Monday, July 16, 2012

rome post: the vatican: st. peter's basilica & the vatican museums.

boy oh boy. we were so excited to be heading to the vatican, but at the 
same time as we walked into the vatican's main plaza i felt like some sort
of intense or ominous chanting should have been going on in the background.
not for any bad reason, or anything, but i mean, this IS the vatican we're
talking about. like, THE headquarters of the catholic church. did you know
the vatican is it's own COUNTRY? like, its own sovereign city-state?
the vatican has its own newspaper, post office, its own currency
 & national guard, its own flag, & its own radio stations. i mean,
 the vatican is NOT kidding around - we were heading into the big time! 
the real deal, people!


 must know if you are planning on visiting the vatican:
did you know the vatican is REALLY strict about clothing? you are
not allowed in st. peter's basilica if you're wearing anything too skimpy
 - no short shorts, no tank tops, spaghetti straps, midriffs, or anything.
two ladies ahead of us were turned away because their shorts
were too short. i mean, WOOHOO vatican for upholding good modesty 
values, you know? good on ya. way to stay strong on the standards.
fortunately for those shunned turned away, several stands right nearby 
sell large scarves that women will tie around their waists like
skirts or around their shoulders like a large shawl. almost every female
we saw in the basilica was wearing some kind of temporary covering.
luckily for us, that day i was showing about as much skin as
marilla cuthbert, so we were able to zooooom right on through secrrrrity.

a st. peter's basilica MUST see is michelangelo's pietà.
what a beauty. it was truly a humbling & spiritual experience
for me to see this sculpture up close. i have wanted to see it
for so, so long & took my good, sweet time standing there,
just looking.

after michelangelo finished the pietà, he overheard onlookers
discussing the sculpture & saying that it had been sculpted by
some other artist dude. always the competitive guy, mickey afterwards
carved his name in all caps right in front, diagonally down mary's
chest. if you look closely enough (not in these pictures, exactly,
but other, closer ones) you can see the words "MICHELANGELO

in 1972, a mentally disturbed man jumped over
the guard rail & started hammering away at the pietà. he hacked
off several of mary's fingers & her nose, which were taken by
onlookers & never returned. eventually, they had to cut a piece
from mary's back to use as her new nose, & ever since then the
 piehas stayed behind thick glass.

the basilica is breathtaking. if i were catholic, i would totally be proud
& happy that the vatican was a thing that existed.

we also took some time to, you know, pray as a patch of heaven opened:

& check out the clothing of THESE guards...right?!!

aaaaaand the vatican has its own postal system:


there is really, REALLY important artwork in the vatican museums.
a ticket into the museum costs around 8 euros with a student discount
(15 euros otherwise).

at the end of the trojan war, the greeks pile into a giant horse & present
it to the trojans as a gift. of course, the trojans don't KNOW that the horse
is full of bad guys, & they happily bring the horse into the city walls. laocoön 
is a trojan priest, & pretty much the ONLY trojan who knows that the
horse is filled with greeks - greeks that will soon kill them all! as he is shouting to
warn his fellow trojans that they should NOT accept the horse, but get rid
of it or burn it or SOMETHING, athena (who wants the greeks to win)
sends two giant sea serpents slithering out of the ocean. the serpents drag
laocoön & his two sons into the ocean to silence them, so that the
greeks will win. phew. hopefully that all made sense. anyway, the
sculpture below captures the moment the serpants attack. so intense!:

look at that one serpent biting his hip. eeks!

the vatican museums are long, LONG winding hallways with art
pummeling you on every side. we really enjoyed walking through
& seeing it all, & at the end of the day our necks hurt from turning
them in EVERY. SINGLE. DIRECTION. trying to take everything in.
i mean, look at the SIZE of this hallway!


so, not only is raphael the cool but rude ninja turtle, he was also a late
renaissance prodigy commissioned by the pope to paint his (the pope's)
private rooms, such as the library, study, etc. out of this commission
came the school of athens, which is a frescoe painted directly onto the wall.
it is so much bigger than we thought it would be!


quite possibly the #1 highlight of rome. to actually be in the room
michelangelo was in for years & years (he spent more than 10 years on
the ceiling & last judgment combined!), painting the ceiling & walls
as he did. we DEFINITELY had neck problems after leaving this
place, because we could NOT stop just staring up at the ceiling
& the last judgment for about 2 hours total. i mean...michelangelo's
 talent. his artistry. i can't even, you guys. how could i even try to begin 
talking about the sistine chapel? my absolute favorite. the colors are 
SO vibrant. why didn't i do a whole post on this? michelangelo's
sistine chapel works are THE pinnacle of renaissance art. there is
SO much to these. every panel, every corner, has a special image
or meaning. i keep coming back to the colors.

one of the pope's own head guys complained about the nudity in
the last judgment below. he thought it was very inappropriate that
so much skin should be exposed so shamefully in a place of worship.
& you know what that michelangelo did? he went & painted this complainy guy
INTO the painting as minos, judge of the dead of the underworld, complete with donkey
ears & a tail & everything! i'm telling you, this michelangelo guy was
a spitfire (as was his ninja turtle counterpart)! forget the
renaissance. michelangelo was 100% renai-sauce.
unfortunately you can't see minos with-head-of-a-real-guy-michelangelo-
knew in the picture below, but i'm sure you can find it in other places
on the internets. may or may not be allowed in the sistine chapel. but we
wanted to remember this forever & forever! plus i wanted to
share these images with my 3 readers! i might have had to sneak
a little. i'm sorry. gosh it feels good to get that out in the open.

at the end of the museum, we took this cool whirly staircases
shaped like a double helix. can you spot the 2 dueling staircases
in the picture below? they were surprisingly REALLY steep &
you have to be pretty careful walking down them. can you also
spot your 7th favorite blogger in the first picture, & your 7th
favorite blogger's husband in the 2nd? it's like a where's waldo! 

we planned - & spent - a good full day at the vatican. as you just saw,
there was so, so much there to do & see. next time you're in rome, it's
definitely worth planning into your trip.

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