An Afternoon in Vatican City

Our last stop on the trip was back in Rome for a day in Vatican City, after our drive from San Gimignano. We tried to get into the Vatican on our first day in Rome, but with hour+ long waits to just get into the walls, we decided to try again on our way back. Thankfully, we got very lucky and were able to walk RIGHT IN without any line at all (for the record this was mid-October, mid-day, on a Friday).

We were pleasantly surprised by how modern the Vatican Museum was, and quite disappointed by how little information there was available for visitors. You must pay to get in, which is understandable, however a map is not included in that fee. A map was quite expensive (at least the ones we found) but thankfully Rick Steves’ Rome 2013 guide was more than a capable guide for us, and a trusted travel companion by this point in our trip.

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The Vatican Museum is huge. Had we more time and energy, and maybe interest in art, we certainly could have spent the day in there. I think I was expecting more religious relics to be housed in the museum, but it was mostly an art museum, with rooms and hallways just packed with statues and paintings and murals.  Below I’ve included just a small fraction, but you’ll get the picture.

Disclaimer: for one reason or another Kyle gave me camera-duty for the day, so we’ve got quite a lot of photos of art to share from the Vatican Museum. These may not be SFW…

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Remind me offline to tell you about the fig leaves on the male parts. It’s a great story.

Prior to making it into the Sistine Chapel, the “main event” I’ll call it, there was the LONGEST map hallway. We spent a good 45 minutes in here. I left it at one point to find the bathroom and came back to Kyle only about 15 feet from where I had left him.

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The stairs out of the museum were quite interesting, and then there was me back outside of the big doors we had to get in through (which were by this point closed and locked for the day). Since we completely missed a secret passageway from the Sistine Chapel to Saint Peter’s Basilica, we now had to walk all the way around the city to get there.

DSC_1205 DSC_1229The line to get in was understandably ridiculous. So, we instead decided to just take a few photos of the outside as the sun set and we waited for dinnertime.  But then, something strange happened – the line went away! It was still moving into the basilica, so we hopped in.

We have at least 100 photos of the inside of St. Peter’s Basilica, below are just a handful. I really just wish the photos could do this justice, everything in here was so big, you couldn’t do much but stand in awe.

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And with that, I conclude our posts from Italy! I might decide to share a few more travel-points soon with photos that didn’t fit, but for the most part that was our entire trip.

We loved traveling abroad so much we’ve already got another one on the calendar – and it’s soon! I’ve had more than a handful of friends (one of which we’re going to visit) warn us that travel is addicting, I think they’re right.

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Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day – the Rest of Rome

Who needs a nap when you’re in Italy? After the Colosseum we just powered through the rest of the day, staying up until the wee hours (maybe 9:30 – wild!) to get in everything we wanted to see. Do I recommend this? No. Would I do it this way again? Yes. After it was all over, it was nice to have said “been there, done that,” so we could get on to the more important parts of our honeymoon – wine and gelato.

For some reason I have yet to figure out, Kyle really wanted to see this fountain while we were in Rome. We got lost a handful of times on our way to find it, but once we did it was worth the trek (actually, I was in a haze of starvation and have no idea what it was like)! The Trevi Fountain‘s legend is that if you toss a coin in, you’ll be “ensured” another trip to Rome… we didn’t toss a coin in, I was too hungry and angry at Rome for making me walk so far to get here.

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After some dinner, I was in a better mood. After getting lost a handful of times (transitioning from a cell phone GPS to using a paper map in Italian is not as easy as we thought it would be) we had finally found the Spanish Steps. It was pretty cool and fun to sit and eat gelato while watching the men trying to sell laser pointers, flowers, and squeaky toys incessantly to anyone and everyone on the steps.

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Oh, and this was the first of MANY street cleaners we saw though out our trip. The Italians apparently take the cleanliness of their city streets quite seriously. I appreciate it. DSC_0502

After sleeping like babies, we got up and tried to make the most of our last few hours in Rome before we needed to head out. We had a fantastic breakfast with a view at our hotel, and then went on the rooftop with the camera, a tripod and the super-zoom lens to see what all we could capture of the city.   DSC_0521 DSC_0522 DSC_0536 DSC_0537 DSC_0567*

Across the street from the Colosseum is the Roman Forum, which is where we spent the morning. It was really neat but the entire time we kept asking “why didn’t anyone clean this junk up?” (just kidddddddingggggg…. but seriously, anyone else been and thought that too?).

There were some great views of the Colosseum, in case we hadn’t gotten enough pictures the day before.

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DSC_0591Goodbye Rome! We’re off to San Gimignano for the week.

Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day – the Colosseum

Since our hotel was right next to Vatican City, our original plan was to take it easy on our first day and only see thing in that area (which includes: the Vatican and St. Peter’s), but we were so full of adrenaline it was decided that we must first head straight to the Colosseum and then do ALL of our Rome-sites in the next 24 hours, because, you know, it might not be there when we get back… in a week.

First, here are some shots of our first hotel room, at the Atlante Star, it was teeny tiny, but came with window shutters I could literally throw open to a beautiful view – what more could a girl want? Unfortunately Kyle had to deal with me reenacting my vision (where did I get this idea? Beauty and the Beast? Someone help me here).

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On our trip there were a handful of things I had always wanted to see, just to find they aren’t as impressive in real-life as they were in books and on Rick Steves. The Colosseum though, was every bit as impressive in person as you’d expect. It’s huge and it’s old, and they let people walk all over it and touch EVERYTHING (seriously, I could sit and touch anything I could reach). Where else can you go and touch something that was built in the first century AD?

Kyle and I were so overwhelmed (and in need of a non-public restroom) we stopped for a beer before going in. In Italy when you order a drink they always bring you a little snack! Sometimes it’s just chips or nuts, but often it’s both or something else completely.

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… this was “not crowded” due to being the offseason …

The line to get into the Colosseum was pretty long, so we skipped it by signing up for a tour – it was definitely worth the extra 5 Euro and learned a few facts we didn’t know going into it. One interesting point I remember – gladiators rarely fought to the death,  this is just something that’s played up in movies/TV.

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And, that’s it for the Colosseum!