Our audience with the Pope and other adventures!

Vatican City Travel Blog

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Ponte Sant'Angelo, with the Castel Sant'Angelo (Hadian's Mausoleum" in the background.

Months before our actual trip to Italy I applied for tickets to an audience with the Pope (John Paul II). the Pope used to hold an audience every Wednesday, health, weather and his acutal presence at the Vatican were the only exceptions. These tickets were free but you had to apply for them ahead of time and get permission from the Prefect. I had assumed that you had to have these tickets to get in, but they were actually for the seats in the front and I believe you were actually able to receive a personal blessing from the Pope. You may be asking yourself, "If you had the tickets how come you still don't know what they were for?" Well I'll explain that later....

The morning of the audience we overslept! I panicked because we had planned on walking all the way from our hotel to Vatican City, which is about 3 miles through winding streets and perilous street crossings! We had a discussion and decided that we were still going to go for it and if we didn't make it, then hey, we didn't make and not to let it ruin our trip! So we set out for Vatican City!!

One of the most memorable things about walking to the audience with the Pope was walking across the Ponte Sant'Angelo.

Daniel on the adjacent bridge looking over the Tiber to the Castel Sant'Angelo and Ponte Sant'Angelo. With the infamous water bottle that was soon to lose it's cap!
It's a gorgeous three-arched bridge that was built in 134-139AD by the Emperor Hadrian, that spans the Tiber River and plops you right in front of the Castel Sant'Angelo, or the Mausoleum of Hadrian. The angels lining the bridge are the real attraction here. They are beautiful and inspiring! What a way to cross the Tiber!

Having arrived at St. Peter's Square (Piazza San Pietro) about an hour too late to pick up our tickets we had resigned ourselves to not being able to go to the audience and figured we would just tool around Vatican City since we'd made the journey there.  But to our pleasant surprise we were still able to get in! You didn't need the tickets to get into the general audience area. So after going through security and having a confusing Italian only conversation with the guards (which I might add we don't speak beyond Grazie, ciao!) we figured out that all bottle caps had to be thrown away but you could take the actual water bottle in with you- which only served to confuse us more.

me, St. Peter's Square.
We were able to get pretty decent seats and relax until the Pope made his appearance. What a great people watching day! There were people from all over the globe there, speaking every language imaginable. The Pope finally appeared and our seats ended up being better than we thought because he passed us not six feet away in his little Pope-mobile on his short ride to the "stage" set up on the steps of St. Peter's Basilica.

The Pope proceeded to address everyone in Latin and the various languages that he was fluent in. After acknowledging the many groups that had come all the way to Italy to see the Pope he did a general prayer and blessing for the crowd. Daniel chose the exact moment of the blessing to bend down and tie his shoe! He was concerned that this meant he didn't get the blessing but I assured him that he did and besides I was sitting up to receive it so that was good enough for both of us!

After the audience was over we thought we'd go into the Basilica and see that, but because the Pope was in residence security had closed it to all tourists.

St. Peter's Square, (Piazza San Pietro) just after we arrived for the audiencew with the Pope.
We decided to make the trek back to Vatican City the next day and do St. Peter's and the Vatican Museum. 

Back to Roma!

Most of the things that we saw in Rome were found while just wandering the city. I think the one that shocked us most was when we just stumbled on the Roman Forum, finding a back way in through a small gate and down a hill. We had no idea what we had walked into since we were neither expecting it nor did we go in through the traditional entrance.  I had to get out my guide book just to figure out what we'd stumbled upon! I think my favorite thing in the Roman Forum (Foro Romano) was the House of the Vestal Virgins because it was still landscaped and set a bit off the main path.

Pope John Paul II speaks from the stairs of St. Peter's Basilica.
It was quiet and beautiful, but there is a barrier keeping you out so you can only admire the garden from the sideline which I suppose is best because it stays beautiful and clean that way.

One of the most memorable things about the Roman Forum was not the buildings, the amazing Curia, the Arch of Septimius Severus- it was the DUST! It blew from all directions hitting your arms and legs and if you were unlucky enough to not be wearing sunglasses, it also got in your eyes! It completely ruined our time there and after viewing the Curia we beat our hasty retreat because poor Daniel's eyes couldn't take it anymore. Having said that, the Roman Forum is worth your time and a visit!

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Ponte SantAngelo, with the Castel…
Ponte Sant'Angelo, with the Caste…
Daniel on the adjacent bridge look…
Daniel on the adjacent bridge loo…
me, St. Peters Square.
me, St. Peter's Square.
St. Peters Square, (Piazza San Pi…
St. Peter's Square, (Piazza San P…
Pope John Paul II speaks from the …
Pope John Paul II speaks from the…
The Roman Forum (or part of it any…
The Roman Forum (or part of it an…
Where are we?! 
consulting the gu…
Where are we?! consulting the g…
The House of the Vestal Virgins
The House of the Vestal Virgins
The House of the Vestal Virgins.
The House of the Vestal Virgins.
Inside the Curia. Everything is or…
Inside the Curia. Everything is o…
Vatican City
photo by: EmyG