Visiting Rome's Wax Museum, or Museo delle Cere, is a unique and unforgettable experience.
This is because Rome's wax museum is no ordinary wax museum. Due to the questionable quality of the wax models, visitors tend to leave the museum either scared, baffled or amused.
Many tourists stumble upon this little-known museum by accident, on the way to or from the neighbouring Piazza Venezia in the heart of Rome. Most Romans know vaguely of the museum but have never darkened its doors.
Dating to 1958, the Museo delle Cere can be found in Piazza S. Apostoli, on the corner with Via Quattro Novembre.
Walking past, visitors will be intrigued by a statue of Albert Einstein facing the pavement, while a peek into the foyer reveals a statue of Brad Pitt, with pink lips and a very long scarf draped around his shoulders. At his feet sits George Clooney, his Hollywood glamour replaced with a kind of Neanderthal look.Opposite Brad and George are Elvis Presley and Bob Marley, the latter with a massive joint wedged over his ear like a carpenter's pencil.By this stage you will either leave immediately or decide to fork out the €9 to enter the dark red curtain facing you, like a circus tent or a peep show. And what a peep it will be. Come on, let's go inside.
Guests will be met with a Roman senator who is so mean looking that he is sometimes mistaken for Freddie Kruger. Those visiting with small children will need to reassure their kids at this point.Moving on into the world of entertainment we meet Charlie Chaplin leaning on his cane, beside a very life-like Nino Manfredi who is probably the star of the show. There is also a rather canine-looking Roberto Benigni clutching his Oscar.It should be noted that this museum is geared predominantly towards Italian visitors. We are in Italy after all. The next room features heavyweights of Italy's music industry, centred around statues of the internationally famed tenors Luciano Pavarotti, with great wisps of jet-black hair tumbling over his head, alongside a statue of Andrea Bocelli whose face is remarkably yellow.In between these greats is a very jolly Gigi D'Alessio together with other legends of Italian pop and rock - Pooh, Zucchero and Ligabue. If you are not Italian you will be heading for the door. If you are Italian you will probably be heading for the door too.
Check out the wall of heads including Francesco Totti. (Time to reassure the kids again).
Before crossing the corridor, turn right and gaze at the pair standing beside the toilets. It might take you a while but they are Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn, stars of Roman Holiday.Fans of guessing will adore the next room, devoted to Hollywood. Visitors are greeted with Marilyn Monroe, one of the stronger likenesses in the museum, but look behind her. Who is that? And what on earth happened to his hand? Why, it's Tom Cruise from his Cocktail days. Shaking an empty plastic bottle without a label or lid.On the opposite side of this room you can take a seat beside tough guy Sylvester Stallone and an even tougher friend. But who is it? It can't really be Arnold Schwarzenegger, can it? Surely it is Bruce Springsteen? Maybe it is Keanu Reeves, or Jim Carrey on a bad day? Each person has their own opinion, leading to entertaining quarrels about who knows best. If you think couples argue in IKEA, you should see them in here.Now it is time for a little history. In the next room we meet Winston Churchill who some people believe is Bruno Vespa. Others initially assume that it is Benito Mussolini but, helpfully, il Duce is in the same room, to avoid confusion. This is the room devoted to World Leaders, ranging from Roosevelt to Hitler.A yellowy Putin stares into the mid-distance while poor Nelson Mandela looks a bit the worse for wear. Obama makes an appearance too but the true star of this room is Donald Trump. Or is it Alec Baldwin?Then there are Italian historical figures including Garibaldi and a plastic Dante.Before we leave we pass through an area where fairytale, history and religion meet. A truly scary Cleopatra lies sprawled on a bed, apparently in her nighty, hot Mummy style.
Inside a glass case is the corpse-like Sleeping Beauty. Legend has it that a Spanish tourist once passed out after seeing her because she was so lifelike. Perhaps that wasn't the reason he fainted.Before we go back out through the red curtain, to the real world, Popes Benedict and Francis bless us. We need it.
For full details of Rome's Wax Museum, including visiting hours, see Museo delle Cere website.
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Rome's Wax Museum: so bad it's good
Piazza Dei Santi Apostoli, 68/A, 00187 Roma RM, Italy