Saturday, April 11, 2009

Ruinous Rome and the Vainglorious Vatican

Tuesday was back to the Colosseum and today I went inside. But first I went to the Palatine hill and the Roman forum, which were interesting but a bit lackluster. The audioguide wasn't so good as the locations weren't clearly marked on the ground and a few bits on the suggested route were closed off for restoration, which didn't help. After the forum I went into the Colosseum, which is awesome. There was an exhibit on the Flavian emperors who the the ones who built the Colosseum that was quite interesting. Walking around the Colosseum was amazing.

Wednesday was V day. I went to the Vatican museums. They must be huge, but you don't get a feel for it as you follow a twisting path up and down, so I guess it's a high density museum. The Raphael rooms were incredible incredible, although overshadowed by the Sistine Chapel, which had the angriest guards I've seen, constantly telling people to be quiet and not to take photos (I discretely took two photos). The Sistine Chapel is one of those things everyone knows of, but seeing it in all its glory is great. I think always seeing just the bit with God and Adam makes you forget there's a whole lot more to the place. I could have done without seeing God's ass though.

I had lunch, sent two postcards (the two family member's whose address I know off the top of my head), and then left the museum. I checked the time once I got outside and was shocked to find it was almost 4. I had thought it was round 2-2:30is. This means I spent about 6 hours in the museum.

Then it was into St Peter's Basilica, which is, quite frankly, huge. It took a while to get inside, but well worth it. It is a building on a grand scale. I know I'm repeating myself, but the place is big. After looking around inside, I went underneath it into the crypt where more of the popes are buried (a bunch are upstairs in the church itself). I'm pretty sure this is not appropriate music to be playing on your ipod when down there. There was a small crowd in front of John Paul II's casket, and a few flowers on that of John Paul I. On the way out I got a photo of a Swiss Guard in uniform.

On Thursday I went back to St Peter's as I wanted to go up to the top of the dome, but after joining the very long line (much longer than the day before), I learned from someone offering tours of the Vatican museum that the church was closed for another 90 minutes because there was a mass on, which seemed to be verified by what was being shown on the giant TV screens around the piazza. I decided not to wait around and went to a few sites I'd yet to get to including the Circus Maximus and the Lateran Cathedral, which was also closed. I passed up an opportunity for a plenary indulgence by climbing some stairs on my knees (available every Friday in Lent and one other day of your choice each year). Back at the hostel I cooked for the first time since January, if you consider adding a packet mix of risotto into a pot of water and applying heat.

1 comment:

David Barry said...

I'm surprised that you didn't like the Roman Forum much. I just liked wandering through it - I hardly ever use an audioguide.

I suppose it's not the greatest of attractions compared to the best of Italy or Greece, but just about anywhere else in the world, such a large collection of such old ruins would be a stand-out thing to see.