Mar 1, 2007

Roma - Part 3

Here it is, the Vatican...

Day 3 is our last day in Rome. We have to make it to the Vatican, and make it there early, or we're not going to get in, and we're not going to get to see it. I mean sure we would be able to see St. Peter's Basilica, but we wouln't get into the Vatican Museum, and that would mean no Sistine Chapel.

Had that happened, Trevor might have killed us all. Or he would have left without us, I'm not sure which. Perhaps the latter followed by the former?

But here's the catch... it's our last day in Rome. We're leaving for Venice that night, and we don't exactly have a rental car or place to keep our luggage. So, like the day I spent wandering through Madrid, we're packing all our stuff with us. Can you sense the enthusiasm?

Thankfully, must of us got up early and made our way to the Vatican. We met up at our hotel and hopped on the metro, and I'm pretty sure we had to transfer before getting off at the Cipro Musei Vaticani stop.

We practically ran to get in line, behind Jen our fearless leader who knew where she was going. We got there quick... but someone had started a second line going the wrong direction and unfortunately, we ended up in it. We'd been in line for almost 30 minutes before someone was kind enough to move us.

And this would be the line going the wrong direction. The correct line wrapped all the way around the other side of the museum.

While in line, we were cooking in the sun. A few nearby vendors were selling frozen water bottles, and I'm pretty sure they made a killing. The last few members of our group who didn't make it to our hotel before we left met us in line. Within a few hours, we were finally inside.
I have to admit, outside the wall it doesn't look like much, but the second you step inside the museum you are quite literally overwhelmed. It is beautiful. And the best part... they have a FREE baggage check. I officially love the Vatican. In fact, as we'll see later, I want to be pen pals with the Pope.
We check our bags, go through security, and buy our tickets for entry at the our "reduced" student rate. I wanted to see the orb representing the world in the center of the courtyard so as soon as we could figure out the maps we grabbed, we made our way there.

Then there was some shopping, and by that I mean Christina spent quite a few Euros on various things in the courtyard gift shop. And then we wandered the halls. I have never seen so many sculptures in one place, and I reached the point where I needed an art historian to explain to me just what I was looking at. For example we have...
Conjoined armless twins standing next to the bust of a man who looks quite bewildered. Due to the low light conditions, the shot was a little blurry, so I took some artistic liberties. Amazing how sharpening an image and applying a canvas texture makes it look like it might actually be in focus. Ha!
Me actually wandering the halls. Can't blame me for the blur in this one. But it does a wonderful job of showing how many sculptures lined the walls. And that's just one hallway. The longer skirt and cardigan draped over my shoulders in spite of the heat is an attempt to follow the Vatican dress code. I should have snapped the picture of the girl in the crop top and short shorts, but oh well. Back to the hallways...

See, here's another one... complete with Christina.And what was in that hallway do you ask? How about...
Agustus of Prima Porta... or

Zeus! I think. Wait... Zeus was Greek. Ummm... would it be improper to say a mythical god with his kids? However, my personal favorite has got to be...

The peacock!
A little while later Kat and I were hungry... and I seem to recall being extremely hungy. We made our way to the cafe and I had my first slice of real Italian pizza at the Vatican.
We also made a quick trip to the post office to mail a few postcards from the soverign state of Vatican City. Next time I need to mail one to myself. I want to see the stamp.

Yes, I'm a bit of a nerd sometimes.

We eventually met back up with the rest of our group and took off towards the Sistine Chapel. Honestly, it's amazing to me that anyone can find it. We had to walk through hall after hall, herded like sheep before we finally got to enter. I would show pictures of the various halls and rooms, but let's just say a lot of them look like this...

They're covered in paintings and Frescos or tapestries so old there is very little indirect lighting in the hall. The picture above is the ceiling of the map room. Each space between the windows is painted with a different map, all of them incredibly old and geographically incorrect. If I recall, a few of them even place the Vatican as the "center" if you know what I mean. And now on to the Sistine Chapel, or Capella Sistina for you Italian speaking folks.

Once inside the Chapel, I was rather disappointed in the way tourists are regulated and in the way people behaved. There are several signs stating that there is no photography, no flash photography and no video inside the Chapel at all. The halls leading up to the Chapel were incredibly regulated, you'd have a guard on you the second you snapped a shot. But once you're crammed inside the Chapel, there's just someone shouting at you occasionally from the door. Did I mention it's incredibly crowded? Movement is difficult to say the least, and it's noisy. Vaulted ceilings are perfect for resonating the voices of hundreds of tourists crammed between their four walls. I could see how the view would be a "religious experience" absent the crowd... but the ambiance was litterally destroyed by the number of people there and their lack of respect. I just about bought a poster with a picture of the entire ceiling so that I could properly appreciate it later.

Did I mention that Trevor took a picture?

By the way, still jealous. Just a little. I have no actual proof that I was even there.

Honestly, I didn't want to damage the fresco, I took a movie of the ceiling instead.

Pretty cool, eh? I'm sorry if I made anyone sick. I tried to get as much of the ceiling and walls as possible. I also took two pictures without flash of the most famous scene which sits in the center of the ceiling... the Creation of Adam.

Not bad for a pocket camera, but believe me when I say that I would love to go back with my Canon 30D and a faster, larger lens. One of these days. If you want some better images of the ceiling, you can check out the Vatican website. I've tried linking it, but it's not working. Honestly, I even checked the help page. I can upload a video but not get a link to work? Just Google Vatican Museum or Musei Vaticani and it'll come up. Geez.

Ok, back to the story.

After seeing the Chapel, we basically headed for the exit. To do so we had to walk through a few more halls before making our way to the circular staircase to exit. Of course I find out later that this staircase is world famous. A staircase? Really.

So we left the Vatican Museum and made our way over to Saint Peter's Basilica. To be honest, this post is long enough and it would be wrong of me to write about St. Peter's and not post more pictures. Look for those in Roma - Part 3 Continued...

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