Humans love sex. Our history books are full of civilizations that thought nothing of decorating their homes with penises. But even with all this sweaty lust heaving away in our collective id, most of us would probably expect there to be a handful of places where erotic art is frowned upon, such as churches or public squares or the pope’s private bathroom. We’d be wrong.
10. The Pope’s Erotic Private Bathroom
A rumor says the Vatican is stuffed full of ancient pornography, but that’s untrue. That’s not to say, however, that there’s nothing sexual to see—the pope just keeps nearly all of it in his own private bathroom.
Known as the Stufetta del Bibbiena (the “small heated room of Bibbiena”), this private bathroom in the papal apartments was painted by Raphael in 1516 as a favor to a cardinal. The walls are covered in lusty pictures of satyrs panting over nymphs, naked goddesses swimming, and the goat god Pan running around with a gigantic erection. The whole thing was designed so Cardinal Bibbiena could view it at leisure while lying in his bathtub, presumably doing things we really don’t want to think about.
Despite nearly every subsequent owner being embarrassed by Bibbiena’s design choices, the Vatican never destroyed the Stufetta. In the 19th century, a Catholic art expert even restored portions of it, though he left the racier panels, showing attempted rapes, to molder away.
It’s almost impossible to get an inside view these days, but that doesn’t stop people from trying.