We showed up about 10am to a 3 hour line, literally wrapped around the city. A nice (and by nice I mean scary) Irish man offered to let us skip in line with his "tour guide" who had been in line all morning and would save us about 2 hours of waiting.....for a fee of course. We negotiated a few bucks off his "fee" and hopped in line fully expecting it to be a total scam and planning to bail on the tour once we got inside. We figured it would be worth it just to not have to wait. Turns out the guy is a student in theology and art history. It was honestly one of the best tours we've had in all our European travels thus far. I would love to recommend the company to you if you happen to visit someday. Unfortunately, I think they are totally under the radar and you will just have to look for the scary/nice Irish man.
I knew nothing about the Vatican museum before we showed up and was happy to have a thorough explanation of how the museum came to exist, all of the precious artifacts it contains and, most importantly how the Sistine Chapel came to be. Here is a bath tub that belonged to Nero made of rare (now extinct?) Egyptian marble that is estimated to be worth half a billion (yes, Billion) dollars....
Feed a small country? Perhaps.
We toured the museum and saw Michelangelo's famous ceiling, got disconnected from our tour group, barely got to breeze through St. Peter's before they shut it down to get ready for Christmas Eve Mass.
We stopped for a late lunch just off the square where I had quite possibly the most delicious lasagne ever and snapped this photo...
We finished the day wandering Rome one last time before hopping a train to Florence the following day. Perhaps you're thinking we should have stayed for mass. We were told that over 60,000 people show up at about 10pm to angle for the "cheap seats" and wait for midnight mass. Well, we're not Catholic, and waiting two hours with thousands of people, in the cold for something that wasn't going to hold a whole lot of meaning for us just didn't sound like fun. We opted instead for a dinner of baguette, cheese and wine in our room, playing Texas Hold'em and watching Star Wars in Italian. How's that for starting new traditions?
More to come soon on what we've been up to lately - I promise.
In the meantime, a few photos of beautiful Rome -