Thursday, June 30, 2011

Roman Holiday: The Vatican & Saint Peter's Basilica

The Vatican. Home to the greatest collection of Renaissance art in the western world. Spiritual Home of the Roman Catholic Empire. Home Sweet Home to the Pope. Host to ten thousand visitors every single day.

A girl in the ticket line next to us literally passed out from heat exhaustion and her family pressed her to get up and go on. This was not about having an enjoyable museum going experience. It was more pilgrimage meets marathon. How long can you wait in the sweltering sun for tickets? How much art and history can you soak in while being pressed on all sides by other exhausted, hot, sweaty, grumpy pilgrims? How many other heads can you crop out of your photos to make it appear as though you were not one with the horde? No, this was about saying, "I've been there."

Eric had a poster of this painting hanging above his bathtub when we were in high school. It's one of his all time favorites. That fellow in the orange boots? Michelangelo himself. (Eric says he never took them off. Not even to sleep. Can you imagine the stench?)

The Sistine Chapel was really a thrill- despite the hoards who brazenly ignored the "no photos" and "silence please" signs, I was moved to see such an iconic work in person. I could almost see him up there, cursing and grumbling, while he turned out the Renaissance's most famous masterpiece. Though the room was crowded and noisy, my heart swelled up with joy at the sight of it. It made the whole trip worth while.

The light in Saint Peters' was quite beautiful. Aren't these scattering rays of light exactly what you imagine when you think of the clouds parting to reveal a heavenly choir locked in harmony? Creating sacred spaces with light was a particular specialty of Bernini, and I enjoyed each glittering beam.

This is what utter exhaustion looks like. Just hold me pillar.

We revived ourselves with what else? Happy Hour!

This is what Roman happy hour looks like- a buffet of free appetizers with your 5:00 cocktail. That delightful little round puff pastry was filled with an olive tapenade or tuna salad. Yum.

Thanks to the aforementioned exhaustion we sat at this bar for several hours and drank our dinners. Have you ever been to the Vatican? What did you think? Were you moved? What was your favorite part of the experience?


panoptica said...

I'm loving your blogging about the trip. I went to the Vatican once, on a tour, when I was 15 years old. I kind of just passed by not really admiring everything as I should have. After all I was 15 and hadn't taken a single art history class.
I was one of those tourists that ignore the picture ban on the chapel, but like you I loooooooooooooooved the illumination on the Basilica. i also liked going out onto the white plaza.

I didn't go to the Trevi fountain though, so I'm not sure if I'll ever go back haha...

Gwen Edwards said...

I was lucky enough to be inside St Peter's for a xmas eve service a few moons ago. It was magical. My favorite piece of art was "La Pieta" - so powerful. Glad you are having a wonderful time!

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