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When in Rome, smoke, drink, cut in line, talk, and take pictures (when doing so is prohibited)

Rome Travel Blog

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Not the Sistine Chapel, but a painted ceiling in the Vatican Musuem.

This morning’s wake up call came at 5:45am—much too early for a vacation day. But, as our friend Mike says, “You can sleep when you’re dead”.  So, we got up and had breakfast in time for our 7am pick up for the Vatican Museums tour.  We opted for a guided tour in lieu of waiting in line with the general public/plebes.  Like the staff at the airport, this tour company wasn’t the most efficient.  But, once we got started with the tour, everything went well.  Our guide was informative and friendly. 

 

The Vatican allows non-flash photography in the museums, but no photography in the Sistine Chapel.

Jazz flute. Ron Burgandy's great, great, great, great grandfather.
  Well, that certainly didn’t stop anyone from clicking away at Michelangelo’s masterpiece.  Also, the Vatican police had guards in the church to ask people to stop talking.  Well, apparently, that rule applies to everyone except those who were in the chapel at the same time we were.  Also, we read that in Vatican City, shoulders and knees must be covered.  This it appears not to be true and if you want to enter half naked, no one will stop you—we saw many examples of this today.  There is, however, a dress code for St. Peter’s, which we’ll get to later.

 

Aside from the rude people, the Sistine Chapel has been the highlight of the trip to Rome.  Pictures do not come close to capturing the beauty, stunning colors, and optical illusions of the ceiling.

Another painted ceiling in the Vatican Museum. There are so many of them...each as beautiful as this.
  And, because Michelangelo’s ceiling is so famous, the beautiful mosaic floors and frescoed walls are often overlooked, and these are just as wonderful.  The chapel is not too large but we could have spent all day admiring the artwork. 

 

Upon leaving the museum and chapel, we headed for lunch and then to St. Peter’s Basilica.  The line to enter the basilica was a short 5 minute wait but that didn’t stop people from cutting in line. We’re not exaggerating—people literally walked through the line of hundreds of people directly up to the front.  We were amazed.  Betina made a comment to one woman who then looked at me as if she had no idea what she was saying—and she probably didn’t.  We later heard her talking to her husband in German.  Her big rush?  She had gone through the line once and after reaching the front, the guards would not let her in with bare shoulders so she had to leave to buy a shawl, sold by vendors at the entrance.

Beth and Randy at the Vatican Museum with the dome of St. Peter's Basicila in the background.
  Because she had to go through twice, she apparently felt an entitlement to skip the line the second time.  So, upon entry, the dress code was enforced but this is apparently still too strict for some women, who simply removed their shawls after entering the church. 

 

Before touring the Basilica itself, we walked through the catacombs to view the Papal Burials, the highlight of which was Pope John Paul II and St. Peter’s.  Photography in the underground is prohibited but that did not stop rude people from taking pictures, or pushing others out of the way, or talking… this is the final resting ground for Catholic leaders with tourists treating it, once again, like Disneyland.   (Beth had the same impression after visiting the Taj Mahal two years ago).  All that being said, it was still moving to see John Paul II’s final resting place.

Inside view of the dome of St. Peter's Basilica. Almost as cool at the dome at the Texas Capitol. Almost.
  We noted the pile of cards and flowers which had been tossed onto his burial site. 

 

Photos are allowed in the Basilica, although we didn’t take many.  It simply is too beautiful and we had no idea where to start (plus, rude people get in your shot or push you out their way).  Upon entering the church, to the right is Michaelangelo’s Pieta.  The basilica gets even more impressive as you walk through the rest of the church.  It’s ornate but tasteful, which kind of surprised us.  We were expecting something ostentatious.  We left the Vatican grounds agreeing that it had been the highlight of the trip. 

 

There is a metro stop just a few blocks from the basilica so we caught the red line and headed back to our hotel for a much needed shower and to embrace the European custom of “siesta”. 

 

We’ve had a great day and are now contemplating now how to spend the evening.

dansgirl1978 says:
I agree with everything you wrote here! I just had to laugh at your caption for the jazz flute!!!!! too funny!
Posted on: Sep 03, 2007
CutroneTX says:
It sounds like Rome is full of Germans! Thanks for the great entries!
Posted on: Aug 29, 2007
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Not the Sistine Chapel, but a pain…
Not the Sistine Chapel, but a pai…
Jazz flute.  Ron Burgandys great,…
Jazz flute. Ron Burgandy's great…
Another painted ceiling in the Vat…
Another painted ceiling in the Va…
Beth and Randy at the Vatican Muse…
Beth and Randy at the Vatican Mus…
Inside view of the dome of St. Pet…
Inside view of the dome of St. Pe…
Front view of St. Peters Basilica.
Front view of St. Peter's Basilica.
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photo by: vulindlela