Tuesday, May 11, 2010

On to Vatican City

We had reserved Tuesday morning for the Vatican on the premise that it would be an off day for visitors, at least compared to Sunday or any other day of the week. We had finally figured out the maze of bus routes, mostly that is, and actually got within walking distance of the city. We were dismayed at the ticket line snaking around the corner, out of sight. We had tickets already but that meant there was to be a crowd. The Vatican was jammed packed with people, just a dense flow of humanity in a tide along the viewing corridors. Regardless, we found the Vatican just overwhelming in size and in the extent and impressiveness of the art. There are no words to do justice to our experience, just staggering. I've included a few small photos but they do not approach the physical experience of walking through the enormous halls with paintings and sculptures beyond number on display (such as the room on the right).
The peak of the visit was the Sistine Chapel. Calling it a Chapel is an understatement, it's huge and the paintings by Michelangelo are stunning in person, beyond words. They've been restored and the colors are bright and true but as in all cases of art, it's the composition that counts and Michelangelo has all the talents. We sat down on a side bench and just stared up at Michelangelo's masterpiece on the ceiling. The painting at the right shows the skill of the time period. The awning and people in the painting are all just on canvas even through the awning looks very 3D, you'd swear it's standing out from the wall - something added to the wall to enhance the painting. The illusion doesn't fade away until you're almost directly under it and can see that it's just a painting.

No visit to the Vatican would be complete without seeing Michelangelo's Pieta. I saw the sculpture once at the World's Fair in NYC long ago and was eager to see it again. We wandered around the St. Peter's until we found it by the front doors. It was as beautiful as I remembered. I took a photo but it was not the same.

We continued on to explore the rest of St. Peter's, it was like a small city with halls and corridors branching off at every junction, just awesome. We found our way back to our hotel by taking the right bus for a change (bus 40).