Vatican: 4/19/2011

OK, so this is not a concert ticket stub, but it is a ticket stub and a pretty cool one in my opinion. Back in 2011, my wife and I took a trip to Italy, which was amazing. Often, you have expectations of places that you visit and they don’t quite live up to them, but Italy does not fall into that category. It surpassed all my expectations.

Rome was the last stop on our trip, and we definitely wanted to see the Vatican, particularly the Sistine Chapel and Saint Peter’s Basilica. Because it was Easter week when we were there, the crowds were larger than usual. Someone who was a veteran traveler to Italy suggested that we pay for a guided tour, which allows you to skip the lines. I have to say, it was money well spent. The line literally stretched for miles, and our tour guide took us up to the entrance whisked us right in.

Now, we all know what the Sistine Chapel looks like. We’ve seen plenty of pictures. But I have to say that when you are standing there, looking up at this massive work of art, it is an experience that is totally transcendent. A picture cannot do it justice. The sheer scale of this masterpiece boggles the mind. I could have spent a week there, gazing up at the ceiling and losing myself in the images, symbols, and colors. It was a moment in my life that I will treasure.

After the Sistine Chapel, we went to Saint Peter’s, which was packed. It was almost impossible to move inside there, but we slowly made out way around, taking time to marvel at Michelangelo’s Pieta. But what I found the most fascinating in St. Peter’s were the mummified popes. Yes, throughout the basilica, glass caskets displayed the mummified remains of various popes. I personally find the whole concept of religious relics to be intriguing, the belief that the physical remains of a spiritually powerful individual can convey mystical power to those in its presence. I must confess, there did seem to be some tangible energy in the atmosphere.

After the tour, we wandered the streets of Rome until it was time for dinner, and indeed, food in Italy is worth the trip. After dining there, you’ll never set foot in an Olive Garden again.

Ciao!