Rome and the Vatican

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September 30th 2016
Published: September 30th 2016
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St Peter's BasilicaSt Peter's BasilicaSt Peter's Basilica

Still pretty impressive even when you have seen it before.
I should have thought to mention in the last blog that on our last day in Rome we travelled to our third country.

The Vatican

After all our brave comments about walking everywhere, we took the metro to St. Peter’s. The station isn’t that close (our Italian friend said a bus would take us closer) but we opted for the metro so we didn’t have to transfer.

The guide books suggest checking the Vatican web site to see what is happening on the date of your visit. We thought we had but...

The security to get into St Peter’s Square is pretty intense. Not quite as bad as airline security but a big change from our 2004 visit. We got in fairly quickly and. were amazed by the rabbit warren of fences set up in front of the church. There were lots of seats for what we assumed was the Sunday Apostolic Blessing held in Spring, Summer and part of Autumn. But there was no activity in this area so we headed inside.

We thought from the web site that there was a Latin Mass at 10:30 which we wanted to attend as it had been
Not the greatest introNot the greatest introNot the greatest intro

The crowds are incredible and the increase in cameras and cell phones during the Apostolic Blessing was unfortunate.
years since we attended one (a Latin Mass, that is). The inside of the Basilica was packed. It is huge so, from the back, you can’t really tell what is going on. The crowd was constantly moving back and forth so we eventually got close enough to figure out it was Pope Francis giving his 10:30 Apostolic Blessing. It was so hot and confusing that it was a bit disappointing; however, we could hear his voice.

After the blessing, the crowd thinned out and it was easier to remember why a person likes to visit the Basilica. We wandered outside wondering if the noon blessing was still on. Based on the crowd in the Square looking up to the Papal apartment windows, we figured it was. We could have joined the crowd but, as we wanted to attend the 12:15 Mass in St Peter’s, we stayed on the steps near the doors. We could hear everything and we think we saw the Pope (see pictures) give the Apostolic Blessing.

The 12:15 Mass is held at an altar behind the main alter of the Basilica. While almost a side chapel, the size of the altar and the seating for
Peace restoredPeace restoredPeace restored

After the blessing the crowd dispersed and the Basilica returned to a more restful state.
attendees would make a huge church is most places in the world. There were probably 400 in attendance and we were happy to be there with them.

After the service, we just continued our walk about the Basilica. The crowds had definitely thinned out which made it a much more subdued and reverential experience. We found a place in the shade of the famous columns in the Square and had our sandwich lunch while we people watched.

On a previous trip, we visited the crypts under the Basilica, the Sistine Chapel, the Vatican Museums and climbed the stairs to the Dome so we didn't do it again. But they are well worth doing on your first trip to St. Peter's.

A walk down Via della Conciliazione to the Castel Sant’Angelo allows you to stop and look back at a pretty impressive sight.

Our last night in Rome

The metro returned us to our apartment for a packing session as we were leaving Rome the next day. Eddy and Marina took us out to visit Alessandro and Alyssia (their son and his wife) for appertivi. We sat out on their beautiful deck enjoying the view of
Main altar from the backMain altar from the backMain altar from the back

After Mass we could see something most people don't get to see, the main part of the basilica from behind the main altar.
the Dome of St Peter’s even though it was kilometres from the Vatican. Even a smattering of rain could not dampen the good time we had.

The same could not be said for the drive to a pizzeria near Ostia. The skies opened and it poured. Since Ostia is even further out of Rome than Alessandro’s, it became a more and more unpleasant drive for Eddy. So we bailed (almost literally) on the pizzeria and went to a restaurant closer to home. It was sad to say goodbye.

The next step in the adventure

We were getting pretty familiar with Termini, the train station. We had time for cappuccinos and brioche (of course) before getting on the train but the trip to Trani was pretty uneventful.

Trani is a “small” town on the Adriatic Sea which seemed like a good place to start our Puglia adventure. I did have trouble typing “taking the train to Trani”. One weird thing was that our train went from Rome to Bari, we changed trains and then went to Trani. The weird part was that the train to Bari went through Trani, it just didn’t stop.

Getting from one
Our chapelOur chapelOur chapel

We joined several hundred people for Sunday Mass.
platform to the other involved sets of stairs. Luckily, we are travelling light.

To be continued

Additional photos below
Photos: 17, Displayed: 17


Want to see the tomb of a Pope?Want to see the tomb of a Pope?
Want to see the tomb of a Pope?

This is the place to come. There are many of them.
the Pietàthe Pietà
the Pietà

Still incredible to see even though it has to be behind bulletproof glass after the 1972 vandalism. Interesting to read about its history including other restorations over the years.
Pope's Apostolic BlessingPope's Apostolic Blessing
Pope's Apostolic Blessing

Sunday at noon, if the Pope is in town. We think we can see the paper he is holding while delivering his address.
A few friends dropped byA few friends dropped by
A few friends dropped by

when the Pope was delivering his Apostolic Blessing.
The SquareThe Square
The Square

A little more restful after the crowds disperse. The address and Blessing are delivered from the window of the Papal Apartments. The window is second from the right on the top floor of the tall building on the left.
The long viewThe long view
The long view

Almost at Castel Sant'Angelo, we stopped and looked back. Pretty impressive view from quite a distance.
A slightly different view of the Castel.A slightly different view of the Castel.
A slightly different view of the Castel.

Usually we take pictures of the front of the Castel from the bridge over the Tiber. It has an interesting history as it was originally designed to be the Emperor Hadrian's mausoleum.
St Teresa and the PopeSt Teresa and the Pope
St Teresa and the Pope

Dianne particularly liked this sculpture of St Teresa berating the Pope about some of the excesses in the Church at the time.
Good friendsGood friends
Good friends

Allessandro, Marina, Alyssia, Eddy, Dianne and Peter enjoying apertivi on the deck.

What we were enjoying.
Strategy sessionStrategy session
Strategy session

Determining the best route to get from their house to the pizzeria we wanted to visit. Too bad the heavy rain washed out the trip to the pizzeria.
St Peter's BasilicaSt Peter's Basilica
St Peter's Basilica

Viewed from Allessandro and Alyssia's deck. It is many kilometers away. The telephoto on Dianne's new camera is pretty good

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