The alarm went off and we were up to take on the day with a trip to the Vatican. Up stairs for a leisure breakfast sitting out on the deck of the hotel enjoying the fresh morning breeze. The hustle and bustle of the city from the day before was a contrast to what we were seeing and hearing. A street sweeper made its way through the piazza, trash trucks were picking up refuse from the restaurants and trash containers, and food vendors were making their rounds. Linda commented that people are people, just doing the same thing we do, just in a different place of going to work and making a living.
We grabbed a cab to Vatican square as we were not sure how far it was from our hotel and glad we did. It was only about a $10 Euro ride and he dropped us right at the square. A crew was setting up chairs for the Wednesday papal mass which requires you to have tickets about a month in advance. There are big screens on either side so you can see the Pontiff. We asked for directions to the Scavi tour and everyone said it was on the left side of the columns. It isn’t as obvious as it would seem. We found the security check point and waited about 10 minutes before they started to let us in. We went to the ticket office, and joined a small group of 12 others for the “underground” tour.
There are no pictures allowed and you go down about 4 levels beneath the Vatican to see the original foundations.The passage ways are very narrow and dark. Not for those that get claustrophobic. I was borderline.The Vatican cathedral is built on the grounds of an old cemetery. St. Peter was crucified and buried on a hill not far from the Vatican. Later his remains were transferred to the cemetery and a shrine was built over his internment. The cemetery was active for many years and open to the sky. The more important people were buried along side the road with their name on their grave site. The lesser people were buried further out.
There were also pagan and Christians buried together in the cemetery, as well as cremains and traditional burials. As the centuries went by more Popes built over the cemetery keeping a central focus point on the top of St. Peters
We had a quick lunch in an out of the way bar and walked back to the hotel to take a long nap along the Tiber River. We must have walked 5 miles.
On the way back to the hotel we past through Campo Di Fiori. Much to our delight an open air market was going on. The locals had come to do their grocery shopping. Bright veggies, fruits, pastas and even fresh squeezed juices. We saw the Pomegranates being turned into bright cups of juice. Yummy!
Dinner comes late for people as most places don’t get going until about 8 PM and stay open late. Thomas who was running the desk gave us a suggestion to try Sabatino’s just around the corner. He said to get anti-pasta for 2 and 1 main course. We did just that. The anti-pasta could have fed 4 people and then we enjoyed the main course. We were so stuffed we felt like we had a rolling gait as we left.
We headed out for the Trevi Fountain which was being renovated. There was still a large crowd even though there wasn’t any water in the fountain. The Spanish Steps were not that far. We kept asking for directions and we finally got to our destination, the Spanish steps. At night in Rome the center city comes to life. Young people dancing and tossing brightly lit glow sticks. Musicians are serenading the crowds and hoping for a few coins. Vendors still have all the trinkets out looking like somewhat of a swap meet. The wind has come up and Christopher and I get a relief from the rather hot day. Tomorrow we head back to see the Sistine Chapel and the main part of the Vatican.