Friday, March 28, 2008

Our last full day in Rome.

It is our last full day here in Rome and today we made it out to the Vatican Museum. Our super helpful B&B helped us book a reservation which allowed us to have a super fast que compared to the "regular" line which stretched about 5 people wide for nearly a kilometer! (Look at me, we've been in Europe so long I'm counting things in metric without even thinking about it). Once we got inside we began our exploration carefully because we had read all sorts of warnings that if you got off track and missed a section they won't let you go back to a previous gallery, (what a stupid rule for a museum!). Much of the ancient art was not groundbreaking in comparison with what you tend to see in every nook and cranny in the churches and museums throughout the city, but they were inspiring none-the-less.

The most amazing thing for me about the whole museum was that every single surface was covered in some sort of art. In the image below, it is a snapshot of a hall that was roped off just to show the level of detail you see throughout the museum.

Once we made it into the "apartments" of some of the former popes, we began to see a great deal fantastic renaissance work including one suite that was frescoed entirely by Raffael! Most people can afford a house painter, and maybe even a small mural... the popes, they get Raffael. Money and power can do amazing things. This is a detail from one of the every-surface-frescoed rooms in the suite from Rafael.

Towards the end of the overwhelming onslaught of art you are led into the coupe de gras of the museum, the Sistine Chapel. You are not allowed to use cameras of any kind in the room, so I will have to just describe some things. The room was much smaller than either Kerry or I had anticipated, (especially after the grand scale that was St. Peter's Basilica yesterday), but that was a really good thing as it allowed us to really examine the details of the ceiling and wall frescoes. We rented an electronic audio guide from the museum and were lucky enough to find a seat along the periphery of the room which allowed us to sit and really spend time examining the details of the truly awe inspiring work with great commentary on the subtleties we may have missed. The nearly Technicolor saturation and scope of the work was truly a site to behold. It was one of those times where you really began to understand what all the fuss was about.

After we spent some more time digesting further galleries from the museum, we headed out for a late lunch back at La Griglietta again, this time with our sites squarely aimed at getting a chance to experience the famous Roman fried artichokes (one of their specialty foods here in Rome), and WOW were we in for a treat. Our pasta dishes (Penne a la vodka white sauce, and matriciano) were fantastic, but it was really the artichokes, which had been prepared in such a way that the rough leaves were cut away, deep fried (not oily), and lightly salted and peppered to absolute perfection. It was the single best artichoke I've ever had, and I've had my fair share of amazing artichokes. Thinking about it has me salivating all over again. Good times!

Now it is back to the room for a final post from Roma, to pack our bags, have another dinner at Dino and Tony's and go to bed early for our early morning departure. It has been an amazing trip. One that, as always, will take some time to fully digest. We'll be able to share more memories and thoughts as time goes on. Once we are settled back in the states we'll get right on processing all of the images from the trip so keep an eye on our Flickr and DeviantArt accounts!

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