Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Rome Part 1 - Arrival and Vatican City (November 2013)

Rome, Italy (November 2013)

We arrived in Rome for a 2 night pre-cruise stay, before boarding the Celebrity Silhouette.  We had flown here from Singapore on SwissAir, via Zurich.  Arrival was on time, and we had arranged a private pick-up for the 6 of us. The cost was 62 Euros to get us from Rome FCO to our Bed & Breakfast in central Rome called Quod Libet. (The reviews of this B&B on TripAdvisor are fantastic and it certainly lived up to our expectations.  More on the Quod Libet later).

On our way into Rome.

The check in at the B&B was smooth.  After leaving our luggage, it was time to go explore Rome.  Yes, we were tired after a long flight, but it was the late morning in Rome and we should take advantage of the sun shine!   Quod Libet was located very centrally and it took us about 10 minutes to reach the Vatican entrance.

As it was off-season, the crowds were not as big, which was good for us.

We found our way easily into the Vatican Northern entrance.  There were no lines for the tickets.

A good idea to visit the toilets before you start the long walk.

They were playing a video of Pope Francis, on Samsung TVs.

Signages.  The plan was to see the Sistine Chapel.  To get there, we had to take a very long walk through many halls and rooms.  It was one-way traffic and there were no short-cuts.

Here we go.   Remember, one-way traffic.  In summer, I think this place must be really very crowded.  Do be careful with your belongings.  Many tourists in close proximity.


These look to be from Egypt?  Not sure.

Mummies, yeah from Egypt.

I took this photo of the courtyard from a window.

Just follow the signs.  One-way traffic.  Idiot-proof.  Cappella Sistina!

Intricate carvings.

There were many rooms like these.

Oh, I didn't see the chap up on the roof, till now.

Many intricate roofs too.

You can see the number of tourists here, and this was low season.

We head on, to Cappella Sistina.


Oh, I didn't notice that big cup on near the roof.  Quite amazing, the things you find in a photograph.

Wonder what this huge treasure chest was for?  Somebody's tomb?

This particular walkway was very impressive, in my opinion.  The ceiling was breathtaking, though I wasn't sure whether there were lighting effects that accentuated the effect.

The ceiling.

Good stuff.

There were many gorgeous displays on the walls too, including maps from ancient times.

Yeah, this is a map of Italy.  Very intricate.

I wonder what that animal or sea creature was, that one right in the centre with wings.

We head on to Capella Sistina.  Still many rooms and halls to pass through before the final destination.

Another painting.

Another Courtyard.

Scenes of war.

Absolute carnage.  The history of man is all about war, war and more war.

Still on our way to Cappella Sistina.

We finally reached the Sistine Chapel. It was somewhat underwhelming though still worth a visit.  No photographs were allowed and the guards enforced the rule.

Now, here comes the magic.  If you followed the signs, you would have to exit by the same way we came.  However, the good guys at Quod Libet gave us this wonderful tip.  From the Sistine Chapel, exit via the Tour Group exit.  True enough, I saw an exit which said 'Group Only' or something along those lines.  We got out via that exit and that would lead us to St Peter's square. PHew!

Here we are.  Thankfully, we didn't have to walk one big round to get back here.   That saved us a long, long walk.

There were many chairs laid out, presumably for Mass.

We also entered St. Peter's Basilica.  

It was very, very grand.

Wonderful architecture.

Quite breathtaking, and obviously very well maintained.

As we exited St Peter's Basilica, we saw this Vatican guard.

Loved his spear.  It looked really menacing.

Don't mess with the Vatican Guard.

We also passed the Vatican Post Office.  Here was the post box.

We didn't enter.

It was a fine day, very pleasant for walking.

The very famous square.

Next, we made our way south-east, and started to walk, even though we were jet lagged.

Well, after all that walking, it was time for a break.  We found this Gelato Cafe and it seemed to have good reviews?  Anyway, we needed a break.

A wide selection of gelato.  Looks very tempting!

Which one to choose?  Decisions, decisions.

We let the kids choose their own.

So elaborate.  Yes, the gelato was very good and reasonably priced.

Ah, ha, smart car.  We would see many of these in Italy.

After the short break, we were getting really tired (and jet lagged) so we made our way back to the B&B to rest.  We would visit the other major sites the next day.

Do continue to part 2 of my review.

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