Thursday, June 30, 2011


So today, I visited St. Peter's Square, St. Peter's Basilica and The Vatican Museum. It was an adventure (but, they all are by now, right?)

St. Peter's Square

I bought reserved tickets online earlier this week because if the tickets are bought ahead oftime, the purchaser can skip the line (which happens to wrap around the whole "city"--Vatican City, that is. 100 acres in size..and takes about 3 hours to get in.) It sounds ridiculous, but I am sure most of you know, the Vatican is its own country. I actually remember having to point it out in Geography class in 9th grade at McEachern (Grazie Ms. Tsuhdi-Rose!) It has its own post office and everything!

Vatican Mailbox

I figured since classes are over until my last final (which is Monday), I should try to squeeze it in this week. I slept in a little and took care of some things at the Villa. So much for taking my time though. The crazy cleaning ladies at Villa Tassoni knocked on my door right after I got out of the shower. I told them to come back. They did not like that. They said they would give me 15 minutes...since when does the cleaning lady dictate when I can let people in my room that I am paying for?? I told them that wasn't enough. After haggling with them (yes, haggling for time to get ready...ridic!), we agreed on 30 minutes. So, I finished getting ready and was out the door by 11 or so. I got to St. Peter's Square around 11:30. I contemplated going to see the Basilica first, but thought the line was too long. I decided to take my chances on getting into the museum early. My reservation was for 2:30.

So, the ticket reservation worked, I cut the line. After you go inside though, you have to gothrough security and then trade a voucher for a ticket. You do have to wait in line after all...Well, while I am waiting in line, this crazy (I know I am using the word crazy a lot in this entry, but at this point of the trip--everyone here IS crazy!) tour guide grabs my arm and pushes me out of line for my ticket! (OK--sidenote: I haven't really talked about this alot in the blog, but Italians don't know how to say sorry OR "Mi dispiace"--which is suppose tomean sorry in Italian! They don't know how to say it in ANY language. They just push you out of the way everywhere over here. And if the pushing doesn't work, they insist on touching you. Leaning, elbowing, grabbing--they do not care how sweaty they are, how sweaty I am, they just want to touch someone!) Accepting that Italians do not have a sense of courtesy or personal space (at least not in my experience) was too far gone for me at thispoint when this crazy tour guide grabbed my arm! I looked at her with a dead stare and said, "DON'T touch me!" She got her way anyway and cut the line--grrrr! I finally got my ticket though. To escape the crowd, and since I was dying of thirst and hunger, I decided to take a detour to the "caffetteria." What a mistake that was....

I got lost!! ( I know that most people grab a bite midway or after the sites at a museum, but Ineeded to cool off after the encounter with the crazy tour guide.) There is one organizedflowing direction at this museum and I somehow went in backwards after having my lunch. The odd part about it all: I saw the Sistine Chapel first (it's the last stop at the Vatican Museum). After realizing where I was, I couldn't really be that mad anymore. I pulled outmy iPod and listened to the Rick Steves Audio Guide for the Chapel and took a lot of pictures. About 15 minutes after taking pictures, I got yelled at. Apparently, there is no video or photography even though everyone and their mother (literally) were takingphotos. I leaned over to the guy next to me and say, "well, everyone else is taking pictures."He didn't like that because he snapped at me in an Australian accent, "That doesn't make it right!" Despite all of this, I have to say that the Sistine Chapel wasn't what I was expecting. I don't know how to explain that because I don't know WHAT I was expecting. It's crazy to think one dude painted the Pope's personal chapel and place where new pope's are elected with a little help from some assistants who plastered the ceiling and help him build a scaffold.

Sistine Chapel ceiling

The Creation of Man in the center seems to be everyone's favorite part (with God giving Adam the "spark" of life). But, as you all know, I tend to have a darker side (especially when it comes to TV and art) and I preferred The Last Judgment (the piece done later byMichelangelo behind the alter, depicting (his interpretation of) the last judgment--Christ's return). The left depicts those ascending into Heaven and the right of those descending into Hell. The other interesting thing is that Michelangelo paints himself in the picture as well, on the right side. I'm not really sure why he did that or why he made himself look that way (like a melting corpse), but I like it--everyone knows I'm a Dali fan and it had that kind of surrealist look to it even though it's a renaissance era fresco. I am sure there are a thousand theories as to why Mike did that, but it was fascinating.

The Last Judgment (sorry the quality isn't great...not a lot of lighting)

Creation of Man (upside down...sorry, it was so crowded, the only spot I could get. I guess I could rotate the picture, but it would take a minute and I haven't had the time to spruce up my pics yet! :) )

After asking like 3 guards how to get back to the entrance, I just kinda decide to sneak back out the way I came in. It was so crowded! There were seas and seas of people in the museum and I seemed to be walking in circles! I have never in my life seen so many people in a museum. This made the other parts of the museum difficult to enjoy, not to mention the heat. I'm not sure if there is A/C, but if there was, I couldn't tell. The Sistine Chapel was also crowded, but I was in too much awe to notice until the second time I visited it.

The crowds... see... no exaggerating!

After figuring out how to get back to the beginning of the museum and doing to best I could to avoid the crowd (near impossible). There were several statues and also "Stanze di Raffaello" (The Raphael Rooms), including his work "The School of Athens" (pictured here). All of these rooms were decorated with frescoes, NOT paintings. Plaster is used for frescoes, not just paint. There were also some other interesting things in the museum, but hard to see because of the crowds. I was quite impressed with the ceilings and the architecture (yes, Claire & Robert). After seeing these works along with some modern art, I went back into the Sistine Chapel (the correct way) and then exited to visit St. Peter's Basilica.

School of Athens (Raphael)

The Basilica was gorgeous. I don't know how else to describe it and the pictures don't do it justice as usual. I guess it is just indescribable.

Peter's Basilica

Peter's tomb is inside covered by an enormous canopy that you see pictured here. The basilica sits where Peter was crucified on "Vatican Hill". The basilica is full of mosaics and impressive decor. Again, why can't churches in the U.S. look like this?!

Peter's Tomb

Michelangelo's "Pieta" is also housed here. It sits behind bulletproof glass. Also an amazing work. He was a genius apparently because he sculpted this when he was only 24. Younger than me! Why can't I have that kinda talent!? The Pieta is Mary holding Christ after being taken down from the cross. Next to the Pieta is the "Holy Door," opened every 25 years, to celebrate the "Jubilee Year"--encouraging new beginnings and forgiveness of sins and debts.

The Pieta

The Holy Door

I think that everyone MUST visit the Vatican sometime in their life. I'm not really sure why, but the entire time during my visit to the Vatican all I could think about was my great-grandmother ("Grandma") and how I wish she could have been there to see it with me and how she probably will never see it (yes, other family members, I thought of you all too, but all you have to do is get on a plane and get over your fear of flying :)! You have the rest of your life and you aren't in your 90's!) I hope that she will be impressed with my pictures when I get back, but I would have given anything to have her there today.

Well, today is my last day ALONE in Roma! I will be day tripping it this weekend to Bologna (to see Mariano Bucolo--Grandma's cousin--and his fam) and to Venice to meet up with BF. Look for more excitement come Monday night! Ciao!

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