Friday, May 29, 2009

Back from Italy....

Wow, what a trip! I had some vacation I had to use, so we got a last minute deal to Italy. It was amazing! So much to see and do it was overwhelming, but we crammed as much as we could into each day rising at 6 am and not returning to the hotel until after midnight each day. We flew from LA to Munich and then into Rome and arrived late. I decided in would be adventurous when we arrived to take the train to our hotel. It wasn't the best idea. We got on a train headed in the direction we wanted to go, and when we need to change trains we couldn't find the one we needed, no one in sight, no ticket booth, and it was a bit of a sketchy area, so into a cab for the remainder of the ride to our hotel in Rome. Our hotel was in a nice quiet neighborhood about a ten minute walk from the Vatican. By the time we arrived it was late, but I was dying to get out and see something, so we decided to follow the map and see Vatican City at night. Vatican City is the smallest sovereign nation in the world. It comprises of just 1 sq km but houses the most important catholic collection in the world. They even have their own postal service, currency, newspaper, radio station and even an army of Swiss Guards to watch over the Pope's personal safety.
It was beautiful and breathtaking. Really magnificent! We walked around the entire perimeter of Vatican City which is encased in huge walls, had our first gelato, which was oh so good! Then got completely lost on the way back to our hotel and wandered around until 3:30am trying to find where we were. No one in sight and we had wandered off the map we had. We were exhausted and frustrated, and were so happy to finally make it back to our hotel that night.

Up at 6am (yep, less than 3 hours of sleep - I figured we could sleep when we got home). Great breakfast and the best cappuccinos at the hotel. We were happily surprised to find out that hotels in Italy provide free breakfast! We first walked back to St. Peter's Square/Vatican to see it during the daylight.

We got in the long but fast moving line to climb to the 320 steps to the top of the grand cupola (the huge 460 ft. high dome designed by Michelangelo). St. Peter's has the largest interior of any church in the world, holding 60,000 people. It really is amazing that this was built in the 1500's. Part way up the dome is a viewing balcony which runs around part of the inside of the dome. From this viewing gallery you can to look down on the ants below scurrying around the Papal Altar and the enormous nave of St. Peter's. It takes your breath away to look down from that height!The inside of the dome is decorated with fantastic mosaics and lettering.

The stairs continue further up the space between the dome and outer walls, getting progressively narrower and more inclined as the angle of the dome impinges upon them. Once you have arrived at the Cupola you are able to see over the roof of St. Peter's. The views are beautiful of Rome from the top.In the foreground are the 13 statues of Christ and various disciples and Apostles lining the top of the massive fa├žade. Beyond is St. Peter's Square (Piazza San Pietro), designed by Bernini and built to be the same size and shape as the Colosseum. From this height the travertine lines set into the square are clearly visible radiating from the central obelisk.

After heading back down we entered into the Basilica, and the feeling of admiration and astonishment created by the grandeur of the interior and its decorations go beyond all expectations. To say the interior of St. Peter's is impressive would be an obvious understatement.

I am going to split up my Italy posts....


Twisted Fencepost said...

Wow! A last minute trip to Italy. Sounds exciting. Love your pictures. Can't wait to see more.

Jennifer MacNeill-Traylor said...

OMG, I am drooling! How I would love to go to Italy - especially Rome. Can't wait to see more from your trip!

Stephanie said...

BEAUTIFUL! Rome is on my 'list', what a great break from the everyday to just pop on over to Italy :)

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