not recommended for the feint of heart since it lasted almost 6 hours, including climbing 320 steps, heat and crowds.
As soon as our group of 14 was organized, we were led to a special entrance for our ascent to the observation platform on the dome. According to Wikipedia, the top of the cross at the top of the dome is 448 ft. from the basilica floor and the internal diameter of the base of the dome is 136 ft. We took an elevator to the interior balcony below the dome for a breathtaking view of the interior (decorated entirely with intricate mosaics) ...
...then walked up a narrow stairway that curved and twisted to reach the top.
What a view of Rome!
After 10 minutes or so we took the winding stairs back to the basilica floor. Much quicker going down but more dizzying. Round and round and round...
No elevator for us this time.
The interior area is more than 163,000 sq. ft. and the scale and beauty are absolutely stunning.
Next we walked about 20 minutes to the Vatican Museums where our guide pointed out why we got up so early to come on the tour. The line to get into the basilica was now hours long with no skip the line entry possible.
We spent a further 3 hours walking the halls of the museum with our guide, trying to absorb the magnificence of the paintings, sculptures, and tapestries (along with thousands of other visitors). At times it was so crowded we came to a complete stop. But our guide held our interest and helped keep my panic down.
The much anticipated Sistine Chapel was a bit disappointing. Not because it wasn't beautiful, but because there was no stopping to admire its beauty. The museum workers loudly kept us moving quickly through. Understandable, as those stops I mentioned would have been unbearable without this aggressive approach. Fortunately there is so much beauty to admire, we did not feel too disappointed. There are no words to truly describe the experience.
We were exhausted and a bit overwhelmed but there’s nothing like an Italian lunch on a street-side patio to revive one’s spirits.
To see more photos, check out the gallery page.