On Wednesday we decided to set our sights for the Vatican. (which technically was the third country we were in since leaving home on Monday)
We decided to take the Metro to the Vatican as it was pretty much clear across the other side of the old city, and rainy. That plus the fact that the kids love riding on trains, metro’s etc – its like a game. Not unlike the other popular Rome Metro game: “lift the wallet out of the tourist pocket” that we’d heard so much about.
St Peters is a pretty impressive place. The square itself really sets the tone for the immense size of it all. There are so many works of art inside, and the whole things is really one huge piece of art. But I must say that I felt much the same that I did about the remains of the Roman Empire. Except that with Rome the conspicuous opulent show of power was done in the name of the Empire – here it was done in the name of God. St Peter’s was built just around the time of the Reformation, which to me says two things: 1) it was a huge piece of counter-reformation propaganda (look how much power, influence, riches the pope has….don’t think about falling out of line) 2)it was financed with Papal taxes as well as indulgences (telling people they cold buy their way into heaven). The 10’s of millions of dollars that the Roman Catholic church collected during this time, it used to build a church when many working poor all over Europe saw their lives increasingly grim.
The Vatican Museum was second on our list. It is a very impressive museum – which it seems a great number of people view as a mere obstacle between them and the final room in the museum: The Sistine Chapel. The museum starts with ancient Egyptian, Roman, Greek all the way up through the Renaissance, and beyond. There are multiple rooms that have every wall and the ceiling painted by Raphael, works by da Vinci, Caravaggio, and of course, Michelangelo.
The Sistine Chapel in some ways is like the Colosseum – I’d seen pictures of it probably thousands of times, but to actually be inside it was something quite different.
We had pizza for lunch around 3:00 or so and then headed back to our apartment. We warmed up, dried off, and then went back out to see San Giovanni cathedral which was just down the street.
We had supper at our apartment – some more bizarre kids TV – then off to bed.