Rome #1, The Vatican, Italy 1/2014

February 27, 2014

As the saying goes,” Rome—a lifetime”. We didn’t have a lifetime so what to see in a few days? Of course the Colosseum, The Forum, maybe a few museums and the City itself. But above all, we wanted to see the Vatican.

Thanks to various tips from other travelers we easily found a comfortable guarded RV parking lot just a short walk from the bus and tram stations into town. Arriving at the Vatican, we were quite pleased to learn that we had been invited for a General Audience with Pope Francis I. Well, not exactly alone. We picked up our invitations and joined several hundred others who had been invited.

The Pope and Vatican City are guarded by the Swiss Guard, specially trained volunteer soldiers from Switzerland. This gave us a little advantage since Monika, being Swiss, could walk right up to one of the guards and start a conversation in Swiss German, and from that we learned what would probably be the best place to stand to actually see Pope Francis close-up as he drove around in his Pope-Mobile. We were impressed with his easy going and warm Latin personality. The whole affair ran into a couple of hours and we stayed for the final blessing.

St. Peter’s Basilica itself is as spectacularly beautiful as one might imagine. The Vatican Museum is nearly overwhelming with its treasures of art and historical artifacts, much of which you would need to be a master theologian to grasp all the meanings. On the top of our list was to see the spectacular, (oops, there’s that word again), Sistine Chapel painted mostly by Michelangelo. It took him four years to complete the ceiling (1508-1512). Later he returned to paint the Last Judgment which is, well, you know the word. Unfortunately there are a dozen guards in the Sistine Chapel making sure that no one takes any pictures of any kind. How strange. But when you consider that 25,000 people per day (5 million/year) pack themselves into the Sistine Chapel to tip their heads back in awe, we suppose it would be annoying to have the same crowd snapping pictures. It’s an active chapel, another reason why you can’t take pictures, and it is supposed to be quiet, but that didn’t keep the guards from yelling at anyone who even looked like he was about to sneak a shot with his iPhone.

After strolling through miles of art and sculptures and treasures it was already dark by the time we returned to actually see St. Peter’s Basilica. Fortunately it was fairly well lit and we were able to get some images to share with you.

Feeling quite lucky that we had managed to see most of the Vatican in one day including being blessed by Pope Francis, we stayed long enough to watch the changing of the Swiss Guards which was performed with considerably less pomp and circumstance than the same procedure at Buckingham Palace, but nevertheless quite impressive. Our only choice now was to find a cute café with some nice Italian wine and maybe some fresh pasta with a homemade sauce.


One Response to “Rome #1, The Vatican, Italy 1/2014”

  1. As the saying goes,” Rome—a lifetime”. We didn’t have a lifetime so what to see in a few days? Of course the…

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