Unless you have some Papal credentials, see the Vatican City with a proper guide. Not merely to jump queues but to navigate the treasures within. Giotto’s triptych; Caravaggio’s Entombment; the Laocoon; Raphael’s Transfiguration, Liberation of St Peter and School of Athens…some of the greatest mythical painting ever made and there it all is, before you, towering over the tourist hurly-burly, busy taking selfies.
Blessed with a bit of height, the Varnished Culture could stake out some wall space and gaze over the sea of baseball caps. Down sparse casements and through subterranean galleries of truly hellish ‘modern’ art, up a noisy narrow stairway and finally into the Sistine Chapel. You first see these unexpected transept frescoes by the likes of Botticelli, fresh and dazzling. Then, follow the celery-stalked necks of the throng, the washed out colours of the ceiling.
Finally, amid the ‘shooshing’ of the attendants and surreptitious photo snaps that will never be worth downloading, your sight is drawn to the wall with The Last Judgment, which Michelangelo did a generation after he completed the ceiling. Goethe said in a letter that until you have seen the Sistine Chapel, you can have no adequate conception of what one man is capable of accomplishing. In a gloomy mood one might say that of Michelangelo’s á Pieta, in the interior of St Peter’s, with its arm hacked off by a madman. Just when wounds from the colourisation war over Michelangelo’s frescoes have been licked clean, the Vatican offers The Vatican Museums 3D. TVC advises art lovers to go to the source instead.