Monday morning we got up kind of early because we wanted to eat at Campo di’Fiori Market before we went over to Vatican City. Our third country of the trip 🙂 We took the bus, the very packed bus, which means we started our day on our feet – and would pretty much stay on our feet the entire day. The market was great, it was no Barcelona Market, but it was still fun. We got nuts and fruit cups and fruit smoothies and it was pretty delicious.From there off to a different bus to take to the Vatican. Oh, the Vatican. So interesting to think how powerful these Popes were. They wielded power like kings. The crowds started almost as soon as we were off the bus. Some people were waiting in a line that wrapped all the way around the Vatican country. Just standing there in the hot sun. I couldn’t imagine. Luckily we had timed tickets so we could skip most of the line. From there we found a bathroom (because in Rome you use it if you can find it, because after a nasty hot stop in a McDonalds bathroom where they had A SINGLE bathroom, we didn’t want to do that again – seriously they need more bathrooms and more drinking fountains in Rome. It’s like a cycle of dehydration they are encouraging!)
and then we got the kids audioguides (SO GLAD WE DID THIS, it was the only thing that kept them sane). Except that the kids audioguides didn’t match up with the Rick Steve audio guides that we had downloaded so that made the first part kind of frustrating following Blake around and he wouldn’t let me listen to what was going on. By the time we got to the Egyptian room I was, like, Done!!! Tara noticed and soothed me which was nice.(But we did see a n unwrapped Mummy, which was soooo cool) From the Egyptian room our audio tour actually started in the Pine Cone Court yard where we could see statues like Apollo Belvedere and Laocoon(guy wrestling the snakes). They were pretty powerful and made better by the audioguide which would tell you the story and tell you that Michaelangelo loved these statues and would use them for inspiration in the Sistine chapel, which we would soon see.
So we joined the throngs (and I mean THRONGS) of people for the one way tour which led us through some fancy purple stone that only comes from a single mountain in Egypt – a statue of Herculues, and other assorted things.
Then down a LONG room of tapestry’s which is pretty amazing considering that every single thread had to be placed to match a lifesize drawing which was sent to the loomists in Belgium. Then down a hall of maps. And then to the Raphael rooms which is where it got crazy!!! It was like everyone in the entire building, thousands of people were all funneling to this one point at the same time. In the Raphael rooms is where the audioguide got interesting again, but we lost the story (because one of the paintings was covered by a shrowd) and so we were confused and some of us just went with the crowds and Tara stayed back to listen to the audio guide and admire the School to Athens. That’s how the “great Vatican Separation of 2018” started. Susan and I and the boys went to the Sistine Chapel. The Sistine Chapel was pretty amazing. There were thousands of people in there and every so often the guard would get on the loudspeaker and yell SILENCE! SILENCIO! And take off your hat! And no pictures! Luckily we found a patch of ground in a corner where we could sit and admire and listen to the Sistine Chapel audioguide which was fantastic.
It walked us through the history, the paintings, and the change in Michelangelo’s temper from when he painted the creation ceiling to the Last Judgement wall, when he painted the last judgement he was more skeptical and cynical and you could see it in the style of his painting. The kids even enjoyed this as they listened to their audioguides and could point out where Michelangelo had painted his critic (to look like a jackass and being eaten by a snake) and even his self portrait which was someone else holding his skin. From here we were ready to be done. We had been on our feet looking at art for HOURS. So we were texting with everyone and we talked about meeting just outside the chapel Well, it turns out there are two exits from Sistine Chapel. Strangely, one exit takes you back to the beginning of the museum (again, all one way, no backing up!) and one exit takes you right to St Peters Basilica, which is where we wanted to go! Here’s Tara, who was lost from the group for over an hour. She only stayed in the Chapel for about 5 minutes because she thought everyone else had exited. They hadn’t. Well, all the people, including me and the boys and Susan who took the wrong exit had to go ALL THE WAY back to the beginning, out of the Vatican Museums, and walk all around the Vatican to get back to St Peter’s square where we had to go through security again! And everyone who took the “right” (literal and figurative) exit got spit out right on St Peter’s Square! It was like a mile long detour! But we eventually met up with everyone, even though we were frustrated to have not chosen the lucky door #2. From there it seems we couldn’t stay together if we tried! We were like the same ends of a magnet, which just couldn’t be kept together.
One tired boy, one silly boy. That was a trip theme
We went into St Peter’s which was pretty impressive. Yes it was crowded. But it was SO BIG that it didn’t seem crowded. We viewed Michelangelo’s famous Pieta and watched a procession of priests and Pilgrims walk through the Basilica to the alter to pray
We sat on some pews in the “prayer zone” next to the dove and got reprimanded for using my phone (even though I was just trying to text people!). And then we explored the papal crypts which were kind of cool, although it spit us out outside. From there we somehow found everyone again and decided to climb the stairs to the top of the dome. So we went to get in line and I swear we hadn’t walked 50 feet when we were separated again! Which was crazy. But we found each other and got in line and then found out that they only take Cash! We emptied our pockets but still did not have enough for everyone. People started volunteering to back out, but then turned out we had enough cash for everyone but one person. So Susan didn’t go. But she was on the entrance side with us and the guard was being mean to her saying “too many people, you have to leave” which was mean. We sent Blake with her to get some food and meet us at the bottom. The climb to the top was Crazy! 551 steps. And when you get to the top it gets so Narrow! At one point the passageway is actually tilted, like you are walking through a dr seuss building! That was crazy and I think that was making josh a little light headed. The very top of the dome was impressive. You could look out on the square. But at this point I was ROASTING in my pants. You had to wear long pants to the Vatican. Strangely there was a snack bar on the roof like half way down where we stopped and took pictures of the giant apostles and a cool shot of the dome.
Then alllllll the way down. We changed into our shorts which felt amazing. Michael had been holding out some nuts – we were starving. It was surprisingly easy to find Blake and Susan. And they showed us where they had bought some food, a place that even accepted credit cards. We ate our salami sandwiches that looked kind of gross but were actually pretty good. (Probably because the only thing we’d eaten all day was a fruit smoothie from the market at 8am.) Complete with gatorade which was delicious for the first while and then tasted like cough medicine. From there it was time for the Colosseum. As we walked, Blake spotted these splat pigs for 1 Euro. He’d already purchase one the day before and decided he needed a pig family. Tara told him we didn’t have time to stop just then and that we’d probably come across them later . Well….he pitched such a fit that we had a hard time calming him down. Poor kid. He’s walked and walked and all he wanted was a pig! Tara told him stories about the magic of NYC and how all big cities have magic. She said if he just believed in the magic of the city that Rome would pull through for him. Not 10 seconds later we saw another shop with those pigs. He purchased two and was as happy as could be. But, his cynical little self wouldn’t admit to the magic of Rome. He said it was just a coincidence. We thought the subway would be a great way to ride but then of course we had no cash for tickets and the machines don’t take cards. And the trains were CROWDED, like packed crowded. So turned out that the subway actually wasn’t that fun to ride. The Colosseum in the evening was perfect.
There were no crowds, it was cool, and we could just sit and listen to our audio/video tours. We had rick steves audio guides which told us about the games and the stadium. The boys had a “video guide” we purchased which came complete with video clips from movies like sparticus. They said it was sufficiently violent to keep there attention and then some. It was pretty amazing to imagine the awning, the marble seats, the thousands of animals and people that would die in a matter of days sometimes. Such an interesting time. Only 500 years the roman empire lasted. Rising for 200, peaking for 200, collapsing for 100. Our american experiment is just over 200 years old! Amazing. Hopefully it lasts a lot lot longer.
From there was one of the more interesting times of the trip. We had planned to taxi back to trevi fountain so we could go to a place where you could build your own Magnum bars and where we would go to dinner. We even looked up a couple delicious dinner places. So we taxi’d over no problem (the driver kept saying, “Colorado, cow boy, boom boom”) and ate our delicious magnum bars. Choose your ice cream, choose your dipping, your toppings, and your drizzle. Yum. Then off to dinner, but it was packed. “9 people? Where I sit you? Where?” Okay okay. I get it. We looked at some backup places but then ended up Taxing back to our house. The taxi driver was very grumpy because we had 5 people. Also, Natalie’s driver never started his meter and then charged them a fortune. Darn drivers ripping off tourists! We walked to the restaurant our Airbnb host recommended, CLOSED. Then just started walking down the via murulena where we would hopefully find some dinner. We found a place, it wasn’t very good, but we found a place. We ate pizza and pasta and even found a salad. Tara’s salmon fettuccini Alfredo wasn’t very good. Susan’s margarita was good. Josh had a good cheese pizza. Halle’s noodles and sausage were good. And Blake even added an order of spaghetti with bacon which was quite delicious. Everyone ate everyones and it was pretty good. My buffalo mozzarella pizza was the exception. not good. We came home and showered and crashed. Except Blake, who seemed super hyper. There were shot glasses in the fridge and I started filling them up with Fanta (Which Halle said tasted like Emergen-C) and giving them to Susan and others who would visit. Well then Blake comes in and takes the game to a whole other level with no encouraging. He starts downing shots of Fanta and then flipping his glass upside down. Where did you learn that I asked? “Paddington 1, when the grandma does shots with the security guard.” Okay, so the things kids pick up from movies. And he had picked it up well and perfectly. I swear he only watched that once! Blake was probably up past the time we were, he was bouncing off the walls.