Friday, September 23, 2005

Vatican City

Vatican City

We started our first full day in Rome at our top destination, Vatican City. The day started out beautiful without a cloud in the sky. We had no problem getting back into the flow of the Roman metro system. Flow is a pun in this case. There are so many people using the two metro lines that the crowd flows like a river. You have to get yourself into the right stream in order to get around effectively.

We got in line at the Vatican Museum at opening time of 8:45. The line at this time was short, only about 3 blocks long. I had time to read and answer emails on my cell phone. The museum was fantastic as always. We found a display of micro-mosaics that was incredible. The painting included works by Raphael, da Vinci, and, of course, Michelangelo.

With the latter, I am referring to the Sistine Chapel. It is always a surprise when entering the chapel. You come up a staircase that is plain and drab, then round a corner and then you are through a door and you are there. The shock of the beauty of the room will make your jaw drop. You are suddenly surrounded by works of art that are familiar from the pictures, but the real thing is awe inspiring.

Another highlight of the museum is The Transfiguration by Raphael. This painting is about 10 feet by 20 feet. It was done completely in his hand (as opposed to getting help from students and the like that most works received) and was the last time he every painted. In fact, it was the face of Christ is where he made his last brush strokes.

From the museum, we walked over to St Peter’s Basilica. As I said yesterday, this may well be to most beautiful and impressive man-made room ever. It is huge and impressive and beautiful. There are many saints and Popes interned there. Unfortunately, the weather turned bad while we were in side. This caused two problems. First, there was very little light inside for pictures. Second was that we couldn’t leave when we were done. We got fooled by the great weather earlier in the day and had no rain gear with us.

It ended up not being a big deal. We hung around until it eased up and beat a path to the Metro stop. It had stopped by the time we got to our stop. That was a very successful day. Tomorrow the plan is to tour the Coliseum, Forum, Palatine Hill, and Captoline Hill.

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