Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Vatican City, Italy. The smallest country in the world.

Vince had wisely scheduled a tour of the Vatican City, and looking a the lines outside waiting to gain entrance, I was quite glad.  Our tour went directly to the front of the line and entered the Vatican Museums.  

Tours of any type are very informative, providing a lot of background information as well as interesting tidbits on what is being looked at.  On this tour, we learned that the Vatican City is an independent country, the smallest in the world.  Within the walls, all amenities are available and those who work there generally live there.

The museums of the Vatican are full of Greek statues.  Some of them were originally in the Colosseum!  There are two long galleries that connect the Sistine chapel to the Pope's residence.  They are the longest galleries in the world, just not very wide!  

Center courtyard

In the courtyard, one side of the galleries

Huge Bronze Pinecone. This pinecone has had many residences, and is flanked by two bronze peacocks

The area where the Pinecone resides is reminiscent of the inside of the Pantneon.

Huge Gold orb at the opposite end of the garden from the pinecone.  We did not have the opportunity to visit this. 

Other side of the galleries from the courtyard.

Inside view of one of the galleries.  There are huge numbers of statues and heads and busts which were moved here from other locations. 

view of Vatican City from a window of the museum

View of Vatican City

Scary Head

Statue of Laocoon.  I teach the story of the Iliad and Laocoon is a priest in the story.  This statue depicts his and his sons' destruction by sea serpents!

Talia.  I took this because one of my former students is named Talia.  Talia was the muse of Comedy.

There are many 'salas' or galleries in the Museums.  This one is the Greek Cross Gallery with the sarcophagi of Constance and St Helen, the daughter and mother of Constantine the Great. 


Mosaic floor in the Sala.  This is all small tiles

Tapestry depicting the risen Christ

Rapheal also had rooms at the Vatican.  This painting shows several famous artists, Michelangelo, Rapheal and also philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle.

Floor in Rapheal's rooms.  I loved the pattern. 

 From our tour guide we learned some additional interesting facts about the Sistine Chapel. 
Michelangelo painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, and it is one of his greatest masterpieces.  I learned that Michelangelo did not want to do the work as he was not a painter, but Pope Julius II (also known as Pope Julius the terrible) insisted on his work.  Being forced to do something he did not want to do, Michelangelo put his own sarcastic touches on the painting.  The scene where God is creating the Sun and the Moon has another "moon" other than the celestial one.  

No photos are allowed in the  Sistine Chapel (so I copied these photos off the internet!), nor is any noise.  While it appeared that the visitors obeyed the first rule, the second one was not.  It was challenging to fully absorb the peace and beauty of the Chapel, but I managed to tune out the whispers, comments, and baby cries to find that piece of peace.  The ceiling was absolutely wonderful.  It is awe inspiring that Michelangelo spent 4 years working on this piece of art.  

There is so much there to look at, so much to wonder about, so much I do not know.  Staring at this masterpiece inspired me to want to look more closely at all aspects of life.  I want to study photos of the Sistine chapel and read about what the images represent.  Perhaps this would make a good bible study lesson?  I have ordered my book from Amazon already! 

After the Sistine Chapel, we visited St. Peter's Basilica.  Wow.  Once again, pictures do not portray the beauty and peace of this building.  We were able to take photos, and listen to mass from a distance.  I can imagine that receiving Holy Communion there would be a very religious experience for a Catholic.  I was moved by the choir and organ playing.  



Bernini's first work at St. Peter's was to design the baldacchino, a pavilion-like structure 30 meters (98 ft) tall and claimed to be the largest piece of bronze in the world

exterior of St. Peters

Reluctantly, we left the Vatican Museums and prepared to exit the city.  We recognized our fatigue by then and thankfully grabbed a taxi back to the Colosseum.  

St Peter's Square
Buildings around the square.  Again, marble statues taken from other locations!

We dined at the Tratorria Cafe, just down the street from our Guest House.  Dinner was a wonderfully simple pasta meal with great bread!  
Then we were on to our last night in Rome.  

Breakfasts at the Profumo had a wonderful spread of pastries, fruit, ham and cheese and breads.  They also served a red orange juice that I loved.  Each morning, we had freshly prepared eggs and bacon.  I loved drinking fresh cappuccino!!!  

Vince and I in the lobby of the Profumo

Giovanni--owner of the establishment, with Dog and Bear

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