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Vatican City

September 12, 2014 – Friday – Vatican City

Rick Steves Best of Europe in 21 Days tour

Large-scale fresco map of Corsica - Gallery of Maps - Vatican Museum
Large-scale fresco map of Corsica – Gallery of Maps – Vatican Museum

After breakfast at the hotel this morning, we take the subway to the Vatican to take an escorted tour of the Vatican Museum, which includes the Sistine Chapel, the Raphael Rooms, and other amazing displays. I missed the Vatican Museum last time I was in Rome in 2006 due to a screw up with the arrangements, so it is great to finally see this astounding collection of friezes, tapestries, and paintings, but I find the opulence to be obscene. I am fascinated with the 40 frescoed maps of Italy in one hallway, since they were created so long ago and yet are very detailed and beautifully crafted.

Bernini's Baldachino - St. Peter's Basilica
Bernini’s Baldachino – St. Peter’s Basilica

We are then led through a side entrance to St. Peter’s Basilica, where we are on our own for the rest of the day. I think there is more lighting than the last time I was in St. Peter’s in 2006, which makes taking photos easier. I still find the place rather creepy, especially seeing the popes and cardinals who are embalmed and on display in crypts with glass windows in the side so they can be viewed. There are several worship services going on as I walk through the basilica taking photos.

I meet up with several members of my tour group in St. Peter’s Square, and we return to the hotel on our own using the subway ticket Jennifer gave us earlier. I am completely bagged, so I have a two-hour nap this afternoon. I had great plans to work on my travel journal, but that doesn’t happen!

Nine of us go to the Oratorio Bistrot for dinner this evening, which is in the same block as our hotel. They have a wine bar downstairs and an upstairs patio where lunch and dinner is served. It is very nice on the covered patio, and the meals are tasty. I have rolled veal with bacon as a main, and start with grilled zucchini, which turns out to be more of an omelet. I also have an Italian beer with dinner, but the rest of the group order two glasses of wine each, since they don’t seem to have house wines served in jugs like the other restaurants we have eaten in up to now.

Vatican City
48 photos
Lineup for the Vatican Museum & Sistine Chapel
Lineup for the Vatican Museum & Sistine Chapel
Ornate hallway
Ornate hallway
The Belvedere Apollo
The Belvedere Apollo
Laocoön and His Sons
Laocoön and His Sons
The Hall of the Animals
The Hall of the Animals
The Belvedere Torso
The Belvedere Torso
Sala Rotunda - shaped like a miniature Pantheon
Sala Rotunda – shaped like a miniature Pantheon
Statue of Ceres
Statue of Ceres
A gilded bronze statue of Hercules
A gilded bronze statue of Hercules
Sala Rotunda - Museo Pio Clementino
Sala Rotunda – Museo Pio Clementino
Nero's huge red porphry bowl in the middle of the room
Nero’s huge red porphry bowl in the middle of the room
Second century mosaic floor
Second century mosaic floor
Large porphyry marble coffin made for Roman emperor Constantine's mother Helena
Large porphyry marble coffin made for Roman emperor Constantine’s mother Helena
Marble column and beautifully decorated ceiling
Marble column and beautifully decorated ceiling
Giant sized tapestries
Giant sized tapestries
Decorated vaulted ceiling
Decorated vaulted ceiling
Large-scale fresco map of Corsica
Large-scale fresco map of Corsica
Large-scale fresco map of Bononia (Bologna)
Large-scale fresco map of Bononia (Bologna)
Decorated vaulted ceiling
Decorated vaulted ceiling
Painting: The Polish king Jan Sobieski III stopped the Ottomans at the gates of Vienna
Painting: The Polish king Jan Sobieski III stopped the Ottomans at the gates of Vienna
Frescoes and gold columns
Frescoes and gold columns
Huge fresco of a pope
Huge fresco of a pope
Frescos and ornate ancient bookcase
Frescos and ornate ancient bookcase
Frescoes
Frescoes
Frescoes
Frescoes
Frescoes
Frescoes
Frescoes
Frescoes
Frescoes & gold
Frescoes & gold
Our group leaving the Vatican Museum
Our group leaving the Vatican Museum
Ornate ceiling, columns and tile floors of St. Peters Basilica
Ornate ceiling, columns and tile floors of St. Peters Basilica
The Pietà
The Pietà
People worshiping in a chapel with a statue of a pope beside and painting in front
People worshiping in a chapel with a statue of a pope beside and painting in front
Painted dome and decorated arched ceilings
Painted dome and decorated arched ceilings
Monument to Innocent XII (1741) by Filippo della Valle
Monument to Innocent XII (1741) by Filippo della Valle
Pope John XXIII in a glass casket
Pope John XXIII in a glass casket
Bronze statue of St. Peter on an alabaster base
Bronze statue of St. Peter on an alabaster base
Michelangelo's Dome
Michelangelo’s Dome
Bernini's Baldachino
Bernini’s Baldachino
Seats setup in front of Bernini's Baldachino
Seats setup in front of Bernini’s Baldachino
Huge painting and alter with gold ceiling and statues
Huge painting and alter with gold ceiling and statues
Papal crest in the tile floor
Papal crest in the tile floor
A Swiss Guard
A Swiss Guard
Bell and ornate clock tower on the front of the Basillica
Bell and ornate clock tower on the front of the Basillica
The collonade around St. Peter's Square
The collonade around St. Peter’s Square
Front of St. Peter's Basilica facing the square
Front of St. Peter’s Basilica facing the square
The Vatican Obelisk and collonade around St. Peter's Square
The Vatican Obelisk and collonade around St. Peter’s Square
Roof line statues on top of the collonade around St. Peter's Square
Roof line statues on top of the collonade around St. Peter’s Square
Saint Anne's Gate into the Vatican City
Saint Anne’s Gate into the Vatican City

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