Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Day Two - Sistine Chapel & supper

We all know that Michelangelo did the ceiling and the Last Judgment for the Sistine Chapel. The side walls have frescoes by Perugino, Ghirlandaio, Botticelli, and Signorelli (scenes from the lives of Christ and of Moses).

As one nears the end of the tour of the Vatican Museums one follows signs through a maze of rooms to get there. The entry is by a small door (I had to stoop) and the guards keep urging people forward into a sea of gawkers. If I said we were sardines in the Raphael Rooms, that was nothing by comparison. One could hardly breathe in the Sistine Chapel. The ceiling is very high and I could not help thinking that I had seen it much better on television and in books, well lit and up close with detail.

I wrote in my journal that it was "introvert hell" and that I wanted to get out the second I was inside it. Making the best of the only time I expect ever to be there I shot as many photos as I could. Leaning backward to point the camera upward I was dizzy. The air was close and there was no personal space. The din was maddening. The photos here are pretty much the only ones that came out without blurring from my unsteady camera. Well, unsteady me. Let's hear it for zoom lenses.

The exit was through another single small door. Ah, to be in the spaciousness of cramped passageways again! It takes fifteen minutes to get back to the entrance/exit so we passed through a seemingly endless collection of painted papal wardrobes. I share a bit of the rest of the journey.

If this looks like an endless corridor through many doorways... it is.

And this is the cool staircase toward the exit, built in the 1930s.

Once outside and across the street we found a seat and had gelato (mine was pistachio) and water. Bill had an espresso for energy. Then a walk to the Metro and back to the hotel. The scent of orange blossoms was in the late afternoon air.

We took a very short walk down the street for supper at the Osteria Barberini. It is a lovely little place. Our waitress was a lovely young Rumanian woman and the food was delicious. A real bargain too. We shared a bottle of Dolcetto d'Alba. After dinner we walked around the Piazza Barberini and called it a day.

--the BB


susan s. said...

My friend Scott is on his way to Rome and said he would be going thru the Pope's closet. Maybe he was talking about the Papal Wardrobes you mentioned?

Chelliah Laity said...

Absolutely wonderful pics and blog post. Thank you for sharing with us.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Paul, I am bragging, but I can't help myself. My first visit to the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel was just as you describe. The crush in the chapel was unbelievable.

The next time I visited Rome, I was with a small tour group, and somehow our leader managed to get us an after-hours private tour of the museums and chapel. The visit was not a sure thing until the very last minute. What an experience! Every minute, I thought someone in authority would come and ask us to leave.

We were about 16 in number, and we strolled leisurely through the museums on to the chapel. I actually saw the gorgeous mosaic tile floor of the Sistine for the first time, because on the previous visit, it was entirely covered by feet. The private time was marvelous, but, at the same time, eerie, because I could not get over the feeling that I wasn't supposed to be there.

Paul said...

I know people who said they were able, some time back, to lie on the floor and look up at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

You, being notoriously wicked and a known raving revisionist, undoubtedly should not have been there. Had it been I in that situation I would have been hoping to be taken into the custody of the Swiss Guards. Those boys are so fine.

I am glad you were able to have that experience.