I’d looked forward to this day since we’d booked our European vacation. I’d been to Rome twenty years ago, so had been to the Vatican, but Ann had not. I’d told her that St. Peter’s was something we could not miss on our visit to the Eternal City. I’d been counting down the days until I could take her into the basilica and see her reaction.

We took a cab from our hotel, winding through the streets of Rome until we came around a corner onto a wide street and the windshield of the cab was filled with a magnificent view of St. Peter’s. It is an amazing structure, its mammoth size combining with its near perfect proportions to play tricks on your mind.  At first, it looks like a fairly normal building until you stop and realize just how tiny the people in front of it seem. When you process that information, you realize just how gigantic the basilica truly is.

stpete

St. Peter’s Square

Our cab stopped in front of the square, and we got out, pausing a moment to take in the grandeur. We started crossing the street, approaching the square, reverently taking it all in. At least that’s what we planned to do.  Suddenly we were descended upon by a multitude of vendors selling selfie sticks, scarves emblazoned with the word, “ROMA” and tickets to the Vatican Museum which we knew was sold out for the day. We refused all of these oft-repeated, wonderful offers (seriously, Rome street vendors, if you just saw me tell someone I didn’t want the cheap selfie stick they are selling, why would you think I’d want to buy one just like it from you?)  as we crossed the street and headed into the square.

Once in the square, I headed to the end of the line to go in while Ann meandered around, snapping some photos for this very post.

[pullquote align=[“right”] Suddenly we were descended upon by a multitude of vendors selling selfie sticks, scarves emblazoned with the word, “ROMA” and tickets to the Vatican Museum which we knew was sold out for the day. [/pullquote]

Behind me in line was a British couple. They were in Rome for a week, and we chatted as we waited, baking in the Roman sun, taking turns telling sales people that we didn’t want their tickets or selfie sticks or “ROMA” scarves, and politely directing people to the end of the line when they tried to cut. We also spent some time admiring the umbrellas that others had brought along with them to block the sun, and wising we’d been that smart and that the vendors would be selling those, instead.

The line moved quickly; within about 25 minutes, we were passing through the metal detectors and x-ray machines. From there, we walked toward the basilica, and were directed under a pop-up tent where two people stood examining the dress of all visitors. They reminded some that this was a place of worship, and that shoulders and knees had to be covered by clothing in order to enter. As we looked around, we realized that there were quite a few embarrassed women sporting “ROMA” scarves turned into makeshift blouses and skirts.

As we passed through the doors, I watched Ann’s face light up as she stood taking in the beauty and grandeur of the building.

Our first glance inside St. Peter's Basilica.

Our first glance inside St. Peter’s Basilica.

A smile spread across her face, and I knew that she agreed this was the “must see” I’d told her it was. The first look inside this church is truly awe inspiring. It is absolutely huge, though it doesn’t seem that way until you again look at the people in it for scale. Thousands visit daily, but it simply doesn’t feel crowded.

Just inside the door and to the right is Michelangelo’s Pieta, and we headed off in that

The Pieta' in St. Peter's Basilica. The marble sculpture dates back to 1499 and was assigned to a then 23-year-old Michelangelo Buonarroti.

The marble sculpture, The Pieta’, dates back to 1499 and was assigned to a then 23-year-old Michelangelo Buonarroti.

direction to take a closer look which was difficult to do because of the number of tourists standing around it, holding their “ROMA” skirts with one hand, and snapping photos with the other, cameras held high over their heads on selfie sticks, hoping that one of their many photos might turn out.

Though not the case in many churches and museums, flash photography is permitted in St. Peters. I thought I remembered from my visit 20 years earlier it was because the art is mosaic. At first I thought I’d remembered wrong, that I was looking at paintings. Only after leaning in for a closer look did I see the thousands of tiny tiles that make up the massive mosaics.

One of many incredible mosaics in the basilica.

One of many incredible mosaics in the basilica.

We spent an hour wandering through the basilica, marveling at the architecture, the altar, and the number of people who would stand in one place for minutes, surrounded by some of the most beautiful creations of mankind, trying to figure out how to fix their recently acquired selfie sticks.

After we’d thoroughly explored the basilica, we headed back across the square.  We reminisced about the beauty we’d seen as we navigated the throng of street vendors  so we could find a cab to take us to the next place on our “must see” list, a historical place we’d only briefly seen on our car tour the day before:  The Roman Colosseum.

[well]This blog post is part of a series about the “20 Things We’ll Remember Most About Our Summer Vacation.” Up next: The Roman Forum and Colosseum. [/well]

  • We've been having the best time in the Florida Keys visiting Steve's mom and dad this week. Today, it was cold for Floridians, but we loved the sunshine (and were thankful for awesome neighbors who were likely shoveling the snow from our driveway back home).⁣
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We are so thankful for a flexible schedule and opportunities like this one to share time with family. Life seems to pass us by so quickly the older we get and we're fortunate to be able to travel and share experiences with the people we love most. ⁣
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Feeling especially blessed tonight, in the beautiful Florida Keys.
  • We enjoyed a delicious dinner tonight at Hideaway Cafe on Grassy Key with Steve's mom and dad. We went early at 5 p.m. for the sunset dinner menu which has smaller portions and the most beautiful views of the sunset. ⁣
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The food was fresh and made-to-order and served by gracious and professional staff who made us feel right at home. ⁣
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Hideaway is a great restaurant choice for dinner if you're in the Florida Keys. Get a reservation ahead of time, as it fills up quickly, even at 5 p.m.
  • Need some inspiration for staying healthy while traveling? Good news! We are taking over the @noom Instagram stories this afternoon and hope you’ll all follow along as we share tips on how to make healthy living choices while on a cruise ship. We’ll take you inside the beautiful @celebritycruises Edge and show you how we stayed on track with our Noom goals while still enjoying a fantastic cruise vacation. Be sure to follow @noom! Our takeover has just begun. 😁
  • The Rooftop Garden is a unique space on the top deck of the @celebrityedge. There’s no water slide on this ship, no go-carts, and the’s no rock wall for climbing. Instead the Rooftop Garden provides a “living urban playscape inspired by childhood playgrounds and designed to waken the inner child in all of us,” according to the Celebrity Cruises website. There are live plants, comfortable outdoor seating, and unique art installations that set the space apart from anything else at sea. @cruisecelebrity
  • Blu is a restaurant on the Celebrity Edge that is dedicated to guests in Aqua Class.  It serves “clean, crisp flavors and inventive cuisine” in a gorgeous blue venue. To give you an example of the types of entrees served, for dinner tonight Blu is offering seared duck breast with wilted chard, farro risotto, and black cherry jus; a cracked pepper corn-crusted tuna salad, watercress, and dijon vinaigrette; and pumpkin gnocchi with sautéed arugula, sundries tomatoes, marinated artichokes, goat cheese and basil pesto. What would you order?
  • Yes, cruise ships are huge, but if you do a little exploring, you’ll find that the designers have included many small spots perfect for intimate conversation and watching the world go by. We found this nook in Eden, on deck 5 of the Celebrity Edge, near the stern.
  • Last Sunday we began the second half of our very first back-to-back cruise on the Celebrity Edge. We’ve had the best cruise vacation and have enjoyed every single minute of our vacation. The Edge  been an ideal place to relax, recharge, and prepare for a new year. We’ve also used this time to try new things and focus on a healthy lifestyle. Thank you all for coming along on our journey and sharing your sweet comments with us along the way. We are grateful for each of you.
  • We just love these guys!! These two characters were the bartenders on the Retreat Sundeck for our cruise aboard the Celebrity Edge. Johannes and Vince created a light, fun atmosphere and made you want to go to the pool every day. Their personalities helped make the Retreat a welcoming place with professional service. We shouldn’t be surprised, though. We found similar cheerfulness in crew around every corner of the Edge, under the command of @captainkatemccue.

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