Sunday, October 21, 2012

Rome Day Four; Religion, Art, a Nap and Viagra

Rome day four:

This was our day to visit the Vatican.  You shouldn't visit Rome without visiting both Saint Peter’s Basilica and The Vatican Museums.  

Now these are popular places to visit and and the lines can be outrageous.  I recommend you have reservations and/or go very early.

The Basilica opens at 7:00 am and the entrance is free.  Thus we were up and out before sunrise once again; walking and in desperate need of caffeine.  

The walk from our apartment took about 20 minutes.  As I said before, I highly recommend walking around in the early morning.  

We found an open Bar (aka coffee shop) and ordered two cappuccinos, five pastries and three sodas (yes -- soda and pastry for breakfast -- healthy I know).  The total bill was 12 Euros -- quite a deal.  And a deal only for those who order and stand at the bar (as we found out the hard way the next day).  

Then on to the Basilica.  That early in the morning we were able to walk quickly through security and head on in the the Basilica.  The square was closed off as the Vatican was preparing for an event.  Thus we had to follow barriers to enter the church.  The barriers weren't problem as we were arriving.  Now leaving?  That was a different matter.  

The church is simply amazing.  We chose to tour it ourselves and likely missed out on quite a bit of the history of the building and art.  We felt the kids may not have the patience to take a guided tour.  In lieu of a tour we should have brought a guidebook.  Alas we didn't have the foresight to bring one.  Even without the historial minutia the Basilica is well worth visiting.  

As we were leaving we found that the exit was closed.  Instead we were re-routed back the way we came.  We walked all the way back to security where we were promptly yelled at and told to go back the other way.  We back to the church and asked how to get out.  Once again we were sent back the way we came.  At this point we were incredibly frustrated. I mean how hard is it to find an exit?  Uscita.  Exit.  We get it.  Just let us out!  

Finally we said “f*ck it” and decided to detour through a barrier which would then get us out into the open part of the main square.  We are talking 25 feet over open cobblestone.  Hardly suspicious activity.  

The Vatican Police, however, disagreed and whistled and gestured in no uncertain terms.  Not wanting to be arrested in the world's smallest country we promptly high-tailed it back to the visitor zone.  I was beginning to think we were being kidnapped by the Pope.  Perhaps he needed hapless Americans for a sacrifice.  

After much confusion the police opened a portion of the barrier to let people leave. For all their security you'd think they'd have an exit plan.  
At any rate we were set free and went back to the apartment to regroup.  I wanted to walk to a viewpoint but people were complaining about tired sore feet (and no wonder as Little later lost a toe nail).  I almost went alone leaving the rest of the troops at home.  However, at the last minute, they decided to go with.  I’m glad they did as they would’ve missed out.  

By this time we were hungry again and decided to have a second breakfast.  We found another fabulous coffee shop off a side street.   This coffee shop had a couple of things going for it.  First off they had a puppy for sale -- a beautiful yellow labrador that was allowed to wander around the shop at will.  And no.  We are not coming home with an Italian puppy (though the kids did beg).  

Second this coffee shop had prosciutto and cheese panninis for 2.50 Euros.  Another stupendous deal.  Of course we had two additional cappuccinos as well.  

Energy restored we made it to the viewpoint at Quirinal Piazza.  The view turned out to be disappointing.  However there was a museum on the corner advertising a Vermeer exhibit.  On a whim we decided to go.  The museum did not have “The Girl with the Pearl Earring" but the art was, nonetheless,  well worth seeing.  

And then, upon exiting the exhibit, the view.  Oh the view!  Floor to ceiling windows with a panoramic view of the city.  That was what I was looking for.     

Finally it was home for a well deserved nap.  The older kids and Papa fell immediately asleep.  Little took a shower until the hot water ran out (and never returned).  Then Little and I snuck out for some private girl (aka gelato) time.  

After returning to the apartment Little also fell asleep. The timing wasn’t great as we had night tickets to the Vatican Museums -- our reservations at 7:00 pm.  The whole family was somewhat crabby and not thrilled with me for a) waking them up and b) taking them on another forced march.  
I’d not been to the Vatican Museums and thought they were just around the corner from the Vatican.  No. They were around the corner and another and another.  In other words the walk was MUCH longer than I had anticipated.  After you saying "just five more minutes" repeatedly I began to lose credibility. And for good reason.    

When we finally arrived at the museum there was a looooong line.  Now I’d read the guidebooks and understood that this line was full of people with reservations and would move quickly.  Try convincing tired grouchy people of said fact after your credibility has taken a hit.  Not an easy task.  The moaning and groaning was heard all the way over at the Colosseum.   

Once we got inside most of the grumbling disappeared.  How can one not be mesmerized by the floor to ceiling art?  We decided not to push our luck by doing too much (there are multiple museums to visit) and headed straight for the Sistine Chapel.  

We sat on benches around the perimeter and starred up at the ceiling.  The kids, had all, in one form or another, seen the depiction of Michelangelo's “The Creation of Adam.”  But, until this trip, had never known where it came from.  So, yes, they did learn something while out of school.  

We finished our tour around 8:30 pm, and again knowing not to push things with tired kids, we took a taxi home.  Taxis in Rome don’t fit five people -- four at the most.  The first two taxi drivers refused to take all of us.  The third let us squish though he did take us to the far side of the piazza thus increasing his fare.  At this point in our trip it was well worth it.  

We ate dinner at a great pizza place just outside of the Piazza Navona, stopped for more gelato*, and called it a night.  

And that ended our time in Rome.  

The next installment?  

Renting a car and getting the hell out of dodge (aka driving in the big city complete with cutting people off, gesturing and obscenities).  

*** *** ***

*Gelato comes in many flavors.  The most exotic?  Viagra.  And I am dead serious.  Tell me -- who orders that?  



Angelique said...

Haha, that last comment ;-) I wish I were there!

sue maasch said...

viagra gelato is what used to be called puffo (italian for smurf). is bubble gum flavored. and viagra is the same color, apparently....bizarre.