Follow the nuns

Even though millions of tourists go to the Vatican there still seems to be little in the way of official documentation on when things open and where things are.

Most people would know that the Sistine Chapel is in the Vatican Museums. Well at the end really so to see that you have to pay to get into the Museums. Tour groups go in first so individuals have to wait another hour before they are let in. Not a big deal its just that you dont really know this unless you get a tour guide book before yo arrive. Anyhow the wait was worth it just to see teh Sistine Chapel. Its amazing to think that the paintings were done in 1450 or there abouts. Michaelangelo wasn’t even known for his paintings when he was commissioned to do it. 

He had this amazing knowledge of the bible though and painted some really controversial things for the times. St Andrew was ‘flayed’ alive, legend has it, and Michealangelos representation of him in ‘The Last Judgement’ is supposed to be a self portrait. Pretty gruesome actually.

I stayed in the Sistine Chapel for over an hour just looking at the frescoes (Italiam for fresh as the paintings are done on wet plaster).

That was on the Saturday so on the Saturday I decided to get up early to go into St Peters Basilica (its not a cathedral because no archbishop resides there) for the 7am opening and also a mass that was on at 9am. On the way there at 6:30am you could tell that plenty of people had the same idea. Especially the nuns. There was a sort of line-up but it was a bit disorganized and plenty of nuns were making the most of the disorganization and overtaking other ‘pilgrims’ and making there way to the front. They were onto a good thing so I followed them. When the doors opened the nuns took off donw the left niche of the basilica so I thought they were onto a good thing and followed them.

Turns out that there are several masses in St Peters and so I went to an Italian mass at 7am with about 25 other people. At the end of mass about 5 other groups looked to be breaking up so it was going on in a few places.

The place is so grand. Everything is so big. I took some pictures of a scuplture of cherubs near the entrance and the babies are about 2m tall. Its amazing really.

The Dome is quite remarkable too. So large and there is heaps of history about its creation and speculation about whether it would be strong enough. Michaelangelo was involed in this as well. 

I could go on and on about the Vatican… On Saturday night I rested and watched Angels and Demons and decided to do my own min-tour on Sunday, going to a few places in the movie.

That was a whole lot of walking but heaps of fun. I went from St Peters square to Castel San Angelo to the Pantheon and Piazza Nuova. I didnt do the whole thing but ill leave tat for next time. I threw a coin in the Trevi Fountain which legend says you will return to Rome again.

Author: patbirgan

Australian living in Italy and managing the AIS European Training Centre. In my spare time I like to watch, write, tweet, commentate, manage, immerse in all things athletics.

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