Travel

Italy and the Vatican

Italy attracts a great number of visitors. Tourists are everywhere in this country. In particular, you can see Japanese visitors.

We pay a visit to a public square in Rome, referred to in Italian as the Piazza del Popolo. Visual appearance is important in the city; people place flowers in front of their windows to make their city more beautiful. We climb up the hill of to the Altar of the Fatherland to gain a clear sight of Rome. There is a nice view up here. The main street, Via del Corso, is particularly discernible. This famous city hosts a number of historical monuments along its two sides. But you have to pay 7 euros to have this nice view. Like İstanbul, Rome is built upon seven hills.

We climb down the hill and start our city tour. The stores are colorful, to attract shoppers. But the items sold here are pretty expensive. However, I should also note that rich visitors do not pay any attention to the prices. Custom-made products, despite the fact that they are very expensive, are preferred by rich people. Shop owners tell us that this is a luxury street, thus rich people shop there. People pay attention to how they dress in Italy, which is known as a fashion paradise. Men wear suits and ties in their meetings and workplaces.

We see Italian soldiers guarding the parliament building; two of them wear traditional costumes and hold swords. It is time for a change of guard; the soldiers are replaced by new ones. We watch this brief ceremony. They perform this change every hour.

Italians use a great deal of gestures and body language when talking to you. They talk to each other for long hours. Two people riding bikes also chat; this is ordinary in Italy. Cellphone companies make a lot of money because people like using mobile phones. They are also fond of having vacations. They pay a great deal of attention to this; once they finish their vacation, they start planning the one next year.

We see a lot of Africans on the streets selling handbags and souvenirs. They work here illegally, so they have to run from the police and local security officers all the time. But once they have the opportunity, they start selling their products, which are mostly imitations of famous brands. The prices depend on the customers’ attitudes; there is no definite price.

Tasting gelato

Well, if you are in Rome, you should taste Roman gelato. Finally, we are able to locate the most famous gelato maker in Rome, which has been doing business since 1880. The store is packed with customers. We buy our gelatos and taste them. Gelato is a soft ice cream; it is made with cream, the foamed form of milk. This gelato maker says that this store was the first to produce packed ice cream in the world, in 1931. They sent ice cream to a number of countries, even Libya. Celebrities had gelato in this store; even Benito Mussolini stopped by this store, and German troops also preferred this place, which was open for American soldiers alone in the period between 1943 and 1947. This is an interesting place. Gelato is a nice ice cream but if you are looking for Maraş-style ice cream, this is not the right place. Besides, I do not think that it is as tasty as our Maraş ice cream. We are also told that the price drops by 50 percent in winter.

Rome, the capital city of Italy, hosts a statue known as the Bocca Della Verita, which literally means the “Mouth of Truth.” It is said that the statue bites you in the hand if you tell a lie with your hand inside. But of course, nobody has been bitten so far. In particular, visitors from the Far East form queues in front of the statue to take photos. They place their hands in front of the statue and have their photos taken. The square hosting the statute is also named after it: Piazza Bocca Della Verita. The square also hosts one of the temples from the pagan era of the Roman Empire.

We then head to the Saint Peter’s Basilica; this is the largest church in the world and serves as the spiritual center of Catholics around the world. It can accommodate 60,000 people, and it is reported that the cathedral was built on the grave of Saint Peter. The Vatican aCity is the smallest country in the world; its size is 440,000 square meters. The total population is less than 1,000. The state is headed by the Pope and has a flag, ministers and an army.

The Vatican is a state within another state. In fact, it is a state within a city. It ranks as the 249th and smallest state or dependency in terms of territorial size. The total length of its borders is 3.2 kilometers. The only neighboring country is Italy. The Vatican has 23 properties in Rome and five in other places. One of them is the summer residence of the Pope. The Vatican does not have a coastline. The Italian, French and Latin languages are spoken in this small country. It is one of the wealthiest countries in the world and it has its own radio and TV stations, postal service, official gazette, pharmacies and gas stations. In 1871, King Victor Emmanuel II, his commander Giuseppe Garibaldi and Count Camillo Cavour united Italy. After lengthy negotiations, they made a deal with the Papacy which established the Vatican City.

States of Saints Peter and Paul are placed around Saint Peter’s. There are well over 200 columns in the square of the cathedral, and many of the columns are adorned with statutes. Saint Peter’s was largely designed by Michelangelo, who died in 1564 before it was finished.

The Pope is the head of state and also of the Catholic Church. It is forbidden to wear shorts or improper and indecent attire inside the cathedral. Visitors are subjected to x-ray screening before entering the building. The cathedral has a colossal tomb and hosts a number of statues that are considered important works of Christian art. These include the Pietà by Michelangelo.

The crypts of the cathedral host the graves of the popes. Guardsmen wearing colorful clothes are Vatican military servicemen. Their number is around 100. All are of Swiss nationality. The Swiss have always been loyal to the Pope and never fought against Papacy, so the Pope has always picked the troops to protect his country from among the Swiss. At the same time, the Swiss troops are known for their ability to keep secrets. For these reasons, the security of the Pope has been ensured by Swiss troops since 1506.

Osman SEZER
Email: osman@thelondonpost.co.uk

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