Friday, February 27, 2015

Rome: The Vatican Adventure

Raised Catholic, one stop in our Rome adventure had to be the Vatican. We booked a museum tour online and thank God because the lines are Llllloooooonnnnnnggggg. Even at 7am! So the good news is that we didn't have to wait in line . . . strike that, we didn't have to wait in the line outside to get in. We did have to wait in numerous lines of wall to wall people throughout the rest of the three hour tour.

The Vatican was a constant contradiction for us. On the one hand, the collection of art, sculpture, historical artifacts and jewels is breathtaking. On the other hand, this is an institution that's supposed to be in the service of Christianity, which can be difficult to remember as you walk through the ridiculous wealth of the place.

For those who don't know, the Vatican is consider its own country with its own currency, post office and governing body. It stands alone in the middle of Rome but doesn't have to answer to Italian law.

Waiting for our tour guide to arrive. Not a very impressive entrance, is it?
I wasn't joking about the wall to wall people. We literally shuffled through the halls of the museum for almost 3 hours in this crowd. By the end, we were a bit frazzled and more than ready to leave.
Nice view of St. Peter's Basilica's dome from the balcony of the museum. 
A few sculptures to give you an idea of the halls - not very wide. Only about 3-4 feet of 'display' space on either side and then wall to wall people walking through. It's not that we regret going, because I think we had to go, but definitely not something we need to do twice.
This is part of the ceiling. Despite the 3D look, these are paintings, not plasterwork. Pretty cool.
This was in the tapestry hall. Amazing huge tapestries with very intricate detail.
 Another painted ceiling. It's like every inch of space needed to be covered with art. All a bit overwhelming after a while.
Some of the paintings were massive and with such detail it was just amazing.

We ended the tour at the Sistine Chapel where unfortunately no photos were allowed. What a nightmare! Jam packed with people who were supposed to be respectful and silent - yeah right. All you could hear was murmuring and then every few minutes the guards would tell us all to be quiet in 3 languages and remind us that no photos were allowed. We had 20 minutes to look and the ceiling, which was truly incredible. Unfortunately, because of the atmosphere, we were a bit underwhelmed by the experience.

And of course had to get a shot of one of the Swiss guards. Poor guys - really, what thug would be afraid of that?
This is the inner courtyard where the crowds line up on Wednesdays for a blessing from Pope Francis. We were there on Tuesday so the chairs were all set up in anticipation. I asked Brian if he wanted to come back o see the pope and he promptly suggested espresso and gelato on the other side of town instead! :)

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