Thursday, July 3, 2014

April 15, 2014–Roma, Our last day.

This Travelpod entry was written by Lizzie and is found below in italics. Any new comments are in regular text.

Our Last Day!! Boo!
Lizzie here. Sadly, it is our last day in Italy! It was a perfect day – Lizzie style. (doug: see? They aren't all doug days)2014-04-14-23-16-16_IMG_1968

We got up early to meet for our Vatican Museum Tour. We had to meet our guide at 7:45 am so we left our room around 7 am and walked over there. I assumed there would be MUCH more foot traffic and estimated extra travel time so we were there almost 30 minutes early. Ha. Early bird and all. 2014-04-15-00-13-13_IMG_1980

(doug: when she says she expected MUCH more foot traffic, that would mean she expected ANY foot traffic. Barely anyone was on the road that early. If you want to go to the Vatican museum with no lines, just get up early. No one else does evidently)


We found our group and learned the group was 9 people. Awesome – nice and small. We gathered the group and headed into the tour group line. While in line our tour guide, Eva, talked about the Sistine Chapel and asked us if we wanted to go there first and then do the rest of the tour. Me and another lady who had been in before were nodding our heads in agreement because we both know how packed the Sistine Chapel can be. We were in line when the Vatican opened at 8 am and headed through security and into another country.


Once through security we headed through the famous museum and straight into the Sistine Chapel. I must admit I enjoyed it more this time around. I am not sure why, but maybe because it was so much less crowded than I remember it or maybe it was because our guide spent quite some time talking about some of the details in the paintings.


(doug: in particular, she pointed out God’s butt – which is almost directly over the altar. She noted that it may have been a joke by Michelangelo that when the Pope looks up to the heavens, he has to stare at God’s butt. Interesting theory, but I think it’s also my favorite scene on the entire ceiling. She also mentioned that there was a cardinal that was outraged at the artwork Michelangelo had done after something like 4 or 5 years into the project – he disliked all the nudity and thought it was indecent to have in a church. At that point, Michelangelo worked one of the ugly, tortured souls in the Final Judgment wall into a portrait of that cardinal. When he complained further about that, evidently, the Pope said there was nothing that could be done about it and that’s what is painted there today. The guy with the snake tail wrapped around his body in the bottom right is the cardinal. I’m not sure which one it is, but it definitely looks like a portrait of someone)


From there we made a BIG circle and came back to the start of the tour. We went through the rooms with our head phone (yes, singular head phone) listening to Eva describe the priceless works of art. My favorite was the mile stone column used as a mile marker from Rome. All roads lead to Rome and the center of Rome was Mile 0. From there the miles went up.2014-04-15-01-02-15_IMG_2005

We walked through the Sistine Chapel again and then headed to St. Peters Basilica. We admired the Pieta again and a lot of things we had already learned about from Rick Steves. 2014-04-15-02-17-06_IMG_2022

The tour took us into the Crypt where we saw previous Pope’s burial spots and could look up through the grates to see the magnificent dome.
From there our tour ended and we found ourselves near the front doors of the Basilica. It was then we noticed the MASSIVE line of people waiting to climb the cupola (dome) of St. Peters. I climbed it in the past and it was remarkable, but there was no way I would stand in that line to do it. Then we exited the Basilica stairs and saw the line for people to get into the Basilica. It was about 11:30 am and the line wrapped around St. Peter’s Square. AROUND THE ENTIRE SQUARE. I was in such shock about the length of the line that I made Doug video it so you all could see it. Unreal.

THE LINE to get into the Vatican. Unreal.

Proof that EVERYONE wants photos with the Swiss Guard!


We exited and found a great restaurant near the Vatican for lunch. We were the first people in there at 11:40 am, but the place was packed by the time we exited. 2014-04-15-04-20-48_IMG_20402014-04-15-04-21-16_IMG_20432014-04-15-04-21-10_IMG_2042

After lunch, you guessed it, Doug got gelato! We went back to the spot he had his favorite dark chocolate gelato on Saturday night after the traffic fiasco. As far as I can remember, this is the first gelato repeat this entire trip.


Lizzie’s wall of happiness:2014-04-15-05-08-34_IMG_2046

We headed back to the room for a siesta…see the theme for a Lizzie day: large church, nap, and food. While taking a nap a serious rain storm woke me up. The thunder was pretty intense and then I heard it rain even harder. I woke up and asked Doug, "Is that hail?" 2014-04-15-06-42-35_IMG_2048I hopped out of bed and to the window to find pea sized to bouncy ball sized hail hitting the ground, cars, tourists and a fancy Ferrari that drove by. We sat at the window and watched the hail for a bit. I think Doug got some video.

Hailing! Italy!

The most entertaining part is that every time it would thunder, we would hear a large group of girls squeal. It was comical for us, probably not for them.
We napped during all the rain – what good luck. I would have been super whiney if I were all wet and hailed on. After it stopped raining, we headed back to St. Peters.


They were offering confession in many different languages the whole time we have been here. I worked up the nerve and went into the confession area. I left Doug with the camera and he headed to St. Peter’s crucifixion site. I walked to each wooden box and read the languages to make sure I could find an English speaking priest. I found a sign that said English and knelt in the window…and waited….and waited. After a minute, I got out and realized the light was not on….ha! No priest. I moved on hoping someone had seen it and been entertained. I walked around a corner and found THE LIONS! 2014-04-15-10-20-45_IMG_2059

I had been looking for the two large lions everywhere in the Vatican since we visited it on Sunday. They were hiding around a corner where all the confessions were taking place. Sadly, I had left the bag with doug so I did not have the camera! Doh!2014-04-15-10-23-55_IMG_2060

Next to the lions was another English speaking confessional and this one had the green light on. Two wins! I confessed my sins, said my penance, emerged with a clean heart and went to see the lions again. I went to get Doug and the camera, but as I exited the guard told me the confession area was closing. I grabbed the camera and sweet talked him to letting me back in. He said no pictures, but I had to take one! I am terrible…do I have to go back to confession?

I snuck 2 photos and thanked the guard for letting me back in. Doug and I stayed in the Basilica for a while longer. More Pieta and JPJII time. I just love this church. I could see it every single day. 2014-04-15-10-29-21_IMG_2066





Finally, we left and realized we had just closed down the Basilica. Side note: One of my favorite things about St. Peters is all of the priests and nuns walking around. I miss seeing nuns regularly.2014-04-15-03-20-55_IMG_2039

This is what I imagine the gates of Heaven look like…


These are the columns of the Basilica. They don’t look that big….


Until you put a human in the photo and realize the scope…

We walked back to our room and decided to pack up for the trip back home. We video chatted with Mom and Dad for a bit and then packed up all of our stuff. Somehow, my luggage is a bit lighter than on the way here! Winning! (Note: I was wrong. It ended up being heavier as I did not account for a few things.)2014-04-15-11-43-46_IMG_2127

After we figured out all of our bag situations, we headed out for dinner at a Rick Steve’s recommended dinner spot (It was a local dinner location. We were the only Americans in there and it was packed!). Bonus that a recommended gelato stand was next door. We headed out for dinner – it was delicious. Doug then grabbed some gelato (no shocker there) and we walked back. The restaurant and gelato stand were almost behind the Vatican so it was a good healthy walk. Uphill. Fitbit update: 19k steps, 41 stairs.

Side note: the Vatican’s roads confuse me. Some are on top of the wall and some are much lower. I would love to see a real street plan/layer plan of that secret area.

We are now back in the hotel room enjoying our last night here in Italy. It has been a great trip. Doug did a GREAT job planning it. Thank you, Doug, for a fabulous trip.

We fly out tomorrow at 10:30 am (missing the Papal address we had tickets for! Boo!) and should land in Atlanta around 5 pm. We love you all. Thanks for following.

Love and Hugs, Lizzie
P.S. The photo count is over 2100 plus videos. Ciao!

Lizzie Fitbit: 19,271
Doug Fitbit: gone. We left it in Roma.

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