Nom de Plumage

August 23, 2012

The Opulence and Ostentatious Vatican City

Filed under: Travel Journal — nomdeplumage @ 9:46 pm
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Today is officially my last day in Rome and the day that I eventually get over my fear of long, long queues and make my pilgrimage to the Vatican. Oh, but this time I cheated and did the only sane thing that one can do in such circumstances and that is; buy a ticket online. The smartest and wisest move and one that I recommend to every tourist.

Now for my cheekiness, slight smugness and my ten seconds of celebrity status. I walk the length of the long queue and past the unimpressed (more likely very pissed off) tourists with their eyes wide and mouth agape, directly to the entrance of the museum and hand my pass over to the security guard. He nods with confirmation and shows me inside. That took all of two minutes and I was inside the greatest museum in the world. Let the tour begin……


The museum is as you would dream and expect it to be. But it is also much more. There is so much to comment on and although I would love to, time and space does not permit. But rest assured, as with all great museums of the world, this museum holds sculptures, paintings, jewellery etc. But with one main exception; it holds the greatest sculptures and paintings, by the greatest artists of them all. A few highlights to note was the ‘Map Room‘. A long room with a half dome ceiling, it was beautifully decorated with marvellous paintings depicting the known world from the 15th/16th Century. It is vastly different to what we now know the world to look like, but nonetheless, it is a beautiful room and very interesting.

To get to the Sistine Chapel, you walk through a souvenir shop and it was here that I almost fell over in shock. Determined to get to the ‘highlight’ of the museum, I walked straight past Michelangelo’s second greatest known masterpiece; the Pieta. Stunned, I turn back just to make sure I was not imagining things and there it was in the most unusual of places, tucked away and almost forgotten. Onwards, the Sistine Chapel was waiting. In all fairness, Michelangelo never wanted to paint the chapel’s ceiling. He was honest with the patron that he is a sculptor and not an artist. But it was of no use and so he painted arguably the most beautiful of all ceilings. But to be honest, personally I thought it great, but not a true masterpiece. The thighs on Jesus and the other prophets are; let’s be honest here; bigger than even Arnie Schwarzenegger’s. And that in itself, is a little disappointing. For me personally, the seven rooms leading to the Sistine Chapel, are magnificent. Painted by a true artist and one of Italy’s best, the Raphael Rooms are splendid.

From the museum, I walk the short distance to St Peter’s Cathedral and become a plebeian again. There is no getting in front of the queue here. Although the line-up is over 100 metres long, it moves quite quickly and I only waited just over 30 minutes before I eventually got into the cathedral. The most recognised and most certainly the most beautiful of all cathedrals. Marble dominates, along with gold and pristine white stone. Decadent, lush and massive, the cathedral is to all the epitome of the Catholic Religion, but for myself, it is not the religious aspect that I marvel, but the brilliant architecture and craftsmanship of those men who built one of the wonder’s of the world.


Beneath the cathedral lay the tombs of many former Pope’s, with the recent addition of Pope John Paul 2nd. Security guards were very persistent in ushering the tourists along and not allowing photographs or anyone to stop. So a very brief visit. The only regret I have and one that I would have sold my soul to see, was the Vatican’s Library. It is not accessible by the public or only on special permission, but how I would have loved to have had the honour to visit. Just the thought of touching and smelling those ancient texts, would have been the most glorifying of all experiences. But alas, it was not meant to be.

I leave Vatican City and make my way down the long boulevard towards the medieval fortress at the end. It is now a museum that houses Italy’s historical and very popular military hero’s and gives you an insight on how Rome and Italy eventually united in the 1800’s. Beautifully preserved, it also offers a beautiful vantage point to see Rome on such a beautiful day.



I walk beside the Tiber River in search of lunch and find it tucked away in a small restaurant that offered outdoor seating. I would have preferred to have dined in an Italian Restaurant, but this Spanish one was superb. I may have over done it a little, but for 16 euros I got a two course meal including sangria. It was delicious and too much food that I am ashamed that I left half of it behind. There was a layered potato cake with a rich tomato sauce and sour cream, tortillas and followed by the main course of paella. A true Spanish meal and one that I heartily enjoyed.

I ended the long day by visiting the oldest bridge in Rome. Certainly not the most beautiful bridge in the world, but you will forgive the looks when you can appreciate that this little gem is more than 2000 years old. Not bad and it still functioning and in wonderful condition.



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