While in Rome for the first time, the Vatican is a must. I don't know what I was expecting there, but it completely surpassed any and all expectations. We went to the St. Peter's Basilica first, which is definitely the smart way to do things. The queues were not that bad to get into the Basilica... especially considering the queue for the museum was probably 2 hours. We started out in the Crypts of the Popes, which is definitely worth a see, before walking up into the Basilica. I probably could have spent an hour or two looking around there. It's the most enormous structure that seemed to go on forever. Apparently it's not a Cathedral because a bishop doesn't sit there... which I had no idea.
Swiss Guard, St. Peter's Basilica, where St. Peter is buried under, Pietà
We bought "skip the line tickets" for the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel just outside of the Basilica. There were loads of people on the streets claiming to sell discounted tickets, but we decided to buy them from somewhere within the Vatican that seemed legit. It was easily the best decision we made today-- we truly were able to skip the queue! It was not that much more expensive than regular tickets, and it saved us from standing in the sun all day.
The Vatican Museums were amazing. I don't really know how to describe the experience-- everything I could possibly imagine and more was there! The difference between the sculptures in the Vatican and the ones everywhere else were primarily that the ones in the Vatican had noses. Since words don't do it justice, I took a bunch of pictures to describe the experience.
Circle Within a Circle
A Goddess Breastfeeding, plus some other people.
Perseus holding Medusa's head
I'm not entirely certain what everything I saw was called, but it was all amazing. One picture in particular stood out to me, which is below. It's a little sad in my opinion-- it clearly depicts how Christianity overruled the Roman gods. That being said, the Museums clearly demonstrate the greatness of both ancient gods and Catholicism. Sistine Chapel was beautiful, of course. You can't take pictures in there, and people were packed in like sardines, and it still was one of the most beautiful places I've ever been.
I found this painting really striking. Beautiful, but sad.
I love ceilings.
Killing of the Innocents (or similar name), a tapestry
The most amazing ceiling ever.
After the Sistine Chapel, Erik was fading pretty hard from a cold so we grabbed some pizza and headed back to the hotel. We walked a little over 6 miles today, which means we've almost walked a marathon in total in Rome. Tomorrow we're going to take a train to Sorrento! We're actually both kind of sick... I woke up with the worst headache I can remember at 5am and slept on and off until 9:30, and Erik woke up with a cold. Hopefully we can sleep on the train, kick whatever bugs are making us miserable, and enjoy the coast.