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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Italy Day 3: St Peters and Our Anniversary

First thing is first...let's pick a winner for the party pack giveaway! 30 comments were posted and random.org actually chose comment #1: "Britt I would definitely choose the Disney Fanciful Princess package! This is perfect since I"m planning the girls birthday party right now!" Congrats Britt! You're the winner!!! Contact me at deliasgoddess33@aol.com within the next week to claim your prize, also thanks again to The Party Works for hosting such a fun giveaway! If anyone is ever interested in hosting a giveaway feel free to contact me :)

When we left Vatican Museum we saw a bride and groom getting pictures...I LOVED it. Every time I see a bride in a crazy location, I think of Javon and how much fun he'd be having! They were doing stuff against the city wall and she was such a beautiful bride. Neat to see a couple starting their married life together on the same day we did :)

And the groom was even wearing a white tux like Zach wore!
After our snooze fest through Vatican Museum we deserved a treat and decided it was the perfect time for our daily gelato fix! When we checked in our hotel the staff gave us a list of their top 10 places to eat in Rome. On that list was the gelato place we ate at the first night as well as one called Old Bridge. We had NO CLUE how to find it but knew it was somewhere around Vatican City. We just started walking in the direction of St Peter's and figured we'd find somewhere to get gelato. Well we lucked out!!! We happened to pass by the very place we were hoping to find :) The line was down the street but we heard it was the BEST so we didn't mind waiting. And it was worth it!!!
Most of our gelato pictures are of half-eaten ice cream because it is SO creamy that it starts melting immediately and you have no choice but to lick like crazy! We walked down a little ways and found a spot to sit and enjoy our treat together. That junk was good. It was Zach's favorite gelato from the entire trip. I have a hard time picking a favorite, I just loved it all.

Random guard who was guarding what? The empty street? Maybe some celebrity was at the place behind him or something?
Archway leading to St Peter's Square
HUGE columns
I know this outfit isn't typically my style but to be allowed into St Peters and the Sistine Chapel you had to have your shoulders and knees covered and this was the only appropriate thing I had. Poor Zach had to spend the day in jeans! While it's annoying to have to dress a certain way, I totally respect it and think it's AWESOME that they still uphold those standards!
St Peter's Square's history began with the great fire in 64 BC, when the emperor Nero, unjustly suspected of having ordered it, blamed it on the Christians (since Christianity was a "new" religion at the time). A violent persecution followed, Christians being martyred in Nero's circus at the foot of Vatican hill, where the basilica (church!) now stands. Among those martyrs was the apostle Peter, who was buried nearby. We actually tried to buy tickets to view his tomb but they only allow a certain number of people per day and we didn't book far enough out :(

The square's construction was ordered by pope Alexander VII and was designed by Bernini. The "arms" (rows of columns along the sides of the church, like you see below) are 120 meters long and 17 meters wide. Atop are 140 statues depicting the defenders of the faith, the founders of religious orders, popes, bishops, Doctors of the Church, saints and martyrs.


Fountain by Bernini

This 25 meter high obelisk was transported by the emperor Caligula from Heliopolis Egypt, and set down in his circus, which later became Nero's. It took four months and involved the labor of 1,000 men, 4,000 pounds of hemp rope and iron, 140 horses and 44 winches to place it where it stands now.
We hopped in line right away to get into the church. The line took under 10 minutes to get through...we did NOT realize how fortunate we were with this until we came back to St Peter's later in the week. I think it being later in the day and a day with on and off rain helped our crowd level :) I cracked up at Zach in the line and when I took this picture he even said "you took that to make fun of me on the blog didn't you?" Yes honey, I did. I mean it's the most easy to read and understand signage ever. Zach looks at it and says "we can't bring the umbrellas or water in?" Um OK means that you CAN bring it in smarty ;) Nope...can't bring in that water or umbrella but those knives are totally fine ;)
Swiss Guard

The facade (front of the church) is the work of Carlo Maderno. It is 45.5 meters high and 117.7 meters long. It has eight 27 meter high columns. On the top are 13 statues representing Christ the Redeemer, St John Baptist and eleven apostles. You can see ALL the seats behind us, they still hold services here and people even fill the chairs outside!
Ugh, my stupid sweater is covering one boob but not the other, why didn't Zach notice it and tell me to fix it? Men just don't notice those types of things ya know it?
Walking up the steps, it's CRAZY how HUGE the columns were.
They were in the process of cleaning the square. It was very interesting to see the comparison...this side hadn't been cleaned yet:
And this side had been cleaned!
This central door is the oldest of all the doors. It depicts Christ the Redeemer and the Virgin; St Paul and St Peter consigning the keys to a kneeling Eugene IV; the judgement and beheading of St Paul; and saint appearing to Plautilla and the crucifixion of St Peter (he was crucified upside down as he said he was not worthy to be crucified in the same way that Christ was).
The view inside was simply breathtaking...one of Zach's panoramic pics :)
I overheard someone reading from his travel guide book and he was saying that the letters on the walls were 7 FEET HIGH. Literally every single inch of space was decorated in some way. I also heard the guy read that although it is HUGE, the goal when they designed it was for there to be an intimate feeling to the space. Also EVERYTHING in St Peters is either made of gold, bronze, marble or tile!!!

Michelangelo sculpted the Pieta when he was only 25 years old (between 1498-1499). It was his first ever large-scale sculpture and is (along with David) his finest achievement in marble. It was made for the tomb of cardinal Jean Bilheres de Lagraulas, ambassador of Charles VIII to pope Alexander VI. It represents the Virgin Mary holding her crucified son, Jesus Christ. He carved it from a single piece of Carrara marble and it is still wildly regarded as the greatest work of Christian art ever created.  One interesting fact about this statue is the signature, which was chiseled on the belt that crosses the breast. It was the only statue that Michelangelo signed because, not as yet known, when the statue was first unveiled, he, standing apart from the crowd, heard comments that attributed the wort to another artist. In 1971 a crazy person took a hammer to it so after it was restored they put it inside glass.

You can get an idea of how high the ceilings were...
The is the alter of St. Sebastian. John Paul II was also buried here.
This dome alone has a perimeter of 71 meters!
Monument of Gregory XIII
Monument of Gregory XVI
Isn't this freaky?! It's the body of John XXIII, proclaimed blessed and transported here in June 4th 2001.
This is the great alter of Confession. Below it is where St Peter's tomb is!
A couple panoramic pics

Another view of domed ceiling, the columns alone are 45 meters high
In the center of all of these angels is a dove, representing the Holy Spirit
St Helena

If you take enough horrible self-pictures...
...someone will eventually volunteer to take a picture of you together!
If you didn't know this about me...I was actually raised Catholic (that background knowledge came in handy while sightseeing around Rome...that and my Latin knowledge def helped us out!). I wouldn't have considered myself a devote Catholic but I did attend Catholic Mass pretty regularly, and went through many of the sacraments. I remember going to confession and I really do still see the value in it...we are called to confess our sins. Not only to God but also to each other and it's something I feel like we, as a church whole, don't do often enough. We are worried about other's judging us if they were to know our sins when in reality we ALL sin and we should be building each other up and helping to keep each other accountable! I didn't go to confession many times as a Catholic (I only remember twice?) but I didn't use one of these booths either time. I remember one of the things I confessed (it was before my confirmation, I think I was 10 or 11?) was finding a dirty magazine and looking through it with my friend haha. And I confessed it straight up to my priest face-to-face! I guess I don't embarrass too easily huh? I wish I personally still had that innocence where I was unashamed to confess things to people like that, don't you?
Behind the kneeling pope in front is Christ and on either side of him are St Peter and St Paul
Madonna
Baroque organ
Monument of Benedict XV
This is the chapel of Baptism, designed by Carlo Fontant (1634-1714). The thing at the center is the baptismal font (Catholics sprinkle babies as means of baptism...you can read about what the Bible says about proper baptism and why it's essential to salvation HERE).
Couldn't resist a pic in front of a Swiss Guard :) 
And yay, my sweater got fixed so no more strange one-boob-covered-and-one-not thing!
 View of the square again
In front of another fountain, this one by Bernini
I front of the obelisk with basilica behind
My turn!
I'm SO glad we did St Peter's after the Vatican Museum. We were kinda feeling disappointed until we visited there...we LOVED the church. It was so, so awesome and it was Zach's favorite thing we saw the entire trip. It was beautiful. I loved every part of it from the square outside to all the details inside. We could have easily spent a full day just looking at everything!!!

We stopped by an atm to get more cash on our way back to the room. I mentioned this in an earlier post, but we only had 330 Euros in cash. We knew we'd need more but wanted to wait to get it until we got to Rome as we'd get a better exchange rate (we got the 330 at the airport and spent $500 to get it so we basically lost $180 in the deal!!!). Our first night in Rome our ATM card didn't work to pay for our meal...so I had been nervous about it sense then and was hesitant to spend our cash. We were leaving the next day for Sorrento and needed more before that leg of the trip so we hit up an atm and crossed our fingers. No luck. The card did NOT work. We were both pretty much freaking out. Sure, we had our credit card (which charged 3% in fees on each transaction, not cool) but a LOT of places only took cash. We were down to under 100 Euros and were only on Day 3 of our trip!!!

When we got back to the room this was the day they decided to clean it and took the key out of the slot so the power was off the whole time we were gone. Which also meant the fridge wasn't running. Thankfully all my milk was still cold but I was NOT HAPPY. It was a lot of bad stuff at once and I broke down into tears. I just wanted everything to go so wonderfully, especially on our anniversary day!!! I tried to call the bank even though I knew they were closed (since it was Memorial Day) but I left a message with every detail of information they could have possibly needed to fix the situation. I also called the number on our ATM card and left them a message. Luckily the hotel staff realized how important all of this was and let us use their phone free of charge as our calling card doesn't allow for 1-800 number calling. 

While I was pumping the idea hit me. The president of our bank actually attends our church and I'm friends with his daughter on Facebook. I wrote her and she happened to be online!!! Even though it was a holiday her dad and another woman went up to the bank to fix the issue for us right then!!! Isn't that such a HUGE blessing?!?! Thank you Facebook for saving the day (and for the amazingly sweet staff of our bank! Colony Bank rocks!)

With that concern behind us, how could the rest of the night not go wonderfully? It was actually after 9:00 when we finally left the hotel to go to dinner. In Italy most restaurants are closed from 2 or 3 until 7 or 7:30 so we adjusted to eating late anyway! The hotel staff told us one of the top places to eat and we had to ride the metro then take a bus to get there.

We stopped on our way out to get a picture of the ONLY signage for our hotel!!!
Yup, that's it :)
The doors to the "hotel" entrance...
First time riding the bus system in Rome!
Location for our dinner
We had a little bit of a wait but didn't mind. THIS was the part of town we SHOULD have booked a hotel room in!!! It was beautiful. All kinds of little romantic streets. Music could be heard playing. People were walking hand in hand together. It was how I had pictured Italy. I loved it!!! I'm SO glad we got a little taste of this area...even if it was the pricey side of things :) These pictures show the difference a camera setting can make, we were trying to get pictures of the streets behind us.

Much better! But my camera just does not do well in low light night situations :(


We noticed that in Italy they don't really value privacy. Everywhere we ate we were sat pretty close to other people. On this night Zach made sure to tell them it was our anniversary but we were still sitting close enough to rub elbows (like legit, we were sharing a table) with other people. The couple on one side of us were (thankfully) finishing their meal. They were from Oregon (2nd group of people we met from there, random!) and were annoying. They had been in Italy for like a month and I think they were just sick of each other and wanted other people to talk to. 

The people on the other side of us were actually a family. The husband was originally from Italy and the wife was originally from Canada and they now live...in India of all places. They were probably the wealthiest people we've ever had a personal conversation with. They weren't snobby or really showy about it but you could just TELL. They were telling us about all the pets they have and I asked how they take care of them all since they travel so much and they said "well we have staff." Oh, of course. Their daughter has her own driver and they told us a story about how her driver was taking her to get a gift for a birthday party (just her and the driver...no parents with them...) and how their daughter ended up handing out all kinds of money to beggers on the street. She was SUCH a cute girl. She loved talking with us and it was really interesting to learn about their lives. 

We joked about having them with us the rest of the trip to translate for us (as they were HUGE helps in deciding what to order since this restaurant didn't have English translations of all the menu choices) and said we'd have to file bankruptcy before even beginning to pay his regular salary...he agreed ;) I asked what they do and they claimed to do architecture and design. But then later they said they were in Rome to get their updates visas to continue to work and live in India and he said he knew the embassy people personally. Zach thinks that he was someone involved with the government somehow or something. 

Typically we get annoyed when we go on dates and get stuck talking to people the whole time, but we honestly enjoyed this meal with this family very much! They were so nice and it was so interesting to learn from them about our culture differences. They wanted to get a round of drinks with us...so the whole alcohol talk had to happen and it IS viewed so differently in other parts of the world. I do agree that our culture glamorizes it so much and that's a big reason we have SO many issues with it and abuse of it!  We were having such a good time that we didn't do so great keeping an eye on the time and had to hurry back. The last metro run to our stop was at 11:30! 

Our company was great and food was fabulous. Zach's pasta was awesome and he was still hungry so he ended up ordering a pizza after that and we ate the whole thing. I think I cleaned my plate at every meal! It was one of my goals to try all of my favorite Italian desserts while there. The lady from Oregon had tiramisu and I could tell I wouldn't like it so I tried creme brulee and I didn't like it AT ALL. I just don't think they sweeten stuff as much as we do? I didn't take a picture of any of our foods b/c I was embarrassed...I know that doesn't sound like me but that family we were with was SO cultured and cool and I felt lame being like "let's take a picture with our food!" haha. It was all amazing though! The pasta is soooo good. They don't use hardly ANY sauce (whereas here everything is COVERED in it!) but it's AMAZING. 

While we were eating several street vendors approached us which is so rude. One guy did tricks and swallowed a sword! I've never seen anyone do that before so that was neat! One guy was selling flowers and since it was our anniversary Zach bought one for me :) So romantic :) We enjoyed the bus ride back to the main terminal of the metro station. I personally prefer bus to subway. I like to SEE the sights and I just feel safer on something above the ground (not safer as in worried it will crash but safer from people mugging me or raping me or something haha). Not once any of the times we rode the bus did someone ask us to see a ticket. Never! I guess they just trust that people bought one??? We literally had the LAST subway ride for the night. It's interesting to me that they close it down at night!

It was another late, late night. By the time we showered and I pumped again and we packed up for our Sorrento trip the next day we didn't get to sleep until well after 1 am! Kinda ruined my 11 hours of sleep the night before huh? It was a wonderful anniversary though (we still haven't watched our wedding video...we MUST do that!!!!!!!!) and how blessed are we to have spent it in ITALY?!?!

Showing off my flower!


2 comments:

  1. What??? You guys didn't watch The Office? Goodness, what's the world coming to?? :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I know I am a HUGE nerd, but I am loving these Italy posts! I've never had much interest in Italy (or visiting there, honestly), but all the history stuff is right up my alley! It's been a few years since I've traveled internationally, and these posts are giving me the BUG.

    ReplyDelete

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