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Visiting the Vatican

March 20, 2010

The name “vatican” comes from the location of the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church. It is the residence of the pope and the center of business for the church.  It is also a big center of worship, focused on St. Peter’s basilica, and the storehouse of inestimable treasures belonging to the church. Interestingly, St. Peter’s is not the cathedral (seat) of the pope, who is the Bishop of Rome. St. John’s is the cathedral of Rome. St. Peters is related to all the Catholic church. Another interesting note that I finally got straightened out in my mind. While a cathedral is the seat of the bishop, a basilica is a kind of building. It is an architect’s term describing a building with rows of columns down the sides. (For you architects, I know it involves more than that, but I am giving the redneck version here).

When we got to the Vatican, there were literally thousands of people standing in line to enter. Thanks to Clay’s foresight, we had reservations and were able to get in quickly. As usual, we saw many art treasures, some beautiful gardens, an apartment decorated by Raphael, the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s, and St. Peter’s Square. See the pictures below, and remember you can see more at Jason’s and Clay’s blogs by clicking on the blue.

The crowds waiting to get in the Vatican

A part of the vast gardens in the Vatican

An interesting picture for this redneck

Not the Sistine Chapel but a hallway

One of my favorite Raphael paintings

As close as you can get to a picture in the Sistine Chapel

La Pieta by Michelangelo in St Peter's

A partial picture of the massiveness of St. Peter's. 400 feet long.

A Swiss Guard, a part of the Pope's own guard

St. Peter's. One of the saints standing in front of it.

The Pope's apartment. One of these windows is where he speaks to the people.

When we left the Vatican, we headed for Piazza Navona, one of our favorite spots in the city. It is a square where people gather and artists work, and marketeers market. There is also an impressive and famous fountain in the square. It was used in the movie Angels and Demons. Our main interest in the square is that it has a plethora of great Roman restaurants. We ate a delicious lunch there.

One of the great restaurants in Piazza Navona with Clay and Carol

A shot of Piazza Navona showing the artists

Our next stop was at one of the hundreds of gelato shops in the city. This one was one of the best. Gelato is even better than Blue Bell.

Recognize this? One of the best Gelaterias in the city

I know that is hard to believe, but you have to try it. After a gelato, we walked on to the Pantheon. This site was once a shrine to many gods the Romans worshipped. After Constantine, it eventually became a church. It is a phenomenal building. Raphael (and many other well known Romans are buried there.

A partial view of Raphael's tomb in the Pantheon

Our next stop, of course, was at one of our favorite coffee bars. There are very few seats or tables in Roman coffee bars. This one has no tables at all and only a  very few benches. The Romans walk in, pay for the coffee, go to the bar and order it, stand there and drink it quickly, and leave. Great experience. Wonderful coffee. They do not put too much water in their coffee like most Americans do.

We then rode a bus back near our hotel, studied Phillipians, ate another gourmet supper, worked a little, and went to bed. Tomorrow, Carla, our guide, joins us. We will walk around Rome looking at the Forum, the square Michelangelo designed, and some other significant sites.

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