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Exploring the Vatican and Rome

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large_5550_147249006793.jpgThe Vatican uses “Allah” (last word in the picture) for God when writing in the Arabic language too. But for Jesus, they use "Yesua" rather than "Isa" (pbuh, which is normally used by Muslims to refer to their Prophet Jesus).
Locals tell us this summer isn’t too hot but the forecast was for 36 degC. We decided on an early start to see the sights of the Vatican. We took the metro to near the Vatican and walked in the general direction to be astounded by the queue for the Museum. It had gone around 3 corners and doubled back, making it 4 corners. I looked on Google Maps and estimated that it was 800m. I’m not sure if the queue was “normal” or because it is because the Museum is free today (being Sunday).

Instead, we went to St Peter’s Basilica. The queue for security was nearly non-existent in comparison. Once through, we wandered through the square into the basilica. Even though it wasn’t my first time, I was quite awe-struck for a few moments.large_5550_14724900706310.jpgInside St Peter's basilica.

Mass was on at the far end at the small altar behind the main one. We were still able to walk all around the cathedral and admire it. There were groups of pilgrims that brought a large crucifix per group.

We had seen the separate entrance for going to the cupola and papal tombs. We decided on doing both of those in turn. The former was EUR6 (or EUR8 if you take the lift). After paying for our ticket, we were somewhat ushered into the lift which saved the climb.

Half the dome was accessible to us but fenced for safety. We were able to see mass just finishing in the area below. We then exited to a large open area which was the roof of the basilica where we could walk all the way to the facade.

Then I noticed people in the cage/verandah near the top of the cupola.large_5550_14724900739439.jpgInside St Peter's basilica; canopy of the main altar.Oops! I had missed the fact that we could go all the way up there. We swiftly made our way back into the building and found the correct stairway (as an elevator can’t access a curved dome)! The stairway side-walls starting getting curved as we approached the top and we couldn’t stand up straight. It was more humid than hot and we were pleased to be out in the fresh air. The view of St Peter’s square, the Vatican and the city was spectacular.

We exited via the church then went into the tombs. That didn’t take long. It was one marble tomb after another, more or less the length of the entire of the church. Again we exited via the church, this time near the main altar. That made it three visits in one!

With our fingers crossed, we looked for the end of the queue for the Vatican Museum.large_5550_14724900765517.jpgCentre piece of the rear wall.We found it substantially shorter going only around two corners. It was fast moving and we were inside within 20 minutes. We got through at 1130, which was an hour before the 1230 last entry.

Security was swift. We took the escalator to the deck where the view was pale in comparison to the top of the cupola.
We went through room by room of the museum finishing at the Sistine chapel. Some of the paintings on the ceilings were so so stunning that the Sistine chapel didn’t stun me like it should have.

With the crowds, I found it difficult to have enough interest in reading all the captions and having a detailed understanding of we seeing. In total we were out in over an hour, being herded through the various souvenir kiosks before finally exiting the building.large_5550_14724900793636.jpgSt Peter's cupola.To be honest, I didn’t think the museum was over-commercialised. Food in the cafes were very reasonable.

We shared a lunch of curry and salad nearby before taking the metro back for a rest. We were pleased with how the day had turned out, especially with not having waited too long in queues.

In the afternoon, we metro’ed to the Circo Massimo and saw the hippodrome before buying a ticket into the Palatino. With the sun and the heat, I was quite “over” everything so we didn’t stay long. We walked across to the Colosseum nearby where it was more pleasant. We were able to explore more pleasantly until the late afternoon.

In the Colosseum, we were puzzled by the mix of brick and big blocks. It was only when we left, we realised that the exterior wall (no longer present in many areas but beautifully preserved in others) was block while the interior appeared to be more brick.large_5550_14724900839989.jpgCentre piece of the rear wall.

We grabbed dinner near the Colosseum attended to by a very nice Bangladehis waiter and an Egyptian from Alexandria (who looked quite Ethiopian). I must say, Bangladeshis and Chinese seem to run most of the shops in parts of Rome. Bangladeshis are definitely very prevalent in the food industry. I guess that’s why prices are so reasonable now.

The Egyptian said to some middle-eastern looking passers-by. “Good food, cheap food, all halal” even though they had ham on the menu ;-) I guess it is like some of the Iraqi places in New Zealand that have halal meat and bacon side-by-side for their burgers!


Posted by alexchan 17:00 Archived in Italy

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