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Thursday, August 07, 2008

Photo Blog: Vatican City (Rome Day 2)

Today it was off to the Vatican after a nice breakfast in the Executive Lounge at the hotel. We are taking a guided tour of the Vatican Museums today – something I did not visit on my last trip. We decided on the guided tour for two reasons: 1) We do not have a great guidebook for the museums, so it would be good to have someone who is more familiar with them guide us through and 2) Time – the line for Vatican Museums is usually several hours – a guided tour bypasses the line, saving valuable vacation time for as little as 10 euros a person depending on the tour that you get. That is money well spent.

Afterwards, we headed back to the hotel for an afternoon swim and a nap to avoid the heat – before heading out for the evening.

Here are the photos from the day:

At 9:00am the line at the Vatican Museums already stretches around the corner.  Wow, right now we are really glad that we do not have to wait in that line.At 9:00am the line at the Vatican Museums already stretches around the corner. Wow, right now we are really glad that we do not have to wait in that line.


In the lobby after the first admission – it’s crowded here – our group also grew in size just before we came inside to about 50.In the lobby after the first admission – it’s crowded here – our group also grew in size just before we came inside to about 50.


Our guide moves us quickly through the initial courtyards and initial sculpture rooms.  While we would have liked to spend a little more time in them, he let us know up front he would do so in order to enable us to spend more time in the Sistine Chapel as well as Saint Peter’s Basilica. Here we pause in front of an unfinished sculpture by Michelangelo.  Our guide, and older gentleman is also witty – and lets us know his first motto on hot days like today – walk fast in the sun, walk slow in the shade.  That resonates with me!Our guide moves us quickly through the initial courtyards and initial sculpture rooms. While we would have liked to spend a little more time in them, he let us know up front he would do so in order to enable us to spend more time in the Sistine Chapel as well as Saint Peter’s Basilica. Here we pause in front of an unfinished sculpture by Michelangelo. Our guide, and older gentleman is also witty – and lets us know his first motto on hot days like today – walk fast in the sun, walk slow in the shade. That resonates with me!


We enter the famous ‘Air Conditioning’ museum as our guide jokingly calls it since it is air conditioned.  It’s really the Tapestry museum – an equally creative name.We enter the famous ‘Air Conditioning’ museum as our guide jokingly calls it since it is air conditioned. It’s really the Tapestry museum – an equally creative name.


The last hallway that leads to the Sistine Chapel – where it is not permissible to take pictures after the cleaning that completed just a few years ago.  Many people mistake this hallway initially for the Sistine.  Oops.The last hallway that leads to the Sistine Chapel – where it is not permissible to take pictures after the cleaning that completed just a few years ago. Many people mistake this hallway initially for the Sistine. Oops.


Now we have made it into Saint Peter’s Basilica.  Reflecting on the Sistine Chapel real quickly – ‘Wow’ is the right word to describe it after the cleaning.  All the colors and images are much brighter and more detailed than I remember.  After that, we walked through the catacombs underneath Saint Peter’s which included a brief stop by the late Pope John Paul’s tomb. Now we have made it into Saint Peter’s Basilica. Reflecting on the Sistine Chapel real quickly – ‘Wow’ is the right word to describe it after the cleaning. All the colors and images are much brighter and more detailed than I remember. After that, we walked through the catacombs underneath Saint Peter’s which included a brief stop by the late Pope John Paul’s tomb.


Ashley with her shoulders covered, long skirt and the great ear piece and radio for the tour.  The dress code is much more lax than it used to be.  I could have worn shorts (instead of jeans) and Ashley could have worn pants.Ashley with her shoulders covered, long skirt and the great ear piece and radio for the tour. The dress code is much more lax than it used to be. I could have worn shorts (instead of jeans) and Ashley could have worn pants.


In front of the Vatican we pose for a quick picture.In front of the Vatican we pose for a quick picture.


Recovered from a relaxing afternoon and a nap, we approach Piazza Venezia as dusk approaches.  Europe continues to be under construction with a date of 2009 for this restoration work to complete.Recovered from a relaxing afternoon and a nap, we approach Piazza Venezia as dusk approaches. Europe continues to be under construction with a date of 2009 for this restoration work to complete.


The ancient Roman ruins as we walk towards the Coliseum.   These are not being restored...yet.The ancient Roman ruins as we walk towards the Coliseum. These are not being restored...yet.


We pose for a quick photo in front of the Coliseum as sunset approaches.  The Coliseum is worth seeing as the sun sets and it lights up.We pose for a quick photo in front of the Coliseum as sunset approaches. The Coliseum is worth seeing as the sun sets and it lights up.


We eat at our first recommended restaurant – Tres Scalini in Piazza Navona – recommended by our Frommers travel guide.  It was a great meal that we will not soon forget.  My favorite dish of the night was the Tortellini in a truffle and cream sauce and Ashley loved here pasta with pesto sauce before we have our main courses.  The fried artichokes were also a unique dish that we had to try.We eat at our first “recommended” restaurant – Tres Scalini in Piazza Navona – recommended by our Frommers travel guide. It was a great meal that we will not soon forget. My favorite dish of the night was the Tortellini in a truffle and cream sauce and Ashley loved here pasta with pesto sauce before we have our main courses. The fried artichokes were also a unique dish that we had to try.



Mariotti’s gelato is mentioned in several travel guides and books – and it should be.  It ended up being our favorite site for Gelato – getting our evening dessert there on 3 of 4 nights.  They were so good that they did not give me a hard time on the last night when I broke a 50 euro bill for 5 euros in ice cream.  That’s a first!Mariotti’s gelato is mentioned in several travel guides and books – and it should be. It ended up being our favorite site for Gelato – getting our evening dessert there on 3 of 4 nights. They were so good that they did not give me a hard time on the last night when I broke a 50 euro bill for 5 euros in ice cream. That’s a first!

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