Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Rome Day 2 - the Vatican

For our second day in Rome, we spent a large part of the day exploring the Vatican.  It took us about 20 minutes to walk there from our hotel.  We crossed over the beautiful Pont Sant'Angelo by the Castel Sant' Angelo Fortress and then cut over to St. Peter's Square.  The square was relatively empty when we arrived at 9 am.  Nice time to take a few photos.

I had been in Rome many years ago during a day time layover on the way to a mission trip in India.  We had a bus tour and saw all the major sites and actually had some time to walk around the Vatican and St. Peters.  It was a Sunday and we saw the Pope addressing the crowd.  But since it was a Sunday, the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel were closed.  I always hoped I would return to Rome (and yes, I threw a coin in the Trevi Fountain!) so that I could see the ceiling in the Sistine Chapel.  So that was the priority of this day.  We had booked tickets online to visit the museum a couple of weeks ahead of time.  It costs a bit extra, but it is worth it to be able to bypass the LONG line waiting to get in the museum and walk right in!

The Vatican Museum is jaw dropping beautiful. Ceilings are painted, floors are tiled with gorgeous patterns, and the walls are covered with amazing art.  We wandered through the various galleries - above is a room in the Pinacoteca filled with rich tapestries and Raphael's Transfiguration.

There were rooms and rooms filled with gleaming white statues.  Small heads, large heads, full bodies, giant bodies, groups of bodies, animals, animals eating animals...... unbelievable!  I tried to get some shots that captured the natural light on the statues.

My favorite room was the Map Room.  The long walls were covered with ornate maps of Italy and the ceiling was lush and golden.  This picture doesn't do it justice!

This is the closest picture I could get to the Sistine Chapel.  No photos allowed - however that didn't stop many people.  It actually is quite a circus when you go into the chapel - it is totally packed with people straining their heads upward.  Guards are constantly trying to shush the crowd and yelling out to stop taking pictures.  Despite all that, I was very moved by the chapel - it was amazing to look up and see that iconic painting of God's hand touching Adam's hand.

When we finished in the Sistine Chapel - we cut out a side door meant for tour groups which saved us a long trek back through the museum to get into St. Peters Cathedral.

The first thing that hit me as we entered St. Peter's was the dome with this beam of light shining through.

Benini's ornate main altar over Peter's tomb.

We took the elevator up to the dome level - here is the view looking down...

.... and looking up to Michelangelo's dome.

Close up of the mosaics - I was surprised that the walls are mosaic, not paintings!

Then up on the roof - looking out at the city.

This is the view of the dome from the rooftop terrace.  At this point it was mid - afternoon and it was VERT hot up here on the roof!

It was a wonderful day - so grateful that I was able to visit the museum and have the opportunity to spend more time exploring St. Peters.  

I have many more photos of Rome posted here in Flickr.

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