The first day after arriving in Rome was spent at the Vatican museums and St. Peter's Basilica.
However I feel compelled to first mention that the hotel I stayed at, Best Western Franklin Feel the Sound, had a disco ball in the washroom. And upside-down snare drums as bedside tables. And a sound system in each room, speakers in the bathroom and a library of CDs you can borrow from in the lobby.
So back to the Vatican, we woke up bright and early to make a beeline for the Vatican museum. The line was still fairly decent when we arrived there around 9 am. There were tons of peddlers around trying to sell everything from tour packages, fast lane tickets and postcards.
Once again I spent way too long inside, but there's really so many things to see inside. The popes used their wealth to collect a staggering amount of Classical sculptures and Renaissance art.
What really amazed me were all the repairs made to classical marble sculptures by Renaissance artists, sometimes replacing entire limbs that had been destroyed, and the amount of mosaic that popes had moved to the Vatican. How do you just up and move an entire mosaic wall or floor, and have it incorporated into an existing building?!
The hallways were also richly decorated with various paintings on the walls and elaborate decorations on the coffer ceilings. One of my favourite hallways had large maps of various kingdoms and countries as understood at the time.
I also spent quite a bit of time while in Rome surreptitiously taking pictures of nuns and priests.
Lunch was simply a quick sandwich inside the museum cafe. We finally made it out, through the famous spiral stairs, in the afternoon. Then it was onto Castel Sant'Angelo and Piazza San Pietro.
It was pretty difficult trying to get a good picture of the Swiss Guard on account of them being an actual active force. I did manage to find a pretty good angle by a side door after you pass through the security check into St. Peter's Basilica.
The inside of the cathedral was gorgeous and richly decorated in marbles and scultures, including Michelangelo's famous Pietà. St. Peter's features perhaps the best use of light I've seen so far. I wasn't able to capture most of it in photos, but the windows around St. Peter's are all designed such that rays of light, at different times of the day, shine down to illuminate sculptures or instill a sense of awe.
As it was around Easter, the Catholic Church was busy with a variety of special ceremonies and events. We were there during Maudy Thursday, and caught the tail end of, what I believe was, the evening mass.
The plaza was rather empty of tourists by the time we left the church. The sun started setting, casting a glow on the tip of the obelisk as the plaza fell into shadows.
Dinner that night was a simple and authentic spread of roast vegetables, salads, cheese and baked bread.