Follow the nun to Vatican City

Thursday, September 11

Thursday was Vatican day.  We had to get up early to be at the Vatican for our 9:30 tour. Only problem was I woke up at 2am and didn’t go back to sleep until after 5am.

Had our yogurt, fruit, and hard bagel thing for breakfast. I even made myself a decaf espresso on the stove.  And tomorrow, I might make myself more than a thimble-full.

Caught a bus on the other side of the Tiber River, followed a nun off the bus, and into Vatican City. Taking a tour was the only way we could avoid the two-plus hour wait to get into the Vatican. And the line extended way around the outside of the wall up to the Swiss guards. No thanks. We walked right in. Who knew that we wouldn’t exit until after 1pm.

Our tour guide was a British art student. She walked us through the galleries, around the hordes of people, told us tidbits about Nero’s bathtub and the Jesus tapestry that followed you as you walked past it. I gotta tell you, although the art was plentiful – sculptures, tapestries, paintings, carvings – none of it was happy art. The scenes were all depressing, mostly male, bloody, ominous, all the stuff that reminds you of the darkness of religion. Show me some happy religious art and maybe we can talk.

The Sistine Chapel was pretty cool. Too many people whispering at the same time made the guards yell “Sssshhhh” every few minutes and that was annoying. Not as annoying though, as the prerecorded “No talking” in several different languages set at volume 11. And if you need evidence that Michelangelo didn’t like women or at the very least, couldn’t draw women, the few that are on the ceiling of the Sistine, could have competed in the Olympics for East Germany in the ’70s.

Just when we thought we were done, our guard prepped us on the basilica. I looked at Shelly and sheepishly asked what the basilica was, and she smiled and said she had no idea. See, we’re perfect for each other. We low fived and marched on to the basilica.

Oh, the Basilica. The church inside St. Peters Square. Wow. It was amazing inside. Like another world and nothing we’ve ever seen before. You can fit the Statue of Liberty inside the dome. Comfortably. Lots of crosses, buried popes, mosaics, etc. A saint you could rub the foot of for good luck. We passed. And of course, the pope in wax. The wax pope. Shelly loved him and even took some bad pictures of him.

And that was the end of the Vatican. A worthwhile visit, but so very long. It was now past lunch and we had no idea where to go.  We trekked to the metro and stopped in several Vatican souvenir stores, looking for the allusive tacky plate that had Shelly’s name on it. Alas, not a one called her name. Onward.

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