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Rome, Day 3, Part 1

The Vatican and More of the Vatican

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Our day began while it was not quite light out, with a tour of The Vatican (museums and St. Peter's) with a small group tour. Meeting time: 7:00am. The three of us met up in the hotel lobby to catch a cab. Our cab ride involved Jenny telling us about a strange dream she had that featured the Pope, Bill Clinton and Caitlyn Jenner. Yikes.

The group gathered and then two guides arrived and split us into two smaller groups and off to the Vatican entrance! We ended up in the group with the tour guide who carried a bunny tote bag:

Our first stop involved tickets and getting hooked up with listening devices so the tour guide wouldn't have to yell at us the whole time. What a treat it was to enter the Museums before the crowds!

And then the next treat: colazione (breakfast)

The tour began by spending time with panels of the paintings from the Sistine Chapel set up outdoors, since talking is not allowed in the Chapel and the tour guide wanted to offer some background and information on the art in one of the most famous Chapels in the world. I'll admit that I wasn't all that impressed with her introduction, lining up biblical story with Michelangelo's representations. For example, she pointed to the famous creation of man section and then mimicked the old and sorry refrain of what happened after that-- the woman was created and then creation went right downhill. I decided to refrain from pointing out that in that particular creation story (there are two), God creates in ascending order of significance, and that means with the woman as last, the woman is at the height of God's creation. It didn't seem like the tour guide was interested in alternative points of view. Our job was to nod our heads and look amazed. When she finally asked a question, I had my big chance to get the gold star of the morning. Where's Michelangelo's self portrait? In the dangling, flayed skin of St. Bartholomew.

Then we began our tour of the museum, learning about popes, art, and lasagna (Rome is a city made of layers-- get it?). We continued to enjoy the relative low numbers of people in the museum, and the art itself.

One troubling component in the first part of the tour was the visit to the hall of tapestries, where three separate tapestries took up the subject of the Slaughter of the Innocents. It seemed excessive to spend so much time and energy on such a grim and horrifying story.

Then, there was lots more glorious art.

And, finally the Sistine Chapel, where the taking of photos is strictly prohibited. Sorry.

After the Chapel, we exited the Museums and walked around to the front of St. Peter's. We went through security and into the church. Again, it was remarkable to be in St Peter's with what was not a very large crowd. When the family and I visited in 2008, at the end of October, it was hard to move in the church because it was so full.

Just before noon, the tour came to an end. We thanked our guide, Ute, and Jenny, Deedie and I made our way to the line for the Dome, buying tickets to take the lift to the first level (to the roof of the Basilica). And, in a fit of insanity, we continued on and took the steps to the top of the dome, where it was raining! Still, it's quite the view.

Luckily, the rain didn't last long. We headed back down to the roof level and I treated myself to an Italian ice cream sandwich.

Exhausted and drained, we made our way to the outside and finally to a taxi stand. Back to the hotel-- for naps, showers and blogging!

Posted by ORWAT 14:07 Archived in Italy Tagged museums vatican

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