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Italy: Day 3 – Rome

March 4, 2010

MONDAY, April 14, Rome

We learn our lesson from yesterday and go to Campo dei Fiori at a later hour for some breakfast fruit, then grab a bus to St. Peter’s Basilica. Once again, the bus is very crowded and again, no one validates their bus tickets.

We admire St. Peter’s Square, and go to a few shops, then head to the Vatican Museums. Even at 9 a.m., the line is very long, and I’m so glad we have a tour booked as we walk by the long line, which is almost halfway to St. Peter’s Square from the museum entrance.

Our guide is very knowledgeable, and points out a book about mosiacs in the gift shop that she wrote. The museum itself is hugely crowded, as I’ve read Mondays are, but that was the day we drew for the tour. Personally, given the crowds, I’m not sure we’ll go back if given the chance. It’s an amazing place, but just not enjoyable being packed cheek-to-jowl. Having seen it before, I wish Charlie could have had a more enjoyable first experience. He initially seems underwhelmed by the Sistine Chapel; I hover over a couple of spots on the bench until a few people leave. Once we’re able to sit down and not be constantly buffeted by the crowd, we’re both able to appreciate the beauty of the frescoes.

Since we have the Scavi tour in the afternoon, we grab lunch at a tourist place nearby. Not great, but not terrible. It gives us the chance to address some postcards.

Back at St. Peter’s, we go through security to check our bag. Turns out this wasn’t necessary, as the security on the Scavi side of the tour mentioned to several people with packs as large as ours not to worry about it. But rule-follower that I am, we check the bag. While we’re waiting for our tour time, we go to the Vatican post office and mail some postcards. When it’s time for the tour, the Swiss Guard let us in through the barricade, and I feel quite special!

The Scavi tour is just fabulous, and a high point of the trip. It’s slightly claustrophobic, but not too bad, as long as I stay at either the front or end of the pack. It’s so interesting to hear the story of the excavation, and of course, I’m  awed to be standing in and on actual places that are almost 2000 years old, and with such tremendous meaning to our faith. I welcome the brief opportunity for prayer while viewing Peter’s tomb.

Afterward, we see the tomb of John Paul II; I’m so glad I had the opportunity to see him and be blessed by him on my previous trip. We decide to wait until tomorrow to go to the basilica, and instead walk to Castel S’Angelo, though we don’t go inside since it’s closed. I want to see it in the evening, but we’re always so tired once it got dark that we never make it back.

We have gelato when we go back to our neighborhood, and head out later for dinner on Via d. Governo Vecchio. It’s quite good, and mostly locals.(We checked at Da Buffetto a few nights for dinner, but the line is always too long.)

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From → Italy

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