2015 European Adventure travel blog

painted 'Dome' of S. Ignatius of Loyola

Rich Tapestry showing the killing of innocents

Spiral Dome S. Ivo

St Peter's Square

Ceiling in one of the galleries

Caravaggio in St Luigi de Francesi

Angel by Bernini on Pont de St Angelo

The queue behind us, it was just as long in front

View of St Peter's Dome from the Museum

Portico where the Pope speaks to the people

Stunning altar with marble drapes which look incredibly real.

These two girls talked non stop for 45 minutes in the queue...


Last night was Maree's turn to have some trouble sleeping. Eventually we got up later than usual and had a small breakfast of yoghurt and a pastry that we had bought the night before. We left 'home' about 9:15 and walked to the nearby Metro station where we caught the train to the main station at Termini. Changing to the other line brought a big shock at the crowds. At first I didn't think that we would even get on the next train but somehow we all squeezed on. By the time we got to the station near the Vatican the train was almost empty. A short walk to the entry of the museums gave us shock number two. The queue to get in was enormous - did I regret not booking online!!! We were accosted numerous times by touts trying to sell us a group tour that would allow us to 'skip the line'. They kept telling us that the line was three hours long and at first it seemed like it might be but then it started moving. I calculated at one stage that we were moving at about one metre per minute on average with many prolonged stops. In the end it took us 45 minutes to reach the entrance and about 5 minutes later we had our tickets. During that whole 45 minutes there were two Italian girls who talked to each other non stop sometimes at the same time. How they didn't run out of things to say I'll never know. At least they didn't' wave their hands about while they were talking which was something that Salvatore used to do constantly.

Once inside, the crowds of people, especially groups, made movement slow. At least we had time to see lots of things but at times it was hard to get a good view due to the press of humanity. The real problem was where to look - left, right, up and down there are magnificent sculptures, paintings, mosaics, frescos and more. The wealth of the Church is displayed in all its glory. Just name a famous painter or sculptor at the Renaissance and you can find something by, mostly, him. There were incredibly detailed tapestries depicting scenes from the Bible and from historical, events related to the church. Oddly enough most of the male statues had suffered a penisectomy unless they had been carved with a appropriately positioned fig leaf. I had noticed in other places that this seemed to occur frequently to male statues while those of both sexes seemed also to lose their noses - very odd.

Slowly, slowly through one spectacular gallery to another we made our way to the Sistene Chapel where a massive crowd awaited. Ushers kept some kind of order, calling out 'silencio' loudly as well as 'no photo' just as loudly. Some people of course were 'entitled' to ignore this request but were quickly approached by an usher and spoken to. The masterpiece of Michelangelo is everything we have read about and is just stunning in its detail and complexity however, as we found out later that day, there are ceilings just as fantastic in other churches in Rome. By now we had been in the museums for nearly two hours so we moved more quickly through some of the other galleries but it was still a long way to get to a cafeteria for a coffee and a bite to eat. After a wander in an outer garden and a bit of a rest we headed for St Peter's square.

On the previous occasion that I was in Rome the queue to get in was pretty big, today it was enormous. Thank goodness that Maree said that she wasn't interested in going in. We wandered around the square taking the usual photos and enjoying the ambiance before moving down towards the river and the Castel Sant'Angelo. Giulia, our host, had pointed out to us this morning a few 'must see' places one of which was the second angel on the Ponte Sant'Angelo which was carved by Bernini. It has a subtly classier look than the other angels. A little further down the street we came to the church of San Agostino in which there was a famous Raphael as well as a Caravaggio and it was for free. Next on our list was the French church of San Luigi di Francese which has three stunning paintings by Caravaggio as well as numerous others by lesser known painters and sculptors, also for free. Giulia had also recommended that we should see the church at St Ivo but just from the outside due to its unusual spiral 'dome'; this we did and it was. Finally we trekked over to the church of Sant Ignazio di Loyola, not surprisingly this church was built by the Jesuits. Apparently they wanted to build a stupendous dome but they ran out of money. Instead they commissioned Andrea Pozzo, who painted all of the frescoes on the ceiling, to create the illusion of a dome, painted on canvas with a perspective projection of the inside of a dome. Until you switch on the lights to illuminate it you would swear that you were seeing the inside of a cupola. What was even more amazing were a couple of side chapels with absolutely stunning marble sculptures which were paid for by rich patrons to commemorate their sons who had died young. I tried to imagine how much something like this would cost these days and I reckon you would get little change out of a couple of million dollars. These people must have been fabulously wealthy to afford such extravagance. In another chapel there was marble carved to look like rich drapes at the back of a sculpture. They were so realistic that I had to come up really close to convince myself that the drapes were not actually material. By now both of us had sore feet from nearly eight hours of walking and over 23 000 steps so we headed back for a rest. We booked a table at a restaurant called 'The drunken cow' in Italian of course which seemed very popular last night. I should have realised that with a name like that it was mainly for tourists. It was not a patch on 'Urbana 47' our restaurant from the previous night. The food tonight was OK but just ordinary and it was served without any flair. There were heaps of people waiting to get in when we left. The staff were even offering them a free drink to wait for a table. Tomorrow we head for Portugal so it will be any early start again. Hopefully we will both sleep better tonight.

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