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Rome, to Vatican City

Home -> Europe -> Italy -> Travelogue Italy -> 27 May 2004

Thursday 27 May, Rome, to Vatican City

Today, we are going to add one more country to our list; neither of us have ever been to the Vatican, one of the last European countries with a sort of absolute ruler. We start in the museum which is very large and where we see more and better pieces than we have ever seen in any museum. The church must have good connections to have collected so many masterpieces.
We are advised to pick a few parts of the museum since it is so big, but walking through this enormous building and seeing all the treasures we get the longing to see it all. We will be busy for hours!
We know that we are walking against the normal direction and when we approach the Sixtine chapel we only see signs that using flashlight is forbidden. Obviously, that is permitted nowhere in the building, although there are lots of tourists who pretend that their flashlight goes off by accident, and shout 'sorry' when that happens. And so we enter the Sixtine chapel where a few hundred people are watching and most of them busy taking pictures. At first we even don't realise we are already in the chapel, since we had expected a circular dome.
The last judgement, Sixtine ChapelAfter trying a few times with several exposure times, we finally get this picture of the Last Judgment, painted by Michelangelo. It is a colourful masterpiece. But to really appreciate it, one should stand right before it, since there are so many details to see and stories that are told. But we won't repeat her information that can be better found in books about art.
Then I (Teije) want to make a picture of the ceiling, but I got caught by a guard and we get a fierce argument. The man is quite aggressive and he forbids me too make any pictures and threatens to throw me out of Vatican City. We still assume that we are allowe to take pictures here without flash and I mention that almost everyone is taking pictures, a lot even with flash. But he is now only interested in me and he almost starts a fight. I can get loose of him and we first get out of the chapel. We will come back later.
The Vatican museumBack at the entrance we start the route through the building again, now on the habitual way, and walk from museum to museum, one of them with an Egyptian collection with pieces better and finer than we have ever seen, even in Egypt itself. From Roman times onward Egypt has been plundered and most of its art and treasures have disappeared abroad. Apparanty, the Vatican has got some of the best pieces!
Mosaic, the Vatican museum Mosaic, the Vatican museumThere are many mosaics throughout the museum and some are even laid in the floor where millions of visitors a year walk over. Those are probably not the original ones.
A feet massage, The Vatican museumIt is remarkable how many 'heathen' statues and paintings are on display in this museum. Would this be an honest and sincere expression of the will to preserve and examine the past, or to show that all those 'untrue' religions and the cultures they came from eventually perished.
We have nothing against religions, since most of them teach to respect yourself and others, but in practice some followers tend to have problems with that. Examples of that can be found throughout history and all over the world. In the western world, many people see the Islam as a threat, nowadays, but only a few centuries ago the dominant religion of the west was a curse for many people: imperialists, idealised crusaders who spread evil and disaster, the witch hunting, the inquisition, etcetera. Excesses on a large scale, maybe committed in name of a religion, but these religions had nothing to do with it, they were just used as ideologies. To believe in something is fine, but using it to dominate others or to force it on other people, no, that just goes way too far. To be happy with yourself and having respect for others can prevent so much problems, that is our personal believe. Enough about it, but you will probably understand that we are not really fans of the Vatican...
The Vatican museumComing near the Sixtine Chapel from the right side, we are being warned by signs and through loudspeakers that photographing is absolutely not allowed. A warning that is not given when coming from the 'wrong' other side. So, this aggressive guard was totally right... but a bit less aggression would have looked better on him.
To the right paibntings on a ceiling, made by Raphael, which we were allowed to photograph.
The St. Peter, VaticanAfter visiting this fascinating museum we walk around the city walls to the Sint Peter square, but the lines before the entrance are so extremely long that we refrain from a visit to the interior. Time to have a refreshment and give our feet some rest!
But first we go into a shop where they sell coins and we go in asking for the price of a set of Vatican Euro's. We collect them for a friend of ours and when we asked in the Vatican they send us here. But we can't believe our ears when we hear the price: € 190! That immediately reminds us of all the commercial shops in the Vatican itself... isn't there something in the bible about Jesus becoming mad at the financiers in the temple of Jerusalem? Well, obviously, we left the shopkeeper with his euros's, someone else may spend that much money for a few coins.
Republican temples PantheonAfter a lunch and a long break we start walking through Rome again and pass many monuments, like a few old Roman temples (to the left) from the third century BC. and of course we also walk to the Pantheon (to the right), a pagan monument which was later used as a church.
RestaurantWe now enter a part of Rome which we find much more attractive than the part we saw yesterday: a tangle of narrow streets, almost medieval, and plenty of nice cosy buildings, better than the big palaces that can be found anywhere. It is pleasant to walk around here, but our feet and backs are now really beginning to ache.
Trevifountain, Rome Square with statueAfter a last break we walk to the impressive Trevi fountain (left) and then to a subway station to get back to the campsite. It has been a long and very tiring day and we hope you don't blame us for not telling about everything that we have seen and visited today.
Rome is a very impressive city with many aspects and just too much to see in afew days. But we are ready for a good night's rest and tomorrow we will travel on, southwards, into the direction op Naples and Pompei. After that, we will try to have some real vacation and take time to rest, hopefully with some sun, maybe a beach and not too much cultural. We wonder if we will succeed...


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