Richard woke up not feeling too well at all with that cold, so decided to spend the day in bed in the camper to recover. The kids and I decided we could manage Rome without our navigator and protector, so off we went!
We got an all day pass for the buses and Metro (Underground), and armed with some very good instructions, a map, and the GPS, we caught the bus right in to the Vatican. The first thing we saw was a queue that went for about 3 blocks (not exaggerating), to get into the Sistene Chapel (which you could only visit by going through a whole heap of related museums). We decided we would walk round the corner and try to go to St Peters Basilica first. The queue for that went ¾ of the way round the piazza in front of the church, however it moved quickly, and again we had Ricks audio guide playing on our MP3 players to keep us entertained. First we visited the tombs of all the old popes –fascinating – down in the dungeons it was cool and dark, and befitting the people who lay there.
Finally we made it up into St Peters – it was an incredible building of huge proportions, with lots of gold and decoration, and a massive bronze alter canopy. It was interesting to learn that the statues surrounding the walls were built so that the highest ones were much larger than the lower ones, trying to make the place seem smaller! The floors of these places just amaze me too – lots of marble and mosaic like patterning in all colours imaginable. It is easy to imagine all the great and famous people of history that have walked there. Again, we were blown away with the age of the building. (In fact, I am feeling younger every day!)
Once out of St Peters, we ate a quick lunch (yes... the kids can polish off a whole pizza, then Hayden can even have some of mine), then walked round the corner to try our luck at the Sistene Chapel again – well what do you know – there was NO QUEUE! We have concluded that the best time to see popular stuff might be at lunch time. We walked for what seemed like miles up corridors, down steps, through alleyways etc, looking at increasingly grandly painted rooms and statues, with Sarah asking “is this it?” at every turn, until finally, we reached the Chapel. The audio guide was excellent, and talked us through all the panels on the ceiling and front alter wall, all painted by Michael Angelo. He was truly a great artist, and the Sistene Chapel has been called the greatest art work of all time. The kids really enjoyed it as well, which was lucky for me, because we sat there for quite some time admiring the paintings.
Next on the programme Sarah had planned for us was a visit to the Trevi Fountain. To get there we had to take the Metro, which we negotiated very successfully, even with the language difference. On our way to the fountain, we found the Spanish Steps, and enjoyed the artists working there. The kids got keen and also found a cache for Richard while we were there. My feet were getting pretty tired by this stage, but we managed to press on to the Trevi fountain. It was getting renovated last time I was in Rome, so I was keen to see it in its full glory. It was stunning – the water was very clear, and the horses in the statues were beautiful. There were loads of people there, all enjoying themselves, and throwing a coin into the fountain (backwards) for good luck. The kids also did this, but wouldn’t let on what they had wished for. They tried to do another cache there, but there was a horse (and carriage) tied up to the pipe they wished to search behind, so they had no chance of trying to locate it. We trudged drearily back up the hill to the Metro station, and after a small hiccup where we went the wrong way, we managed to make it to our bus stop and catch the bus the rest of the way to our camp.
Richard was looking a lot better by the time we returned, so heres hoping we can all be together again tomorrow for our second day in Rome.