We arrived in Rome in the evening, so we just headed to our hotel. We got up early the next morning and took the subway to Vatican City-the Ottaviano stop which is better because then you don’t have to walk up a big hill. Most people take the stop after that. We opted for this tour because we wanted to be able to skip all of the long lines in to the museums at Vatican City. We just followed the herds off the subway but then looked at a map and realized we wanted to go to the museum entrance for our tour-not St. Peter’s Square where everyone was headed-we were glad we noticed before we walked too far out of our way. The tours all have earbuds and little receivers so that we can hear our tour guide even when walking in crowds of people.

It was so interesting learning about the history there. Kind of crazy that Vatican City is the smallest internationally recognized state in the world and sits inside the city limits of Rome. The city has its own currency, post office, zip code, army, and is run by the Pope. There are huge walls that go all around the city. In some of the pictures you can see the tall walls. There are about 850 residents but most of them just work there and live outside of the city walls. Our tour guide said there are about 250 full time residents. Vatican City’s economy consists of sales from tourists- we bought a nativity set so we were happy to contribute to the local economy 🙂
The Vatican City museums are filled with famous paintings and sculptures. I wish I could tell you the significance of all of them, but there were just too many to remember. Our tour guide is an archeologist so it was really interesting listening to him. 

This was my favorite part of the museum tour, it was a long corridor with detailed paintings all along the ceiling. The museums were pretty crowded and I felt like shuffled cattle at some points. But I guess they are always packed. People come from all over the world to see it. There are 30,000 people a day who visit Vatican City-pretty crazy. I thought it was very exciting and interesting.

{I love seeing lemon and lime trees it reminds me of Brazil}

There were many gardens and one was a private garden for the pope. We didn’t see him, but people can go every Wednesday and Sunday to see him-that didn’t work with our schedule but I kept looking for him in the gardens 🙂

{In front of St. Peter’s Basilica}
We also went inside the Sistine Chapel. Before we went inside we got a detailed description of the paintings on the ceiling. This image was taken from Wikipedia because you aren’t allowed to take pictures inside. We saw a lot of people breaking that rule which was a shame because this is a really sacred place to Catholics. There are guards inside to stop people from taking pictures and they would yell at them. You were also not supposed to talk, which is why our explanation happened before we entered. The ceiling was painted by Michelangelo, who started when he was about 30 in 1508. The pope asked him to paint it. He painted it all standing and looking up. It depicts different scenes from the bible. It was very crowded inside but we managed to find a bench and Danny and I just sat there starring at the ceiling. I think we could have stayed there for hours paying attention to the detail and amazing talent of Michelangelo. The Sistine Chapel is where a new pope is elected. 

Then we headed over to St. Peter’s Basilica. It is believed that the apostle Peter is buried under the basilica. Our tour guide (the archeologist) says there is so much evidence that points to that.

It was enormous inside. It was incredible to see the immaculate detail and enormity of these ancient structures.

Then we heard we could pay to go up to the top of the dome and we were so excited. The 500+ stairs were pretty sketchy and worn down. I could only imagine how many millions of people had made the same trek. It took maybe an hour at most to go up and down but the line wasn’t long at all. The stairway was curved to follow the inside of the dome and very narrow at some points. So I would not recommend it if you are claustrophobic.

But the views of Vatican City and Rome were amazing!

 {Vatican City gardens}
{you can see the chimney on the end of the Sistine Chapel where the white smoke is released when there is a new pope-there is no actual fireplace inside so they bring in a little stove when they cast the ballots inside it}

Can you see the little people at the top of the dome, right where the columns meet the top of the dome. That’s where we were.

{The Vatican City army doing a guard change}

View from the steps of St. Peter’s Basilica. The pope gives a sermon here every week. This is also where the new pope addresses the world for the first time.

After touring Vatican City, we took the subway to the next stop (Cipro) to get this pizza we heard about. It was right near the metro station which was very convenient. It was on a focaccia bread. It was so yummy. Mine was potato and cheese-which is really popular there and I loved it!

Then we were back on the subway headed to the Pantheon, whew! I get tired just remembering how much we were on the go! We did stop at a Vodafone store on our way to buy a sim card. We paid about $40 for a 4 gig sim card with internet access only. We were able to download an app that let us make calls through the internet when we needed to call a hotel. Having the sim card was cheaper than buying an international plan. It only worked while in Italy. It was great being able to use our iPhone for directions and restaurants but we also needed to use a map every once in a while because my phone would die because we were traveling so much and wouldn’t have a spot to charge it or sometimes we wouldn’t have service. But definitely worth the $40!

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