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  • Day87

    Vatican City: Popes and Priests

    October 24, 2017 in Vatican City ⋅ ☀️ 11 °C

    The day before visiting the Vatican City we attempted to make our way to see the Pope, but after the ordeal of taking two trains and a bus overflowing with people, a perfect playground for a frotteurist, we decided to abort the trip – probably not something that would be condoned by the papacy. We quickly withdrew upon seeing the lines waiting outside the Vatican Museums and the hordes of ticket scalpers harassing us as we weaved our way to the end of the queue. Again, we're fairly sure the withdrawal method, while apparently a popular technique, wouldn't be supported by the Holy See.

    The following day, it was take two, with a slight variation on a theme. Once again the trains and buses were crammed with people. This time the platform at the metro was so packed that people were in such close proximity that normally people get to know one another first or at least buy a drink before getting into these positions. Not to mention that the health and safety department in Australia would have gone into overdrive if they had witnessed the events of people getting crushed by the closing train doors. After missing two packed trains, we eventually made it onto a train headed for the Vatican City.

    We finally arrived in the Vatican City and were confronted with the queue for Saint Peter's Basilica. The line trailed around the entire square and, after an hour and a half, we made it inside. People filled the room gawking at the opulence on display. Crowds were lined up to file past the statue of Saint Peter and rub his feet. Perhaps they have a foot fetish!

    The Vatican City was swarming with tour groups blocking the paths and generally imposing themselves on everyone else. Tour groups are the modern phalanx, warriors who are the frontline mowing down everything in their path. Fortunately this breed of tourist is only interested in ticking off sites listed in their Lonely Planet guide (tick-box tourists) and we were able to find some respite in some of the less popular museums. The reprieve from the tour groups was only short-lived as we braved the Sistine Chapel. Like herding cattle, we were ushered into the chapel to witness the work of Michelangelo. While we could appreciate the workmanship of the great artist, we were left underwhelmed, unlike the jaw-dropping statue of David.

    The Vatican City is comparable to Disneyland in way ways, with its merchandising, commercialism and long queues. The only difference is that the rides are basilicas and museums and there are no fast passes to skip the insane lines. Shops surrounding the city-state selling icons of saints reek of iconolatry, but all you need to do is confess, pay an indulgence and you will be granted absolution.

    Next stop: Ostia Antica
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