The Vatican is truly one beautiful place to visit, and having a guide makes it even better! (I am not Catholic) There is just so much of interest in the many sights here, however, with a plan, you can make it even more memorable.
The day was beautiful and when we pulled the car up, you cold see long lines in the plaza in front. We just got out, got a photo, and went to the back of The Vatican and entered there, NO line, and walked toward The Sistine Chapel. I think the entry fee was around 18 EU, but it was wonderful just getting out and walking in!
The Vatican walls are enormous, and the rear entrance is just to the left of this rear corner. A nifty way to avoid a crowd! Than-you guide!
That's Patrick! Up the escalator, and on to "The Sistine Chapel". Remember if you go, The Vatican is NOT air conditioned! The lines will be long in The Summer, so make sure you plan your trip well. Even on a "Direct route" you will encounter many steps and a reasonable walk, however, this was the way to do it for me!
The Garden in the rear of The Vatican were stunning! That is the top of The Vatican in the center. This garden is a wonderful place to "Catch your breath", have a refreshment if you like, or just enjoy the splendid views. Next, on to The Sistine Chapel.
You walk down a long hallway prior to The Sistine Chapel, you can take photo's talk, etc., here, but once in The Chapel", you cannot. Patrick, who is Catholic, pointed out what the various scenes in The Sistine Chapel depicted and historical facts of the lovely place. He also said, "You know it is a good day at The Sistine Chapel, if you can see the floor"! The crowd was small so there was plenty of floor to see, in the Summer, be prepared!
On place that was a real "Highlight", was just after The Sistine Chapel, there is a "Must stop", The Vatican Gift Shop. Here the items are "Blessed by The Pope, and way cheaper than anything you will find around The Vatican! The Nun's run the shop and snapped at my picture taking, so don't tell them I took these shots!
This is the place to shop, you will make many people happy with a gift from here!
Patrick was helping pick Christmas gifts for friends, and The Sister to the left was "Having a bad day"!
This is another room you leave from the gift shop! It was busy, and had wonderful items, I was amazed at how reasonable the prices were!
From here you walk inside the Vatican and it was again "Stunning"!
Upon entering, just to your right is The Pieta, a beautiful statue!
Walk around the Vatican and enjoy the many historical sights! Upon leaving, it was a delight to see:
The Swiss Guard! One was "Mixing it up with the crowd" as another was on guard. Very special entrance to The Vatican, and I must say, if you get the chance, do visit The Vatican.
Just a short note to thank-all who made this experience possible. If you have questions or contributions, please share with all of us at MRI!
Took a digital video of our walking tour through Vatican and St. Peter's Basilica when we visited Rome a few years ago, but was not allowed to use any cameras in Sistine Chapel. However, not everyone complied with instructions to not use them! Amazing to me was the tremendous value of artwork, tapestries, sculpture, etc. displayed throughout the complex, all owned by the Roman Catholic Church, and this is but one of many R.C.C. possessions throughout the world, much of which was financed by the non-wealthy people during the Middle Ages ("papal indulgences", if you're familiar with the Protestant Reformation).
You need to be like me -- scurrilous, unwilling to compromise, and looking for every opportunity when the powers that be are not looking --then you take the photos. When confronted, you become most contrite, saying Scusi multiple times (or having your wife do so). But they don't confiscate your cameras at the Vatican or anywhere else in Italy where I have transgressed monumentally .
These photos are great! I would love to stroll through the Vatican Gardens someday. I didn't know it was possible.
Did you check in on Raffaello Santi's Transfiguration? It is one of my favorites.
One can also make reservations on the Vatican website to pre-purchase tickets, make a reservation and avoid the lines. No extra charge and also well worth the advanced booking!
So glad you both had a wonderful time.
Yes, the "Transfiguration" was beautiful!
The Gardens were special! They had a wonderful fountain, and description of The Sistine Chapel!
Did not have any problem buying tickets at The Vatican, but advance purchase is an option, but weather or a change in your schedule should be considered prior to your booking a specific time/date.
One of my specialties is church history, and I've studied cycles of reform over time; this may be the best of them all BECAUSE he walks the walk and obviously knows the gospels and New Testament and is acting according to them. For me, it's been amazing over the past few months how many students who used to be 'closet Catholics' are now saying how much they love the pope. Next time I am in Rome, I will definitely schedule it so I'm there for a Wednesday audience. But today I read that the pope will be opening up his daily audiences for the homilies and mass at his residence at Casa Santa Marta to regular people.
Just for a brief connection, the new R.C.C. pope comes from the Franciscan tradition, namely, the order established initially by Giovanni Bernadone, later named, "Francesco" ("The Little Frenchman"), better known as Francis who was from the area of Assisi, southeast of Florence and near Perugia, Italy. Francis' philosophy of ministry was more of identification with the poor, as compared to that of his Spanish contemporary, Dominic, who founded the Dominican Order, which was called the "Order of Preachers" in the early 12 century A.D. I admire some of the things that he did and like some of Francis' writings, especially his "Canticle of Brother Sun", but many of his exploits, written about him after his death, likely fall in the category of legends.
Here's a bit of interesting trivia, perhaps known to some: One of the orders of Franciscan monks were called "Capuchins", a designation for their brown habits and rounded hoods, or cowl,which was supposed to symbolize the friars' rather primitive lifestyle, such as seldom wearing shoes. Later, some Italians, looking at the monks' light-colored hood ("capuche") coined the term, "cappuccino", for a brand of their espresso coffee, a favorite of many worldwide today.
Lori, you can indeed wander all over the Vatican Gardens. You might run into Pope Emeritus Benedict these days... Here are some photos I took one of my last trips to Rome -- the first is of the Vatican gardens from inside the Vatican Library near the Sistine Chapel; the second is me IN the gardens; the third is the ceilings of the halls that lead to the Sistine and the final one is one of about four prohibited photos I took in the grottoes of deceased popes. (The guards finally insisted I stop it.) This one I especially wanted since Callixtus III reopened Joan of Arc's trial in 1455 and the following year declared her the grounds for her execution null and void.
PS I really was hoping to get to Rome last week for an audience with Pope Francis. I saw him at the Sunday Angelus prayer in August, but as a Catholic longing for a pope like this one, I wanted more. Still, there will be a next time!
I find it amazing that we are not supposed to take photos of dead popes' sarcophagi while it is fine to take as many as you can of the present pope even when it seems totally inappropriate. (Maybe Francis will change that too.)
But I will go on taking as many prohibited photos as I can. Chris/Arkwright, I apologize, but England got me onto this bandwagon by either prohibiting me from taking any photos at cathedrals or castles in England (yet I could do so to a fare thee well at the British Museum of Assyrian and Egyptian antiquities -- but then, of course, to stir up controversy, they are not properly owned by the UK). Canterbury Cathedral lets you take photos if you pay 5 GBP, which totally annuls their argument that your non-flash photos will damage things.
Anyway, I am a total ne'er do well for my students (and I guess Insiders') sake because I refuse to be bound by such restrictive and nonsensical rules. If I used a flash I could see it, but I don't.
So, here are some tricks of the trade:
1) Use a decoy. Having a friend talk to the guards or if need be create a commotion will give you the opportunity to take photos of say, Savonarola or Cosimo de Medici's cell in San Marco in Florence (I did both -- thanks, Phil).
2) Use crowds. After you have taken four or five photos somewhat surreptitiously (like when a lot of people are around and unlike me don't care about Popes Callixtus III or Boniface VIII), and go for it till they stop you. Then say in the appropriate language or simply "Even no flash?" Look real dumb.
3) This comes naturally. Be blonde or dye your hair for the occasion if you are in Italy and really need those photos. Blondes get away with everything in Italy, even relatively elderly ones like me.
4) Bribe people. I only ever had to do this in Egypt, but it's expected, and you basically barter.
5) Depending on where you are, act either really smart or really dumb. Really smart helps a lot when you're in a country where you speak the language, know the history, and can compliment the person accosting you .
Hope you all find these helpful hints!
It is,as Pluto said, a naughty pleasure, especially figuring out the ways to elude the photography police. Don't you have a close-up, Pluto ?
The sad thing is that now people are using their phone cameras which mostly seem to flash and then others of us who have cameras strung around our neck get blamed.
My favorite 'scores' were Westminster Abbey (it took those vigilant guards 20 minutes, which included a photo of Edward the Confessor's throne and the friary of San Marco in Florence, where I used a decoy. I didn't need photos of Fra Angelico's photos since there are plenty available on the internet -- I wanted Savonarola's cell.
The one place I have found it impossible to take forbidden photos (mostly thanks to those phone camera people who are almost invisible once they've done it) is the Cave of St. John at Patmos.
I find it really counterproductive to forbid non-flash photos. I understand that flash can possibly damage some things, but the only reason I figured out that makes sense for a prohibition of non-flash photos came when I was visiting some of HRH's properties in England. I got wonderful photos of Hampton Court till I was accosted and told to cease and desist. Then when I went to Canterbury Cathedral I found that I COULD take flash (even of Becket's martyrdom site) if I paid their fee. So I think they want to protect property rights so they can sell photo books and tourist items. As a result, whenever I am in England (now I know Chrisf will be tracking me down), I am almost on a mission to take photos in prohibited places unless they offer me the Canterbury option.
Ironically, you can take free photos of everything in the British Museum (at least everything I wanted to see), much of which is 2000-5000 years old. Imperial guilt complex for sure .
Wow what whopped of typos. I meant Fra Angelico's frescoes, forgot a second parenthesis as I always do.
Just a few added thoughts -- these historical sites in particular could benefit seriously if they took the Canterbury option.
And finally, there is bribery. I expect it would be quite easy to get away with in Italy or Greece (except Patmos, where the monks can be frighteningly severe), but when I was in Egypt I was asked for a bribe to take photos in the inner recesses of Djoser's Step Pyramid. We haggled about how much, but both ended up happy.
Just to be ornery, here's Edward the Confessor's throne. (It actually wasn't his but built by King Edward I at the end of the 13th C.), where monarchs sit at coronations and which contains Scotland's Stone of Scone.
Shashack and Professor,
What's interesting is that sometimes photography is allowed, other times not. The first time visiting the crown jewel gallery in the Louvre, A-okay. Next visit, not allowed. First visit to Mona Lisa, not allowed, second visit, allowed. Huh? In the case of David, it was definitely not allowed both visits, and the docents were vigilantly wandering, looking for transgressors. Same when we visited the Spanish Riding School this summer. No video or photography, and the photography police were definitely on patrol.
I think it may also depend on whether or not there is someone on "duty."
Your point about the statue being outside for so long and then indoor photography not being allowed is well taken. The only thing I can surmise is that with so many tourists taking snaps, and many taking pictures with flash accidentally, the number of even accidental flash photographs adds up over time, comprehensively creating harm (paintings yes perhaps, but not sure about a statue?), so they just simply adopt a no photography rule to address that. I did accidentally take a flash photo of a Stradivarius (in the same museum as where David resides) and was firmly admonished by the nearby docent. Imagine my panic when the flash went off (I truly thought it was turned off) and then immediately was accosted by the docent. Huge epinephrine rush! Again, non flash photography was allowed that trip, now it is not.
The other point, like the Prof says, is that it is probably also a sometimes revenue related thing. I had to buy a "photography license" just to take photos inside the Royal Palace, but it wasn't required in St. Vitus Cathedral (both inside the Prague Castle compound). Go figure. (And when a docent scolded me for taking pictures and I pointed out that I had the "license," he made me pull it out and show it to him.)
Regarding the statue of "David", shown in the photo, a replica of the one that Michelangelo carved from a flawed piece of marble in 1504, displayed in the Academy of Florence, is actually not the Jewish David of the Old Testament Scriptures, but is only a title. "David" is the humanistic ideal of man, one with over-sized hands, able to accomplish all things; much like the ancient Greek philosopher, Protagoras, once postulated: "Man is the measure of all things."
Interestingly, while this in-house, statue captures the attention of tourists, there was once a similar, nude statue of David near Hyde Park in London, and I believe the authorities had to remove it because it was the cause of a number of auto wrecks near the site - I believe most of the drivers were women?
There are a number of statues bearing the name of "David", including one in the Piazza S. Maria Novella, in Florence, if I remember correctly, but I believe the more famous one is in the Gallery de Accademia in Florence, near the Medici Palace. The statue in Rome is a true piece of sculpture as well, but "replica", I believe, of the original that Michelangelo created in the 5th century, but I could be wrong.
Though I know it not to be your intent, your post created great alarm in me. I could not bear it if the statue of David in my photo, taken at the Accademia in Florence, was not the original sculpture by Michelangelo, unveiled in 1504. I believe it is the original, THE Very One. (you wouldn't want to see a grown woman cry, would you? )
Anyway, everything about it is exquisite. Brilliant. Stunningly beautiful. Every muscle, vessel, every line, curve. Beautiful. An incredible blending of the works of man and the works of God, nature, creation. The ones in the piazzas are rough and ugly by comparison.
I'm relying on my knowledge of Italian Renaissance history, but there might have been more recent developments that I don't know about. Michelangelo did create the David in the earliest part of the 16th C. as part of his statues on prophets (his Moses is in San Pietro in Vincola in Rome, to the right and above the lower level that shows Peter in chains. To the extent of my knowledge, the original David was placed in the Piazza della Signoria, but in modern times (keep in mind my definition of modern does not necessarily square with everyone else's) it was moved to the Accademia. There is a replica in Piazzale Michelangelo across the Arno.
Hope this helps!
Let us know how we can provide you with information. It is a long trip, and you will need to make it as easy on yourself as possible. One thing that KH provided me information on that really helped was the "Nightmare" at The Rome Airport. Don't take that "Return" lightly!
When The Concierge suggested being at the Rome Airport THREE hours in advance, it was good advice.