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If the Beatrix Potter House in England’s Lake District was a challenge then the Vatican could promise to be my finest moment. It would take planning, determination and dedication.

I awoke early – around 6:30am, though it was closer to 7 when I got up. The trick was to keep moving – make tea while pouring cereal, check weather report while putting socks on. It goes without saying that my backpack was ready to go and my Metro tickets bought.

I left the apartment at about ten to eight, passed the Colosseum and joined the crowds in the Metro. At this time of morning you get to see the rush hour that regular Romans have to contend with. For some reason the fancy trains were gone and were replaced with crowded graffiti-ridden, squeaky-braked models. No gypsies in sight though.

My one mistake was to trust the Vatican-supplied map to the Museo Vaticano entrance. Their placing of the Metro station was at best ill-informed and at worst a plot of DaVinci Code proportions to foil my Supertourist plans. Luckily an Italian gentleman in camel-coloured trench coat saw me struggling to find my way based on the position of the sun and offered me assistance – sometimes it helps to look like a tourist. I arrived at the entrance five minutes before they opened.

My ticket was for a 9am three hour tour of the Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s Basilica.

Our tour was guided by a lovely woman called Francesca who took us expertly through the museum explaining the most significant pieces.

She was genuinely pleased for at how close we could get to the objects as often the crowds make it hard to even move. Here is the great Ancient Greek marble statue Laocoon and his Sons. They’re being strangled by serpents.

The Belvedere Torso.

An enormous bird bath? Can’t quite remember – will have to look it up.

One of the few remaining ancient Roman bronze statues – apparently most were melted down in the middle ages. This one survived because it was buried.

My favourite room was the Hall of Maps, which featured huge painted maps of the different regions of Italy. The crowds were starting to build by then.

They were incredibly detailed.

A peek through an open window into the Vatican gardens. Is the at the Pope doing some weeding?

This is like, mega important Rapheal.

The Sistine Chapel. Actually much larger than I imagined. The Last Judgement is on the wall and above is Michelangelo’s ceiling.

Fabulous!

Francesca then took us through the back way into St Peter’s Basilica, the world’s largest church.

We finished our tour outside.

Here is one of the Pope’s Swiss Guards.

It was a very informatve and enjoyable tour!

I then hopped back on the Metro and got off at Piazza del Popolo and had a nice lunch at this Ristorante. I had to prepare for my several kilometre afternoon walk.

I started by climbing the road behind the Piazza.

There was a great view from up there. That’s the dome of St Peters.

My aim was to walk through the gardens of Villa Borghese, a 148 acre park.

It had many different gardens and landscapes.

Even special places for dogs!

I probably shouldn’t have had wine with lunch – I sat down for a bit.

Then I continued on!

There was a nice little lake with the Temple of Aesculapius.

I made way back to the Metro and took the train to Colloseo station. I was tempted to join the queue for the Colosseum but thought better of it.

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