Rome, the Vatican

Day 10, Rome, the Colosseum, the Vatican and St Peter’s Basilica

An even earlier start this morning. He had to, the shore excursion lasted over 10 hours by the time we got back to the ship. The guide was good, although she finished lots of sentences with an odd drag-queenesque laugh. She started this morning telling us about at one time (maybe around Christ’s time, I think) that Rome had a population of about 1,500,000. She went on to say that that number didn’t include woman or slaves?????

We drove the hour or so to Rome, or should I say the epicentre of the ‘smartcar’. Driver did loops around interesting buildings and stuff,…. (Mental note, I have to remember to look up a Rolling Stones concert at Circus Maximus, and ancient chariot race track, well at least Mick, Keef and the boys would feel at home with the ancient description.)

After a few laps of the same cobbled stoned roads and the same roundabouts (in all fairness, folk on both sides of the bus got photo opportunities.) We parked in a leafy street that happened to have a Colosseum at the end and about the population of Australia queuing for entry and/or a ticket. One of the perks of a tour is that the tickets are pre organised and the only queuing we did was for the security and xray machines. The bummer was that we were told we could take empty water bottles in and fill them up inside, but I couldn’t find the water.

The Colosseum I believe held about 70,000. Apparently, they had a shade sail in the shape of a donut on top of it back in the day. So I’m guessing it the ancient Roman version of the MCG, although the MCG is somewhat kinder to animals and Christians. I believe the surface the fighting took place on was sand, it soaks blood up well.

Again, a beautiful day, although after a while in the sun, it starts packing a punch, I can only imagine how hot the arena would’ve got in the heat of the summer.

We had lunch at a restaurant across the road. Antipasto, 2 lots of pasta and red wine. I left before the dessert so I could get back to the meeting place in the shadow of the Arco Di Constantino and the machine toting guards who requested no photos….. whoops!

On the bus again and off to the Vatican. It’s a pretty amazing place, filled with incredible works of art, whether it is sculpture, painting, mosaic, tapestry or just the incredible architecture and gardens.

Cameras have free run right throughout the Vatican , with the exception of the Sistine chapel, which is the Pope’s personal chapel. The current Pope seems like a bit of a character. The tour guide told us that in the middle of a tour the other day he just showed up, he had some time on his hands. I am surprised that he had time because the Vatican made 2016 a global jubilee, a global year of Mercy. The next one is in 2025.

Michelangelo’s ceiling of the Sistine Chapel is an amazing patchwork of biblical times. The work that I really liked was ’The last judgement’ which takes up the entire end wall. He agreed to paint it as long as he had free run of what he painted. The Pope agreed. There was a Cardinal that wasn’t impressed that Michelangelo painted all the people in the painting without clothes, the artist’s reckoning was that when the last judgement comes, God will judge all on a level playing field, regardless of the earthly wealth, therefore fancy clothes meant nothing.

Michelangelo went on to portray that particular Cardinal in the very bottom right hand side of the painting. An area of the painting that was dark. The Cardinal himself was painted with donkey’s ears and naked, except for a snake wrapped around him. When the Cardinal complained to the Pope and wanted him to make Michelangelo change that part of the wall, the Pope said “I’m sorry I can’t help you, I deal with heaven, not hell”.

We went into the biggest Church in the world, St Peters Basilica. Yep, big, bloody big. Just a heads up, the black statue on the right side of the main part is St Peter, if you rub his right foot, you get blessed, and on each side closed to the front door, there are sculptures of shells with cherubs on each side…… those shells, that’s where they hide the holy water.

Apparently the door we came in through is going to be bricked in at the end of the Jubilee until the next one in 2025.

When we were walking back to the bus, a random bloke playing Frank Sinatra songs on his piano accordian joined our group as we had to go up a couple of floors on escalators. One of our group, a gentleman who’s normal talking voice carries like nobody’s business announced to all to watch out for the gypsy. I think he got the hint.

Well, I can now say I have been to Rome, the land of mopeds, smartcars and queues.

Tomorrow I get to see some dodgy workmanship in Pisa.



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