Tuesday, January 31, 2012

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


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.



(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)


and its bridge (lined with angel sculptures)


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


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.


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.

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.


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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