October 16, 2004

The Vatican

Posted at October 16, 2004 12:56 PM in Daily Life .

We arrived in Rome yesterday afternoon. We didn't leave Sorrento until fairly late and had to navigate through the cesspool of Naples on the way out. R found us a fairly good hotel not far from the train station so we didn't have to go far after we got off the train. We'll be there until Wednesday morning, when we leave to go back to the states.

Today, being Saturday (with many things closed on Sunday) was "see the Vatican" day. We got up around 7:30 am and took the subway to near the Vatican Museum. We then got in a line that was at least six blocks long, I shit you not, to get into the museum. Luckily, the line moved at a near constant walk and we got into the museum in less than 40 minutes. The Vatican Museum is, itself, pretty incredible. You get to walk through many very beautifully decorated rooms. One long gallery was nothing but painted maps of Italy from at least 400 or 500 years ago along the walls. These were the murals.

The museum also has a fairly good collection of Roman and Egyptian artifacts, which we went through and where I took many pictures. They have the famous status of Lacoon, among others, and I got a couple of wonderful shots of a well preserved statue of Anubis bearing the attributes of Hermes (carrying a caduceus even). Many wonderful things there.

We took the time, and dealt with the herds, to see the Sistine Chapel while we were there as well. R had missed visiting this on her previous trip to Italy nine years ago. The chapel was beautiful and it is hard to really do justice to the pictures that are painted there. I did think, in many ways, that it was less impressive than many of the other paintings and the overall ambience in the Vatican but it was impressive none the less.

After we got done at the museum, we took a break for some lunch and then headed over to St. Peter's. I really wanted to see the basilica there more than just about anything else in the Vatican. We probably spent an hour and a half or more inside. It is huge and the whole thing is an impressive display of the wealth and artistry of the Roman Catholic church over the years. I didn't realize how much sculpture there was inside of St. Peter's as well. Many many status of popes and saints that are twenty feet tall or so. While there, we visited the tombs of the popes as well and saw the tomb of St. Peter (the first pope...) also. All in all, pretty incredible.

After we got done, we'd been out for six or seven hours so we called it a day and went back to the hotel. We just finished a nice dinner. The food here has been great. My only complaint is that the Italians make it impossible to eat in less than an hour and a half or two hours. By the time we finished and I asked for the check, I still had to wait 25 minutes for it to show up. I hate to be an impatient American but it does get old sometimes.

Rome has been pretty neat so far. Tomorrow, I'm not sure what we're visiting but I have some stuff written down.

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