Hi everyone! Right now it is Sunday afternoon in Rome. Rose and I are taking a break from the hot day to write news to you! Rose is trying to get pictures off of her memory cards onto cd's so that she can take more. If all goes well, hopefully we'll get some posted.
We had a great morning. We woke up at 7,00 AM after sleeping well all night. We have not had much problems sleeping! I think Rose was awake a little while our first night, but last night (our 2nd) was great. The key to sleep is....walk for miles and miles and miles, eat a good dinner, and lie down. It works every time.
So, this morning we made our way to St. Peter's Basilica for our first Vatican experience. The plan was to explore the Basilica in the morning, and then stay in the square for the Pope's appearance at noon. All worked splendidly. we arrived a little after 8;00, and there were no people in line for the Basilica. We walked right in! The first sight on the right is Michaelangelo's Pieta. wow. It is so beautiful. It is a marble sculpture of Mary holding Jesus after he is taken down from the cross. Pictures honestly do not do it justice. I never thought I would actually see the real one...but there it was in front of me!! The entire Basilica is full of beautiful Christian art. Plus, the building is overwhelming. At 9:30, one of hte Sunday masses started. The Basilica is so huge, that the mass is held in one section, nad the others are still open for viewing. You can hear the mass as you walk around looking at everything.
After seeing everything in the Basilica, we climbed to the top of the Dome. yes, climbed. 530 steps up, to be exact. The stairway gets narrower and narrower as you get close to the top, making it difficult. At some places, you cannot even stand up straight becasue the Dome shape makes you have to lean over to one side. It is hard to explain. Trust me though, it is not fun to climb. The work is worth it! From the first level, you are inside of the top of the Basilica. We could see all of the artwork of the Dome close up, and look down into the sanctuary and see the mass, which was still going on. The sound was great as well, so we could hear everything going on hundreds of feet below us.
We continued to the second level, the Cupola of the Dome. This is outside, where you can see the entire city of Rome, plus all of the buildings and gardens of the Vatican. It was crowded, but gorgeous.
As we descended the 530 steps (which isn't much easier than climbing them), we stopped at the first level. Guess what? There were restrooms there!! Those are scarce in Rome. And, these didn’t even have lines. We took a welcome rest and continued.
At the bottom, we exited into the Basilica, right by the baptismal font. There was a baptism happening, so we watched that. That was pretty amazing. I don’t know many people who have attended a baptism in St. Peter’s.
We then went down to the grottoes to see the tombs. John Paul II’s tomb is there. It was kind of a hassle, though, because they herded everyone past so quickly you couldn’t really see much. Oh well, it was worth it.
Then, we went outside to see the Pope, which was an awesome experience. We had arrived at the square at 8;00 AM. It was empty. At 11:00, we exited the Basilica and went to find a spot in the square. There were a lot of people there, but still plenty of space. We were smart enough to ask a guard where the Pope was going to appear, so we knew where to stand to get good pictures. By the time he appeared at noon, the square was packed with people from everywhere you could imagine. I don't have any idea how many people were there, but it had to be more than 10,000. It was a massive amount of people. He spoke for about 15 minutes. First he talked for a while about Pentecost (in Latin, so I don't know exactly what he said) and then he sang a song, and then he blessed everybody in about 7 languages. I know he did French, English, Spanish, Polish, Italian, and German. i couldn't figure out a couple. It was pretty amazing.
After that, we left the Vatican, took a quick stop in our room, and now we are writing you! We are going to go get some lunch in a little bit, and then go into Rome to see a museum.
That’s all for now! We are having a great time!
By the way, we have really been blessed with great weather. The first day was miserably heart. Yesterday, though, was gorgeous. It was overcast all day, and sprinkled just a few times. There was always a pleasant breeze, and the temperature was perfect. Today was warmer, but the sun has stayed behind clouds and there has been a breeze. It could be so much worse! We are drinking plenty of water and staying safe.
I am going to eventually update my previous post, since I got cut off. I don’t want to continue with a new one, because that would be quite confusing. So, if you are interested, go re-read that. ;) It might not be today, though.
See you next time!