[Continued from previous post …]
As I was processing the sight before me, I noticed a man starting to walk towards me. He asked if I wanted to tour the Vatican museum. I cautiously said yes- trying to tread the fine line between being smart and safe and being rude and abrupt. My appearance probably screamed “tourist! tourist! come take advantage of my naivete” He said he could get me in and I would skip the line. I glanced at the queue again and said “tell me more …”
It turned out he was finding people who wanted to do the tour and connecting them with a tour guide. I assume this was not out of the kindness of his heart, there was probably some commission involved. When he told me how much it was, I did a double take. My hard earned euros!!! But then he reminded me how long the line was and the sun was particularly unforgiving at that moment so I figured I’d accept the offer.#yolo. He gave me a fancy sticker that said ‘vatican tour’, I got my photo taken in front of the crowd, and joined the small group of people he had ‘collected’ that was surrounding our tour guide lady. In the group there was a couple from Switzerland, a family from the US (East coast somewhere) and a few other different countries.
The tour guide reminded us again how much of a deal we were getting because we wouldn’t have to stand in the long line and said we just had to follow her to the travel agency office to pay for the tour, that it was just round the corner. On one hand, I felt relieved that at least there was some sort of office to make a payment and I wasn’t just handing my money to some stranger I met on the streets of Rome. Additionally, I wasn’t the only one- there were others and most of them looked sensible enough. On the other hand, I thought what if this lady was just taking us all into a trap somewhere, especially as this office wasn’t actually ’round the corner’. We walked for a while and I saw some more interesting things 🙂
We got to see the Swiss Guards- the army in Vatican City. To qualify, you have to be male, catholic, from Switzerland, and something else- I forget. I thought their uniforms were quite the curiosity though. I wanted to get my picture taken with them but the tour guide said she could only ask for the kids. At that moment, I really wished I was a kid.So all I got to do was take pictures of the kids in our group that got to take pictures with them. See more about Swiss guards here (and better pictures :)) you just may qualify!
We spent hours in the museum and it did get tiring after a while but our tour guide was great and very knowledgeable. It was statue after statue, naked sculpture after naked sculpture, great paintings all over. Quite the educational experience.
And probably one of the most intriguing pieces- one that looks like Bill Clinton- no kidding! Take a look below:
The tour guide explained the Sistine Chapel and some cool facts about the paintings on the ceiling. Because one is not allowed to talk in the Sistine Chapel, the tour guide had to explain all about it outside the chapel itself. They had cleverly put huge posters of the paintings with little plaques for ease of explaining. The heat was truly unforgiving by this point and I only half heard all she said but whatever it was, it was definitely interesting.
Something about whether Michelangelo was on his back when he made the paintings on the ceiling or standing up straight and how you can tell from the brush strokes or how some of the people were larger than intended and he only found out when he took a break so the rest of the people were smaller. Little cool things like that. So all I have really is a picture of the outside of the Sistine Chapel and pictures of the posters.
The chapel itself was crowded and much to my chagrin, people were speaking!!! Every couple of minutes or so, there would be an announcement on a loudspeaker “Silence …Silenzio …(and then ‘silence’ in a few other languages)” but people don’t listen, I tell you. The tour guide said something about the moisture from our mouths when we speak may damage the paintings or what not- didn’t make sense to me. Also, one wasn’t allowed to take pictures in there. I could have sneaked in a few but I wanted to be respectful of the holy place.
Because we were on the ‘special’ tour, we got instant admittance to St. Peter’s Basilica right after we got done from the Vatican museum- again no line :). And this place took my breath away. Of course, my pictures don’t do it enough justice but here are a few I took while in there.
When I had managed to pick up my jaw from the floor, I stepped out into the glorious sunshine, soaking everything in. I walked past the Vatican post office and thought of buying a post card and sending it to my sister and niece and nephew- a little piece of my Roman experience; but I didn’t. I had to hurry off to my next appointment- the Rome city tour. But before I left the Vatican, I took a picture of their very cute mail box :).
And once again, we have come to the end of another episode of my Roman adventures- clocking in at about ~1000 words. Not bad! The final part will be coming soon, so stay tuned :).
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