Wednesday, June 8, 2011

April 15th: Stato della Città del Vaticano

So I'm seriously awful at getting myself caught up on posting pictures. I have this thing where I need to post each day in order, for which I need to actually finish these great big long posts from my trip, so that I can post them before I post the pictures that I've taken since I've returned. I've managed to take a picture every day since I began this challenge, not that there is any proof to be seen here! And having no proof is because I'm an excellent procrastinator with regards to these trip posts. At this point, I've got all the posts from after my holiday written up and saved as drafts. To post when I finish the rest of these. Whenever that may be.

I'm getting on with it, really I am. And if these posts get less chatty as they go on, well, at least I'm getting them posted at all. :)

The picture above is taken from inside the bus through the rainy window. It did sprinkle briefly this morning as we left Florence. These are the little cabins that we stayed in.

Coldest places on earth, I swear. (Or at least it felt like that at 3:00 am.)

We drove from Florence to Rome where we would stay for the next two nights. On the afternoon we arrived in Rome, we were scheduled for a tour of Vatican city so we had a bit of a tour via bus through Rome on our way there.

Next couple of photos taken from the bus while driving. I can't remember what or where these steps are, and when I google "Rome church steps" all that comes up are the Spanish steps, which these are not.

Lots and lots of ruins in Rome. Either buildings in ruins, or built on top of ruins.

These funny little gas stations were everywhere. I'm so used to the massive ones we have here, with there convenience store and restaurants, that these are just amusing!

And speaking of amusing, see the embellishment on this sign....

Traffic, once again, was crazy, but what I was most impressed with was the parking. Not a single smidgeon of empty road was spared. And if your parked car was boxing someone else in, all the better!

Here you can see St. Peter's Square with St. Peter's Basilica. They were setting up for the Easter service I believe, there were rows and rows of chairs set out and walled off in the center of the square. There were lots of people milling around too!

We walked off the right side of this picture...

Around this massive wall...

And entered through the Vatican Museum...

(Not this entrance though, this is the old entrance, now the exit. The new entrance is much less interesting. :)

Windy ramps leading us up...

We had another local guide for this tour, and we had little headsets that allowed us to hear what she was saying into a microphone. There is no way we would have been able to hear her otherwise, as Vatican city was so jam packed full of people....we were like sardines a lot of the time. Even with the headsets, we sometimes couldn't hear what she was saying, as the group would get spread out in the crowds, and our guide would end up around a couple of corners, and then the signal wouldn't reach us through the stone walls!

This courtyard above was early on in our tour. The massive bronze globe was spinning slowly around. There were several smaller outdoor courtyards that we went through as well, all of them, large and small, filled with statues and pieces of art.

This dog here has shown up before, I straggled behind the group just to get this clear shot of him.

After seeing some of the exterior areas of Vatican City/Vatican Museum, we went inside. I was completely in awe of the ceilings...

Elaborate or simple, I was craning my neck to see them.

All the while trying not to get lost, or run into anyone.

You can see all the people heading up the stairs here. This was about average for the whole place. Out of all the places we stopped on our tour, this was by far the busiest. Not bad for a country/state with a population just over 800, hey?

I seriously think that I have more pictures of ceilings than I do of any of the other artwork...

I will admit that the picture above isn't actually mine, but stolen from a tour-mate on facebook. :) It was too dim for my little camera to get such a comparatively crisp shot. Just look at that detail!

All along this gallery were old maps of parts of Italy. They were incredibly detailed, and there were a lot of them. Just look at how long that gallery is!

We weren't allowed to take pictures in the Sistine chapel, which I wasn't really surprised about. But if you're familiar with the Creation of Adam painting by Michelangelo, the entire ceiling of the Sistine Chapel is quite the sight to see. Even if it did hurt your neck to look at it for long. :)

Of course, in a place like the Sistine Chapel, it's considered respectful to be quiet. There was a low hum of people talking, but considering how many people were squished in there, it was at an incredibly low volume. I was sure why then, the quietness was being broken by the guards yelling out "SILENCE!" every minute or so, in multiple languages. Seems like they were the only ones breaking the rules. And it made it hard for me not to break out laughing. :)

From the Sistine Chapel, we went back outside, and then into St. Peter's Basilica for a look around.

The Basilica is the largest church in the world, with the tallest dome. And pictures just don't do the scale of the place any justice. It is genuinely massive. And beautiful too!

After spending quite some time inside the Basilica, we headed back out to walk around St. Peter's Square.

And to see the Swiss Guards in their oh-so-stylish uniforms...

Vatican City has it's own postal system. I quite like the bright yellow post boxes...

We managed to lose a couple of our tour group at some point along the way. Two of the girls sat down inside the Sistine Chapel and didn't realize that we were moving on as they didn't here it over their headsets. They sat there for quite some time, and heard several other tours come through using the same channel over the headsets, until they realized that the place was closing, and the rest of the group was nowhere to be seen! I think though, that they managed to catch the rest of us as we were heading for the bus, as we had spent a long time in the Basilica afterwards. Lucky for them!

One last shot taken from outside...we headed for dinner after this, and to get settled in for the night. We had amazing pizza that thing about Italy, the food was never bad! In fact, I'm lucky I did so much walking or I could have rolled myself home!