A lot of the art and religious treasures in Rome are actually in a different country, namely The Vatican, which is a city state inside Rome and is the center of the Catholic faith. I would be difficult to ignore the Vatican, but I was a bit afraid of waiting in queues for several hours.
Nevertheless, we took a tram from the Ungheria Square close to our hotel, straight to Vatican City. This westward journey did not take too long, and we stepped off very close to Vatican. We walked a short distance and reached the world-famous St. Peter Square (Piazza St. Pietro).
Since this was the day before Christmas Eve, there were a lot of preparations going on in the Square, getting ready for the Pope's Christmas sermon to be delivered on the 25th. Giant screens were being set up for the benefit of the expected crowds. There was a big Christmas tree with ornaments in the middle of the square.
|Detail from St. Peter's Basilica|
|St. Peter's Square with Christmas Tree|
|St. Peter's Square and the Basilica|
|Inside the Basilica|
|Bernini's Baldaquin at a distance|
We came out of the Basilica and now decided to go to the Vatican Grottoes. These are the tombs of previous Popes and can be visited with a quick and quiet walk (you get warned frequently about keeping quiet and not taking pictures).
After this walk we had finished our visit to the Basilica and wanted to rest a bit and have a quick lunch before attempting to go to the Vatican Museums close by. The problem was that you had to walk some distance to reach any restaurants around St. Peter's Square. The other problem was that the restaurants were almost twice as expensive as equivalent ones away from the area.
We accepted the offer of an insistent waiter and had a quick and expensive lunch before walking back to Vatican.
|List of all Popes|