The Vatican is an extraordinary site to see and experience, but it is probably best left to adults who can appreciate its history, beauty, and culture. Only the most gifted and sensitive child would beg to go back after weaving through the stuffy halls and standing amidst the crowds in the religious spaces. There really weren’t all that many children there today, but the ones I saw looked either completely numb or entirely miserable. That out of the way, let’s get into the wonders of the Vatican, shall we?
Our tour was arranged by Gray Line, but run by a local touring company, called Appian Line. Our guide was named Vincenzo, and like many tour guides, he was amiable and funny, but also very knowledgeable about all of the Vatican history and trivia. His card appears in the images in this post, and you can also see him in a couple of the pictures.
I won’t bore you with my own regurgitation of Vatican facts and figures. You can get that from Wikipedia. Instead, I’ll tell you what we saw as if I were sitting with you over a cup of coffee, or a glass of beer or wine for some of you. . .
I found it amazing that as we moved through the domed hallway you can see in the pictures, the texture of the ceiling’s images and carvings were all created with paint, though you would swear they were carved from stone. Along the walls, the tapestries looked as though they had been intricately painted, and yet, they are constructed of thousands of variations in the colors of thread that constructed them.
You won’t see any photos of the Sistine Chapel, because photography is not permitted. Neither are bare shoulders or knees. And the visitors are expected to be respectful by not talking. Of course, that doesn’t stop them, so luckily, we have what I’d like to call the “shhhh” police, uniformed guards who actually shush the crowd when it gets too loud. Then, every so often, they shout! “No photos!” at the folks who don’t believe rules apply to them.
The Sistine Chapel is really a site to behold, especially when you consider that a man’s hands held the brushes that made every stroke in the paintings that cover the ceiling and walls. And that ceiling is high. I could imagine Michelangelo climbing scaffolding day after day. For a moment I could imagine him all the way up there and realizing he had forgotten something down below. “Eh, Senor Medici, would you mind grabbing me some more blue?”
We next visited St. Peter’s Basilica, which is the largest Christian worship space in the world. Mass is said there every hour in an area to the left of the main altar. With thousands of people milling about, taking pictures, a small group of worshippers observe a priest as he celebrates Mass.
The Pieta is located in the Basilica, looking pretty good for having been attacked by a mad man in the 1970s. Bulletproof glass protects it now, causing unpleasant glares from flash photography bouncing off it. So, unless your camera can operate in low light, you’re not likely to get a good shot.
Now, if you look at the pictures I’ve included in this post (below), you’ll see a large painting with some candlesticks in front of it. Would you believe that is actually a mosaic? I added a close-up of a portion of the image showing the tiny pieces of glass.
It’s amazing what these people could accomplish on such a large scale centuries ago, without the aid of computers, Photoshop, and other multi-media tricks. Are there any humans today who could produce such impressive works, using only the tools that were available when the works in the Vatican were produced?
Our afternoon tour will be included in a separate post. I hope you enjoy reading these as if we were sitting together and I am boring you with all of the slides from my summer vacation. Ciao!
Italy Blog Posts:
- We’re Off to Italy!
- Who Really Needs Luggage on a Transatlantic Adventure?
- Reunited, and it Feels so Good!
- The Vatican – Best Experienced by Adults!
- The Colosseum: Are You Afraid of Lions?
- Driving in Italy: Oh My!
- Florence/Firenze. Which is it?
- A Twelve-Hour Tuscany Tour
- Out of Florence and into Radda in Chianti
- Isle of Capri: Did I Ever tell You I’m Afraid of Heights?
- Relaxing Day on Capri
- Flat Tire! In Italy?
- A Walk through Troia and through Time
- Troia’s Procession for Patron Saints
- Relatives in Troia and a Tour of a Castle
- Another Festival Wraps Up Our Journey
- No Place Like Home
Suite 101 Articles:
- Preview Italy: Bare Facts
- Preview Italy: Avoid Accidents or Injury by Paying Attention
- Preview Italy: Keeping Children Safe During Visit
Ann Silverthorn (Twitter: @annsilverthorn) is a versatile blogger who also writes about a wide variety of topics in numerous genres, including technology, travel, creative, and grant writing.