The "Holy Lawnmower" and other tales from Vatican City. Day 8 Part I


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March 8th 2008
Published: April 20th 2008
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Our first shot of St. Peters dome
Rome - Day 8 - Vatican -- March 8 ---PART I

To say that the Vatican is amazing would be an understatement. It was the single best, most incredible thing I have ever seen, or probably will ever see. It had been a dream of mine over the course of the last two years to see the Vatican. Literally a dream. There was nothing I wanted more than to see the museums, the paintings, the sculptures, and to learn the history of the amazing, centuries old Vatican.

We had to be up extremely early to be on the bus on our way to the Vatican. To be honest, this was the best day of the entire trip. Nothing could top it. We arrived at the Vatican after a 45 minute bus ride. We had a tour guide for the day, named Francesca, and we had to wear headsets, or ear pieces. See, there were so many other groups there for the day and each group was 30 or 40 people and as loud as it was, there was no way we’d be able to hear Francesca as she tried to shout out to us what a particular sculpture or
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Cortile della Pigna Courtyard of the Vatican
painting was. Plus, the tour guides are not allowed to “shout” or talk over the group once inside the museums so she would talk from a tiny hand held microphone, and since we all had ear pieces we could hear her just fine without any background noise.

I also have to add, THANK GOD, we were with the group because we did not have to wait in line to go to the museums. That line was LONG and was hours deep. Being with the group, we basically got right in, no waiting in that line that wrapped outside St. Peter's square.

Upon entering the Vatican you have to go through security. Joel joked and said that the security machines beep at everyone, but yet the loud “BEEPS!” don’t phase the security officers. There was a currency exchange counter once inside before actually touring all the museums. And like an idiot, I marched right over to the counter with the full intent on exchanging my money into Euros and…..I had forgotten my money in my wallet in the hotel room…..but I did exchange some money for Jay. I had my credit card and figured I could just use that
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This court is named after the huge bronze pine cone which was brought here from the atrium of Old St. Peter's when that church was pulled down...FYI
until I could exchange more money.

The first thing we did was get a briefing of the Sistene Chapel while standing in the courtyard or, as it’s properly called the Cortile della Pigna. The tour guides are not allowed to talk AT ALL, once inside the chapel so there were replicas of the paintings set up and Francesca briefed us on those, which, to me was pretty damn interesting. And since we’re not allowed photos inside the chapel, I took plenty of the “replica’s.”

So we’re standing there as Francesca is telling us the history of the chapel, built between 1475-81…..painted in 4 years……and I’m straining to hear her, even though I have the earpiece in and she is speaking through a microphone. But I cant hear. All I can hear is….a very loud LAWN MOWER!! Francesca finally stops talking and says “of all days to mow the lawn they have to do it today!” My annoyed-ness begins to fade and I find the whole scenerio very humorous. Here we are at the Vatican, something I have literally dreamed about forever and….a guy mowing the lawn! Here we are standing within walls, the buildings as old as time itself and….a lawnmower. It was a chore so ordinary, I may as well have been at my apartment building trying to shut out the noise of the apartment lawnmowers. But I wasn’t, at my apartment, I was at the Vatican, and that’s why I found it so humorous. And what does Erin do when she finds something funny? Why, take a picture of course! Francesca eventually resumes her lecture and I turn to snap a picture….or two. And Thomas, a member of our group walks a few feet away from the group and begins video taping the lawnmower guy. So I guess I wasn’t the only one to find it funny. And so, the picture has been dubbed “the holy lawnmower”

The Vatican museums are amazing. So many different sculptures, fescos and even just the design of the building was increadible. The highlight of the morning, for me, was....the SISTENE CHAPEL!! Gosh was it amazing, and much larger than I had expected. I had seen pictures and it looked smaller. Well, we were not allowed to take pictures. At all. They had several officers in there that would yell "No foto!" very loudly at you if you even tried.
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This is Francesca giving us a brief history of the Sisten Chapel paintings. Tour guides are not allowed to talk once inside the chapel, so that is why we are standing outside !!
People tried to whisper in there, but with 100 plus people in the chapel even whispering wasnt very quiet. I got to see my paintings!! Which was "the Creation of Adam" and "the last Judgement" those two are my favorites, although I loved the others as well.

After the chapel was St. Peter's Church. And what an increadible church. The pictures I took do not do it justice. I kept telling Jay, "you just cant capture the churches magitude with a single photograph" One truly has to see if for themself. It is the most prominent building inside the Vatican City. It's dome is a dominant feature of the skyline of Rome. Catholic tradition holds that Saint Peter's tomb is below the altar of the basilica. For this reason, many Popes, starting with the first ones, have been buried there.

And, I got to see Michelangelo's "Pieta" which, yes, I was familiar with before coming on this trip. As we starred at it, I told Jay "It's the only work of Michelangelo's that he carved his name into." I felt somewhat proud of myself that I had retained some knowledge I had learned in my Renaissance class over a year ago.

Lastly, we went back outside to take some photographs of the front square. And this....is where the beggars started up. Even in Vatican City stupid beggars! I was trying to take a picture of the beautiful fountain in the square when some lady walked up to me with a cup in her hand shaking it in my face. "No" I said and walked away. She did this to several of our other group members. ANNOYING. And it got worse. Just as we walked the other walls of the the Vatican and we met up again with Joel, it was the "attack of the scarf ladies" He's trying to talk to us and give us suggestions what to do with the rest of our day (it was a free day from here) and some ladies selling scarves kept walking up and shoving scarves in people's faces. Well, we'd tell them no, they'd walk off, only to come back 5 minuets later with the same scarves. The funniest part, however, was a woman from our group actually bought 2 scarves and the scarf lady walked away then within 10 minuets went back up to the same woman to try to sell her scarves again! She snapped at her, "I just bought some from you, leave me alone!"



Additional photos below
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Sistene Chapel CeilingSistene Chapel Ceiling
Sistene Chapel Ceiling

We weren't allowed to take photos once inside the chapel so I took these.
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Sistene Chapel paitings

amazing paintings. Seeing the real chapel was the highlight of the entire trip for me.
"The Holy Lawn mower""The Holy Lawn mower"
"The Holy Lawn mower"

Ok, so this is actually one of my favorite pics. There we are getting a lecture on the Sistene Chapel and it was hard to hear because the Vatican courtyard was being mowed !! I just thought it was funny because here we are at the Vatican, buildings as old as time and there is a modern day lawnmower.
"The Holy Lawn mower""The Holy Lawn mower"
"The Holy Lawn mower"

Another guy in our group started filming the lawnmower guy and said "thats goin' up on You Tube!"
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Vatican museums

some of these next few pics are blurry, but we weren;t allowed to use a flash inside.
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Vatican museums

I'm sorry, but I dont remember most the names to alot of these so my caption will just read "Vatican museums" !!
crowded!crowded!
crowded!

I just took this to show how crowded it was in there!


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