St. Peter's Basilica and The Vatican Museum

Vatican City Travel Blog

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St. Peter's Basilica

The day we decided to go back to Vatican City and see St. Peter's and The Vatican Museum was by far our best in Rome! St. Peter's is amazing but it's the Vatican Museum that takes the cake!!!!! But I'm getting ahead of myself.

After a breakfast of cookies and plum yogurt from the market a few doors down from Hotel Scott House we headed out by bus to Vatican City. After having walked the previous day to the audience with the Pope all the way from our hotel we decided that the bus was completely necessary or our legs would stop working! Fortunately the main transportation terminal for buses and trains was only a block from our hotel, so we braved the traffic and made our way to a tobacconists, which was basically like a convenience store (for the best information on how to use public transportation in Rome see this website: http://www. The bus we needed to take was the infamous number 64 which is supposed to be rife with pickpockets just looking for the next innocent tourist, but we didn't have a problem. The bus was crowded but we were able to sit down next to one another, thereby holding our bags close to us. I noticed that almost everyone on the bus seemed to be native, which surprised me since this is the number one tourist bus, but I guess locals have got to get around too! One thing I noticed while we were sitting there was that the Roman men seemed to be very well dressed. I took notice of more than one pair of very nice, expensive shoes, which had my boyfriend green with envy, as they all just looked so dapper and put together.

Thank god my boyfriend was with me because I got so confused when the bus started rolling and making its stops.

Egyptian Lion, courtyard of Vatican Museum- one of a pair
The city looked so different from the window of a bus and I got quite disoriented so when it was time to get off at our stop I had no idea. Daniel had to convince me that the next stop was definitely ours and that we had to get off. I think part of this comes from the fact that I am American from a small town and hardly ever (read: three times) use public transporation and he is European and from a big city, using public transportation a few times a week. So anyway basically I have him and only him to thank for getting me to St. Peter's Square!

Once there we walked down the Via Della Conciliazione to St. Peter's Square (Piazza San Pietro). This day it was devoid of the huge crowd from the previous day with the audience with the Pope. We made our way to the doors of St. Peter's and held our breath. Once inside after adjusting to the darkness we took it all in.

Giant globe in courtyard of Vatican Museum
There is so much to see!!!! The first thing on my list was Michelangelo's Pieta. Unfortunately my photos of the Pieta did not come out because there is a protective bulletproof acrylic glass panel in front of it (erected after a man took a hammer and chisled off the Virgin Mary's nose in 1972) that reflected the flash of my camera. It is a beautiful sight to see and forturnately there are many photographs of it, but I highly recommend seeing it for yourself, as it is truly breathtaking!

Next on our list was the statue of St. Peter Enthroned. It is tradition to rub or kiss (I recommend rubbing, because lets face it you don't want to put your lips on something that millions of people have either touched or kissed for the last few hundred years!) the statue's foot, which is greatly eroded from everyone else doing the same.

Apollo Belvedere
Alas none of my interior photos turned out, again due to the flash which baffles me.

After wandering and taking photos that never turned out we tagged along on a free tour of the basilica learning the history of the various paintings, statues and marble. To be honest I was so overwhelmed by St. Peter's that I didn't take it all in. Because we ended up being whisked away on a tour of the Vatican Museum we really didn't get that long in the basilica so most of it is a blur.

I highly recommend getting hooked up with one of these free guided tours of St. Peter's as they are led by english speaking people who will for a fee (best money I spent in Rome!!!) take you on a guided tour of the Vatican Museum. Our tour guide -whose name I have now forgotten which I find shameful!- was an American attending University in Rome, majoring in Theology. He was so knowledgeable as well as fun that he had me entranced from the word, "Apollo Belvedere"! Daniel will tell you that my eyes were are a- twinkle.

I have to admit I like a guy who knows his stuff and he was rather charming! He was also so passionate about the history of Rome, The Vatican and all of the artifacts in the museum, his enthusiasm was contagious!!

Before entering the Museum, but after purchasing tickets, we found ourselves in a large courtyard with benches and boards displaying poster sized photos of the Sistine Chapel. Before seating ourselves on the benches we were taken around the courtyard and told the history of the objects found there. My personal favorite is the bronze pinecone with peacocks and the Egyptian lions situated just below (see photos). There is also an amazing modern sculpture of the globe of the world.  Once seated on the benches in front of one of the many displays of the Sistine Chapel our guide told us every nuance of the paintings found within, especially The Last Judgement.

Belvedere Torso
Due to the fact that talking is prohibited once in the Sistine Chapel all discussion of it must be done before you enter the museum, hence the large pictures of it with benches in front of  them.

The Apollo Belvedere was the first statue to greet us once inside the museum. It is situated in an outer area (Museo Pio Clementino), open to the air, giving you an idea of what it might have looked like in it's original location. The Apollo Belvedere is said to be the ideal man, and I have to say every woman in our tour group checked out his behind, all giving their thumbs up! After the Apollo Belvedere we checked out Laocoon, one of the most impressive sculptures in the Vatican Museum.  Laocoon was one of the sculptures that I was most looking forward to seeing because it was so prominent in the history books I had read- it's an easily recognized sculpture.

Greek Artemis or Artemis of Ephesus
Other impressive and recognizeable statues that we saw were the Belvedere Torso and Greek Artemis (Artemis Ephesus).

We also saw Nero's giant marble bathtub, though it is not a known fact that it is indeed Nero's or a bathtub. The highlight of the Vatican Museum for Daniel had to be Raphael's School of Athens. It is such an impressive painting, covering a whole wall, and so vibrant it feels as though it jumps off the wall at you in 3-D.

After our tour of the Vatican Museum it was time to move onto the Sistine Chapel...

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St. Peters Basilica
St. Peter's Basilica
ancient bronze pinecone and peacoc…
ancient bronze pinecone and peaco…
Egyptian Lion, courtyard of Vatica…
Egyptian Lion, courtyard of Vatic…
Giant globe in courtyard of Vatica…
Giant globe in courtyard of Vatic…
Apollo Belvedere
Apollo Belvedere
Belvedere Torso
Belvedere Torso
Greek Artemis or Artemis of Ephesus
Greek Artemis or Artemis of Ephesus
Neros giant rose marble bathtub
Nero's giant rose marble bathtub
Raphaels School of Athens
Raphael's School of Athens
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If I had to use one word to describe the Vatican Museum it would be: Amazing!!!! It was everything I was hoping it would be! I admit I had high expect… read entire review
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photo by: maryanntravel