3 days in Rome: The holy city, sans breakfast

Absolutely bursting at the seems from last nights dinner, it was up and at em for our trip to the Vatican. Now I’m going to be honest whilst also trying to side step politics, but the Vatican was a bit overwhelming for a couple of non believers. The intricacy of the art and overall vast display of great wealth was something else.

On the way into the Vatican there is a strict dress code, upheld by security – no knees or shoulders – so ladies if you’re coming in shorts and a vest top, you’re going to want to rethink your wardrobe. As hot as it is, you’re going to have to cover up.

Our tour guide Massimo was amazing and he kicked us off with a trip to the St. Peters Dome. What a place to learn you don’t like small spaces!! 448 ft high, with 300+ narrow, winding stairs to the top – this isn’t for the faint hearted. There was a moment of pause when I realized I was on the verge of a panic attack from the claustrophobia, but also very aware that the only way to go was up. Seriously, once you’re on those stairs there is no option of return, you must exit via a second staircase, that and there is absolutely not enough space to swing a cat let alone afford two way traffic.

By the time I got to the top I was breathing erratically and motioned straight to the exit. Steve suggested that I take a few moments to regroup rather than make a hasty decision after our triumphant climb … and touché. When my breathe stabilized it truly was a sight to see. Views of Rome through godlike eyes, I can only imagine, the highest of heights and the holy city stretching out into the sun lit blue sky. Although, I am pretty embarrassed that I threw around a few ‘good gods’ and ’Jesus christ these stairs’ on my ascent.

From there we sauntered back to the chapel to awe at the majestic sculptures and array of christian art. I was blown away by the learning of the concrete wall (above), that gets smashed down by the newly elected pope clutching a golden hammer on his day of inauguration. The practice’s and traditions of the catholic church are truly fascinating. Less fascinating and somewhat shocking is the story of the psychotic visitor who took his own hammer (no gold here), to Michelangelo’s Pieta in 1972 whilst shouting ‘I am Jesus christ, risen from the dead’. It got me thinking about my own psychotic break and how adamant I was that I was the second coming, sent from god to instil belief back to our communities. Well he got carted off to the psychiatric ward just like I, but Pieta is now housed by a glassed enclosure. You know, to keep him safe from hammer wielding born agains like myself haha JOKES.

From here we made our way to the Vatican museum, which led us into the Sistine chapel. Wowee was that ever cool. No photos or noise allowed, not that that stopped some of the eager beavers tut tut. It truly was magnificent to see in person. The fresco ceiling art work was painted by Michelangelo between 1508 to 1512, and do you know, he didn’t even want to do it! He was all like nah Pope ’not my jam’, but Pope Julius II was all ’you gotsta do it my friend’. And here we are with this world renowned painting by a 30 year old. Don’t know about you, but I sure wasn’t creating masterpieces in my 30’s – hold that thought, there’s still time. . although I can barely draw a bath let alone high renaissance art haha

We had hoped to go to the Vatican Necropolis, the catacombs that lay under St. Peters, but sadly there was a service for a late Cardinal that day and the Necropolis was closed off.

Another 8 hour day of sightseeing in the bag, we headed home to refresh and out for dinner (absolutely starving by this point after no breakfast) via The Pantheon – known as the most and or best preserved monument of ancient Rome.

No charlie horsing today, YAS!


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