on August 20, 2012
We visited the Vatican, or more specifically St Peter's Basilica, because it's expected, I mean who goes to Rome and doesn't see the Vatican? I'm not the religious type at all, so it wasn't Catholicism which took me there. When we eventually found it (you might think that's easy, but that's a tale for a story review) and walked though into St. Peter's Square, I almost turned back. The queue looked horrendous, and I thought we'd be there for hours. But after a minute or two I noticed that people were continually walking in the queue, so we decided to join the end. And sure enough, the queue which looked to be a least an hour long moved up quickly, and within 10 minutes we were at the scanners.Here you have to walk through an airport style scanner, and your bag has to be scanned by an x-ray machine. While were were walking through this queue system, the big screens came on and the pope was displayed, presumably giving a sermon. I thought it must have been recorded, but since then other people have mentioned that the pope is at the Vatican on a Wednesday, which was the day we went, and there were an awful lot of people in the square who stopped to watch.After security you can then move onto the basilica, but first there is another stop with guards refusing entry to people dressed in shorts, or women with shoulders on display. Luckily we knew about this and my daughter had a long dress in her bag, and we both took chiffon shawls which had been used for a wedding. Other people weren't so lucky and had to go back out and buy shawls/wraps from vendors near the Vatican.Next comes the wow factor. I defy anyone to be unimpressed by the interior of the basilica, lavish paintings and carvings cover just about every inch of the inside, and that is a vast area. There are tombs of several popes on display. Not being religious I cannot say why these particular popes were chosen for this honour, however I know at least one was a saint, Pius X, because there is a school named after him close to me.For some the extravagance with all the gold, marble and expensive woods will be somewhat of a travesty, I am one of those people, however I cannot help but be amazed at the detailed work of the artists.For those with faith, there was an area for prayer, and there was a mass being held during the time we were there.
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