Day 4: The Vatican… We Built This City!

Spiral Ramp (Giuseppe Momo; 1932), The Vatican, Vatican CityFor many, visiting the Vatican is one of pilgrimage, for me, it’s to simply view one of the biggest art collections in the world! The first time visiting the city, you pass through airport style scanners and greeted with a life-size video screen of Papa Francis. I can’t help think about a scene in Robbie Coltrane’s Movie! and of course we won’t mention it’s the worlds biggest tax dodge since the Caymans.

If you’re visiting Rome, and like art, the museum didn’t disappoint, just about every scrap of wall/ceiling and floor space is covered in a plethora of paintings, tapestries, Statues, Busts, Murals etc, in fact I don’t recall seeing any space left where any more art could be placed. I think you could spend a year there with a camera and still not catalog what was available. The collection I believed to be significantly more than what’s available at the Louvre. But then the Louvre contains many different styles and themes of art.

Now here’s a tip for you! You will find a number of tours that run daily from about €40-€56, you get a tour guide who walks you round quickly (about three hours) with a radio headset to listen to their commentary. For around €14 for an adult, you gain admission to the museum and wander round at your own pace. If you want commentary, simply listen to the many tour guides floating around with the groups. One advantage of a tour guide though is that you get fast track admission to the Sistine Chapel.

One of the many works of art inside the Vatican Museum.Photography is permitted mostly around the museum, there are some restrictions on tapestries where flash photography is not permitted. You will see warning signs near these exhibits. The only place it is forbidden to take video or photography is inside the Sistine Chapel itself.

Before entering the Sistine, everyone is reminded it is a holy place, and talking/Photography and Video are not permitted, you will hear the guards say “Silencio” to tell you all off! It seems every time, without fail it’s always the American Tourists that think any rules don’t apply to them. The number I observed being told off, camera cards confiscated and video footage deleted when caught, I lost count. So beware!

There’s so much to see around the museum itself I couldn’t possibly do justice to it in a blog, so if you have the opportunity, spend a day at the Vatican, if only to see the artwork and the masterpieces that have been created over the years. My only disappointment, and it relates to my Robbie Coltrane comment earlier, is that this is one huge commercial organisation, there’s so much to tourist tat to purchase, intact the merchandising and advertising is something I’ve not witnessed on this scale before, so if you like your nik naks and souvenirs, take plenty of Euro’s with you!

St Peter's Basilica

If you get there early enough, there are some special tours (must be pre-booked) that take approximately 20 people around the vatican gardens before they open up to the general public, and if you want to see Papa Francis, then Sunday 12pm is the time he pops out to see the nation.

If you are interested in the photo’s, these are of :-

Spiral Ramp (Giuseppe Momo; 1932), The Vatican, Vatican City. This is a huge brass spiral staircase that takes you from the museum to the ground floor and is better than taking the lift. The more observant will realise that there’s a ramp for coming up, and one for going down, so you will never bump into people going in the opposite direction. If you’re able, have a wander down and look up, these are fantastic views.

One of the Murals inside the Museum above an entrance, and finally

St Peters Basilica.

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