July -ROME!!! We had to get up early (well, we got up early pretty much every day!) so we could get a good day in at Vatican City. It was already starting to be a hot day and we heard the lines would be LONG to get into the Vatican Museum (except on Wednesday, which it was!) Thank you, Rick Steves!! The lines weren't long at all!! It was just a slow walk to get through the line! So nice!! Once in, we immediately wanted to see the Sistine Chapel. We follow the signs to get there and after about a mile (it seems) of going through beautifully painted rooms and ceilings, some by Rafael which were very nice, we get to the Sistine. It took my breath away! Literally! They made sure no one took pictures and was VERY quiet...but I was able to secretly get a brief video of it (my parents' bishop gave us his permission since he just went and you never get to go to these places!).
The famous part of the painting is God touching the finger of man. And from there, he paints the ceiling with the story of the creation with night and day and then to Adam and Eve. About 1/2 way through painting the ceiling, Michaelangelo took down the scaffolding and wanted to see what it looked like. He wasn't too happy because all the detail that he could see close-up wasn't there when looking up from the floor. So, he took out all the stops and painted bigger than ever and twisting his subjects into positions never painted before. At first I thought that he probably got tired of painting so 1/2 of it doesn't look as detailed, but that wasn't the case and it's cool that you can see that. Then he paints prophets like Isaiah in the curve of the ceiling and wall. And later, the pope had Michealangelo come back to paint the front wall. He painted the scene of The Last Judgement with Jesus in the center and Mary and John the Baptist on his right hand. The souls on his left are the damned ones and look really gruesome. There was a man (I can't remember who) that he didn't like and he painted him in chains with snakes all around him looking tortured. How fun to get that kind of revenge! He even painted himself as a soul-less body (and boneless) with his face droopy and eyes missing. I wonder why he made himself look that way. What's amazing is the paint has never been restored just cleaned and it is still so vibrant! As you can tell, the Sistine was one of my favs.
We then had lunch and a much-needed break before going through the rest of it. It is so big that we got lost at times, but still enjoyed it! I never knew I liked art so much! As we were looking at the Roman sculptures, Mandy heard a security guard say poligamy. She said, what does that mean? cuz she's so used to hearing Italian...I guess they don't have that word translate to Italian. She's not sure if he was talking about us, but maybe!! Kinda funny with 4 girls and one old man!! :)
After the Museum, we headed over to St. Peter's square. The heart of all that is Catholic. It would've been great to see the Pope, but Mandy said he goes on vacation in July, but we saw the building that he lives in. It's kind of like Temple Square-the prophet lives right by it! We got in line to go into St. Peter's Basilica. It wasn't too bad and we got to see some funny looking Swiss guards! I can't believe they have to wear that and be taken seriously! You have to wear clothes that come to your knee and shirts that cover your shoulders. Some women were having issues trying to get by with putting a handkercheif over her shoulders. Nice try! The Basilica is HUGE!!! You feel like an ant!! It's pretty much all dedicated to Peter since he lead their church after Christ died. People kiss or rub the foot of his statue as a way to pay tribute to him. There are so many things like that in Italy! Bernini did the canopy over the alter. They did a canopy so the building wouldn't seem so huge...it helps a little. The finale was the Pieta or Michealangleo's sculpture of Mary holding Jesus (This picture is a replica but my sister got a picture of the real thing). As we were listening to Rick Steves' commentary, I couldn't help but get a little emotional. You can feel the sorrow and love Mary felt for her son who was crucified. Michaelangelo sculpted Mary at a hugely unrealistic proportion compared to her son. He looks like a teenager and not a grown man in her arms, but the overall affect is magnificant and a very powerful message. Michaelangelo was quickly becoming my favorite painter/sculpture by this time! After the Basilica, we found a shady spot on some steps in the square. Vatican City is like it's own little city with a post office and all!!
After the Vatican, we took a metro to a Monk Crypt. They make designs out of dead monks' bones. Pretty crazy! Then, we went to the Spanish Stairs and to relax and eat a gelato! The stairs were being renovated so didn't look too specatular, but my mom got into the Spanish spirit! Then, we walked to the Panthenon. Cool stuff!! It's such an OLD building and an engineering marvel! They built a dome but didn't know how to finish it off since it was getting too weak...so they just left it!! Years later, architects wanted to know how the Romans made this domed ceiling! They got permission to take a sample out to see what it was made out of. It was made of a material kind of like pumice so it was light and airy and that's how it was made. Architects still didn't know how to finish off the dome so that's why there are kind of like a domed cap placed on the top. I also had no idea the Panthenon had more to it than the hole in the ceiling! I thought it would be a big ruin with just cement walls, but it actually is very nice with marble on the floor and walls and columns. Two kings from Torino (Mandy served there so she appreciated that) are buried there along with Rafael. He appreciated this work of art too.
After the Panthenon, we went to a Rick Steves' reccommended piazza to eat. There were all sorts of artists dislaying their art. Resaraunt owners were like salesman trying to get us to eat at their restaraunt. After dinner, Tiff wanted a Prada knockoff handbag from illegal African street vendors but was too chicken to bargain. I didn't know Italian so I couldn't help much. My dad I think was excited and said he would do it. They got him down to 1/2 the price he was asking and Tiff was so excited and scared. So funny! (I later got a green Prada handbag in Florence! It's SO cute!!)
Our last stop was the Trevi fountain. It's in the middle of all these buildings!! I thought it was in a big Piazza somewhere or something! At night is the best time to go when all the lights come on! It's SO beautiful with some ocean god in all his glory and Titan on the right blowing a conkshell. Lots of tourists and Arabs wanting to take your picture for a fee or selling roses and other random stuff. It was a great way to end the day!!
(This picture is so funny! The chick in red was pushing Mandy out of her picture!! Ha!! It was a little crowded there!)