Day 3 in Rome - Feb 6

Vatican Museum!

I finally visit the Vatican Museum.
I finally visit the Vatican Museuma.

I have been in Rome three or four times before but I have never visited the Vatican Museum and Sistine chapel. Today I am going there. The place is packed. I pay the steep 13 Euros and join the masses to view hall after hall of only a smidgen of the artwork owned by the Vatican. I move quickly past sculptures and paintings of the Renaissance's masters. I keep following the signs to the Sistine chapel. I want to see it more than anything else here. One long hall has nothing but huge maps of the provinces of Italy hung on its walls. Finally I arrive at the chapel door and enter. The room is not very well lit and it is packed. Guards repeat, "Shhhhsh, don't talk." in four or five languages every couple minutes. Theirs are the only voices I can distinguish over a low murmur from the crowd. I would be happy if the guards were as quiet as the crowd. As my eyes get more accustomed to the dim light, I begin to see the extent of the images and color on the walls and ceiling. Several signs shouted, "No pictures, No video," in the international sign language of a camera and video camera in crossed-out circles. Also, "no sitting on the floor" on a similar sign. I wait till someone gets up from the bench along the wall and take a seat. I then turn my camera on (no flash) and aim it from my lap toward the ceiling and shoot off a few pictures. The results are not perfect and I had to work with them a lot, but they do show the color and proliferation of the figures.

This is a poor rendition from one of my clandestine pictures.
This is a poor rendition from one of my clandestine pictures.

And this is my other clandestine picture.
And this is my other clandestine picture.

In the first pass at this writing I failed to mention what I saw here. I only wrote that last paragraph about incidentals, nothing about the room. But now on second pass I do not know what to say about it. It must speak for itself itself. The colors are bright, wildly bright. Figures are everywhere. Actually I can say little other than it is the Sistine Chapel a unique piece of art. I feel I would have the same dumb tongue with the Mona Lisa. I am excited to be here. I am lucky to be here. Come and see it yourself. I have to cop out with silence. The longest line of superlatives would not do it justice.

The Sistine chapel according to a postcard.
The Sistine chapel according to a postcard. It's pretty close to that.

There is one thing here I want to see more than the Sistine Chapel, the Vatican coin collection. But, alas, that section is closed today. Another time when I have 13 Euros to spare and I am in Rome. As it is in the end, in the four and a half hours I have to look at it all, I become a bit overloaded and leave a half an hour early.

I come out to rain and return to the hotel and wait for Petra. She visits the German cemetery in the Vatican instead of the Museum. Many Germans, including foot pilgrims have their final resting place there.

We ride a couple busses around town a while and get out in the Piazza del Popolo to walk around a bit. A small museum with models of the machines drawn in Leonardo Da Vinci's notebooks calls us from a corner of the square from behind a church. We wander the place for three quarters of an hour before watching an hour movie on his life. This is a joyful accidental find.

As we leave, I have another bout with one my pet pains in Italy. I cannot buy a ticket on a bus. I have to buy it in a tobacco shop before I get on a bus and then punch it with the clock when I get on the bus. Tonight was no different, we go two blocks away to get a ticket for the little bus we were about to ride. Groan. But then when we get on, the bus has a new, experimental ticket vending machine. We could have avoided the two-block hassle, had we only known.

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