Vatican Museum and St. Peter's Basilica

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May 30th 2010
Published: June 2nd 2010
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Today was my last sightseeing day in Rome. I would be here part of tomorrow too, but I have to leave so early tomorrow that I will not be able to see anything. On the schedule today: just two places, the Vatican Museum and St. Peter’s Basilica.

But first was another good breakfast. They have such a range of jams available here that I had two different kinds today on my roll, and I had two different kinds yesterday as well. I tried a little bit of the coffee today, but it was terrible.

The Vatican is a ways from the city center, so I had to think out the metro routes and etc. well beforehand, to make sure I would end up where I wanted to be. Mission accomplished, I arrived at the Vatican metro stop around 9 AM. Since it was a Saturday, I figured the Vatican would be packed, but I had no choice, it was either visit this day or no visit at all. I had observed several people on the metro, one was a monk standing next to me on the metro. Once he got off at the Vatican stop like me, I decided there could be nowhere else he would be going other than some part of the Vatican to get off so far from everywhere else, so I followed him once I got off. He led me right to where I wanted to go, he kept on walking past the museum, but there I left and turned on the speed, hoping to get to the doors sooner rather than later. I got there, but there was 2/3 of a block of people who had already gotten there. I claimed my spot in line about 20 steps up from where the line turned the corner of the block around the wall.

And there we all stood, for a while. According to Rick Steves, the line can go all the way to St. Peter’s Basilica, or at least the square, so I felt fortunate that I was so far ahead in the line. With so many tour groups getting in through the same entrance, but another line, progress was slow. After about an hour, though, I did finally get in, at around 10 AM. Once in, it was fairly easy to find where to start, but not that easy for me to figure out that each time I saw a sign to the Sistine Chapel throughout the museum it really meant “the next part of the museum is this way.” The sheer amount of art, especially sculpture, held by the Vatican is amazing. Much of the statues have nothing to do with Christianity, and are indeed rather pagan, so some of it I wondered why the pope would even want it. All of the statues were in beautifully decorated corridors and rooms with elaborately gilded ceilings. There were Egyptian and Mesopotamian sections early on as well, with fragments of writing, vases, and other artifacts.
The Sistine Chapel itself was beautiful, but after seeing so many pretty rooms right before it, I was not as impressed as I thought I would be. It was a gorgeous room, yes, with several guards fighting a losing battle trying to make people be quiet and respectful of the space, but since it was back-to-back with other buildings almost just as stunning, part of the grandeur was taken away for me. Unfortunately we were not allowed to take pictures of it. The museum was well worth the time I gave it, by the time I came out it was almost 2 PM.

So now for a late lunch, and the St. Peter’s Basilica. I surveyed the local food options, but none seemed to have very good prices at all. But then I stumbled upon…a Burger King! I was shocked, I had no idea there were Burger Kings outside of the United States. I knew McDonalds was international, but Burger King surprised me. So I went in, and to my surprise the prices were lower than in the United States! That is still the only place, food or otherwise, that I have found in Europe where the prices are actually lower than the prices in the United States for the same thing (at least so far).

I took my food to St. Peter’s Square, and ate across from St. Peter’s watching the fountain in the middle, the pigeons, and the people walking around. On another food note, every food already prepared seems to come with mayonnaise here, whether you want it or not. Anyway, I finished my food and joined the rapidly growing line across the way to get into the basilica. It surprisingly only took about half an hour to get through the line. Once I got in, I was awestruck. By far, St. Peter’s Basilica has been the highlight of my overall trip so far. So much gold, statues, marble, etc, it is amazing. Everything is so decorated. Pictures can only get across so much, it is an absolutely huge church. Excessive perhaps, but a grand structure to worship in, too.

After that, I went back to Il Rosario for a short time, but soon ventured out again to make sure that some transportation was running to the airport that I needed to fly out of early in the morning. At Termini I found a shuttle service and was assured that they would be running at 7 AM the next morning (my flight will be at 9:55 AM). So I headed back to Il Rosario, had a sandwich for dinner, and went to bed early so that I can get up early tomorrow. It was a long day, but considering the number of pictures I took, it was quite educational, or at least well documented.

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