Saturday, December 29, 2007

Rome Day 3 - Vatican City

Boy oh Boy did day 3 start out a little stressful - think of that scene in home alone where the parents yell "we overslept", cue the music! Well that's what happened with us, the one day we actually had to get up to go somewhere at a specific time, we set the alarm wrong. We had a 9:30AM tour for the excavations under the Vatican and woke up at 8:52AM - YIKES! Needless to say we were out the door and on a metro in 10 minutes (looking a little worse for wear). We got to the Vatican stop with 10 mintues to go, sprinted about half a mile to St. Peter's Square (keep in mind that I was wearing my huge blue puffy jacket!) and then across the square past two swiss guards and a cabineiri. We got to the ticket office with about 10 seconds to spare - yes, we were those people - the whole tour was waiting for us - oops!) I will say though, that today was the first day I felt completely rested:)

The Scavi Tour was a tour underneath St. Peter's Basillica, of the area where St. Peter was originally buried. It was a really interesting tour. We started out in this room where our tour guide explained what we were going to see. It doesn't really prepare you though for the feeling you get when you go under St. Peter's. It's like a city of the dead (except the dead aren't really there anymore).

What happened was that the area that we were visiting was originally the Circus Maximus in Rome. St. Peter was cruxified upside down in the Circus Maximus and then they buried him there. All of these people wanted to be buried by St. Peter so families started building Mausoleums around the area and burying their dead. However, when Constantine was emperor of Rome (the First Christian Emperor), he decided he wanted to build a church for St. Peter on the site. So he raised the roofs off the mausoleums and filled them in with dirt until the ground level was higher and flat, and then he built the first St. Peter's Church there, which has now been replaced by St. Peter's Basilica.

When you go underground, it's kind of crazy, it's literally like your walking through a city, because you're walking among the walls that made up the Mausoleums. They are in great condition, you can still see frescoes as well as objects (like urns) that were found inside. Then you walk to this one part where they have the place where they found St. Peter's burial plot and it is lit up so you can see it. It's wild because at one point you're underneath the Vatican and there is a grate where you can see into St. Peter's Basilica and we could hear the choir practicing. We really enjoyed the tour and were happy that we took the time to do it, it was certainly unique.

After that we went in to St. Peter's and visited there for awhile, saw Michelangelo's Pieta and Donatello's bronze altar. It is a beautiful church and it is HUGE! After touring inside we got in line to climb to the top of the Dome, while in line we realized that the Vatican Museum closed at 1:45 so we were going to have to return to do that another day. The line to the top of the Dome was the largest line we had waited on so far this trip, but we spent the time talking so it went by pretty fast. We had the option to take the elevator and then climb 332 steps or climb the whole 500+. We decided to take the elevator because 500+ seemed like a lot, but after we got to the top we had wished we had just climbed them all (and saved the euros!) Although, I'm sure our legs were glad for a little break. It was a little frightening being at the top of the Dome because the metal railing isn't that high, but the views really are stunning! They do however let too many people up top at one time, and it made me very nervous!

One the way down we bought stamps and an ornament in the gift shop and then headed to a late lunch (really late especially considering we hadn't eaten any breakfast!) After lunch we decided to walk to Castelo San Angelo and walk through there. The inside isn't much but again we went out to the top and the views of St. Peter's and Vatican City from there were beautiful. We spent sometime outside just enjoying the views and then we headed out across the Bridge of Angels back into Rome.

We wandered the streets, just loving the feel of Rome. Some parts of it are really just so quaint and quiet when you wander down the back roads in and out of piazzas! It's so beautiful! We walking to the Capucin Crypt right near the metro stop we wanted to take back to our hostel. The Capuchin Crypt is beneath Santa Maria della Concezione. It is donation requested and no photos (click on the link above to see some pics). There are 5 chapels and you walk through them, each chapel is decorated with bones from the Capuchin monks of years ago. At first you are like this is kind of cool, but towards the end it starts to seem creepy. In the last chapel there is a stone engraved with "What you are now we were, what we are you will be". Even the chandeliers are made of bones! It was pretty wild.

After a quick rest & refresh we headed out on the bus to Trastevere a very young, Roman, artsy kind of neighborhood. I loved loved loved it! It was so cute, you can sense that it's very medieval, tons of windy streets (you WILL get lost!), with people spilling out from restaurants and bars. First we visited the Church in the main square. Mass was going on so we couldn't really roam freely, but the mosaics above the altar were incredible! We lit a candle and then headed out to find a restaurant. We found a little restaurant and had a great dinner before heading back over the river to the rest of Rome. It was a neighborhood we only visited once, but when we go back to live there I know we'll get to know this neighborhood intimately!

1 comment:

Kate said...

SEEE!!! You set your alarm wrong even when it's not my fault! I totally disclaim all responsibility for you guys missing the train in London after viewing this post. :)