0481 Strumming for the Pope… well, sort of… (Vatican City 001—new)

Vatican City Travel Blog

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I’m not a Catholic, for the record, but I’m still quite intrigued by The Vatican City.  It is after all the smallest country of the world that you might say, rules over the Largest Empire of the World… It’ll be fun to be able to fully explore a “country” in just a few hours…

 

The only thing I’m worried about is the guitar… Not a whole lot of people make a pilgrimage to The Vatican with a guitar slung over their shoulders.

 

There’s no Customs and Immigration at the “Border” to The Vatican, just a couple of guys selling religious trinkets… So I make it into the country OK…

 

The Plaza is quite full of people, and several large screens show the pope making a speech from somewhere else.

  So I’m faced with a dilemma:  should I pull out my guitar and start playing music while the pope is in the middle of a speech?  It would really suck if I were to get thrown out of this country before I manage to finish my set and take a proper clip…

 

So I opt on a compromise take a  “guitarless” clip in the plaza, and another discreet clip behind a pillar on the side of the plaza…

 

I wander around the perimeter of the plaza.  There’s a real post office crowded with tourists eager to send a post card with a real Vatican City stamp on it… Then there’s the entrance to St. Peters with a line of people waiting to go inside that stretches halfway around the country…

 

Oh, what the hell… I’ve got to see more of this country than just the plaza… So I get in line.

 

 

The line moves along quite quickly, despite the fact that a lot of people cut in… My guitar and I manage to make it through the first security OK… at the second security they tell me to put my guitar in the luggage room… works for me…

 

First I decide to check the Tombs of the Popes, a long underground passage lined with tombs… It’s an interesting experience… like travelling through centuries of Catholic rule in just a few minutes…

 

Pope John Paul II’s tomb is clearly the most popular with some faithful stopping to kneel and pray…

 

From there up a winding staircase and up into the breathtaking Basilica…

 

I’ve noticed different themes inside Catholic cathedrals in different parts of the world.

  In Latin America, the theme is generally pain and suffering, with images of Jesus and the saints being tortured and Mary weeping… Then the churches in Prague, despite their gloomy exterior, actually had a bright, cheerful interior…

Here in The Vatican, the theme seems to be Power and Authority.  St Peter sitting on a throne… various popes and saints dressed up like royalty with a very commanding air…

 

It’s an unforgettable experience, to walk up and down each of the galleries gazing into centuries past of Catholic rule and its present…

 

I really want to see that Michelangelo painting on the ceiling of the Sistene Chapel--  the most parodied painting in the world… But to get there you have to exit the Vatican, walk along the exterior of the wall to an entrance on the other side.  Most of The Vatican is doesn’t seem to be very accessible to the general public…

I reach the other side, but balk at the 16 Euro entrance fee… especially after I saw the Basilica for free…

 

So my visit to the “Nation” of the Vatican City comes to an end… A very insightful experience--  but quite frankly, it doesn’t deserve to be a country… Nobody is born there… there’s nowhere to shop there… few of the standard characteristics that make a country a country…

 

But I’ll go ahead and let it count as my 28th country to be parkbenched and perhaps my first country to be thoroughly parkbenched…

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Vatican City
photo by: EmyG