BUT as our Airbnb host said, everyone must see the Vatican and the Colosseum if they visit Rome. So today was the Vatican visit. One reason I don't like these top-of-chart places is they are always mobbed (like trying to see Angkor Wat at sunrise with 10,000 others). You are advised by all the guidebooks to take a tour or you will wait forever to get a ticket to the Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter's Basilica. We chose to go with the same firm we used for the Ufizzi in Florence, Context Tours, which specializes in small groups with very well trained guides. As with our Ufizzi tour we were impressed with our guide and learned a lot. HOWEVER, the number of other people that were flowing through as we were plus the vastness of the size of what we were visiting plus the need to go through everything at breakneck speed to just try and see the highlights in the time allowed meant the conditions were hardly the best for taking pictures. So I will apologize upfront and just say that this effort is at best an attempt to give you a feel for the vastness and overwhelming nature of the experience along with my preference for looking at the personal detail in the art I see.
We started off extremely early. We had to meet up with our group at 8:00 AM and that was in a different part of Rome so we got going from our apartment by 6:45 since we were taking the Metro at rush hour and really didn't know how long it was going to take.
"Greetings. Abandon all hope ye who enter her"
Ah. So bucolic with the lovely view of the dome of St. Peter's
So not indicative of the mass of humanity ahead
This is not in chronological order
I'm just throwing it in so you can feel the shear overwhelming nature of the total amount of art you see and the masses of people you deal with.
I threw this in not because I was crazy about it but because it is one of the few remaining works of art from the original St. Peter's
Now this was one I did like
The story is that when styles changed over the centuries often a pope or cardinal would want to change the decoration of some church, chapel or whatever. And they just got rid of whatever preceded it, no matter how good that was. These are pieces of a fresco from the Renaissance that were going to be painted over during a Baroque age redo but were saved in part. I love them.
There were scads of tapestries many based on copies of existing paintings that were sent to Flanders where the best tapestry weavers were. This one was a replica of Leonardo de Vinci's Last Supper
Then of course we have Rafael
"Listen to me! Rafael was a genius. Understand!"
Okay, I get it. Must include pictures of the Rafael paintings
Let's not forget Michelangelo
A copy of the Pieta where we can see his signature on it. He signed it because he was only 20 when he did it and there was disbelief that anyone that young could do such work.
The real thing behind protective glass in the Ba
Let's not forget the bizillion tons of Roman artifacts and art too in the museum
We saw a copy of this in Firenze - actually this is a copy too. The original is a bronze. But I love it and there were angles we couldn't get in Firenze
And of course I am a sucker for mosaics
Some miscellaneous things
A modern 'clockwork within a globe'
A Roman era bronze of a pine cone that used to be a fountain
Very few bronzes exist from that era because they were all melted down for their metal to make things in later times
On to the Basilica itself
Looking back at the Pope's apartments
I thought for sure Pope Francis would have asked us to come up
He is an avid follower of the blog
The square in front of the church
Big...just think freaking Big
If I remember our guide right, this door is walled of inside and only unwalled and opened up every 25 years. Then you can go through it and be absolved of your sins (Agent W I got that right?). I'm pretty sure there would be a fairly long line for that.
This door however is around because it dates from the original St. Peter's
This is a collection of video and pictures to give you the idea of the size and scope of St. Peter's. It was designed and built in the Baroque period when the idea was to impress the hell out of you that you were dealing with the strong and powerful (the Counter-Reformation)
And to finish up...
When we are touring so hard, most of the time we are just catching what we can. But in Italy for the most part that can be pretty damn good. Since we got up so early and didn't have breakfast we were really tired and hungry. The place that we went into was clearly oriented for tourists. The waiter spoke very good English and tried to direct us to menu items that had clearly been show to appeal to the Anglo/American tastes. But I resisted and we ordered what we wanted. As luck would have it the food was really good.
We split a pasta that was similar to the Roman Cacio e Pepe but had bacon in it too.
Wife had a sea bream encrusted with potatoes, not particularly Italian but she was very happy with it
I had a local version of braised oxtail
This was the one the waiter tried to dissuade us from
But I had a hankering for braised meat given the turn in weather
It was super yummy and the owner's wife who was making rounds gave me a thumbs up for my Italian cuisine cred! I moped up every bit of sauce with bread
We also had artichokes a la romana. Second time we've had these artichokes braised in oil and lemon and we love them too.
We even had dessert
First time we've had dessert the whole trip!
It was a sponge cake, with a lemon cream and soaked in rum on the bottom.
After that we staggered home and collapsed