Wed., June 7th

I'm going to start this one out backwards and I promise you it will improve as I go on.  We just got back from our day around 30 minutes ago.  It is now 4:30 pm.  We were packed in like sardines on our bus trip back to Loyola.  There is no air conditioning and the windows were not open.  We were probably on the bus for about 35 minutes.  I am questioning if I have ever sweated like that before.  I actually contemplated walking up the hill, which may have taken about an hour...it may very well have been worth it.  I took a photo since I was shoved in the back so you can get a brief idea of what it was like.  Check it out on the AP Studio tab under works.  And, yes, I did get quite a few "Crazy Americans" look, but it was worth it.  I really don't think I can explain the smell, the heat and the intense violation of personal space.  I just drank an entire bottle of water because I think I just sweated it out!

The amount of people at the Vatican Museum towards the end was UNBELIEVABLE.  See the photo of that one and I'm pretty sure that doesn't give it justice.  In order to get out we had to go back through the whole museum against the flow of traffic.  All we wanted to do was leave and we were questioning if that was ever going to happen!!!  

So, now I will start at the beginning, because it was AMAZING!  We got into the museum around 8:45 and there was hardly anyone there.  We walked through the Hall of Maps and tapestries with only the guards around.  Please see additional pictures of the interior of the museum.  We saw so may significantly important pieces of work there is no way I can name them all.  We saw frescoes, tapestries, paintings, sculptures, altar pieces, Etruscan artifacts and even ancient Roman sculpture.   I think hands down this was my favorite museum and I haven't even got to the best part yet.  We got to see the "School of Athens" fresco by Raphael which is directly across from his fresco "The Disputa".  These are 2 prominent pieces.  I have put my picture of "The School of Athens" with my pictures so you can see it.  Raphael (like Michelangelo) likes to put himself and other people he knows within his paintings.  I will put in a close up of him (he is wearing the black beret looking over the shoulders of the two other men) and Michelangelo with the pictures as well.  Raphael inserted Michelangelo after the painting was finished to show him homage.  He put him front and center.  Chances are you have seen the paintng before.  There is also an unfinished painting by Leonardo da Vinci.  He does not have a lot of paintings that exist, so this was an unexpected surprise for me to see.  They also have Raphael's "Transfiguration" painting which was commissioned by Cardinal Giulio de’Medici (who later became Pope Clement VII) and was the last work that he did before his premature death at age 37.  I'm going to stop it there to talk about my favorite part of the museum.

My professor was smart enough to know that since we got in there early we should go almost directly to the Sistine Chapel and not follow the normal route.  Thank you Suzanne!  For that, we were able to sit in the Sistine Chapel for an hour just looking at all the truly iconic images that Michelangelo painted on his back on scaffolding for 3 years.  There are so many figures on the ceiling and within "The Last Judgement" that I was able to keep looking the whole time.  I have had the wonderful opportunity to go through the Chapel once years ago, but it was very crowded and it felt as if you were somewhat going through on a conveyor belt.  There was never time to really look at it.  There was time today.  I cannot tell you what a unique opportunity it was to sit in the presence of that holy space and see the images that you and I see in books in real life.  About 20 minutes into our being in the Chapel, a priest came into the space and asked us to be silent and to pray with him.  At this point, there were quite a few people there, but the silence was powerful.  He then allowed anyone who would like to come up and be blessed to do that.  I was able to go up with a group of the students that I am traveling with to be blessed by this young priest.  He asked that we lead dynamic and progressive lives that are full with the presence of Jesus.  It really was a very powerful moment for me that I will not soon forget.  Between the Pope on Sunday and a blessing in the Sistine Chapel I hope that I am good for awhile!

I hope you can see why I wanted to work backwards today because I wanted to reflect on the greatness of what I saw and experienced today.  

Additions to my Random Thoughts for Rome, traveling and art...

1)  The Renaissance masters really like to putti into their paintings and to be honest they are really creepy.  If you don't know what putti are, they are figures in a work of art depicted as a chubby children, usually naked and sometimes winged.  Today there were a number of ones that were only heads and wings.  I find them unsettling.

2)  Apparently every tour group in Rome decided to go to the Vatican Museum today.  If you see a bunch of groups following a person either in a bizarre hat and/or carrying a stick with some sort of flag or material on it talking into a microphone, RUN AWAY!  Or learn how to dodge around them while they are not forming a human blockade in a hallway.  Who knew that agility training could come in handy when in Rome?

3)  Walk the hour walk instead of getting onto an over packed bus unless you would like to shed off a couple extra gelato or pasta pounds.

I think I am out of thoughts for now.  Chow!!  A domani!

Mileage by Andrea: 6.94 miles