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Italy: Day 4 – Rome

March 5, 2010

TUESDAY, April 15, Rome

Another day, another Vatican tour. We take the 81 bus from Corso Rinascimento to Piazza Risorgimento instead of the 64 bus from Corso Vittorio Emmanuele for our trip to the Vatican (again, no validation!) This bus takes us closer to the Museums entrance. As we walk to the entrance, it rains briefly, but hard, with some hail.

The Vatican Gardens tour starts late, and our guide, while okay, is the worst of our tours. Earpieces would have been nice, as she’soften difficult to hear in the gardens.

The rain begins again shortly after the tour starts. It pours buckets for about 15 minutes, then switches between drizzle and sunshine for the three hours of the tour. The grounds of the Vatican are vast, and I’m glad my toes no longer hurt since we must walk miles just on the tour.

The Gardens tour certainly isn’t a thrill-a-minute, but it was very interesting to see part of the “hidden” Vatican, particularly if you’re tour-geeks like Charlie and I. I admit to being thrilled beyond words to be walking on paths were John Paul II and other Popes had walked and prayed. The pagoda pictured is said to have been one of John Paul II’s favorite spot for private prayer and contemplation.

After the gardens tour, we go through St. Peter’s Basilica. The sheer size of it is overwhelming, and it’s amazing to see the altar  after having seen St. Peter’s tomb many feet down below and knowing the centuries of tradition and faith that link those two areas. I never understood that the phrase, “On you I will build My church” was truly literal until taking the Scavi tour.

It takes me quite awhile to realize that all the artwork that look like paintings were, in fact, glass mosaics. The only oil painting in the basilica is in the Blessed Sacrament chapel, a tidbit I learn as I glance at my notes.

Next, we decide to take the metro to the Spanish Steps, and grab a barely edible bite at a cart on Piazza Risorgimento.We actually validate our RomaPass tickets for the first and only time!

We see the Spanish Steps and window shop along Via Condotti. As we walk by Piazza del Parlimento, a motorcade passes by – maybe it’s the newly elected Berlusconi! We stop in a church mainly just to rest for a minute, and discover that it has the supposed head of John the Baptist. My picture of it turns out lousy, but hey, it’s the head of John the Baptist. A group of Japanese tourists look appalled that I’m taking a picture, but hey, it’s the head of John the Baptist!

Our last stop before heading home is Santa Maria Novella, the centuries-old pharmacy started by monks in Florence, where I buy a few things. My biggest regret of the trip is that I don’t get a chance to go back and buy more, especially after I discover how much I like the almond foot cream and lip moisturizer.

When we head out for dinner, nothing strikes our fancy, so after a long walk around the centro storico, we wind up having pizza al taglio in the Campo, followed by, of course, gelato. I’m coming down with a cold, so it’s early to bed.

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From → Italy

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