St. Peter's Basilica and The Vatican Museum
Vatican City Travel Blog› entry 8 of 16 › view all entries
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.
Thank god my boyfriend was with me because I got so confused when the bus started rolling and making its stops.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...