Monday October 8th was our last full day in Europe. We spent it checking out the smallest country in the world, Vatican City.
The entrance to the Vatican Museum.
Once in the Vatican Museum we mail a couple postcards to our parents. You gotta mail a postcard from the smallest country in the world!
The Vatican Museum was large. Lots to see, but we went pretty fast through it. Everyone really only cares about the Sistine Chapel anyway. Here is the courtyard.
David checking the map to find the quickest route.
A huge room with old Roman busts.
Statues and painting galore.
The Vatican Museum is a lot. A lot of room after room of this kind of stuff. Old maps, rugs, tapestries, paintings. It goes forever.
Toward the back of the museum is the main event, Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel. You know you are coming up to it when the people become thick and the air becomes hot and stifling. You go down some stairs and end up in the famous chapel.
Absolutely no pictures are allowed or talking. That is what the guards are constantly yelling as everyone talks and takes pictures. I didn't use my flash at least and these pics were completely dark until I lightened them in Photoshop.
The Last Judgement wall.
The chapel is pretty amazing, but difficult to enjoy as there is much pushing, shoving, and yelling going on. Not to mention how hot it is in there, but worth seeing nonetheless, of course. Pretty amazing.
Instead of going all the way back out of the front of the Vatican Museum, we took a Rick Steve's short cut to St. Peter's Basilica through the door back by the Last Judgement. You can sort of see it in the photo above in the lower right corner. This exit is for tour groups, but it is super easy to just pretend you are with a group since the while operation is highly chaotic and fairly unorganized. We just waltzed through with a group of people, walked through some hallways and corridors and were suddenly in St. Peter's, no waiting in line. Gotta love Rick's tips.
Once inside St. Peter's you turn to the right and see this. Michelangelo's Pieta (statue of Mary holding Jesus after he is dead). The statue is truly incredible as Michelangelo was only 24 when he did it and it was one of his first. Unfortunately it remains behind bulletproof glass since in 1972 a crazy geologist took a hammer to it.
St. Peter's is huge.
The tallest dome in the world. We climbed it later.
One of the only lines we waited in our whole trip was the line to climb to the top of the dome of St. Peter's. The line really wasn't that bad and was totally worth it. Amazing views.
I took this picture of a water fountain while we were in line. These public water fountains are all over Rome. The Romans are extremely proud of their water.
Part way up the climb. We are on the roof of the basilica here. Now we just have to climb the dome. I liked the roof though. There was bathrooms, a souvenir shop and a mailbox. You can mail a letter from the top of St. Peter's!
Before going to the top we checked out the dome close up.
Those are mosaics people, not painting. Amazing.
Climbing the dome was really domey.
View from the top.
Vatican City (the part we are not authorized to go into).
I hope the pope swims in this fountain. It looks so fun.
Going back down.
Back on the roof I checked out the statues lining the top of the courtyard.
The dome from the roof.
We left out the front of the basilica and saw the guards. Pretty crazy outfits.
Thousands of chairs set up for mass.
The famous courtyard. Can you imagine it full of people when a new pope is announced? Crazy.
We left Vatican City. Here is David standing in 2 countries at once.
After the Vatican we went into the heart of Rome again to see the Spanish Steps. On the way we got some street pizza. So good.
The Spanish Steps. Super crowded. Everyone hangs out here.
We climbed the steps and looked around then headed back to our hotel.
David and I were determined to find a local restaurant to eat dinner at. After searching online for awhile we found this place a little ways walk from our hotel. It had been recommended by some other people who were staying at the Rome Cavalieri and didn't want to spent $100 on a pizza. It wasn't too hard to find either. It's just through the neighborhood across from the hotel. The Il Peperoncino Dispettoso.
I'm SOOOOO glad we found this place. By far the best food we ate in Italy. Full of local people too. The staff didn't speak any English which is always a good sign.
We ordered a ton of food. First I got this caprese salad. BY FAR the best thing I ate in Italy. It was amazing. That mozzarella was so good. It was meaty. Oh man, I want it now.
I also got the carbonara pasta (pasta with bacon,peas, egg and cheese). So good.
We also got this margarita pizza to share which was huge and delicious. The basil! I'm going into fits right now.
Dessert was...I can't remember, but good. They were out of the homemade tiramisu or I would have got that!
We were very happy campers after that meal.
I highly recommend this place if you are in the area. Especially if you are staying at the affordable food dessert that is the Rome Cavalieri.
That meal was the perfect way to finish our trip to Italy. The next day we took a taxi to the airport and headed home, but not before David ate more gelato at the airport.
We flew through Amsterdam. It was neat to see all the old windmills and canals from the plane. Unfortunately we didn't have enough time in our layover to leave the airport.
We endured another bout of insane security in order to fly back into the US. I had all my bottles of Schwepp's Limone taken away at the gate even though I had bought them in the airport after I went through security. I was so mad because that crap is good and you just can't get it here! I think I had like 6 bottle of it too. Oh well. We made it back in one piece.
That's it! Finally done. Our Europe trip is finally over. Sorry it took so long to blog about. Things have been crazy here. I still have to blog about my surprise birthday trip back in October! Yikes. Merry Christmas!