How close can people without tickets get to the Pope during his Wednesday General Audience blessing? Pretty darn close. Tickets are free but should be prearranged, Rick Steves has a trick to score tickets on the off chance there are some avaialable. Of course the trick required being there 2 hours early. How can we be so close and not go for it? – Even if we aren’t Roman Catholic. We walked over and found that many folks thought 3 hours early was a good time to be there.
We waited in this line to have our bags x-rayed. It was made clear that you are to be respectful and wear modest clothes. No shorty short shorts and no bare shoulders. This is not really a problem when it is 43 degrees out. However based on another person they let in – a shoulder is more offensive than a sweatshirt with large block printing of the word, “LUCK”. this is a family friendly blog so the L is in place of an F. That is what one young man choose to wear to go see the Pope. He is really going places. Brent has a picture.
This lovely young lady was taking no chances on the dress code and is indeed wearing a wedding dress. She was one of three brides we saw. Once we were scanned we parked ourselves right outside the entry gate – the ticket hack was no longer in the picture. This was the best place as we got to see everyone come in and admire the Jester. This fine looking man is a member of the Swiss Guard. He looks ridiculous. I don’t even want to bother Googling why they consider this a uniform. It is laughable.
About an hour before the Pope was to emerge the seating area was full and the ticket holders were held back at the gate. They were not happy and the Friend family had front row seats watching them rail and shake their fists and the Jesters and Gendarmes. However the gate keepers were sometimes swayed and let somebody in – this never sat well with those who did not have a good story or bribe. It is wrong how funny we found it to watch someone argue but pause long enough to take a drag on their cigarette then go back at it.
THE POPE IS COMING! The crowd went nuts and the people (us) with NO TICKETS were right at the gate where the Pope-mobile drives by. With how hard the ladies behind us were pushing – we were in a good place. He waved, shook hands and kissed babies. And we got a million snapshots of it all. The blessing part consisted of not-popes reading scripture in multiple languages and then the Pope said some words in Italian – we didn’t stay for the whole thing and hoofed it to the Vatican Museum.
The museum is full of art by the masters who helped design elements of the church: Raphael, Michelangelo, Bernini, Da Vinci to name a few. The rest of the museum appears to be things that have been dug up and transported to the Vatican. Another way someone might see this is things they looted from Egypt and Greece. Maybe they were gifts – they didn’t have a whole lot of explanations in English. Of their 4,000 paintings roughly 3,453 of them are titled Madonna and Child.
Why is this tapestry of this awesome guy breaking out of prison not more famous?
Raphaels restored School of Athens
Matisse has a Madonna and child – who knew?
The Sistine chapel was the big event for the museum tour. It was very impressive. It is one of those things you hear so much about and have seen many pictures but it is another thing to see it in context. We were able to place just how Michelangelo wanted it to be seen – the colors as they are in the natural light and then the dimensions which can never be recreated on paper. Everything else in the museum is camera friendly – except for the Sistine chapel.
We had lunch at a small sandwich shop which sold an array of Pannini’s. Everyone tried something new and everyone loved their choice. The helpings were so generous that Arden and I had a snack later in the day. This is another item that we will never be able to make the same way at home; the meat will not be sliced the same, the bread not as crispy and the special sauces not as savory.
Rounding out our Vatican City tour was inside St. Peters. It is huge. We have seen so many beautiful churches and cathedrals that I can’t say that this is the loveliest – but it is the grandest. The sculptures and interior are immense – it’s as if this place was built for giants. That would make perfect sense. We eavesdropped on an English speaking tour guide who said the dome is so high that you could fit two space shuttles end to end inside of it.
This statue of St. Peter is older than the building. They let you come up and rub/kiss his toe. But you can’t see where the tow is because so many people have rub/kissed it that it has all worn away. Now it looks like he is wearing a shiny droopy slipper.
We toured the crypt below and just in the nick of time. When we emerged they were no longer letting groups go down.
For our walk home we crossed the Tibre river on a bridge that is adorned with angels sculpted by Bernini. They are quite beautiful and seem so out of place on a bridge – but that in itself adds to their allure. During our morning walk the sunrise hit them in such a way that they glowed. The picture below against a darkened sky is now one of my favorites from the trip.