I didn't realize that Deborah's, nephew David the architect, was leading us to the Vatican and St. Peter's Basilica, until we actually got there. We had walked and walked and walked, then ended up in a square of some sort. There was a line of people a couple of hundred yards long and Deborah began to stand in it.
"What are we doing?" I asked. "It's the Vatican," she answered.
We crept a step or two forward every couple of minutes, not unlike a wait in a line at Disneyland. When we finally got to the security turnstile, the not-so-English-language-savy guards just flagged us past despite the fact that my cell phone and keys had set off the metal detector.
Grand, grand and more grand
Everything about St. Peters Basilica was spectacular. One moment, we heard a crash at the other end of the huge building. Some workmen dropped something while setting up the Nativity for Christmas. My musician ears listened to the echo of the crash evaporate. I said to Deborah, "Hmm 'cathedral reverb - large.'" I snapped my fingers trying to see if I could duplicate the cathedral reverb, but nothing. The building was so large that there wasn't a single wall anywhere near us to reflect off of. It was as if I was snapping in a padded vocal booth; totally dry.
We eventually opted to climb the 300-plus stairs to the rotunda to look down, then eventually look out from the roof onto Rome. Looking at Rome from the top of the cathedral was certainly amazing, but not nearly as breathtaking as standing at the base of the rotunda, surrounded by priceless mosaics on the walls behind us, looking down at the floor of the basilica. It was frightening and wonderful at the same time even though we were protected from falling to the floor by a dense cage-like screen while my stomach did aerobatics hundreds of feet above the statues of dozens of dead popes below.