Posted by: jtccitaly | June 3, 2011

And Another Hundred People Just Got Off of the Train

I’m quoting lyrics again, but this reference (in the title) is quite obscure. I’ll be impressed if anyone gets it! Today we were surrounded by crowds pretty much from start to finish. It was worth it, but it was a rather hectic experience. I feel like I’ve spent the entire day being jugged and jostled by strangers. At any given point during the day, I could have reached out a hand and touched at least five different tour groups. I did enjoy seeing what each tour group leader choose to keep track of their group. Some had fancy feathers on a pole, some had colorful umbrellas or flags and I saw one guy leading a group with a water bottle held aloft (maybe he forgot his fancy feather.) If I am able to get pictures to upload tonight (last night it was taking about 10 minutes to post each picture – if that’s the case again, you may have to wait until we get back for the pictures) you should be able to get a feel for the crowds at the Vatican. I lived in NYC for years so I’ve experienced crowds before (and this was nothing like Times Square on New Year’s Eve) but I think I’ve gotten out of practice. Rome is helping me get back into my New Yorker mode (sunglasses on, don’t smile or make eye contact, keep on moving with purpose even if you have no idea where you are going).

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We started the morning off with a class meeting. Many students presented and we learned some wonderful tidbits! Once we were all crammed full of knowledge, we took the Metro to the Vatican. It is an impressive and majestic complex. We waited about an hour in the very hot sun to get into St. Peter’s Basilica. Celia became our bulldog in defending our spot against attempted line cutters (she would spit out a stream of Spanish that seemed to discourage most miscreants).

It was certainly worth the wait to see Michelangelo’s Pieta and the rest of the elaborate basilica. After a lunch break, we gathered to go into the Vatican Museum. The museum is remarkable but it seems almost endless! You go through room after room after room of fantastic works of art (paintings, sculpture, and much more). The art starts with antiquity and goes all the way through to modern art. Then you end up in the Sistine Chapel for the grand finale. And it is certainly a grand finale. No pictures allowed in the chapel, but I did take photos of some of the other rooms so that you can get a feel for the whole Vatican experience. We figured that those experiences were enough for a day, so we have another quiet night (for me at least – some of our travelers still have the energy to go out on the town).

It was a very interesting day. It’s fascinating to me to see the different experiences that people have with this type of sacred art. For some, it is the fulfillment of a lifelong dream, for others it is the opportunity to appreciate artistic genius, some see it as a check mark on their tourist lists. I did feel that it was difficult to really give the Sistine Chapel the reverence that it deserves. Being boxed in like sardines and herded through the museum like cattle tends to take a little bit away from the experience for me. But it is certainly worth the journey.

Tomorrow we have a light day – a walk in the morning to see some works of Caravaggio and Bernini, finished by lunch time so that we have one last opportunity to experience Rome (and pick up those last minute souvenirs!)




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