After three weeks in Europe we arrived by train to our final destination…Rome. A grand finale to an extraordinary trip. We began our time with what was to be the first of many Sardine like experiences. A large city, there are only two metro lines because everywhere they excavate…there are ruins and they have to stop. Consequently the two lines are always packed. We couldn’t even squeeze onto the first train, and so we squeezed onto the second one. Me shouting to the kids what stop to get off of since I couldn’t see them.
Our apartment was literally across the street from the Colosseum. Not a bad view. Alessandro met us and took us up to our 5th floor apt (no lift). In spite of the stairs, the place was amazing. A large bedroom, living room, breakfast room, kitchen, two bathrooms, and 3 loft bedrooms. Hailey quickly claimed her own tiny loft…it might have been her favorite thing about Europe. All this for 110 Euros a night. We went to the market next door and cooked a wonderful meal, then ended with a family monthly viewing of Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
Our first morning in Rome, we got up early and headed for Vatican City. We went to St. Peters Basilica first thing to beat the crowds. Yesterday’s sardine imitation on the metro was nothing compared to this morning. Lets just say I was extremely intimate with several complete strangers I couldn’t even turn to see for several stops.
At St. Peters we first went up the Cupola (dome). After taking a lift halfway up, we still had 321 steps to climb. They got narrower and slanted as we climbed. It was very disorienting to walk when the walls are slanted so…and the final spiral staircase was barely big enough for Hailey. Completely worth it though. Amazing views inside the Dome and from the outside.
We had seen many grand and amazing cathedrals, churches, and basilicas over the previous three weeks. But St. Peters amazes in sheer size and grandeur. The dome is 453 feet high. It can seat 60,000 people. Everything is beautiful. We saw Pope John Paul II’s beautified body (weird). We went down in the crypt and saw Peter’s remains. Awesome. We saw Michelangelo’s Pieta. Sublime. I hesitate putting pictures because they don’t do it justice…but here are a few.
Afterwards it was time for lunch. We had some great pizza at a local shop. Then of course some gelato. We had a couple hours to kill so we rested and walked around a nearby market.
Finally it was time to visit the Vatican museums. While we did indeed wait long enough for there not to be a line to get in…we did not wait long enough for the crowds to dissipate. Almost unbearable crowds in the museums…we should have waited another hour to enter. But we saw some amazing things. You have to walk through the Vatican museums to get to the Sistine Chapel, and they are extraordinary on their own. The crowds in the Sistine Chapel didn’t matter there because you were looking up the whole time. The guards were constantly shushing people and you can’t take pictures there. So we stayed in the chapel staring up until our necks ached. Truly exceptional.
Some pictures of the museums…
We returned to our apartment after a full day at the Vatican and cooked dinner. The next day…The Colosseum!