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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

T & R : Rome and the Vatican City (12th out of 2 weeks in Italy)


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Vatican City merits most of one day, especially if you’re doing a guided tour of the Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica in one go. I do recommend getting a spot on a guided tour of Vatican City, partly because the museums are so vast it’s impossible to know what’s important to look at and what’s not (unless you’re a history buff or an art major) and partly because knowing the context of what you’re looking at makes it infinitely more meaningful.

A guided tour typically starts by 9 or 10 in the morning and can last 4-6 hours, usually with a break for lunch between a swing through the museum and a tour of the Basilica, and most guides arrange it so you’ll meet them in Vatican City. Be aware that St. Peter’s has a strict dress code (many churches in Italy do, but few enforce it to the degree that St. Peter’s does) – no exposed shoulders, knees, or midriffs are allowed. I’ve seen people walking through this most dignified cathedral wearing disposible paper clothing over their shorts and tank-tops after being forced to buy the paper coveralls from a nearby vendor at a ridiculous price. Don’t get caught in this situation.

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(Above) I manage to get a picture with the pope! Cool eh!

After your tour of the Vatican, you’ll still have daylight left and could visit a couple other things – like the nearby Castel Sant’Angelo (now a museum-shown below)

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and its bridge (lined with angel sculptures)

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, or the Campo dei Fiori (a popular food market by day and lively square by night) just across the river.

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Walk to the exquisite Pantheon – The Pantheon is free to enter, and it will give you some perspective later on for what Roman buildings look like when they’re more than just rubble.

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Wander around the inside and noticed the tombs of the painter Raphael, two Italian kings, and an Italian queen – then there should be no need to visit this monument again.
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Still charmed by Rome? Still hungry for more of those “bucket list” experiences? Get a scoop of gelato and stroll toward the Spanish Steps for a look at the city’s best-known staircase and for some top-notch people-watching. Then, with the change from your gelato, wind your way to theTrevi Fountain and wait your turn to do the ritualistic coin-throwing routine.

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The great thing about things like the Spanish Steps and the Trevi are that although the scenes there are always changing, they’re always the same.

After a tiring day, its time to rest as you may need to wake up early the next day to visit Naples and the city of Pompeii.







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