The Vatican — Euro 2017 Summer Adventure

Hey guys, I hope you’re all having a fantastic weekend! Currently, it’s warmish at 1°C here and my plan for the day is to have some coffee & share the last piece of my Euro 2017 Summer Adventure.  How many of you have read Dan Brown’s book “Angles & Demons”?… remember which country made a large appearance in the book?!  That’s right, the answer to the puzzle is the Vatican!  Can I just say, the Vatican is more majestic than pictures depict and there aren’t enough adjectives to describe the energy and atmosphere you feel when you are there.  Before we get into my experience, as usual, I like to give you a quick history on the places I visit.

The Vatican is the smallest sovereign state located inside the city walls of Rome and home to the leader of the Catholic Church… Pope Francis (who by the way, is the 266 leader of the church).  The Vatican has its own flag & anthem and houses a population of less than 1000 people all of whom are protected by the Swiss Guard (they have been providing security since the 1500’s!).  The Vatican is comprised of St. Peter’s Basilica, St. Peter’s Garden & the Museum.  While entry to the public is free for the Basilica and garden, there is a cost associated with viewing the Museum.

We chose to visit the Vatican on our last Friday in Italy as this was said to be one of the quieter days to visit. For some people catching a glimpse of the Pope and listening to his address is very important, in that case, you want to visit the Vatican on a Wednesday.  This is the day that he addresses the public and from what I’ve heard this can be a very moving experience.

The Museum

Our first stop at the Vatican was a guided tour of the museum.  Even though a guided tour isn’t necessary to go though the museum it grants you expedited access to the Sistine Chapel & St. Peter’s Basilica which can have extremely long lineups (taking hours to get to the front).  In my opinion the guided tour was worth it because you learn about the different sculptures and pieces in the museum but more importantly I did not want to stand outside in a line when the temperature was >40°C.

The Vatican museum is full of fantastic works of art from Micheal Angelo, Bernini, Picasso, and Van Gogh.  Now I’m not art historian by any means but it doesn’t take a lot of intellect to appreciate the incredible work featured in the museum.

The museum it self is a masterpiece in architecture, design and decor.  Not simply a square box with
white walls as several of today’s galleries are.  Each ceiling of the different wings of the museum is painted, the floors showing geometric patterns and beauty.  I suppose this shouldn’t be news to any of us since at the start, the buildings were designed by Bernini himself!

In some instances it looks as though 3D sculptures are coming out of the ceiling and walls.  This is an optical illusion whereby the artist uses shadows to trick the eye.  I have personally never seen anything like it!

The Sistine Chapel

In order to enter the Sistine Chapel, it is imperative that females cover their shoulders & legs. There is a dress code that is strictly adhered too — read more here.  There is no photography or noise allowed once inside the chapel. A voice can be heard on a loud speaker every 5 min demanding silence.

The ceiling and walls of the Sistine Chapel are PHENOMENAL!  The art work is breathtaking, I wish I had a picture to show you, but they wouldn’t let us take any photographs.  Micheal Angelo painted the ceiling between 1508 & 1512.  It’s said that paint would drip into his eyes as he was creating his masterpiece later causing him to go blind.

One of the cruel ways that artists can share their voice without actually talking is through their art.  During the paining of The Last Judgement Fresco in the chapel, an Italian official (Biagio da Cesena) reacted negatively to the nude figures stating they were better suited for a bath not a sacred space like a chapel.  To enact revenge, Micheal Angelo worked the official’s face into “Minos” the judge of the underworld.  While his nudity was covered with a snake he painted donkey ears on his head showing foolishness.  Even though the official complained to the Pope, there was no resemblance to hell and the Pope stated that the portrait stay, thus completing Micheal Angelo’s revenge!  Whether or not the back story is true or false there is a figure on one of the fresco’s that has donkey ears and a snake coiled around him, I saw it with my own eyes!

St. Peter’s Basilica

The third part of the Vatican tour was the Basilica.  I’m not going to lie, I actually cried when I entered.  There was a real feeling of peace and the atmosphere was somber and exciting at the same time.  It’s difficult to describe the emotions I felt and just how larger than life everything was.  For example, the lettering along the top perimeter is 6 feet tall!  From the ground it doesn’t actually look that big, but that’s because everything is HUGE.  You really notice that we’re actually just a small speck in the universe.  Yes, I got really reflective and contemplative while I was there… why are we all really here, what is the purpose of life etc.  I’ll save all the philosophical talk for another day.

As you move around the space you will find sculptures of Jesus, the Virgin Mary and St. Peter himself! Mostly carved out of marble we aren’t allowed to touch them or use flash photography.  The large papal alter sits closer to the back of the Basilica and is not used for regular everyday ceremonies, it is only used during Christmas and Easter.

It is said that St. Peter is actually buried beneath the Vatican under the Papal, but I of course cannot confirm or deny this.  Perhaps we should ask Professor Langdon from Dan Brown’s novels.

This concludes my visit to the Vatican as well as my Euro 2017 Summer adventure.  I’m hoping to have more adventures soon so stay tuned.  Until next time Dream, Explore, Adventure.

XOXO,

Trotting Traveller ♥

 

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