When in Rome

When in Rome, there are certain things you “have” to do. Like visiting the Colosseum, eating your weight in gelato, saying “ciao!” at every opportunity (the latter two are likely things you could do all over Italy). Visiting the Vatican is also something on the list for many.

I have to admit, initially I was…rather uninterested in visiting. But after seeing this I changed my tune and wanted to see more:

St. Peter’s Basilica is one of the most gorgeous things I have ever witnessed. I’m fairly certain my jaw was on the floor as I wandered, I actually ripped my pants (the knee, not the seat, which would have been both funnier and significantly more embarrassing) trying to get photos of the ceiling.

The entire interior of the basilica is lavishly decorated with marble and architectural sculptures by artists including Michelangelo, and it contains a large number of tombs of popes and other notable people. Needless to say, after that first visit I wanted to see more, so we returned the next day to see the Vatican Museum.

I can’t even begin to imagine the number of pieces in the collection in the Museum, but I heard there were over 50 galleries so if you do the math that equals an enormous amount of art! It’s considered by many to be one of the greatest museums in the world, as it displays works from the immense collection built up by the Roman Catholic Church through the centuries, including some of the most renowned classical sculptures and most important masterpieces of Renaissance art in the world. It’s extremely popular with tour groups and individuals alike, so if you are going to pay a visit, grab breakfast on the way and get in line early to beat (some of) the crowds.

It’s hard to wander the Museum on your own time, as you are essentially herded through like cattle and there’s really only one path to follow. The crowds push you through room after room, where you have a choice – quickly snap frantic photos of amazing frescos and statues, or try to take everything in visually in the few moments you have in that particular gallery. It’s an exhausting way to see a museum! The Sistine Chapel was phenomenal but rather ruined by the barking orders of the security guards to keep silent and keep moving. In a gallery, I like to sit and stare at a work of art to fully appreciate it. Motoring through the Vatican Gallery felt more like a really rich person ushering you through their mansion as they quickly pointed out their priceless pieces, which leaves you feeling both knackered and a bit underwhelmed.

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