Tuesday September 25th
This morning we woke up and had our first breakfast at our café downstairs and around the corner. Marco gave us each a ticket for every morning of our stay and we simply walk in, hand it to the guy behind the counter and we get a cup of coffee and a pastry. I liked this place much better because they had several pastries to choose from, lemon, cinnamon, apple, sugar, etc. They also had great coffee :).
This morning we had cappuccinos. We started the day by tracking down a Roma Pass which gets you free transportation for three days and free admission into your first 2 museums, including the Coliseum. Termini Station was out so they sent us to a booth a couple of blocks away. We then walked to a bus stop to catch the 40 to Vatican City. It was fun riding above ground and getting to see the city. There were people everywhere!
We got off the bus where we could see St. Peter’s right in front of us. We went bananas with pictures of course and stood in St. Peter’s Square just taking it all in. Our guide book was awesome because it walks you through every sight and tells every story you can think of. We waited in a long line to enter St. Peter’s Basilica but it actually didn’t take as long as we thought considering the huge mass of people and security gates. We saw them turn several people away for dress code violations.
Luckily, we peeked past some construction barriers and found the bronze doors. We were told that this was where you go to ask for papal audience tickets from the Swiss guard. I walked right up to one of the guards and asked for 2 tickets. He left and came back with 2 tickets. It was so easy! I asked if I could take a picture with him but he said no. Rejected!
Once we got inside we spent 2 hours looking and reading up on everything; La Pieta, floors, holy water, St. Peter’s tomb, the dome, catacombs, Pope John Paul II, several alters, St. Peter’s statue and smooth foot, etc, etc. Being Catholic was really helpful because we knew when things were marked off for reverence and all you had to do was ask to go into adoration or confession.
Throughout that first day we went to adoration, confession (with a Chinese priest) and 5 o’clock mass in the main Basilica. It was awesome!! The place just feels so holy. Joe and I both got emotional looking up into the vast dome and reading the Latin inscription in 7 foot letters that read, “You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my church.”
|A list of all the Popes since Jesus appointed Peter|
We ate lunch outside of the city walls at a sandwich place called 200 degrees Fahrenheit. We enjoyed a coke and sandwiches on a patch of grass in a busy square just people watching. It was really surreal. We souvenir shopped for a while before we headed back for confession and mass. We bought crosses for our parents and holy water for our siblings so that we could bring them back to be blessed the next day at the papal audience.
After mass we ran outside to jump in line to climb to the top of the dome. We took an elevator half way and then ran up 300 flights of stairs to the top. The walls actually started sloping the closer we got to top. Talk about claustrophobic! The top was so worth it. You can see for miles and you realize just how massive the basilica is with 10 foot statues of saints on top and the chairs for the audience look tiny!
We made our way to a part of the city called Trestevere where Marco told us about a famous pizza place. Sure enough, we got there and it was so crowded!! We ate really close to our neighbors but they ended up being from Austin so we talked with them for a while. They were on their way to Croatia for a wedding! The pizza was great and the wine was so cheap. The waiter kicked us out so he could sit more customers so we said goodbye to our new friends and strolled along trying to find a church on the map. We got lost in all the tiny streets and never did find it but it was cool seeing all the character in that part of the city.
We decided to do the night walk in our guide book which took us on a mile long walk through all the famous piazzas and fountains. It was beautiful seeing everything lit up and so many people were out enjoying the night. We had gelato, we tossed pennies into Trevi fountain, and we sat on the Spanish steps. Once we finished around midnight, we took the sketchy metro back to our hostile and went to bed. Probably my favorite day of the trip.
|The Spanish Steps|