Italy Vacation 2003
Day 3, Tuesday, Oct 7th

This is the first full day of touring and boy is it a busy one! In the morning we start with The Vatican in all its glory. In the afternoon the Colosseum in all its glory and in the evening we did the Spanish Steps and had dinner in a restaurant on Piazza del Popolo. After looking at all the pictures available, I thought it would be best to break the day up into at least two and maybe three pages.

Here is the map of Rome to show where we are today. The Vatican is on the far left and the Hotel Mediterrano is on the right.

The Morning, The Vatican

After very long day and late night yesterday, we had to be up and to breakfast by 6:30 am. We had to be at the Vatican Museum before 8:00. Even with the special group entrances, you still had to be there in lots of time. As you will see in the first picture below, we weren't the first ones there. This day the Pope was going to Pompeii to visit a special church. While we were in this line, we saw the helicopter coming to pick up the Pope to take him there. We'll be in Pompeii tomorrow but we won't see the church he's going to.

The above mentioned line at the entrance to the Vatican Museums.
Some general pictures of the inside if the Museum
More of the ceilings.
A close up of one of the ceiling paintings.
This statue has some important history associated with it but I don't remember it.
The same goes for this statue.
Another part of the museum has a collection of tapestries. Here is a sample.
A close up of another tapestry.
The ornate ceiling of the Map Room.
One of the maps in the map room.
A view of St. Peters Basilica that you don't normally see. This is from one of the Map Room windows. From the same window a view of the Vatican Gardens. A couple that was here a few days earlier thought they saw the Pope here.
Just before the entrance to the Sistine Chapel are these keys to what you will see.
Pictures of any kind are not allowed in the chapel so this is the best I could do. This is an enlargement from the previous image.
This really poor quality enlargement from the image above is of the Last Judgement which is situated on the wall above the main alter. This bronze door is located on the front of the Basilica I think. It's only opened infrequently, something like every 10 years and only for the month of December. Walking through it is supposed to give you good luck if I remember correctly.

Last Minute Addition

Just as I was completing this page I found some pictures from my previous trip to Rome. It was on one of those "if it's Tuesday it must be Belgium" trips of Europe. I couldn't remember how long ago it was but the pictures (colour slides in this case) are dated. It turns out it was July/August 1983 just over 20 years ago. It was also my first trip to Europe.

It seems that back then I was like many tourists still are and took pictures in places I shouldn't have. One of those places was the Sistine Chapel. Over the years I've learned to respect that if they say no pictures they most often have a good reason for it. It usually has to do with copyright or more commonly the effects that flash pictures seem to have on anything painted or woven. To simplify things they just say no picture at all.

Anyway, back to Rome and the Sistine Chapel. The 2 pictures below were taken August 4th, 1983 (as you'll see from the dates), which was approximately 10 years before the big controversial restoration was done on the ceiling. (Note: The 2 images were very dark and I've done my best to brighten and colour match them.) I can tell you that what you see now is substantially cleaner, clearer and has much more vivid colours than seen here. These do however give you a better idea of what you see that what I included above. It's still pretty impressive, even dirty.

Here is a combined version of these 2 images.

After leaving the Sistine Chapel you walk by the bronze door in the right picture above and then you walk outside across the front of St Peter's Basilica. The wide picture below is actually 2 pictures merged into one showing St Peter's Square from the front entrance of the Basilica. The perspective is probably a bit forced in this (particularly on the left side) but it does give you an idea of what it looks like.

We continue on now with the Basilica itself.

The facade of the Basilica.
Michelangelo's Pieta, created when he was in his early 20's. It shows the crucified Jesus in his mother Mary's arms. Mary would have been middle aged at this time but is shown younger to convey her purity.
These next few pictures will give you some indication of the huge size of the Basilica. The centre area where the seating normally is. (I think the seating was outside in the square.)
This shows the inlay in the marble floor.
The famous 13th century bronze of St Peter. Truly devout people stop and the kiss the feet. The feet were very shiny.
This well known feature is called the baldacchino by Bernini. It's 96 ft high and was made in 1524. It is located over the Papal altar which is over St Peters tomb. A slightly different view of the baldacchino. There is a story that the bronze to make this was stripped from the Pantheon, but this is unproven.
One of the neatest pictures I've seen so far is this one of Michelangelo's famous dome. It's approximately 114m or 375ft high.
Another one of the high altars.
I believe this is the sculpture of Pope Clement XIII. It has a door at the bottom to enter a small chapel.
One of the Swiss Guards at St Peter's

With the inside portion of the Vatican tour completed here are just a few pictures of St Peter's Square and the Basilica.

The third window from the left in the top row is the one the Pope talks to the throngs of people in the square below from.
The Basilica from approximately 1/2 way down the square.
This one is from the edge of the square.
In this still video frame you can see some of the people who climbed the 491 steps to the top of the dome to see the view. There is an elevator for the first 171 if you wish!!!!

This completes the Vatican part of the tour. We had lunch here and then headed off to the Colosseum.

On to Day 3, The Afternoon!!!

Originally Created: January 2nd, 2004
Final Edit: February 17, 2004 2:26 PM