After exiting the Sistine chapel, Julianna, Baba, and I continued to follow our tour until we reached the outside of St Peters Basilica, where our guide showed us the beautiful door that opens only once every 25 years. Through the everyday use doors, we entered into the magnificent Basilica. The lighting was dim, but it set the mood. On our right was the perfect marble statue that Michelangelo had carved in his early years as an artist. This was his right of passage into being able to make other masterpieces. Once open to the public, it is now covered behind bullet proof glass thanks to a crazy person a number of years ago that had come at it with a sledgehammer.
Finding our way through the marvelous Basilica, we discovered many coffins and monuments and little side chapels. At the center stands a copper monument where you can visit the basement of the church underneath; that was a separate tour, one we did not partake in.
One thing I loved about St Peter’s’ is that you are allowed to take pictures inside because all the paintings were replaced with mosaic tiles and everything else is made of marble and stone that doesn’t deteriorate with the flash of a camera.
After, we found our way outside through the way we came in, into the square where our guide pointed out where the smoke comes from when electing a new Pope, as well as where the Pope resides (or is supposed to). St Peter’s Square’s outstretched arms is shaped to draw people inwards. Fountains, facades, and statues lined the outside walls and the cobblestone streets intensified the effect. In the gift shop, we found the Vatican City’s very own postage stamps and coins, a truly great souvenir. You can also send a letter from their “post office” to someone back home with a unique stamp from the Vatican.
Upon leaving Vatican City, our tour bus drove past a few key sites within the ancient city of Rome: the Colosseum, the place where Mussolini the Italian dictator gave speeches, different monuments and statues, and Santa Maria di Maggiore’s façade. We finally transferred to a cab (after quite a kerfuffle between our tour guide and a local taxi driver that argued our luggage wouldn’t fit and he didn’t want to drive us) that took us to our hotel, which turned out to be much farther outside of Rome than we had anticipated. We almost fainted upon hearing that the cab fare was 50 euros one way. Another hotel planning mistake on my part, taking for granted the sheer size (and traffic) of these cities.
Exhausted upon finally getting settled at the hotel, I organized and printed our boarding passes for our flights out and arranged for a car to take us into Rome for our tour the next day. For dinner, we sauntered to the local golden arch special (ahem McDonalds) to order the weirdest tasting Big Macs, and Cokes, and Potates (fries) to go along with them. Outside the major tourist areas, English wasn’t so easy to get around on, and the cashier had a hard time understanding us. We couldn’t wait for our big Roma tour the next day.