Before meeting up with everyone this morning Lori, the kids, and I walked to a cafe around the corner for coffee and croissants for breakfast. When we walked in we exchanged "buongiorno"s with the woman behind the counter and ordered at the bar with the intension of standing, since we know that you are charged more for sitting. A local at the bar asked me in Italian what happened to my fingers, and I replied, "vino" while simulating a corkscrew. He gave me a sympathetic look.
While the woman was making our cappuccino and espresso, she told us to "sit down and I'll bring it to you" pointing at tables next to the bar. She brought us our croissants, which were good, and the cappuccino and espresso, which were good and strong.
After we finished, I paid, and found that we were charged 1.50 Euro each for sitting. Lesson learned. Next time we'll insist on standing.
We met everyone at 8, and headed for the Metro, which we planned to take to the Vatican. It was a long walk underground to find the red line, and the train was very, very crowded. We got off at the Cipro stop and followed signs to the Vatican Museum.
Since we had reservations that we made online from home a few weeks ago, we bypassed any lines, walked right up to the window and got our tickets.
As we entered the museum, Abby saw a reproduction of the Laocoon, a statue that she was really looking forward to seeing.
We went up the escalators and I immediately went over to the famed spiral staircase, since I knew we wouldn't be exiting that way.
We picked up maps and started touring. Everywhere we looked, there was something else amazing to see. It was a bit overwhelming.
We were all blown away by the detail in some of the sculptures.
After a few rooms, Abby found the real Laocoon.
After a while we found that we could no longer wander from one room to another. The crowd was a moving entity going in one direction. We followed along, passing some amazing stuff along the way. Every now and then we'd find a bench to rest on, but there weren't many.
The crowd brought us to the Sistine Chapel, which was bigger and more impressive than I ever imagined it. Photos were forbidden.
After spending some time in there, we used the "group tours only" door to exit right to St. Peter's without walking back to the front or going through security again.
We were right next to the entrance to the elevators to the top of the cupola, so we bought tickets and went up. The elevator goes to the roof of the Basilica.
From the roof, we started the climb up the 323 stairs to the top of the Cupola. After the first set of steps we came to a place where you could look down at the inside of the Basilica.
We continued up. The stairs zig-zagged, spiraled, and were slanted sideways to conform to the dome at times.
Finally we reached the top, and the view was incredible, especially over St. Peter's Square.
We looked around for a bit, then took the stairs back down to the roof where we went in a gift shop. We took a look back at the Cuploa we just climbed.
Lori bought a postcard and mailed it to her parents before we took the elevator back down. (Dave and Judy, sorry to ruin the surprise if you are reading!)
The elevator exits right into the Basilica. WOW! It's impossible to describe the enormity and grandeur of St. Peter's. There was so much to see. Honestly, nothing in the museum, even the Sistine Chapel, compares to the Basilica. We wandered around for a while with our mouths open. Pictures can't do it justice.
We exited and walked through the Square, passing members of the Swiss Guard on the way.
We grabbed a few panini to share from a street vendor, and ate in a shady spot in a square before taking the bus back to the hotel, showering, and napping.
Before going out to dinner, Mom and I walked to the grocery in the train station to pick up some fruit, juice, and yogurt for breakfast tomorrow. The woman at the check out was annoyed that we didn't know to weigh the fruit before paying, but smiled when I tried to apologize in Italian.
We went out to dinner near the hotel, and it was fine. The seafood risotto I got wasn't nearly as good as the one I had in Sorrento. After dinner Becky and Gabe offered to take the kids for a bit, so Lori and I set off for an evening stroll.
After a bit we came to the Coliseum.
Then we got lost. We walked, and walked, and wandered. Lori got frustrated with me. We ended up on the back side of the Forum, and it took a while (and a bit of walking) to figure out how to get around to the front.
Eventually we made it back, and crashed after a long day. Tomorrow we're doing the Caesar Shuffle from the Forum to the Coliseum.
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