Oh my, have I got a treat for you today! Rome isn’t all high culture and ruins. Fortunately for people like me, it is also home to an extremely terrible wax museum. And I mean terrible in the best possible way. Trip Advisor reviews indicated how cheesy it was, and I’m pleased to report it lived up to the hype! At 9 euros, it’s not exactly a cheap way to get a laugh, but it was blissfully free of crowds and beggars, so I think it was money well spent. We’ll begin our tour, appropriately enough, in ancient Rome. Above, that’s Julius Caesar on the left, and Cassius and Brutus on the right.
This was followed by a trip through Italy’s history. I have absolutely no clue who any of the people of the left are, the dude on the right is Alberto Sordi, but I’m only going off the sign next to him, as I don’t actually know who that is. This was a common occurrence throughout the museum, as many of them were obscure Italian figures, and even ones who weren’t had been given Italianicised names (would you have known Giuseppe Vissarionovic is Stalin?).
The hall of music was impressively lame. Michael Jackson was the biggest name there, but they also had Zucchero (I’ve only heard of the man because one of his songs was number 1 in Italy when I was taking a road trip there a few years ago, so I heard it played about a million times on the radio).
Pavarotti, Andrea Bocelli, and judging by the drum kit, the drummer from Pooh(?). Good stuff.
The hall of heads was my particular favourite. I think they had information about how the wax figures are made in here, but it was all in Italian, so I just walked around laughing at the terrible looking heads. Why is the guy in the middle so happy?
The head on the right is meant to be Pope John Paul II. Or Papa Giovanni Paolo II, as he’s known in Italy. He seriously looks like the crypt keeper or something. Terrifying.
I feel like Mussolini was a reasonable effort, Oscar Wilde, not so much. He was definitely outshone by his counterpart in the Wax Museum Plus in Dublin. (Still pissed off about being cheated out of Jedward there, by the way).
The guy who looks like a prisoner is actually Pablo Picasso. Robey Magee over there is Dante Alighieri; after looking up his portrait, I see that this waxwork actually bears some resemblance to him. Well done, Museo Delle Cere!
And now, Soviet Russia, which was surprisingly well represented. In addition to Stalin’s head (shown earlier), that thing that looks like a cartoon character on the left is meant to be Khrushchev; Lenin and Putin are probably more recognisable, though still quite crap.
You know how I love getting my photo with anything FDR themed, so I snatched a pic with the vampiric looking specimen on the left. He was shoved in a corner with Churchill, whilst Mussolini and Hitler were given a relatively primo spot. Papa Francesco is a recent addition, and he looks rather cheery about it.
Hall of Popes. Poor John XXIII had the biggest head I’ve ever seen, he practically looked deformed. It looked like it was a bit big in real life, but not that comically huge, so I don’t know what he did to deserve the honour. Benedict had clearly just been shifted from pride of place by Papa Francesco, and was left to hang out with a monk and some Italian footballer.
And, saving the best for last, Brad Pitt, Obama, and Einstein! Brad Pitt was by far the worst waxwork in the museum. He was really just awful, especially that wig. Obama is definitely a bit off-looking, but he looks great compared to Brad Pitt. And Einstein is inexplicably saucy – I like it! There were a couple more popes and such rotating in the museum’s windows outside to try to draw people in, but be forewarned – if you try to take pictures of them or any of the ones in the entrance hall without paying admission, the cranky old guys who work there will come out and scream at you in Italian. It is by far the worst wax museum I’ve been to, so I loved it, but if you want realistic waxworks, I’d skip it. 4/5 for being splendidly awful.
And now, something free that I can’t mock; the Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary. If you wander around Rome enough, you’ll probably pass it at some point – it’s not terribly far from Campo de Fiori, (and the excellent pizza bianca at Il Forno Campo De Fiori), and is just off Vittorio Emanuele II. It appears, at first glance, to be an ordinary square surrounding some ruins, like you’ll see many places elsewhere in Rome, but if you look closer, you’ll spot loads of cats lounging around in the ruins.
These are the stray and abandoned cats of Rome, who have been taken in by the sanctuary, and thus get to sunbathe amongst the crumbling stones (they also have indoor housing!). Although visitors are strongly discouraged from feeding the cats, some of them might come out to say hello regardless. (Pet at your own discretion – the one I stroked seemed friendly enough, but I later saw her bite some guy).
It was really nice to see abandoned animals being taken in and cared for, and there’s a pretty cracking gelateria just round the corner (Vice Gelato on Vittorio Emanuele 2, the pistachio and semifreddo flavours rocked), so you might enjoy stopping by if you have a free minute in Rome, and want to see something else not very touristy. Or if, like me, you like cats but are allergic to them, you can enjoy them in an outdoor setting that is less likely to trigger an allergic reaction. Next post will be on tourist central – the Vatican Museums!