Vatican City

After the religion of ancient Rome in the Forum, we moved on this morning to the Vatican for a 9:00, 4-hour tour with ContextRome.  We met our docent at a small restaurant in the area, then had to wait with a larger group for our tickets — can’t recall why that procedure was required, seems like the Vatican changes the rules on advance ticket sales, etc. fairly frequently.  Once we were able to separate from the large group and were left with just our docent, it was my family of four and another couple, and that was much calmer.  We weren’t able to tour the area with some of the statutes of famous romans (I believe there’s at least one of Julius Caesar which I would have loved to see) because that room was closed.  And when I guide tried to have us sit on a bench in the hallway so she could show us photos of the Sistine Chapel so we’d be prepared for the visit, the guards hurried us along.  Apparently, another new rule that hadn’t been in place even a few days before.

The Vatican was impressive, of course, for many reasons.  Beautiful marble, masterpieces, and history, even without the religious aspects.  I’m sure if I were catholic it would have made even a deeper impression.  As it was, I felt there was a little too much buildup for the Sistine Chapel, and then the Chapel itself was somewhat of a let-down, if that is even possible with such magnificent.  It was certainly beautiful, and awe-inspiring to think of the effort required, but it was sooooooo crowded with masses of people, that it was hard to be able to drink it in and really appreciate it.

I really enjoyed Raphael’s School of Athens, pictures above.  It depicts Socrates and many of his students, as well as Aristotle.  Of course, my interest in it was in part because it was in the Pope’s library and I was envious of having such an inspirational painting with my books in the room in which I could have the luxury of study.  In addition, Cicero was fascinated by the philosophers, including Socrates and Aristotle and read them often, and so I felt a connection to Cicero.  Yes, he seemed to have been a little wimpy but he died bravely (if that is something of which to brag) and he was witty and interesting.  I like him.  Well, I like him as portrayed in the books I’ve read about him, and I think I would have loved listening to him orate.  As an attorney who had no training in speech, debate, oration or the like, I wish I had been able to listen in on those great arguments of old, and to have trained with and been around people who thought oration a valuable and important skill.

Yet again, I digress.

After leaving the Sistine Chapel we were able to view another Michelangelo masterpiece, La Pieta (needs an accent mark over the “a” but have no idea how to create one), in St Peter’s Basilica.  It was amazing… so beautiful, so incredible to imagine how he could create that from marble.

St. Peter’s Basilica was beautiful and while still crowded, more peaceful than the Sistine Chapel had been.  After admiring it and rubbing the foot of a saint that was supposed to bring good luck, we paid a quick visit to the bookstore on site and then hurried to lunch.  We didn’t have much time before our art lesson!

More on the rest of the day, tomorrow.  For now, goodbye 2009, my husband, and champagne, await!



  1. i know it sounds crazy, but i could apss on going there again unless it was for a really special reason….

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    really informative. I’m gonna watch out for brussels.

    I will be grateful if you continue this in future.
    Numerous people will be benefited from your writing.

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