15 November 2009

Rome: Day 2 - The Vatican

Day 2: The kids woke up early, and it was another nice sunny day. We decided that although the Vatican is pretty far from the rest of the sites that we would walk there first thing in the morning, and then see a few sites on our way back to the apartment in the afternoon.



Here is another pic of the colosseum, which looks so awesome that everytime we walked past it, I took more pics.



This pic is for Chris' dad. We were excited to find a Deutsche Bank, because everytime we go on vacation with Chris' parents, we have to spend upwards of a half hour walking around searching for a Deutsche Bank to save $3 on ATM fees. Now we know where there is one in Rome! And even included the street name in the photo so we can remember where it is.



And of course on the way there, we took a little detour into a pastry shop. What better way to start the day than with the Italian version of a chocolate lava cake? Oliver liked it so much, he carried the spoon for the next two hours, licking every speck of chocolate off of it.



This is on the bridge we crossed to get to Vatican City. In the background is the Castel Sant'Angelo, which was originally designed by the Emporer Hadrian in 120AD to be a mausoleum for himself and his family. It then over the years was used as a prison and a fortress, and includes special chambers for the Pope, in case he ever needed protection if Rome was under attack.



Here are the kids holding hands in St. Peter's Square, which is incredible, and the pics don't really do it justice at all. But it was super cute because Elora and Oliver walked around the whole square holding hands. Sweet! They do like each other! (Sometimes...)



Fountain in the square, with St. Peter's Basilica in the background.



This door showed different scenes from the life of Jesus Christ. Elora stood looking at each one (and was of course, full of questions), while Ollie took up his favorite position of sitting in front of doors...



The Pieta, by Michaelangelo.  He was also the architect of St. Peter's Basilica.



Oliver has learned to say "Cheese!" when we take his picture, which is very cute (and funny when he is saying, "cheese!" over and over again in a basilica...)



I don't have anything clever or witty to say about this Basilica. Suffice it to say, that it was huge, incredibly grand, and I have never seen more amazing church architecture than in Rome. I would have loved to have spent more time here to take it all in.





These gold grates in the floor looked down into the tomb of the popes. Elora and Oliver had to stop at every single grate in the floor to look into it and see if there were any people walking underneath. I spent more time looking at the floor than I normally would in a church because of the interesting windows into the underground...





The main dome inside St. Peter's.



We paid to climb up to the top of the cupola, which was totally worth the money. Part of the walk included a walk around the inside of the main dome of the Basilica, where we could admire all the mosaics up close. That is right. Mosaic. Most of the inside of the main dome was covered in them, not paintings. I have no idea how they created these when they did. Amazing stuff.



We took the elevator part way, but you still have to climb 320 steps after the elevator ride. Elora climbed them all by herself, and was very proud, telling me what a big girl she is. Here is the view from the top of the cupola, of St. Peter's Square, and overlooking the rest of Rome.



The last steps were so narrow that my feet (which are, granted, large feet, but still!) could barely fit on each step. Elora said her legs hurt, and she needed me to carry her all the way down. A little scary... but to her credit when I said "hold on tight and don't wiggle!" she actually listened. Chris got Ollie, who was a little less accomodating on the no wiggling rule. He wanted to climb all the stairs himself too, but his legs got a little too tired.



On the roof outside the cupola.



After the cupola, we set out to find the Sistine Chapel, which is actually right next to St. Peter's, but they won't let you in that way, they make you pay to go in the Vatican Museum and then wander around for awhile to find the Chapel. In case you are wondering, it is totally worth the money, this museum was amazing - statues, ceilings painted and sculptures on the ceilings, just amazing artwork everywhere you look!



One of the ceilings.



One of the passageways with the ceiling covered in sculptures and paintings.



??? We titled this sculpture, "coochy coochy coo!" How are we supposed to interpret this work of art?



More ceiling art... Chris liked this one because of the crazy demons that the angels are fighting.



In the museum are also the four Raphael rooms, which Raphael was hired to paint. This is the biggest, which is entirely covered with frescoes. Many of the rooms were actually being restored, so that was a little disappointing, but this one was an amazing room where we spent some time relaxing with the kids before renewing our search for the Sistine Chapel.



Okay, so I had never seen a picture of the Sistine Chapel, only pictures of portions of the ceiling, so I had no idea what to expect... but it wasn't this. The room is huge, and the paintings of Michaelangelo on the ceiling and one of the end walls cover 800 square meters. I was totally amazed to see this large vault completely covered in frescoes. And the famous ones that I expected to be front and center, The Creation, and Expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden, are tiny pieces of this huge fresco. Michaelangelo returned 25 years after completing the ceiling to paint another fresco on one of the end walls, that required walling up two windows and destroying two frescoes that were previously there. I don't have a pic of the end wall, just this one of the ceiling...



We spent so much time wandering around the Vatican that we needed to be heading back to our apartment. We stopped at a pizza shop recommended to us, and got "white pizza", which is actually just pizza crust with a sandwich on it. Random. Pretty good, but I like real pizza better! In Rome you have to actually check that the pizza you are ordering has sauce on it, more than half of them have no tomato sauce!!!!



There was a small terrace off of our apartment, and Elora had a great time playing hide and go seek with Oliver. So cute. She also made sure to hug all the plants.

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