Thursday 16 June
Today we popped along to the Pope’s Gaff but unfortunately he wasn’t in. The journey in to Rome this morning was thankfully uneventful and was surprisingly not mega packed as I was expecting it to be full of rush hour commuters having left at 8.10.
The Vatican has been an independent state since 1929 after reaching an uneasy agreement with Mussolini, before that it had ruled Rome since 1870 now and has a fixed population of around 800 people but with Millions of visitors each year.
When we arrived at the Vatican Museums there was an unbelievable queue for people wanting to buy tickets. Fortunately for us we could skip the line as I had already booked tickets through the internet and we went right to the front. We weren’t allowed in straight away as it was just before 9.00 and our tickets were for 10.00 so we went for a hot drink and breakfast before returning at 9.30 when we were allowed in. Once inside I had to exchange my voucher for the real tickets but again no queue for us.
The Vatican Museums are many and are full of thousands and thousands of items including paintings, sculptures, tapestries etc. Fortunately for you lot I didn’t take a photo of every one. In fact there is so much to see, we only had a quick scan of most of it. if you took a minute for each item then it would probably take weeks to look at it all.
After a few hours in the Museums we finally ended up in the Sistine Chapel which is beautifully adorned with paintings that Michelangelo had painted but was fairly small and absolutely crammed with people. I had picked up another tip here that instead of taking the normal exit which would have meant a 15 -20 minute walk around the outside of the Vatican walls and then a queue back into St Peters Square and the Basilica, there is an exit that only organised tours can use. We tagged on the back of a tour going through and were waved quickly through. This route leads you directly outside St Peters Basilica.
We were more impressed with St Peters Basilica than the Sistine Chapel as it is massive and full of beautiful sculptures, mosaic ceilings, paintings etc. Michelangelo’s paintings in the Sistine Chapel are stunning but the actual building is quite straightforward in our opinion.
On exiting St Peters Basilica we ended up obviously in St Peters Square which is huge but gets filled up pretty much every time the Pope pops out onto his Balcony to give a sermon which is usually Wednesdays and Sundays.
Having been on our feet for several hours it was time for a sit down in a nearby outside street cafe to rest our weary legs.
We wandered then for a while, mainly for my benefit to look for a beer shop I believed to be on a particular street. The street was very long and after walking along the whole of it, we found that the shop didn’t exist. Time once more for a sit down when we finally managed to find another little cafe.
Mouse and I left the girls sitting in a park opposite the large Courts whilst we wandered off to take photos of the Castel Sant’Angelo and the river Tiber before rejoining them and crossing the river to find a nice restaurant in which to have a meal for tea.
After dining we returned back to “Cis” and chilled for a few hours sitting in the cooling evening before calling it a night and going to our beds.