A view from the Vatican gardens …

185Fourth visit to Rome, and so many new experiences. …Unlike my last two pilgrimages, this exploration of the Eternal City was mostly on foot or by metro. We stayed only a few blocks from St. Peter’s Square, where we twice saw beloved Pope Francis.

Here is an insider’s view of the basilica, from the Vatican Gardens. The 16th century summer residence of Pope Pius IV was one of the last stops in a walking tour of the grounds, which are open only a few times a week to the public. In the Italian fashion, there are few flowers in these gardens. Imagine woodlands, formal landscaping,  dozens of shrines and grottoes and 100 fountains. Also on the two-hour tour: the Jubilee Bell of the Year 2000, a helipad, Vatican Radio, and the cloistered monastery where Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI lives.

Oh, and I caught a fleeting glimpse of a person entering one building who was wearing a white cassock and cape. Just saying …

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