The forecast was cloudy with chances of drizzle but my mood couldn't be better as today was the visit to the Vatican! We had a lazy morning and after a great breakfast we took the metro to the Vatican City. I could have walked as well (about 2 miles) but not everyone else was up for it. However, as we reached the museum entrance, my mood darkened in tandem with the clouds above. The queue was about a mile long!!!!
We decided to joined a guided tour at an additional cost of €21 per head (had already bought admission tickets online). This helped us avoid the long queue, allowed direct access to St. Peter's Basilica from theSistine Chapel and the knowledgeable guide gave us wonderful background on the paintings on the ceiling of Sistine Chapel and the 4 years of effort by Michelangelo on the altar wall - The Last Judgement
The tour lasted for 2 hours and ended at the chapel. But we circled back to the museum and the gardens to enjoy them at our own pace. It's not possible to come back to museums once you exit the chapel for Basilica.
Around 3 pm we made our way to the Basilica (through Sistine Chapel again) - the largest in the world and it took our breath away. It's massive, it's beautiful and houses the famous La Pieta by Michelangelo. The view of the square from the cupola (500 plus steps to the top) was also gorgeous
We had started the tour around 10 am and we exited the Vatican around 4 pm. Not a moment where we felt bored or tired - so absorbed were we in the beauty and history of everything around us. As soon as we left the Vatican, we had some gelato and then headed back to the hotel to rest our tired (yes now we could feel the 6 hours of standing/ walking) feet.
The evening was colder as it had drizzled during the day but still pleasant, so we stepped out for dinner and landed up at Hard Rock Cafe! After struggling for 3 days with non-English speaking serving staff we all just wanted an evening where we knew what we were ordering :) Plus having spent significant time over the last 10 years in United States on work related travel, anything American now feels almost as comforting as home! I had never imagined I would feel like this but guess familiarity does breed comfort as well!
The food was good, helpings were big and the service was better than a typical Italian joint. Overall we had a good evening and we retired happy and content.
|Ceiling of Corridor leading to Sistine Chapel|
|Madonna & Child - Glass painting|
|A "modern" structure - a gift to Vatican|
|Inside view of St. Peter's Basilica|
|View from inside the dome (black flecks are people)|
|St. Peter's Square from top of Cupola|
|St. Peter's Square at eye level|
|A collage of tapestries|