Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Travel to Rome: (Musei Vaticani) Vatican Museums

On Christmas Eve morning we decided that we should go to the grocery store that was near the hotel to pick up some food just in case we could not find any restaurants that were open on Christmas day. There was a small refrigerator in the hotel room so we were able to buy some cold cuts and cheese.

I was able to buy a large chunk of my favorite cheese, Parmigiano-Reggiano, for 2.99 Euros. Here it would be around $10! It was heavenly! I also bought Provolone cheese. It is a beautiful day that starts with cheese!

After our shopping trip we took the hotel shuttle to the the Vatican to see the museums and that includes the Sistine chapel. The bus ride was rather interesting because you see the people in Rome drive CRAZY! I know the cars are tiny and there are many moped, motorcycles, but still two lanes sometimes managed to be four!

The motorcycles would weave in and out between cars and squeeze through the tiniest spaces to get up front when the traffic light was red. Then the bus would stop about 6 inches away from the car in front of him and when they didn’t go fast enough he honk or flashed his lights…once while talking on his cell phone. Maybe we shouldn’t sit in the front next time! :)

Once at the Vatican City, we walked over to the post office to get stamps for the postcards I bought on the first day, no luck though. The Vatican is a separate country from Italy and has their own postal service. Their drop boxes are yellow and the rest of the ones we saw in Rome where red.

Poste Vaticane

Before going to the museums we saw this message on the jumbo screens they had in St. Peter's Square and I knew what it said! It was in Italian and I actually understood it! All my studying paid off to a point.

I know what it said st peters square

It says, "Be advised that today at 2 PM the basilica will close to the public to prepare for the celebration tonight." They had to prepare for Christmas Eve midnight Mass. This is the Mass that the Pope started two hours early and then got attacked by Susanna Maiolo at the end.

There is a wall that surrounds the Vatican and to get to the museums you have to walk around to the back area. Amazingly enough there was no graffiti on it, although there was vegetation in places. We knew we were on the right track to the museum.

Direction to Museum on Vatican Wall

You can't see past the wall so suddenly you are there.

Front door of Vatican Musuem

We really had no idea what we were walking into. We knew the Sistine chapel was in there and we would see it, but we had no idea that it was one of the the last things we would see after walking through several hallways and galleries. We saw some really neat things.

These next two pictures are not sculptures but two-dimensional paintings.

painting of columns vatican musuem

painting of columns vatican musuem2

I really liked this view from a Vatican Museums window of more of the museums.

looking out window at vatican museum

Stained glass picture of Jesus and Mary. I love the lack of color on this. It was different from most other stained glass.

stained glass mary and jesus off cross

We walked into this hallway and we both thought that we were in the Sistine chapel. There were pictures on the ceiling and really neither of us had seen the chapel ceiling, only knew it had the Creation of Man painting. So we were amazed to learn that we were in the Gallery of Maps and the ceiling wasn't even the main attraction!

Gallery of Maps on way to Sistine Chapel

We did make it into the Sistine chapel and it was amazing. I couldn't take pictures in there and didn't even try to sneak any. I am a good girl! It was somewhat crowded in there, so I can only imagine what it is like in the summer! There were museum attendants standing around repeating over and over, "No photos! No talking!"

I was listening to a free audio tour by Rick Steves about the chapel and Frankie had purchased one of the audio tours from the museum. He didn't even use it. He was sweating by this time because it was warm in there and because he exerted energy from all the walking. He said he was going to go find a place to sit down for a little while. I told him to not go far. I was scared we would get separated and I wouldn't be able to find him ever again!

I continued to listen and stare up at this amazing ceiling. When I was done I walked into a section where there were places to sit. I looked around quickly for Frankie but didn't see him. I do admit that I didn't look that hard because it was crowded in there and I wanted out. I really don't like big crowds.

I assumed he had moved out to a different place to sit and so I started walking out to go find him. I walked and walked and walked. As I walked I started to get worried and more worried and more worried. I just knew I lost my husband! I tried to keep the panic at bay by telling myself that I knew he would NOT leave the museum without me. If it were not for that thought I might have just sat down and started crying.

I continued my search to no avail. We had said that if we did get separated that we would met up again at the beginning. I didn't want to get all the way there and him not be there. I knew we had walked far and I didn't want to circle it all back around to somehow miss him. I stopped and started walking back to the Sistine chapel. This was of course against the flow of all foot traffic. So it is probably a VERY good thing we were not there in the summer or I might not have had the chance to go back.

I fought my way back all the way to the chapel. I looked around the sitting area twice. No Frankie! I decide to look in the chapel in the first section. I looked on the right side, nothing. I then went to the left side. I was on tiptoes trying to see over this half wall and could barely see over it. Finally, finally, finally, I saw him. He was looking around trying to find me. I stood near the door so he could see me. When he came through the door I grabbed his arm and didn't let go until we were out of the chapel!

He said he did exactly what I asked him to do. He went right into the next room and sat down. It was my fault for not looking for him very hard!

We finished the tour of the Vatican museums and was ready for more sight seeing. To get out of the Vatican Museums you have to go down the spiral staircase. It in itself was beautiful, but then again, I am a big fan of spirals.

spiral staircase

Spiral Stairway in Vactican Musuems

More sites means more blogs to come! Stay tuned.