07 October 2010
06 August 2010
04 August 2010
02 August 2010
01 August 2010
Rest assured, my people! The rest of my European travels are not to be contained to my brain and my journals and the precarious hard drive of this not-so secretly detested computer. This is what you came here for in the beginning, and if you’re still nice enough to be here then so should the stories. Without further ado, let’s pick up where we left off.
Recall: I’ve been Spring Break-ing for a full week now, and am on my third and final day in Rome. I spent three days in Iceland (though if you’ve met me for more than 3 seconds since then, you know that probably far too well) and so far in Rome I’ve eaten lots of brioche and my blood has turned to cappuccino. I’ve been to St. Peter’s Basilica (and about fourteen million other churches around the city), in Villa Borghese for some nature-lovin’, and back into ancient Rome and all the good stuff that comes along with that.
SPRING BREAK 2010: Grand Tour
Day 7 (01 April): Rome, Day 3
Vatican Museums, Trevi Fountain, Santa Maria degli Angeli
Not wanting to waste any minute of my last day in Rome, I watched the sunrise over the walls of Vatican City. I figured I could sleep when I was dead, and the prospect of jostling thousands of others inside the Vatican Museums sounded a lot like death (and Purgatory) anyway. It paid off, especially since I took guidebook advice and decided to take the whole experience backwards – not unlike my Day 2 theory of getting the smaller sites (i.e,, Colosseum) out of the way first.
But I did sorrrrt of follow the rules (and the map they gave me) and started out in the nucleus of the complex of Vatican Museums, Cortile della Pinecone – I mean, Cortile della Pigna.
I stopped to show some of my never-ending love for mosaics, and also to check out the rippling muscles of the Belvedere Torso (hottie), which sculpture greats like Michelangelo used as a sketching model.
Enough of models he used though; I was ready for the big guns. Dun-da-dun!!!
Don’t tell anyone I have these pictures, because they kept yelling at people for taking them (ruined the mood a little, if you ask me). Apparently there is no picture-taking or talking or even breathing in what I now deem the Shh-istine Chapel. But there is lots and lots and lots of beautiful artwork. Groundbreaking observation, I know. I strongly suggest doing as the guidebooks say and hustling over here first thing – I was thankful for the seat I managed to grab along the side of the room, when I needed time to breathe (silently, of course) and try to understand what I was surrounded by. Also, spending a lot of time with your neck bent backwards runs you the risk of toppling over if you’re not careful.
Not to mention that your legs just get plain tired as you stand there for way too long, discovering new bits in each of these magnificent works. Hours would not have been long enough to fully appreciate The Last Judgment; the muscles of the shoulders and knees of each character, and the way the light hit every one of them.
I sat there for long enough that I managed to get myself upset about the fact that Botticelli and Perugino and all the other artists who show here in this room don’t get the same stardom that Michelangelo does. But then I reminded myself that Michelangelo is here because they all are; the Sistine Chapel’s original ceiling wasn’t up to par with the artists it covered, so Pope Julius II commissioned a 33-year-old kid to fix the problem. Four years later, he did, and in doing so created the raw material for millions and millions of mass-produced posters for middle-school art teachers to hang in their classrooms.
Because I am not a salmon and this was not a stream you wanted to try to swim against anyway, I decided to not actually do the whole thing backwards but instead just do it twice and fast forward (or not) through the parts I had already seen.
New sightings included crusty old mummies, lots of body parts sculpted from marble, and tapestries (which, having seen it done right, I’ve developed a benevolent feeling towards – in fact, just ordered one for my room. Seeing the world has really changed my life, can’t you tell?). There were also more crazy ceilings…
…frescoes by Raphael…
…and, in case you thought religion wasn’t relevant, modern art.
They even tossed in some foreign references! Wait eight months and I’ll get you a retelling of my trip to the city where the original is housed.
After leaving the thick brick walls, I said goodbye to all my old haunts on a beautiful day. The lack of threatening rain clouds makes Castel Sant’Angelo even prettier.
This is one side of Bernini’s Four Rivers Fountain, in the middle of Piazza Navona, a whole section of my guidebook that I hadn’t even planned on exploring but proved a good place to put up my feet while I slurped up yet another gelato.
But you can’t really say goodbye to Rome without saying it at Trevi Fountain. I did it the cheap college-student way – that is, without actually tossing coins over my shoulder like you’re supposed to (one to return, two to return and fall in love). Sorry, but that’s a gelato I’m literally throwing away. And now that I know the approximately 3,000 euros tossed in daily subsidize a supermarket for needy Roman citizens, I feel like a jerk. A big, fat, American jerk.
So I went to a house of God to repent my sins. Not really, it was on the way back to my hostel, where I was headed to pick up my bag and my 7:30pm ticket to Naples.
Santa Maria degli Angeli used to be public baths, until that guy Michelangelo got his hands on it in 1561. Does he ever take breaks, seriously.
I guess he had these 50-foot granite sticks lying around, but he couldn’t use them until he raised the floors in the place by six feet. I thought ancients were shorter than us now, did they really need that much head-room to bathe?
Oh, and did I mention it was Good Friday? And I was in a church in Rome? Final verdict on “Rome during Easter – crazy or awesome” question: Awesome.
Two cities down, three to go. And that’s just Spring Break! I plan to intersperse the remaining travel entries liberally, in amongst all the other pearls of wisdom you’ll find here – stay tuned!