7 reviews from the community
Review of "Vatican, Rome"
Musician, writer, marathon runner, part-time supply teacher, part-time reluctant and very bad housewife, and all-round lovely person.
Where to start with the Vatican? Firstly, it is a must-see in Rome. You simply can’t go to Rome and not say you’ve been to the Vatican.We bought our tickets online as we had been advised to do so. The cost was €15 each plus a ‘reservation fee’ of €4 per person. We did feel the fee was a bit steep, but had been told the queues were ridiculous, especially in high season. It was August so we decided to suck it up and pay the fee. You can also choose which time of day you will be visiting during the booking process.
The Vatican is about 5km from the centre of Rome – a short train ride. It would be walkable if you were so inclined and fancied a walking tour of the city, but it was a hot August day so we went on the train. At the other end it was only a few minutes from the stop to the Vatican. When we got there, there appeared to be some kind of service going on, as St Peter’s Square was absolutely jam-packed with people, seated and standing.We made our way round to the museum entrance and were VERY glad we had bought our tickets online as the queue to get in was snaking right round the walls!
Note to ladies. You are not permitted to enter the Vatican with bare shoulders, so if you only have tank tops, you need to either wear something with sleeves – even short sleeves will doi, or get a scarf. There was a guy selling scarves to ladies waiting to go in who had either not heard this rule or had chosen to discard it. As a rampant feminist this rankled a little when I discovered the rule – how dare they tell me what to wear or insinuate that bare shoulders are somehow ‘wrong’. But common sense won over and it doesn’t hurt to show a little respect for the religion, even if you don’t share it. I would take my shoes off if visiting a mosque, so this was no different really.We were able to just walk in past all the queues and take our printed-off booking voucher to the ticket desk to exchange for our tickets. The tickets are actually very pretty and we have kept them as souvenirs of our honeymoon, in our little keepsake box.
Now, because I’m writing this review over a year after we visited, a lot of the details that we saw are lost to memory. One of the things that I remember most was the display of papal vehicles, old and new, that can be found in the basement. There are gold plated horse-drawn carriages as well as ancient pope-mobiles. We puzzled for a long time how the horses were driven, as there appeared to be no driver’s seat on the carriage, before we eventually saw a photo showing one of the horses actually being ridden, and the others directed by the rider.There was a scale model of the entire Vatican City in the entrance to the museum, which was fascinating. There was an awful lot of art and some stained glass windows. I remember seeing some ancient maps showing various parts of Italy and the rest of the world. The Sistine chapel is famous for its ceiling – but if you look up a few times as you are shepherded down the long corridors on the way there, there are other fine examples of art work on the ceilings.
The Sistine Chapel is stunning – and I’m not the only person to say this. It is patrolled by Vatican guards with guns! You are forbidden to take photographs, or even speak above a whisper whilst in the chapel – they were constantly shushing people. Seeing the famous God/Adam painting ‘in the flesh’ was an experience not to be missed but there are many, many other, less well-known images on the vast ceiling, so take some time to look at it all, including the trompe l’oeil archways which we were certain were real at first!Once your taste for Catholic antiquities has been assuaged, there is the obligatory cafe and toilets. And when you leave through the shop there is the most incredible spiral staircase I think I have ever seen.
We did go back round to try to get into St Peter’s Basilica, but the queue was HUGE and our tickets only covered the museums and chapel, so we didn’t go into the church, which was a shame as I would have liked to. If you do go to the church, the entrance is down the RIGHT hand side of ST Peter’s Square, not the left, which is the exit. If you go the wrong way, you have to walk all the way round again! As we discovered!!There are SHEDLOADS of tiny shops selling Catholic souvenirs of every description – you can even buy replica Papal robes – although what possible use you could have for them I can’t imagine, unless for a very posh Priests and Prostitutes party!
I have always wanted a Nativity set for Christmas and we found a fun, inexpensive set in one shop, along with a stable in another shop. So every Christmas, when I set it up, I am reminded of our honeymoon :o)If you love arty stuff and Catholic stuff, you will love the Vatican and even if you don’t, it’s still worth going simply to say you have been. There’s nowhere else like it in the world.
Product Information : Vatican, Rome
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Listed on Ciao since: 17/07/2000