Italy Day 3: Invitation to the Vatican & the Longest Walk Ever

Since the Vatican Museums were closed on Monday, we wanted to try and still see the Sistine Chapel. Chase and I were set to leave for Cinque Terre at 12:10, so we figured we could try to hustle up to Vatican City in the morning. Online, it said that St. Peter’s opened at 7am, so we decided to do that, and then get in line for the Vatican Museums as soon as we were done with that. If we could get in fairly quickly after it opened at 9, we could do it.

We woke up super early, out the door by 6:10. The underground was a bit complicated due to our cash/non-Italian speaking situation, so we just decided to go by foot. I’m being very true when I say “by foot,” because at more than one point, we ran. And by run I mean, practically sprinted. I told him I couldn’t run and wear my backpack, so he took it for a bit and there was us, running down the road past the Roman Forum. It’s the least crowded we had ever seen those streets.

We arrived at the Vatican right on time, at 7:10 am. We saw a group of people over on the left side, so we walked up to them, assuming they were waiting to go in. The longer we stood there, we realized that all of these people had matching scarves and lanyards on…we were in a tour group. However, they let us all in (through the exit, I might add), and we explored the Basilica. After a few minutes, we started looking around as people started to get sparse. We realized that people were going into morning masses in various places around the basilica. I don’t think we were supposed to be there, at all. Normal things. It was beautiful though, and huge.

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We then got in line at the museums, and waited for about an hour. It was PACKED when we got inside. There is one direction of traffic, with the Sistine Chapel directly in the middle. Well. We didn’t have time for all that. We dodged through a ton of groups, lingered a bit in things we wanted to see (the map room…sigh), but the end goal was la Capella Sistina. We did it.

We went back to room about Egypt (Chase knows me a bit too well by now), and saw a few things on the other side of the museum before we headed out to the train station to La Spezia.

LOOK AT ALL THE PEOPLE:image

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There were dogs on the train. WHY ARE THERE DOGS ON THE TRAIN. One of them was super angry sounding, and the little dog was not amused by him very much…Neither was I.

After a minor freakout when we arrived in Pisa (north of where we were supposed to end up), we arrived in La Spezia right on time. We didn’t know how to work out the tickets to Riomaggiore right away, and almost bought some for a train that departed in two minutes. We didn’t, so we had about an hour to walk around in La Spezia. Right away, you can get the feel of the Mediterranean coastal city. We strolled and ate our daily gelati.

And then we got to Rio:
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This picture was taken on the longest roundabout walk of my life. We wanted to hike to Manarola, the next city over, for dinner. The #1 place in Cinque Terre on TripAdvisor was there. There is typically a super easy, coastal trail that runs from Riomaggiore to Manarola, but it was closed for maintenance. My iPhone led us astray (surprise.) and sent us on a huge adventure up loads of secret stairs and down a switchback road. We ended up right where we started. So there’s that. At least I caught this because of it:

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But when we asked how to walk to Manarola, the information lady told us there’s a big bridge towards the top of the area and that we need to go back the way we just came from, and find a trail to the bridge. We found the trail. It wasn’t a trail. They were stairs. We’re talking Manitou Incline action. Except thankfully not as long. I tried to keep my complaining to a minimum for Chase’s sake…
But we found the bridge. It’s enormous. and wayyy up there.

Good news is, once we got to Manarola, we found the restaurant immediately as it was right off the trail. It was a tiny trattoria (family owned restaurant) with really good food. We didn’t even ask how much it was going to cost. We were at #1 on TripAdvisor. So. We didn’t really care. Ha. We had crab pasta, which was a mess, and a lot of effort, but delicious. A pesto dish and tiramisu (Chase’s fav). Our favorite part about dinner was probably the girls that came in. They were Americans, probably from New York, with the very very very stereotypical girly tone of voice that was both annoying and hilarious. We watched them for awhile, but then we couldn’t justify staying much longer so we had to leave before they got their food.

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Needless to say…we took the train home.

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