Thursday, May 7, 2009

Day 13: Vatican City!

On the thirteenth day of our journey, we toured the amazing Vatican City...the smallest country in the world! I was VERY excited about seeing it. The Vatican has everything it needs to function on its own - a fire station, grocer, post office, etc., etc. It's completely independent. A giant wall separates the Vatican from the city of Rome. I think our guide told us that there is enough gold inside the Vatican to bring the entire country of India out of poverty...pretty staggering, huh?
Part of the wall that separates the Vatican from the city of Rome.
We met up with our tour group first thing that morning at a little place called Ris Cafe. Brad got an espresso while we waited for everyone else to get there. Once we were all there, we headed over and entered through the Vatican Museum. Brad and I were so happy that we decided to take part in a guided was worth every penny. We got so much out of the tour and learned so many things. The coolest story was about The Statue of Laocoon and His Sons. It was discovered randomly in a field one day...buried in the ground. The statue was complete except for a missing elbow. The elbow was later found in an antique amazing is that? I know I'd love to come across something like that!!! Another neat story was about a huge bronze statue of Hercules. The statue was struck by lightning, so it was buried immediately deep beneath the ground because the Romans were very superstitious. The outside of the crate explained why it had been buried. Because of this, it's one of the most well-preserved bronze statues in Rome. It was protected from the elements for so long and did not tarnish like the others. I also LOVED seeing Raphael's "The School of Athens" and Michelangelo's "Pieta" in St. Peter's Basilica. The cathedral and piazza were also gorgeous....not to mention the Sistine Chapel...oh my goodness. I could go on and on about the Vatican!
"Laocoon and His Sons"
There's the bronze statue of Hercules on the right...and yes, that's a massive, purple marble bath tub in the center of the room...
"The School of Athens" - Raphael
"Belvedere Torso"

The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel...Gorgeous!

The Swiss Guard
By the time we were done there, we were starving. It was way past lunch time, so we consulted our Rome guide book for a good restaurant recommendation. We found a great little spot called Dal Toscano. Our food was absolutely delicious!!! All of the food in Italy was so wonderful. I ordered the homemade ravioli filled with ricotta and spinach, and Brad had the mezzemaniche pasta with eggplant and ricotta cheese....YUM.
"Ravioli Caserecci al Pomodoro"
(Homemade ravioli filled with ricotta cheese and spinach)
"Mezze Maniche alle Melanzane e Ricotta Marzotica"
(Mezzemaniche pasta with eggplant and ricotta cheese)

After our late lunch, we went on our way towards the Pantheon. What a cool place! We had quite the experience trying to get there. After walking for a while, we decided to hop on the bus and try to get there quicker. Gosh...we had no idea what we were was HILARIOUS! We missed our stop and ended up riding all over the place. We met a nice family from San Diego who had done the exact same thing...We all had a good laugh at ourselves.
The Pantheon!

After seeing the Pantheon, we just roamed around Rome for a little while...hahahaha. It is SUCH a fun and exciting city! There is such an incredibly large amount of things to see and do. We ended up going to see another of Bernini's famous fountains - The Fountain of the Four Rivers. It is beautiful!!! A major scene in Dan Brown's book, Angels & Demons, takes place at that fountain...look for it in the movie that comes out this month! While we were at the fountain, we got some roasted chestnuts from a street vendor. There's nothing like walking arm-in-arm with your hubby in Rome, eating roasted chestnuts and sitting by a famous Bernini fountain...AHH...such wonderful, amazing memories!!! After the fountain, we walked back by the Colosseum again....only this time, it was night! The Colosseum is just unbelievably pretty all lit up at night!
"The Fountain of the Four Rivers" - Bernini
A delicious, roasted chestnut...
The Colosseum at night....

Next, we stopped and had dinner at was DELISH. We started the meal with a perfectly fresh Caprese Salad. For our main course, we each had a pasta dish. I went with the "Tortellini Panna e Prosciutto" surprise there! Brad ordered the "Rigatoni alla Carbonara". We washed it all down with a wonderful Barbera D'Alba red wine. It was yet another scrumptious meal!
Caprese Salad...
"Rigatoni alla Carbonara"
(Rigatoni with eggs, bacon and cheese)

"Tortellini Panna e Prosciutto"
(Tortellini with cream and ham)


Sandi @the WhistleStop Cafe said...

This is the post I've been waiting for! The picture of you in the Sisting Chapel is awesome. What precious memories for you.
2 weeks from today... I'll be there!!!

Memória said...

Ugh! I wish I would have gone to Roma instead of Firenze! It is so beautiful! The rigatoni and tortellini dishes look so scrumptious!!

Elizabeth said...

I'm a little jealous - Rome is my favorite place ever. How did you get pictures of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel? I thought they didn't allow photos.

Kristen said...

This is all amazing! Thank you for sharing. Did you book all of this through a travel agent? I'm intresting in a planning a trip for next summer with my husband and have no idea how to get started?