The Vatican is known for housing some of the most infamous works of art and being the basis for countless conspiracy theories but what really got us giddy in the pants were the stories that accompanied our VIP Vatican tour with Walks of Italy. History, secrecy, reverence, scandal, beauty- there isn’t much that the world’s smallest independent state lacks, especially when you throw the unofficial history into the mix.
After skipping ahead of the self-guided tourists, who had been waiting in line for several hours, we made our way inside to meet our personal Vatican guard. Clad in a black leather jacket, matching shoes (matching the jacket, as well as each other), jeans, and a pair of Ray-Bans, we had the most stylish secret service agent dissolving any doubt that we were more important than everybody else.
On the other side of the velvet rope awaited jealous and hateful stares as well as areas that are normally off limits to the public. So impressive were these areas that even our guard was taking pictures on his phone. Terraces with incredible views, personal prayer rooms, and more art than you can shake a pastoral staff at.
Just around the corner and out of sight from the crowds sat a curious wooden chair with a slot in the middle of the seat. Without prior knowledge, one would assume it was removed from his holiness’ outhouse- thought the design was less-than-ideal. Not to mention, why would the Vatican surround something like that with priceless sculptures and mosaics? The answer comes from the official history. It is believed that a women was once named as Pope without anyone being the wiser. When it was finally discovered, this chair was created to ensure that future Popes were endowed with the required equipment.
Without spoiling too many surprises, some of the most impressive stories belonged to the art. And the Sistine Chapel was not to be outdone. Whether discussing the beginnings of why a sculptor was commissioned (and forced) to paint the ceiling or learning about the impressive innovations Michelangelo made, there are stories everywhere- if you only know where to look.
Disclosure: We were guests of Walks of Italy for this tour, however all opinions are our own.