My daughter and I just returned from her school trip to ITALY! I had never been but always wanted to go so I was possibly more excited than she was!
One of my favorite places was Vatican City. Probably because I’m Catholic. I could not help but see everything through my father’s eyes. While I wax and wane about my “church-organized” religious beliefs, he does not seem to. I had tears in my eyes many times imagining what he would be feeling. I hope he visits the Vatican someday.
We arrived to the walled city in the morning and we were told that visitors who aren’t part of a group must wait in line and that it wraps around the whole city. This was one place our tour guide was very clear that we were to stay together because there is only one correct way in and out. He mildly joked that the other way out would be to jail. Not funny:)
As you enter, you are herded through the Vatican Museums. They are all very intricate and beautiful. One of my favorites featured this long “hall” where the barrel vault ceiling was a work of art.
On either side walls, there were painted maps. These were done before aerial shots and surveying… amazing. I loved the greens and cobalt blues.
There were also very old tapestries.
From here we were led out to one of the pretty courtyard gardens. These were built to allow green space and quiet reflection for the Popes.
Here our tour guide used one of several informational stands highlighting the important details of Michelangelo’s The Last Judgement painted on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. This was helpful because you are not allowed to talk or take pictures inside the Sistine Chapel because it is a holy space. The fame of the Sistine Chapel lies mainly in the frescos that decorate the interior, and most particularly the Sistine Chapel ceiling and The Last Judgment by Michelangelo. I enjoyed being reminded why the frescos are so famous.
The chapel takes its name from Pope Sixtus IV, who restored it between 1477 and 1480. Since that time, the chapel has served as a place of both religious and functionary papal activity. Today it is the site of the Papal conclave, the process by which a new pope is selected.
The last guided spot was St. Peter’s Basilica.
It was breathtaking. I love buildings and architecture so naturally I was overcome and amazed by the beauty I saw. The amount of intricate detail was overwhelming. I tried to imagine the tradesmen doing their work in the 1500s but the sheer vastness of the detail was more than I could wrap my brain around. My eyes could not rest. Everywhere you look there are more domes with ceiling treatments, more columns, more mosaics… and the gold! It was truly beautiful.
I am Catholic so I was invited to walk through the Holy Doors which are only open every 25 years during Holy Years. The Pope is allowed to declare additional years Holy Years and Pope Francis did that for 2016. On one hand, it is simply walking through a separate doorway. But for me, I felt overcome by emotion… it kind of felt like my chest/heart was lifted up to my head-level. One of my dad’s aunts (who is now deceased) was a nun and I definitely thought a lot about her while I was here.
We live near Jamestown and the early settlements of America beginning in 1608. St. Peter’s Basilica began construction in 1506 and opened in 1626. The difference in ornateness is staggering.
Afterwards we were left time for lunch and time to do some shopping. So of course I bought my whole family (and any Catholic friends) Rosary beads. You could have them blessed and delivered to your hotel.
Most days we grabbed a prosciutto, cheese, and basil sandwich but this day I went with a bulgar wheat salad and it was so tasty! The kids had gelato for dessert every. single. day:)
What a special place. I felt so much emotion here. And I am so excited about the current Pope Francis. Next stop Rome!