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Published: November 10th 2017
Today I thought I would set a slower pace to save my feet for tomorrow's trip to Pompeii. That was the plan anyway. I thought I would start with a trip to the Pantheon then wander down to the Vatican for the tour I'd booked for this afternoon. I hoped on the on/off bus and made it to the Vatican. As the tour did not cover St Peters Basilica I changed my plan and decided to start there and then go to the tour. That worked well until I saw the line at the Basilica. It snaked all the way across St Peters square. Change plans again. Sent the folks a postcard (which I will probably beat home) and then went in search of a cafe with wifi. So the first part of my day was spent drinking coffee, early lunch, glass of wine, writing my memoirs and watching the hustle & bustle of Rome. Not in the LP guide but still a very nice way to spend some time.
Around 2 I headed off on the tour of the Vatican museums. The guide was very good but far to much time was spent getting organised. The first 30 minutes
of a two hour tour was spent getting from the meeting point, into the museums and getting our headsets. Then we were walked into a garden where there were pictures of the Sistine chapel roof, followed by a 20 minute history lesson and explanation of Michealangelos most famous work. 50 minutes into the tour and the only original piece of art I had seen was the modern sculpture in the foyer. Which if ones mind is twisted in the right way could be easily misinterpreted very badly.
By the time we entered a museum my feet were already starting to ache. I wore the slip on shoes I brought in Greece. Not great walking shoes but I figured I would only be on my feet for a few hours so they should be fine, bad move McGrath! We only saw a few halls before entering the Sistine chapel, but even in this short tour we saw hundreds of works of art. Paintings, sculpture & tapestries. It was everywhere, even the ceiling. I think some of the best works were on the ceiling...that might be a bit of an overstatement, but it certainly gave me the feeling that I was
engulfed in art. The only issue I had was the volume of people. There were so many people there I was constantly getting bumped, and I couldn't really stop to admire any one piece in detail
Unfortunately by the time we got to the Sistine chapel my feet were throbbing and I don't know how that affects the eyeballs but my first glance the famed ceiling didn't seem that impressive. Michaelangelo painted the last judgement on one wall, which was very impressive, so much detail. However the ceiling was hard to focus on until I reached the seats at the end of the chapel and rested my stupid feet. Once stationary I could gaze up and get a much better appreciation of the ceiling. With so many naked bodies floating around up there its hard to gain perspective. But once I stood still I could really make out the detail and see the perspective of the paintings. I had to admit, Mikey had some talent. You are not supposed to speak in the chapel, everyone is to be silent...of course no one was. Every so often a polite announcement would come over the loud speaker, "Silence please" Now I
Is it me or does this look a little wrong to you?
think they can do better than that. Surely the could find someone with a deep resonating voice to impersonate God. "Silence!" "You there in the blue shirt, put down that camera!" Really freak people out. That would be a cool job. The tour ended not long after the chapel and with that went my patience with my shoes. They were off. Yep that's right I walked barefoot through the Vatican museums and the cool marble on my aching soles was heaven.
On returning to the piazza I had a real internal debate in my head. Do I go home and rest, knowing I've got time to come back on Sunday, or see the basilica while I was there. I decided to suck it up and see the basilica, it was late in the day and the line was not that long. So I put on my not comfy shoes and headed for the line. On entering the basilica I was blown away by the art. Every wall, every corner, every nook and cranny and of course the ceiling, was covered by art & sculpture. I don't think I've ever seen anything so grandiose before. It was truly overwhelming. It
did make me a little sad to think that about how this great hall came to be, back in the days when the church was a powerful and vastly corrupt institution. When the positions of cardinals and popes were purchased by wealthy families rather than earned by the self sacrifice of individuals. This is where all that money went. Still amazing to see though
Tomorrow - Pompeii
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