Mosaic floors that only those that go on the Vatican garden tour can see - through the window.  They are not yet for public viewing.

Mosaic floors that only those that go on the Vatican garden tour can see – through the window. They are not yet for public viewing.

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Raphael's Villa.  He did pretty well on the Pope's payroll.

Raphael’s Villa. He did pretty well on the Pope’s payroll.

I can't remember which one but one of the pope's wanted to be more isolated so he lived in this tower within the Vatican property

I can’t remember which one but one of the pope’s wanted to be more isolated so he lived in this tower within the Vatican property

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Pope Benedict's house behind this fountain

Pope Benedict’s house behind this fountain

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Pope Benedict lives here.

Pope Benedict lives here.

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The Vatican heliopad

The Vatican heliopad

Close to the heliopad for guests

Close to the heliopad for guests

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Old stones from the ancient Roman road that the Vatican wall was built over.

Old stones from the ancient Roman road that the Vatican wall was built over.

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St. Peter looking over the church

St. Peter looking over the church

The Sistine Chapel

The Sistine Chapel

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Michelangelo's Pieta'

Michelangelo’s Pieta’

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St. Peter's basilica

St. Peter’s basilica

Bruce and I are tired today.  I don’t know why, except maybe the accumulative 5 months of always going.  But we have much to see yet and are really thankful for the excellent weather and beautiful sights.  Today we had a tour of the Vatican Gardens scheduled early.  So we hopped on the Metro and went right in to the Vatican museum to await our guide by 9:30 a.m.  It was a different perspective of the Vatican City and while not much is in bloom it was still quite nice.   They have 25 gardeners on staff and I think they need more.  Quite a  lot of weeds (and the public bathrooms were disgusting).  We saw where Pope Benedict (the one who quit last year) lives, and up on this Vatican hill there were some good city and St. Peter’s Basilica views.  The tour was about an hour and half, so once we were done we went back to the museum.  Since we did the museum and Sistine Chapel tour at Christmas we just walked through the rooms quickly to get to St. Peter’s – just to look at it one more time before we leave Italy.  It was very crowded today at the Vatican and we are so glad we are not here in the summer.   More crowds would have been intolerable.  After exiting St. Peter’s we walked back to the Metro to get to the National Museum of Rome Palazzo Massimo.  This museum houses the greatest collection of ancient Roman art anywhere.  We were able to see a multitude of Roman statues dating back to B.C. including the best-preserved Roman copy of the Greek Discus Thrower.  One floor is full of frescoes and mosaics that once decorated the walls and floors of Roman villas.  They are in remarkably good conditioned considering their age and being buried under for so long.  Since we were in the area we decided to get one more sight crossed of our list and that is the Baths of Diocletian.  Around 300 A.D., Emperor Diocletian built the largest baths in Rome.  This sprawling meeting place could accommodate 3,000 bathers at one time.  I don’t think any of the bath areas are visible because the Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli was built on the remains of this bath.  It is a magnificent church and was partly designed by Michelangelo in 1561, who used the baths’ main hall as the nave.  Over the years it has been changed as the Piazza della Repubblica became an important intersection.  But the 8 red granite columns are original from ancient Rome.  In Roman times, this hall was covered with mosaics, marble, and gold, and lined with statues.  So by this time – late afternoon – we had completely exhausted ourselves and did something neither of us has done in at least 10 years.  We took the Metro back to the Spanish steps where our hotel is located and stepped into the oldest McDonald’s in Italy!  And yes!  We had a hamburger!  It really tasted pretty good and we were reinvigorated – sort of…….  I think we were the only Americans in there, too.