We left the ship about 9:00 on Friday morning. Our pre-arranged transport was outside and we piled in with all our luggage. It was about an hour and a half into Rome. We got to the hotel well before check-in, so took a walk around our area and then grabbed some lunch. People scattered, some walking much farther around the city, some getting settled into our rooms. We had dinner across the street at the Est! Est! Est! restaurant. And so far we have not had a bad Italian meal! Tracy and I often have shared an entree and had salads on the side. We keep finding restaurants with a door on the street and steps down to a small dining room. We also eat in the sidewalk cafes.
|Unloading cheese on the street|
Saturday morning we were up early. We were to meet for our Sistine Chapel tour at 7:15 across from the Vatican Museums entrance. Since our hotel breakfast only opened at 6:30, we had a quick bite. The hotel called a taxi that could carry all six of us, which was convenient. And we arrived in plenty of time. The tour guide gave us all radio devices so we could hear what she said as we walked along. It was very nice to be the first group in line for the early-bird tours. We walked through many corridors and flights of steps to get to the chapel. This tour was allowed in before it opened to the general public. While we were in the chapel, there were only about 40 people there, although by the end of our time (about a half hour), it was beginning to be more crowded. What a fantastic experience. I highly recommend doing it this way. The frescoes in the chapel itself are somewhat familiar, especially the iconic panel of God creating Adam. It was an overwhelming experience to be there and soak it all in. No photos are allowed in the chapel; the Japanese company who sponsored the restoration owns the copyright to all reproductions (at least that's what our guide said). When we were there in 1971, the entire room was covered with scaffolding, as the restoration was going on. AND there were lots of people!
We thought we would go into the Basilica following our tour, so we walked quite a way around the wall of Vatican City to the entrance to St. Peter’s Square. The line was unbelievably long, so we walked toward the river and the Castel St. Angelo, a rather forbidding structure. By this time, I was ready to head back, so Dan and I picked up a taxi to the hotel. The others walked and saw lots of famous sights along the way.
|Ceiling in Vatican Museum|
|Walls and ceiling in Hall of Maps|
|Postcards of the Pope|
|St. Peter's Square - entrance to right, line all the way around!|
|View of St. Peter's|