Sunday, August 5, 2012

Rome, Italy, Wednesday, August 1, 2012

We are behind on the updates – not because we aren’t doing anything, but because I can’t stay awake. We are actually in Vienna, Austria and it is a quiet Sunday morning. Church does not start until 1:30 and we will be going to the English Ward. Three quarters of the way through breakfast (which was a really good buffet), Tyler pointed out that it was Fast Sunday. Our keeping track of time is suffering some. We are sitting in a laundromat running a couple of loads of wash. We were down to the end of the clean clothes so it is a welcome endeavor. The last time we did wash was in Australia. We were able to find the laundromat on the internet and then using the satellite view of google maps we were able to see that it had parking next to it. The day has gotten away and it is now late so ignore the time in this first paragraph. It is too bad I did not do a satellite view of the church because we would have seen they had parking there also. Instead, we walked the mile and a half and it was hot. On top of that, there was no air conditioning at church so we never really stopped sweating.

Now to catch you up with day 2 in Rome which was Wednesday, August 1. We liked the Coliseum guide so much that we joined the same tour company for a tour of the Vatican Museums. The Vatican was about a 30 minute walk from our hotel so we were up and off in order to meet up at 9:00 AM. They enjoyed telling us that if we stopped and spent 1 minute at each piece of art that we would need 6 to 9 years to see it all. We did not see it all. In fact we saw a very small proportion, but what we saw was more in depth than in general and we learned a lot. The tour guide, Alex, was a young man of maybe 30 who studied art history and worked some for National Geographic. The tour was in many ways a build up to the Sistine Chapel, but more about the influences on Michelangelo and other contemporaries.

Tyler saw some of his old friends such as Da Vinci and made some new friends out of Raphael, Michelangelo and Caravaggio, to name a few. He also made friends in such a way that I think he will appreciate much more what they did and why the art was done in the way it was. As we went through the collections, we were reminded several times that Michelangelo and Da Vinci were walking these halls and seeing and touching some of the same sculptures. As you will see in the pictures that are posted, one statue was particularly useful to Michelangelo in that it effectively became the model for God and Adam in the Creation of Adam panel in the Sistine Chapel. You will have to look up the Sistine Chapel pictures on the Internet as no photos were allowed in the Chapel. Michelangelo’s was not overly thrilled about being required/forced to paint the Sistine Chapel. There were some interesting elements of subtle, and not so subtle, civil disobedience. In the panel depicting the creation of the sun and moon, the “full-moon” figure is pretty funny.

The Tiber River
The Tiber River
Castel Sant' Angelo

St. Peter's

The Entrance to the Vatican Museums

Da Vinci's Last Supper

Tyler and his new friend, Rafael
A view from one of the museum windows

A piece of modern art in a courtyard. I don't think it fits in. It is more like a model of the Death Star from Star Wars

An archway designed by Da Vinci

Compare this to the Creation of Adam and you will see the likeness

Add limbs and a head and you will get Ruben's Thinker

An example of Tromp L'oiel where the painting gives the impression of being 3 dimensional

The Pope's Old Study Hall Ceiling

Michelangelo did not do a lot of sculptures and while the David is in Florence, the Pieta is here. It is beautiful and depicts Mary holding the crucified Savior. He is much smaller than she and she is holding him more as she would a baby. Mary is also young. As described, we were told that Michelangelo was trying to depict Mary holding the babe but seeing in vision what the purpose of his life would be. It certainly captures it.

The Pieta

The Sistine Chapel was the conclusion of the tour of the Vatican Museum and we decided to leave the museums and go into St. Peter’s Basilica rather than return to the museum and wander on our own. Besides, it was incredibly crowded. We did see amazing art, sculpture, floors, walls and ceilings. We also saw lots of ancient Roman Art and sculpture from the Palatine and Forum. One large hall was completely filled with marble busts from the forum and palaces of ancient Rome. Apparently, there are another 38 such halls with more of the same that we did not go through.


After the museums, we went into St. Peter’s Basilica. It is an impressive structure with impressive art and workmanship. I enjoyed the plaque listing all the popes – i.e., the line of authority. We spent some time in St. Peter’s Square which turns out to have the same dimensions as the Coliseum. (I think we are ready for a very specialized version of Trivial Pursuit). We then started to head in the general direction of our hotel, but with a plan to go by the Spanish Steps again. Along the way, we found several interesting churches. In one, there were a number of skull and cross bone representations and a dragon. We also managed to share gelato on the way. After all, the gelato place by our hotel boasted 150 flavors and we had a limited schedule. I think Candy would have been proud of us in terms of the number of flavors we did, but suspect we would have been on more of a 2 to 3 a day schedule of gelatos and would have covered more had she been here. We might even have missed one or two churches in favor of gelato.

We climbed the Spanish Steps only to find the church at the top closed for renovations. It was good to see the number of renovations going on. I can only imagine the task of trying to preserve the art and history. We continued on and stopped again at Trevi Fountain and back towards the hotel. By now we were hungry and tired and enjoyed another meal sitting on one of the narrow streets. Tyler seemed happy with Pizza. I was ready for more protein and enjoyed pasta and a steak. Perhaps most enjoyable was lots of ice water. Right near where we ate was the Santa Maria de Magdalena church which we had walked by several times, but always while it was closed. It was open at the time so we took in another church. Back to the hotel and we were through for the day. Usually when we would get back to the hotel (between 9 and 10) we would have a number of questions that we would google. This night we crashed.

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