We did so much this day that I have to split up the post.
Day 3 was another jam-packed day full of great experiences. After breakfast we loaded the bus for Vatican City, which is just beyond the city centre. Again, no lines. No waiting to pay admission. “Fast Pass” all the way up to the front! One thing to note: the Vatican has over 30 million visitors per year, and in peak tourism season they’ll see 30,000 visitors per DAY. The amount of people who visit this area is staggering. There are people everywhere, speaking multiple languages, and everyone wants to see the same things. It is very important to stay together, be aware of your surroundings, and be respectful. That said, this is one of the most important cultural heritage places in the world. It is worth every second of your time. The crowds all realize this — there isn’t pushing or shoving, yelling, or confusion like you’d see on an NYC subway on a busy day. It’s generally a shared of respect, admiration, and enjoyment. Now for the pictures.
This is our tour group on a hill overlooking the city. Band and Choir directors from Kansas City, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Charlotte and Detroit, as well as our tour directors from London and Rome. One of the great parts of this trip was collaborating with these great people. “How are you doing this?” “What do you think about this idea?” “How can we make this the best trip possible for our students?” Networking, solving problems, and collaborating.
Above are a few pictures of the Vatican Museum: The entrance, our audio headsets our guide used to give us a personalized tour of the museum, and just a few of the extremely ornate relics that we will get to see. These are gorgeous pictures, but you’re just going to have to wait until you get here to really appreciate how incredible they are. Walking on almost 2000-year-old tile pathways still perfectly intact…hand-painted creations of Raphael and Michelangelo, looking out windows to the beautiful courtyards…it’s breathtaking. Another thing that’s hard to wrap your head around is that every single one of these paintings, carvings, frescoes and statues are symbolic. They tell the stories of the people who lived in those times. Symbolism and ornate detail is everywhere.
Above are some of the most important parts of the Vatican Museum: the works of Raphael and Michelangelo, including the great Sistine Chapel (and it’s overly enthusiastic guard). PS — there are no pictures allowed in the Sistine Chapel, and they expect complete silence while in the room.
St. Peter’s Basilica
How many “wow” moments can you have in a week? I have yet to find out. St. Peter’s is the most important and one of the largest churches in the world. Note the 3rd picture, which shows the altar and bronze canopy. Under that dome, you could fit the Statue of Liberty. The picture of me looking overly happy and nerdy just gives you an idea of what the headsets and transmitters look like. That way our guide can speak to us easily and you can hear everything they say in the crowded environment. Note the wardrobe of Mrs. Toepfer and I in the bottom picture: Even though it was 95(!) degrees, knees and shoulders have to be covered when entering these buildings. It will be around 50 degrees when we will be there in December, so it will be a LOT more comfortable.
In the next blog post I’ll start showing you our performance venues, the quaint little town of Frascati, more dining opportunities, and the parade route.