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Ancient Papal Catapult

Most of the rooms you come across in Castel St. Angelo are banquet sized and obviously very old.

Passing one large and noticeably ancient gold gilded and art laden room to the next room is maze-like. Often, there is a small set of stairs that lead yet to another gold gilded and even more art laden room.

The wooden floors creak painfully with every step.

I cannot help but wonder if the Popes of the past were similarly subjected to their disquieting cacophony.

The ancient wooden furniture is never the same. Yet, you can tell it has an artisans touch and is one of a kind.

Further, I could not help but notice how small some of the doors were. If I were allowed to pass through them, I would have to duck my head down at least six inches. That would make them roughly five feet high.

Short Popes!


 Ancient Papal Door

There was a sign near the entrance of one of the rooms prohibiting photographs. Those who do not comply are quickly reminded by a guard who suddenly appears out of thin air.

It’s almost like the stiffly posed people in the portraits tattletale on you if you so much as raise your camera from where it weighs around your neck.


 Ancient Papal Cannonballs

There are only two other places where I experienced such astringent security measures when it comes to taking pictures.

One place was the Vatican. The other was Graceland.

Yes, Graceland, Elvis Presley’s mansion in Memphis Tenessee.

My internal judge and jury is still out on that one.

I can understand the overly cautious security of one, but not the other.

How does one compare the security of 14th century Renaissance furniture and art to the tasteless whims displayed “The Jungle Room.”

But I digress…..

The most pleasant surprise during our visit to Castel St. Angelo was that there was an extensive exhibition on personal items from Popes going back well over a thousand years.

What I will remember most however is a still life portrait of a bowl of fruit next to a glass of red wine.

What’s, so interesting about that you might ask…

Not much at all…

That is, except there’s a dainty little fly painted on the rim of the wine glass.

It was very entertaining to watch the elderly security guard who was guarding his post next to this painting amuse tourists by making a fuss over the fly, and then try to swat him away.

His glee was evident by the mischievous smile he gave from under his bushy grey moustache.

I cannot imagine how many other people through the ages have swatted at the same curiously painted fly.

Anyway, to me that proved to be a tender moment, and I believe one that I shall never forget.

It was indeed exhilarating to be so close to these ancient objects that belonged to people that helped shape society and history.

Granted, there is always the controversial side, but still, when I think that some of these Popes were the nemesis to the likes of King Henry the Eighth, Queen Elizabeth the First, Martin Luther.

I am bewildered as to why these objects aren’t positively glowing with an historical aura all their own…

The delicate hand bound books still covered in red velvet…

The opalescent shoes that look like they have yet to be worn outdoors…

Gold ribbons cascading from jewel encrusted robes…

Even just breathing in the dust of these objects from ages past is enough to make me swoon into another place…

…another time.

And who said there is no such thing as time travel?


 Ancient Tiber River as seen from a parapet atop Castel St. Angelo