I am compelled to momentarily ignore a whole range of issues I have with the Catholic Church to wax lyrical about the Vatican Gardens. Despite that on average 25,000 people visit the Vatican each day, we had the privilege to wander through the extensive gardens for a few hours feeling like we were sharing the experience with just the other 16 pax (check out my latin!) on the tour.
As has been the want of many of the rich and powerful to respond to desires and whims of those in charge, the Vatican Gardens have both renaissance and english style designs. English you ask... Not because of a professed love of the Brits down through the ages, but for the simple fact a previous pope or two didn't mind a hunt. Something which proves little challenge if the gardens are laid out in standard renaissance style. Papal hunting plans needed vegetation in which animals could hide and present some level of challenge. (I know, I know... give the animals a firearm if we are talking a fair challenge.) Being on the right hand of God (Mano Destra di Dio) does inevitably create a sense of entitlement and forgiveness ~ two bastion concepts of Catholicism.
Siggy our guide provided a cheeky commentary that showed a delightful level of respect and irreverence. She worked the bottle necks by taking us in the reverse order around the gardens and timed the access to the Galleries and the Cappella Sistine to avoid some of the crowd.
I did cop a thwack from Anne when I commented a little too audibly about Cardinal George Pell and the diocese of Ballarat when we passed by his tower office ~ which of course I immediately named the "Pell Tower".
No bell in the Pell Tower but nearby is the millennium bell. A one piece of foundry work from one of the older families of Rome.
The maze style garden never seems to go out of style and this is certainly evident on the lower levels of the gardens.