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Published: July 21st 2016
Woolly says – I had planned an early start, practised my questions and even borrowed Zoe’s brush (don’t tell her) to spruce myself up for this most auspicious day, what were the others doing.....sleeping! Which is what normal people do at six in the morning! Having kept my eyes closed for as long as possible given the fact that he was batting my nose with his trunk I sent him for breakfast so we could have some peace and quiet while we got ready. Woolly says – hours and hours passed and having managed two croissants I was considering heading off on my own when they finally appeared.... I’ve told you a million times not to exaggerate Woolly, we were half an hour if that! Woolly says – ......my clock moves much faster than theirs! Two metro trains and a walk to collect our rebooked tickets and I could barely contain my excitement, how long would I have with the Pope? Does he like pistachio’s? Has he seen Ice Age? It didn’t matter how many times I had told him he didn’t believe that the
Pope wasn’t going to be granting him an audience. Clutching our tickets tightly we decided to visit the wonders of St Peter’s Basilica first rather than walk to the Vatican, go round and walk back again. Woolly says – St Peter’s square was huge and as we waited in line I took over from a nearby tour guide in giving her group the information. Designed by Donato Bramante, Michelangelo, Carlo Maderno and Gian Lorenzo Bernini, St. Peter's is a renowned work of Renaissance architecture and one of the largest churches in the world. Regarded as one of the holiest Catholic shrines it is believed to be where St Peter (one of the Apostles) is buried. There has been a church on this site since the time of the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great, but construction of the present basilica wasn’t completed until the 18th November 1626. As I paused for breathe the tour group seemed to run off into the building itself leaving me with the females once more. How something so small can scare forty Americans is beyond me but scare them he did. Covering our shoulders we entered through the Holy Door
to find the place filled with people. Woolly says – I hadn’t excepted that many people, how would the Pope find me! Setting off to look for his Holiness I couldn’t but help admire the entire interior with it’s lavishly decorated marble, reliefs, architectural sculpture and gilding. The ceilings were incredible and having fallen over my paws several times in my attempt to view them all I found that Jo was providing a carrying service for me. Mainly so I didn’t lose him in the crowds or have to scrape him up from the floors after being trampled! Woolly says – Trying to get through to the central feature, the baldachin or canopy over the Papal Altar was a test of wills, luckily Jo being small and adept at moving through large groups we made in about ten minutes. The dome above was magnificent and the wooden columns stood tall and proud as everyone in the world tried to take the same photograph! I shouted a quick hello to St Peter in his throne as we passed and went to look at the smaller alters on the sides of the church.
Finding another huge group heading towards the three of us we ducked into an open doorway and found ourselves in the treasury. Oh boy, Oh my, the gems off one garment would feed a small nation for a year, even the crown jewels in the Tower of London weren’t as impressive, it was a shame that we couldn’t take pictures but I think I memorised enough to help out in a burglary!!!! With the crowds building we left the interior and joined the line that would lead us to the Tombs of the Popes. Woolly says – Maybe his worship would be down there paying his respects! The room was light and airy and displayed a vast array of different size, shapes and decorated burial caskets for each Pope who has served the Catholic Church. Best by far was the area dedicated to St Peter himself, covered in mosaic work and gold it looked stunning but like many things no pictures were allowed. Having followed the herd back outside and into the blistering heat we admired the guards in there funky yellow, blue and red uniforms before agreeing that a cold drink was needed
before tackling the next attempt to get my one to one with the man himself! It was a welcome relief to sit in the shade and sip on ice slushes....well until the bill arrived! Twenty two Euro’s for two drinks!! Woolly says – I nearly choked on the last of the ice and quickly packed the straw, glass and spoon into Jo’s bag....well we had paid for it hadn’t we! Having returned the bar’s property we made our way round the walls of the Vatican city and having bought a fast pass ticket for an extra four euro we sailed straight past the mile long queue and inside to the cooling environment. Woolly says – It was a bit like arrivals at an airport with the x ray machines, escalators and not knowing where to go next! Walking into a grassed square I admired the large pine cone and sphinx’s before dashing over to say hello to the large head of Julius Caesar, the crowds seemed to be moving in one direction so being the mammoth that I am I went in the opposite direction. The corridor
in front of me was full to bursting with statues and busts of illustrious Romans, I immediately set about looking for Hadrian. I was hoping that we hadn’t lost him, Zoe and I walked through hundreds and hundreds of beautifully preserved Roman marbles, every Emperor was represented either sitting, standing and head only, I spotted the small furry one clutching onto a life size figure of Caesar and refusing to let anyone take a picture until I arrived, having clamed him down and apologised to the crowd we followed the masses. Woolly says – An octagonal garden housed yet more statues and a lovely looking pool that even I was tempted to dip a paw into! The throng moved slowly past a whole room dedicated to marble animals in all shapes and sizes before coming to what appeared to be the largest bowl in the world, you could have fitted a whole rugby team in there! The ceilings were getting better and better and as I tried to look at the mosaic floor I felt my paw under someone’s size tens..... I was brave and gamely limped after Jo. Going by
the amount of noise coming from his small body he was in pain and with the amount of people growing by the second all of us were starting to feel overwhelmed. Seeing a doorway to the left I shoved us all though and found that we were in the Egyptian section. Woolly says – I sat down with Zoe and considered the mummies in the case in front of me whilst Jo delved through the hordes and came back to report that there was loads to see. I looked at the number of feet to get through and looked at Jo, it wasn’t practical for me to walk! So much to look at and as we passed case after case of ancient artefacts I could only admire them from afar, if we started reading every label we would be there for the next week! Back into the fray and with more incredible ceilings to gaze at and immense tapestry’s to admire it all started to blur into one. I wanted so much to enjoy it but there was just to much and with no way out to have a break and then continue it seemed to go
on forever. We all felt the same, it was more than overwhelming and we wanted a sit down and have some fresh air but we were in a corridor and had no option but to keep going and going and going. Woolly says – I saw a sign for the Sistine Chapel and grew hopeful that we were nearing the climax but with no mileage marker on we went. Gigantic maps covered the walls and even better ceilings than we had already seen, would we ever reach the end? Would I see the outside world again? Where was the Pope and why wasn’t he strolling along with me? Just as I realised that I had become fixated on the floor and that my senses couldn’t take in any more we climbed the steps into the Chapel itself. The Sistine Chapel is a chapel in the Apostolic Palace, the official residence of the Pope, in Vatican City. Originally known as the Cappella Magna it takes its name from Pope Sixtus IV, who restored it between 1477 and 1480. Since that time it has served as a place of both religious and functionary papal activity and
is now used as the site of the Papal conclave, the process by which a new pope is selected. It is most famous for the frescos that decorate the interior, most particularly the Sistine Chapel ceiling and The Last Judgment by Michelangelo. The area was jam packed and not quite what we had expected, no gilt or furniture just a large room covered in the most incredible artwork. Woolly says – It was stunning and the work was so large especially the ceiling with all the intricate details and stories taken from the bible. It was a moving mass and we were only allowed to pause momentarily before being moved on and sadly with no camera’s allowed I had to make do with a postcard! Looking forward to some breeze on my fur and a sit down we followed the exit signs, past beautifully painted cupboards and more and more incredible ceiling, we went, mile after mile and I knew that all of us were becoming slightly delirious, when would it ever end! It never seemed to stop, I felt sorry for the cleaning team they must spend all night getting
this vast expanse ready for the public! Exit signs became more frequent and we tried not to build our hopes up and until we passed through the shop....can’t be long now! Woolly says – it was the biggest and longest shop in the world and although the ceiling was amazing I just wanted a door out, another exit sign and I heard chairs scraping on floors, I looked around and found that we had arrived in a cafeteria, thanking my lucky stars I didn’t even need to beg for a drink as Jo bought us cold cokes and we spent another five minutes trailing through more corridors before finally being able to take gulps of fresh air into our lungs. The relief was immense and as we sat on the floor under a tree looking at the small area of garden we were allowed in sheer exhaustion overtook us....well some of us! Woolly says – everything ached including my brain and eyes but hadn’t we forgotten one thing...... When am I meeting the POPE!
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