We are of Italian descent and visiting Italy was our dream trip (my daughter and I). This trip we planned for years. Our Vatican experience would be a beautiful spiritual experience – life changing! Finally the day had arrived. After a tour of Rome including the Colosseum, we were finally at the VATICAN!
It was summer, it was hot and the line was extremely long. Thank goodness we had priority tickets.
After a stop in the main area for a lecture on what we are about to see, we started the very slow, hot, long walk to the Sistine Chapel. Beauty surrounds us and we stop to admire great works of art. The walls and ceilings are gorgeous.
Unfortunately I cannot give you any history as I could not hear the guide’s explanations. After the first half hour we become uncomfortable with the amount of people surrounding us and the heat. We are from NEW YORK and used to crowds, the volume exceeded a trip to the mall on Christmas Eve. What is the capacity of this Hall? Are there any fire laws in Italy?
We think maybe once we get to the Sistine Chapel we will feel closer to God? But alas, the hallway is now single file, there are stairs. We view a T.V. that warns us there will be no pictures – with or without flash in the Sistine Chapel, the murals are fragile. Herded into the tiny chapel we attempt to look up. The shouts of silenzio, silenzio by the guards guarantee no quiet meditation. There is no place to sit and my back is hurting.
It takes all of 10 minutes in the Chapel. We finally reach the air of the square and find our way into St. Peters Church. There are no seats in this church. I get the impression they do not want us to stay. We lean against the wall. A security guard comes over to tell us there is no leaning…… GET ME OUT OF HERE!!!!
As we make our way into the gift shop, I vow not to give anymore money to this place. I wonder how much they collect daily.
This goes down as THE most disappointing excursion to date. Was it the expectations not met? The crowds? The heat? The lines? Yes these were a factors, but the biggest disappointment was the lack of spirituality in this church of churches. One has to wonder WWJD if he wandered into this part of town?
To sum up…. The Vatican – beautiful artwork, absolutely no spiritual atmosphere! Our recommendation – skip this one OR if you just have to go (as we did), don’t go in the summer and buy skip the line tickets.
A friend who had come to the Vatican when the pope was preaching did have a spiritual experience and looks back on the memory fondly. She said seeing the pope preach made the visit worthwhile – maybe that’s the way to go.