No trip to Rome would be complete without a visit with the Pope, whose country, The Vatican, is surrounded by a city founded by heathens. While heathens still abound, they are outnumbered by Italian Catholics, who consider The Vatican also their country, and St. Peter’s as their church.
Pope Francis was not receiving visitors from Sonoma on the day we stopped by, but, thanks to Lucia, our tour guide, we had passes to the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel, exiting into St. Peter’s.
Lucia created a game for each of our grandkids that challenged them to find objects in the museum that were described in her list of clues. The kids, being ever competitive, eagerly played the game. What could have been a long and tedious tour through a crowded museum was made entertaining as well as informative.
Lucia gave credit to Pope Julius II (Pope from 1503 – 1513) for starting the process by which the Vatican acquired and restored a huge collection of ancient art. Julius, known as the “Warrior Pope,” was also a patron of Michelangelo, and persuaded the artist to paint part of the Sistine Chapel.
My attention span being shorter than the average 6-year-old, I found the tour to be a tiring ordeal of walking and jostling through crowds, especially so in the Sistine Chapel, which was impressive, but also jammed full of other visitors. I most enjoyed the periodic respites that Lucia suggested, when we’d stop, gather ’round her and she’d tell us a story of how a specific work of art had come to be there and how the various successors to Julius didn’t always admire his taste in art.