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Villefranche, Monaco, Monte Carlo

Florence, Pisa

Rome

Sorrento, Pompeii

Rome Shore 3
Civitavecchia (easy for you to say!) is the gateway to the ancient city of Rome.  Rome is home to a lifetime's worth of historical, architectural and spiritual sites. Depending on traffic, the drive from Civitavecchia to Rome takes approximately an hour and a half. Civitavecchia Harbor
Rome began as a small village around 753 BC when Latin tribes moved into Italy and settled along the Tiber River.  Now it is a bustling metropolis of 3 million people that still retains aspects of its ancient, medieval, and Renaissance histories.  The city's 2,700 years of history are on display everywhere you look.  Rome is Italy's treasure trove, packed with masterpieces from more than two millennia of artistic achievement.

Rome has horrible traffic and meager public transportation.  They can’t install (subterranean) mass transit because the city is riddled with ancient ruins that they don’t care to destroy with subways.

First we went to the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel, then to the Colosseum and lunch, driving through part of the city, and then returning to St. Peter's in the afternoon. 

Rome Map (with hot links)

Click on the map to see the sights

Ruins in Rome

Typical ruins in the city

Castel San Angelo

Castle San Angelo

Bridge statue
Hadrian had what is now known as Castle San Angelo built as a mausoleum for himself and his family. In order to have an easy access to this sepulchre from the area of Campo Marzio a bridge was built crossing the Tiber river, the Elio Bridge, which was inaugurated in 134 A.D.
Churches Il Vittoriano
Santa Maria dei Miracoli & Santa Maria in Montesanto Driving around town Il Vittoriano
(Victor Emmanuel II Monument)
Colosseum  (Flavian Amphitheatre)
Although amphitheaters were built throughout the Roman Empire, none were as large and grand as the Colosseum. The name, however, derives not from its great size, but from the Colossus, a large bronze statue of Nero, standing near it. It provided good visibility for the more than 50,000 spectators who viewed animal games, spectacles, and gladiatorial combats there.

Begun in the 1st century AD by Emperor Vespasian, a member of the Flavian family, it remained in use until the early 6th century.

  • Built 72 – 80 AD – construction techniques were impressive to allow completing the building this quickly.  It also had a canvas covering like sails to make shade for the spectators.

  • 615' x 510'; 159'H  (about the same footprint as a football stadium)
Aerial photo of Colosseum
Interesting website on the Colosseum
Constantine's Arch Via Sacra

Approaching Constantine’s arch,. The Forum is up the hill on the left (1/4 mile or more) and the Colosseum on the right

Via Sacra showing temple of Venus and Rome
Colosseum
The Colosseum
Colosseum Mom Colosseum
The travertine blocks were all connected to each other by iron clamps, which have long disappeared and have left the holes you can see everywhere.
Inside the Colosseum Barb, Mom, Chris Barb
Inside the Colosseum
Inside the Colosseum
Inside Chris Barb and Mom
Inside the Colosseum On the grounds outside Heading to lunch ...
Mom and Barb Barb, Mom, Chris Mom
I'll vote for Lunch ... I'll drink to that Mom in front of the hotel where we ate lunch
Chris Barb Mom
What a bunch of boozers ...
Vatican Museums
The Vatican (The Holy See)

The Vatican is the smallest country in the world.

Area:  0.44 square km - about 0.7 times the size of The Mall in Washington, DC

Population:  923

Independence:  11 February 1929 (from Italy); the three treaties signed with Italy on 11 February 1929 acknowledged, among other things, the full sovereignty of the Vatican and established its territorial extent; however, the origin of the Papal States, which over the years have varied considerably in extent, may be traced back to the 8th century.

Official website

Vatican Map

Vatican Museums map

Map of the Vatican Museums, with the Sistine Chapel highlighted (bottom)

The Vatican Museums originated as a group of sculptures collected by Pope Julius II (1503-1513).  The popes were among the first sovereigns who opened the art collections of their palaces to the public thus promoting knowledge of art history and culture.  As seen today, the Vatican Museums are a complex of different pontifical museums and galleries with over one thousand rooms and galleries that contain various sculptures, paintings, tapestries, ceramics, ancient artifacts, mosaics, maps, and include carriages, apartments, and chapels.  This is reputed to be the largest art collection in the world.  The buildings themselves are a magnificent work of art with elaborate floors and ceilings.  The Sistine Chapel is part of the Vatican Museums. 

Official museum website

Waiting in line Vatican Museums Swiss Guard
Waiting in line Vatican Museums The Pontifical Swiss Guard
Mom and Barb Floor Mosaic Frescoes
The eyes follow you around the room ... Floor Mosaic Frescoes (i.e., just colored plaster!)
Chapel Chapel
Chapel
Ceiling Ceiling St Peter's
Ceiling Ceiling St. Peter's (from inside the Museums)
The Sistine Chapel

The Sistine Chapel is a masterpiece of Renaissance art.  It is highlighted by by Michelangelo's masterpieces, the impressive frescoes, including the "Last Judgment."

Official website, including photos and virtual tour.

Images of Sistine Chapel

Last Judgment Fresco

Sistine fresco
Look at the block of soot that was left after the restoration to show the "before" and "after" (upper left hand corner)
Sistine Fresco
Vatican Museum Stairs
Vatican Museums Museum exit (Stairs ...  it's always stairs ...)
St. Peter's St. Peter's Basilica -  the largest church in the world
This great building is the center of Christianity (and you see many pilgrims here from around the world).  The opulence of the building's interior bears testimony to the wealth of the catholic church in the 16th century.

Emperor Constantine, the first Christian emperor of Rome, ordered to build a basilica on Vatican Hill. The location was symbolic: this was the place where Saint Peter was buried in 64 A.D. A small shrine already existed on the site but it was now replaced by a new church that was completed around 349 A.D.   1200 years later the church was again replaced by a new basilica which was to become the largest in the world.  The Vatican observed the 500th anniversary of the current Basilica in April, 2006.

Aerial View of Vatican

Fabulous website (highly recommended!)
GREAT interactive floorplan, with photos

The building itself is truly impressive. The largest church in the world, it has a 218 meter long nave (more than twice the size of a football field). The basilica's dome, designed by Michelangelo is the largest dome in the world measuring nearly 140 feet in diameter and reaching 454 feet high. The interior, which includes 45 altars, is decorated by many famous artists. Some of the most important works in the church are the Pietà by Michelangelo, the papal altar by Bernini, the Throne of St. Peter - also by Bernini - and the Monument to the Stuarts by Canova.
St. Peter's Square St. Peter's Square St. Peter's Square
On Wednesdays the Pope conducts the Papal audience.   We saw a speck of the Pope, along with 150,000 of his closest friends gathered in St. Peter’s square St. Peter's Square St. Peter's Square

As you can tell, it rained on us briefly while we stood in line to enter St. Peter's Basilica

Ceiling The Pieta The Dome
Ceiling inside St. Peter's The Pieta

This is probably the world's most famous sculpture of a religious subject. Michelangelo carved it when he was 24 years old, and it is the only one he ever signed.

The famous dome, the largest in the world at 140 feet diameter
Pulpit Inside St. Peter's Pulpit
Inside St. Peter's, showing the Bernini Pulpit The pictures do not do justice to how incredibly massive this church is Inside St. Peter's, also showing the Bernini Pulpit
Mosaic All the “pictures” inside St. Peter’s are actually finely detailed mosaics – hence photography is allowed inside the church.
 

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