A Travellerspoint blog

Saturday was our last full day in Rome

we went to the Vatican, sight seeing, repacked and out for diner

sunny 30 °C

It was our last full day in Rome and we had a “Skip the Queue” guided tour of the Vatican and St Peters booked.

We were up early and went down to the local taxi stand and got a taxi to St Peters. We got there about 8.30 and the place was virtually deserted.

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I read the booking form and of course we needed to be at the entrance to the Vatican museum, which was about 5 – 10 minutes’ walk away.

The Vatican was anything but deserted. There were long queues and even the skip the queue line seemed long. Maybe we should have booked the “skip the skip the queue queue” tour.

Anyway by the time our group we got kitted up with our usual radio receiver and headphones, and presented ourselves at the allotted time, we were straight in.

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Our guide started off with an overview of the Vatican, and explained the history behind the painting of the Sistine Chapel. Once in the Sistine Chapel there is no talking, so she gave us the run down on it before we entered.

The ceiling was painted by Michelangelo between 1508 and 1512. Michelangelo turned down the commission 3 times, as he did not consider himself a painter. He preferred sculpturing.

Michelangelo’s rival, Raphael, had persuaded Pope Julius II to get Michelangelo to paint the ceiling. Raphael knew Michelangelo preferred sculpting, and he was trying to set him up to fail.

The main panels down the center depict scenes from the Book of Genesis, from the Creation, to the Fall, to shortly after Noah's deluge. The iconic image of the God’s and Adam’s fingers almost touching depicts the creation of Man.

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Then 25 years later Pope Paul the III got Michelangelo to paint The Last Judgment, on the altar wall of the Chapel. The work took four years to complete and was done between 1536 and 1540.

In the painting Michelangelo depicts the various characters as either being in Heaven, Purgatory or Hell. This work became extremely controversial, with most of the figures appearing naked. This scandalous piece of work was considered inappropriate for a Papal church.
The Pope’s advisor Biagio da Cesena, strongly criticised Michelangelo’s work saying:

“this work suits bathhouses and taverns but not the Pope’s capella.”

Michelangelo was none too pleased with this criticism, and painted Biagio into the Fresco as being in hell, naked and being attacked by a snake in very uncomfortable fashion.

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Biagio pleaded with the Pope to have Michelangelo paint over his image. The Pope is reputed to have replied:

“If he had placed you into the purgatory, I would have attempted getting you out of there, but he put you into the hell – my power does not extend that far”.

With a full explanation of the Sistine Chapel tucked under our belts, we set out on our tour. The museum is massive, and plenty of art work to be seen. Our guide stopped off at the important works and described the story behind each one. The crowds of people were huge.

Last year 24.0m people visited the Vatican.

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Finally we got to the Sistine chapel. No talking and no photography. The Vatican sold the copyrights to the Sistine chapel to a private investor in return for a full restoration. It is a beautiful piece of art work.

A couple of photos from the internet are shown above.

Then it was on to St Peter’s Basilica. Again a very impressive church and dome.

The first thing we saw was Michelangelo’s The Pietà completed in 1499 when he was in his early 20s. He completed this prior to David in Florence.

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We saw the crypt of the now St John Paul II. Plus several others. John Paul II’s is very modest compared to the crypts of Popes from 1400 – 1800s. Some of the Popes obviously thought highly of themselves.

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Then it was back out into the sun and time for lunch.

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We had had our fill of pasta and pizza over the last week, so we looking for something slightly different. We made our 3rd visit to McDonalds of the trip.

We should have booked a skip the queue option. It was packed. I think the 20,000 visitors from the Vatican all had the same idea.
After lunch we had a few last things to do:

Walk up the Spanish Steps.

Throw coins from Margaret Waide into the Trivi fountain

Repack our bags for the trip home

Head out for a final dinner out.

At the top of the steps we saw a Ferrari and a Lamborghini.

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The Trivi fountain was closed for restoration, but they had a temporary “fountain” to throw coins into…. Those Romans think of everything. Right hand over left shoulder.

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We then walked back to apartment rested up, updated the blog, and repacked.

Then it was out for dinner for our last night out. The owner of our apartment had left a few suggestions for us to try. We tried the one about 200m from our door.

It was great. The girls had pasta and I had the best fillet steak I have had for some time.

The owner, an elderly man sat in the corner all night counting his money. It is obviously an old and well established restaurant. The walls are covered in signed photos of Italian and international celebrities, eating at his establishment. I offered our portrait, but he declined. I don’t think he recognised me.

It was a lovely meal, on a lovely evening, at the end of a great holiday.

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Back home to bed, ready for 43 hours of traveling.

Posted by Touringteamf 18:06 Archived in Italy

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