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Paul & Tracey's Travels
30th Oct 2010 - Rome, Italy
Vatican City and Italian Catholic Youth Movement

The two capital cities that lie closest to each other geographically are Rome and Vatican City. Today we are going to visit Vatican City, the smallest independent state in the world, covering approximately 100 acres. It has a population of about 1,000 and it’s own militia – the Swiss Guard.

Before all that, we had breakfast and picked up two City Boxes again with our complimentary sandwiches. It was a hot again last night and we kept the air conditioning on all night – this morning the sun was out again as we set off for the metro.

We bought another 4 Euro day ticket, and then caught the B Line train south to the ever busy Termini, and then changed onto the A line to go the 6 stops north west to Ottaviano station for Vatican City. The entrance to the city is via St Peter’s Square which is only a short walk from the Metro, however as we got nearer, it became increasingly clear that something was happening as there were hundreds of teenagers about with scarves and banners. On entering the square we encountered a crowd of thousands – we had arrived on the day of the annual Catholic Youth gathering (or at least that was what it appeared to be – we never found out exactly what it was).

There was no way we could make our way beyond the entrance to the square as it was simply a sea of flag waving, chanting, singing Italian youth. We assumed that they were there for the day so decided to walk around the outside of the square to try and gain access to the museum and Cistine Chapel, and eventually joined the end of a very long queue. By now it was about 11am and the sun was nice and warm, but after an hour and a half shuffling forward in the queue and still not getting near the entrance we gave up.

We walked back to the Metro and back two stops to Flaminio station. Just before this station the train unusually emerges onto ground level to cross the River Tiber via the Nenni Bridge and shares the bridge with two way car traffic, becoming almost like a tram. At Flaminio we left the Metro and walked into what we were hoping would be a nice quiet square (Piazza Di Popolo) where we could get away from the crowds and grab a drink.

It was nice and quiet when we arrived but it was obvious that an event was going to be held here later in the day (it is a Bank Holiday weekend here). We found a seat in the sun outside a cafe on a corner of the square and had a beer and coffee that were marginally cheaper than yesterday. We then decided to climb up the steps at the back of the square to the Villa Borghese – a large park area where we hoped to get some views of the city. We did get some good views of the city, however we also saw something else – a sea of humanity was flooding down main street towards the square – it was the massed Italian Catholic Youth movement again !

At least up in the park we felt safe from them so we grabbed a seat next to a fountain and ate our sandwiches. As we sat there we could hear something in the background – chanting and singing – they were coming up into the park to eat their packed lunches ! That was enough – we headed back down into the face of the hoards and fought our way back to the Metro to escape. We went another 3 stops back south on Line A to Repubblica where we got off to look around Piazza della Repubblica.

We then walked the few hundred yards down to Termini Station and boarded the train back to our local stop at Piazza Bologna. Before walking back to the hotel, we stopped at the local supermarket again for some salad and snacks, then got a slice of takeaway Pizza in a nearby bar. Back at the hotel we chilled out before we ventured out again later in the evening.

Having failed miserably to see much of St Peter’s Square earlier in the day, we set off again at 6pm to repeat our journey to Vatican City and see what it was like lit up in the dark and with fewer people. By the time we arrived there were only small pockets of people wandering about and most of the buildings and fountain were well lit so that we could get some good photos.

We then walked down the Via Della Conciliazione to Sant Angelo castle by the River Tiber which we saw yesterday – this was also all lit up. We then strolled along the River until we reached Cavour Bridge, which we crossed to head back to the Metro. It was a lovely warm evening and there were plenty of people about as it was Saturday night. We headed up Via Condotti which has every designer label shop you could think of – Prada, Gucci, Cartier, Jimmy Choo, Dior, etc. We were also surprised to suddenly come across a Ferrari F1 car in the window of a shop – it turned out to be a Ferrari store where you could buy a baseball cap for £35, a jumper for £95, or get your picture taken with the car for £16.

At the top of the street is Trinita dei Monti – a church set atop a steep set of steps which were crowded with tourists. At the top of the steps you could get glorious views of the city. We went back down to the square at the foot of the steps and found a takeaway pizza and ice cream shop to cater for our immediate needs. We then caught the Metro from the nearby Spagna station back to our hotel, and retired for the night.

Next: Colosseum, Roman Forum, Pyramid and Halloween night at Trevi Fountain
Previous: Historic Rome and industrial action

Diary Photos

St Peter's Square, Vatican City, Italy

Tracey at St Peter's Square, Vatican City, Italy

St Peter's Basilica, Vatican City, Italy

Piazza Del Popolo, Rome

Piazza Del Popolo, Rome

Villa Borghese Park, Rome

View of Rome from Villa Borghese Park

Paul in Villa Borghese Park, Rome

Villa Borghese Park, Rome

Paul overlooking Piazza Del Popolo, Rome

Paul in Piazza Della Repubblica, Rome

Tracey outside Basilica Santa Maria Degli Angeli, Rome

St Peter's Square, Vatican City, Rome

St Peter's Basilica, Vatican City, Rome

St Peter's, Square, Vatican City, Rome

St Peter's, Square, Vatican City, Rome

Paul & Tracey, St Peter's Square, Vatican City, Rome

St Peter's Basilica, Vatican City, Rome

St Peter's Square, Vatican City, Rome

M.Schumacher's 2004 F1 Car, Ferrari Store, Via Condotti, Rome

Trinita Dei Monte and Spanish Steps, Rome

Piazza Di Spagna, Rome

Tracey eating Ice Cream, Piazza Di Spagna, Rome

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