Oct 25, 2007

Roma - Part 3 Continued

After leaving the museum, Kat and I made our way around to Piazza di San Pietro, or St. Peter's Square. Funny how they name things that aren't square in shape... squares. Of course when something is this beautiful, you can call it whatever you want as far as I'm concerned.
This is the Piazza taken from the cupola or top of the dome... at least what is accesible to the public. But how did we get there?

Here it goes....

Kat and I wander the Piazza. It's ridiculously hot and humid, so we change out of our warm clothing that covers us from below our knees to our shoulders. She gets asked by other tourists to take their picture in front of one of the fountains. The two fountains sit on either side of the obelisk in the center. You can just barely see them in the shot above.

The Piazza is, to return to a word I used earlier, ginormous. Of course, that means I couldn't fit it all in a single shot.

And clearly neither could Kat. So instead of attempting something futile, I just took a video. And don't worry, I don't think this one will make you nauseous.

Now that the layout makes much more sense, I'll continue. The fountains, although simple, are beautiful and very fitting. And the obelisk... eh. It's all right. People in Europe seem to be big fans of these things. It has a few details. An eagle carrying an olive branch? Sounds familiar. I'm not actually sure if that is an eagle or a hawk. Maybe you can tell.So we had some fun in the square and waited for the rest of the crew to show up. And then we really had some fun. Antony took his usual "running man" pose with Jen as his official photographer. I managed to catch a different view of the scene.

Of course, we had some posing. And this is where the blog becomes interactive. That's right, it's time for some reader interaction. You get to pose with me. Ready? Go

Quick, make like an obelisk!

Make like a basilica!And reader interaction over. Yes, that was me being a total goof ball I was having fun, what can I say. Thank you to Jen for the photography.

But Antony was confused by our little game. Come on Antony, make like a basilica!There you go... kind of.

And then to accompany the posing we had some splashing. Those fountains are certainly versatile. Sarika and Venice pose some more, Antony sets up...Antony strikes! And you can see the reaction all over Sarika's face.

Eventually after more hijinks and posing, we begin to consider actually going inside St. Peter's Basilica. As we get closer we realize that going inside means puting back on all that warm, oppressive clothing. Did I mention it's close to 100 degrees outside? But according to the sign, one legged individuals and people without pants and sleeves are not allowed. See, look! So we debate. Well, some of us do, but Trevor is not missing this opportunity. The rated PG quote would be "I'm going whether you idiots are coming or not." And Trevor begins to dress in the middle of the square. His dressing is somehow enough to convince the rest of us that we should go inside. Only Cristina decides not to enter the basilica and she moves to the rim of the square to relax with our bags.

We go inside and I what I see literally takes my breath away. I mean I'd already seen a few churches, and there were plenty more to follow in later trips, but this was really something.

Immediately off to the right between the Holy door and the altar of Saint Sebastian is the Michelangelo's Pieta. Because of a guy who decided to attack the sculpture with a chisel in 1972, it's protected by a sheet of bullet proof acrylic glass. A hand rail also prevents how close you can get to the piece. Sadness. For a complete layout... at least of the main hall of the interior, see the video below. I just hope you're good at looking at things upside down.

And now that Kat wants to wring my neck....

Here we have Bernini's canopy. As you can see, the low light conditions made things a little difficult for my baby Canon. I used a makeshift tripod, hence the blurred movement. We also have Bernini's Cathedra Petri and Gloria. I'm not really sure which is which.Honestly, there are so many things that we didn't see. For instance, we didn't go into the Tomb of the Popes. I know there was probably a lot of history down there, and I'm pretty sure Trevor ventured there, but dead people just aren't my thing. And I say that as respectfully as possible.

Eventually we all meet up and we decide to climb the stairs up to the cupola, the dome of the Basilica. We had the option of taking the lift part way and climbing the rest, or just taking the stairs. The lift cost money, money we decided we didn't want to spend. Had we taken the lift we would have only had to climb 320 stairs. Since we didn't take the lift, it was more like 580. Talk about the cost you pay to be cheap. The good news is, I could eat all the yummy carb filled Italian food I wanted to, and after the climb we had it wouldn't have mattered.

Antony maintains we'll be fine, so long as we stretch first... and he decides to present us with an example.After a good laugh we start to climb. And we continue climbing. We eventually pass the lift, and we keep going. Shortly after the lift we reach what I would consider to be the roof, at least the flat part of the roof upon which the dome appears to sit. It also has several mini domes and a shop filled with trinkets. I bought my St. Peter's Basilica shot glass from a nun. I love it...That's the shop off to the left.

Also great about this little stop is the fact that you can walk inside the dome and look down into the Basilica. The view is amazing.

Look at the way light streams in...Looking straight ahead, here are some of the details of the dome. It's not centered, and the contrast is a little harsh, but you get the idea.After our little picture section, we return to climbing. As you get higher into the dome, the walls begin to curve. Of course as you continue to climb, the walls curve more, and I seem to recall the roof becoming lower as well. Here is a mild example of the curving walls.We finally reach the top. I mean why start, get half way, and quit. I don't think we could have if we wanted to. Going back down meant a different set of stairs. But we'll get there. The view was worth the climb, I think it's the most impressive view of Rome. For example, the picture that opened this entry wouldn't have been possible if not for the climb. And now for some more of the view.

Here is the view into the Vatican Museum that was covered in the last entry. If you're able to open the full sized image, you can actually see the golden orb I was so obsessed with.

You could also see parts of Vatican City that are not open to the public. And this is why I want to be pen pals with the Pope.Look at those manicured gardens! The greenery, the hedges. I haven't even gotten to the flowers or the fountains. And if you look closely at the top right corner you can see the walls that separate Vatican City from surrounding Rome. I acutally wanted to be the Pope, but Kat reminded me that not only am I a woman, I'm also not Catholic. Still... I wouldn't mind having that space to myself.

While capturing the some of the shots above, Jen thought it'd be a good idea to take a shot of me hard at work!For more of the view, check this out. It even comes with it's own authentic Italian ambulence sound. It might be the police, I don't remember.

Eventually we made our descent back down the 500 some odd stairs. I think we avoided it as long as possible, but we didn't want to miss our train to Venice, and we were all pretty tired. The stairwell we had to take back down was very steep, with large, smooth steps. Jen and I were sliding all over the place in our flip flops and were holding onto the hand rails for dear life.

We make it back to terra firma and find Christina, sitting comfortably at the edge of the square before heading off to the train station to travel to Venice over night. I mean why pay for both a hotel and a train when you can save time and travel at night, right?

The train station is pretty cool. It still has one of the old fashioned types of arrival and depature boards, where the numbers and letters actually flip. Who needs electronics and flat screen panels when you can have that? I'm going to be honest, we were a little mesmerized. And then it was no longer entertaining.

We picked up some food at a local mini mart and ate our customary McDonalds. It's the only restaurant that is everywhere in Europe.

And we sat, all looking forward to boarding the train and having a comfortable, restful evening. All I can say is this is our messy trip to Italy... we should have known better.