On our third stop on our Mediterranean Cruise, the cruise ship docked at Civitavecchia which is 70 miles away from Rome by bus. Once in Rome half of our group would visit the Colosseum,
and half would visit the Vatican. We chose the Vatican.
What was so surprising about our visit to Rome is how much the city and the Vatican has changed since 1997 when I was last there with a youth (teens) group. Although it might have been possible to get advance tickets with an admission time stamped on it, we were not aware of it.
It was nice to see that this time we could take advantage of some good, modern technology to make things go smoother. Thousands of people were expected to come to hear the Pope speak in St. Peter’s Square on the day we arrived as he does almost every Wednesday. We, however, were given time-stamped passes that were purchased ahead of time which allowed us to skip the line. We merely entered through a side entrance to the Vatican at our appointed time and followed our excellent Vatican guide. Another upgrade is the interactive board available to guides to give a preview of what we will be seeing in the various galleries as well as the Sistine Chapel. In the following picture, I am photographing over the shoulders of visitors as our guide explains our tour and merely touches the board to point out highlights of the Sistine Chapel.
Photography was not allowed in the Sistine Chapel, same as last time.
We listened to her via an audio earpiece as we learned about the Vatican. A not-so-positive new addition to the Vatican visit this time were the booths selling trinkets in almost all of the galleries.
Wonderful artwork lined the walls of each of the galleries leading to the Sistine Chapel. Frescoes and wall art were on every surface and we were allowed to photograph anywhere.
Foot traffic through the Vatican flows at a pretty good pace. It is difficult to slow down and take your time to admire all the ancient art. The same goes for the modern museum of Christian Art in the Vatican – slow down to take it all in or go when it is less crowded. Not an option for us on this tour.
Flat wall paintings which were painted to look like 3-dimensional raised woodwork.
The spiral staircase at the Vatican Museum was a work of art in itself.
Unfortunately, because of the crowds and time constraints, we were not able to visit the St. Peter’s Basilica or St. Peter’s Square.
After a walk to a wonderful Roman lunch, we passed by this street scene.
We continued our tour to the Spanish Steps. According to Wikipedia, the Spanish Steps are a set of steps in Rome climbing a steep slope between the Piazza di Spagna at the base and Piazza Trinità dei Monti, dominated by the Trinita dei Monti church at the top. The stairway of 135 steps linked the Bourbon Spanish Embassy, and the Trinità dei Monti church that was under the patronage of the Bourbon kings of France, both located above, to the Holy See in Palazzo Monaldeschi located below. The stairway was designed by architects Sanctis and Specchi.
Movie buffs might remember Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck at the Spanish Steps in the movie Roman Holiday, 1953. I think she is eating an ice cream cone there. Also, the Steps were a prominent feature in the film, “The Talented Mr. Ripley” starring Matt Damon in the title role. Below: The view from the top of the Spanish Steps shows a typical mid-day street scene in Rome. The Spanish Steps is the widest staircase in Europe.
Modern Day Frescoes – Prada Ads are paintings on the side of buildings.
The Trevi Fountain is huge marble sculpture of mermen, seahorses, and cascading pools all surrounding the sea god Neptune. But the marble works are not that old, compared to the rest of Rome. In 1732, Pope Clement XII held a competition to find an architect to design a new fountain for the aqueduct that had been pumping fresh water into Rome since 19 B.C. The design was awarded to Nicola Salvi, but The Trevi Fountain was completed in 1762 by the architect Giovanni Pannini.
Tourists also visit the Trevi Fountain to toss a coin. Tradition says that if you toss a coin into the Trevi, then you will be assured a return trip to the Eternal City.
Next up – Naples, Pompeii and Sorrento, Italy