We hurried to meet the tour guide I had booked weeks prior to our arrival because I knew the Vatican and St. Peter’s Basilica is huge and would be overwhelming to try and navigate on our own. With just a few minutes to spare, of course we headed the wrong way. We were supposed to meet at the entrance to the Vatican Museum, but we headed towards St. Peter’s square instead. After asking a Swiss guard, who looked like he was 14, where the museum was he told us to follow the wall all the way around the city until we found it. Now our little cushion of time was gone and we were running.
Until we ran right into two Mormon missionaries. “What’s up Elders?!?’ It was so surreal to be walking around the wall of Vatican City, the headquarters of the Catholic Church, and come face-to-face with two young faced boys. Even though we were running, we had to stop and talk. They were from California and Utah and when I asked if they usually just hang out around here, they said Noooooo Way. Turns out the elder from California was heading home later that day and they were running to get one last souvenir for his mom and dad. It was a highlight for me and if we didn’t have plans I would have asked if we could have taken them to lunch. (blah, blah, blah)
On our way to the museum entrance we rushed passed a line that was easily 500 yards long. We decided at that moment booking a tour guide was worth every penny just to get us into the museum without waiting in that lengthy line. As we arrived at the entrance Francesca was waiting with a sign with our name on it. Hallelujah! And just like that we followed her through the metal detector, security check, and into the Vatican Museum for our private little tour.
- Ian taking video and getting caught by the very angry security guard for his mistake. (I didn’t see the no video/photo signs, probably because I was blinded by all the flashes of people disregarding the signs).
- The same angry security guard getting even angrier at the Indian couple next to us who didn’t understand (or just didn’t care) about the no photo rule. (I thought he might beat them with his billy-club)
- The large dark square on the wall to show the chapel pre-14-year-restoration.
- Ian’s surprise over the small scale of the famous painting of God touching Adam’s finger.
- Feeling like we were on the set of Angels and Demons with all of the Cardinals (although there were none in sight) during Conclave.
Then we filed with the masses towards the largest church in the world, St, Peter’s Basilica. (on the way our guide was telling us about all of the naughty Popes and their sordid stories. Seriously interesting, but so not appropriate for retelling here). What else can we say….the Basilica was a freaking huge- two football fields long and 11 stories high. And that is just the nave and dome. More relics, including glass coffins with entire bodies of Popes who are now Saints, more statues (Michelangelo, Bernini, and more domes - 11 in all. So we just climbed the 500+ step to the top, because that is what we do. It was raining when we got to the top, which made things interesting. So we hurried down and made our way out of the big Vatican City, pop 998.
It was 2pm by then and time to eat (man- our entries are getting really repetitive. And yes- we know they are long (my posts aren’t as long). But it’s journaling, right?!) So we didn’t just eat at the first place we came across (mistake) and decided it would be cool to eat on Piazza Nuvona (another Angels and Demons site – place where he tries to drown the cardinal). But when we sat at one of the many restaurants lining the piazza we just weren’t feeling it. Looking back- we were idiots. But hindsight. . . oh well. We decided nothing sounded better than the foccaccia wonder we had last night. We wanted it so badly we were willing to walk another mile and a half to get it.
Walk, rain, walk, rain, walk, walk, walk, CLOSED, crap! Nice try. So now we sat at practically the next place we saw and had a great meal. What ev. Now I am even boring myself!
And later we took a cab over to a neighborhood called Trastevere for dinner. Did a night walk through the neighborhood, saw some stuff and ate some yummy dinner, and got caught in a serious downpour after dinner without umbrella #2. Since we refused to spend another Euro for umbrella #3, which was repeatedly offered to us from every wandering street vendor we passed, we sat out the worst of the rain in a tiny gelateria then headed out. Of course Trastevere was the furthest we had ventured from our hotel and of course every taxi we passed was full, so we had another memorable walk towards home. When it really started pouring again we took shelter with others under an awning, which turned out to be a taxi line. So eventually we were in the back of a taxi speeding towards our comfortable bed-in-a-closet for a good nights sleep.