Friday, March 26, 2010

Rapporto di Roma 8: Cappella Sistina

After seeing the basilica we also visited a temporary exhibit of a large [2 feet tall] ancient gold and jewel embedded cross and a few rooms of other Papal valuables such as rosary beads, crosses, crucifixes, chalices, reliquaries, etc. The riches were a trifle overwhelming and of course, no photos were allowed.

Then we left the basilica and walked out in the rain, through the colonnade and outside of the huge, thick wall of the Vatican, all the way around the block to the side entrance of the Sistine Chapel. The wind blew rain in our faces, but my hat kept it at bay and Sean had an umbrella. There was no line and we had to buy tickets for both the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel, even though we only wanted to see the Chapel. If we only had known then what we know now! We were directed to take the circular stairs [Wiki photo] and head on left to the Chapel. It sounds so straight forward, doesn't it?

So, we got to the top of those stairs, and there were two signs pointing to the Sistine Chapel. Both pointed to the left, one into another room and the other into a freshly plastered wall. Both of us walked up to the wall and said "This is where it is." And that is where it is and was the last time I was there. They closed it off. But why?

So that they can drag visitors through all the fucking garbage of the Vatican Museum that no one would look at if they could just run in and see the Chapel and leave. Or, more importantly, they need to sell their "holy" crapola, shit souvenirs and make every dime they can off the dimwitted dolts that fall into their web.

Well, trying very hard not to be bitter, we moved on. The aforesaid "fucking garbage" is in reality priceless works in marble and other valuable materials. This little wooden china cabinet caught my eye. The chair rail behind it is about 8 feet (2.4 meters) high, so the piece is about 10 feet tall (3 meters), give or take. The wood seems to be maple. One problem: I don't have a room it will fit into!

The hall contained all kinds of other interesting things such as old globes and solar system models, with the earth at the center. There were also valuable paintings.
In addition, we toured through rooms upon rooms filled with frankly, ugly amateur paintings that were truly a non sequitur with the priceless treasures around them. Why were they displayed here?
Next as we twisted and turned, we entered seemingly endless halls filled with urns and smaller sculptures. Here are a few I found worthy of photographing:

Isn't this one gorgeous? Look at the depth of the yellow! I wonder if it is marble or agate?

This one has such an ancient look!

I love the swirled concave fluting on this one.

Here is a square one.

The delicate floral decorations and angel wing handles on this one caught my eye.

Here is a marble faun. I was so excited to find one, because I had just read Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Marble Faun at the suggestion of my mom! I looked very closely to make sure he had pointed ears! Where art thou Donatello?

Here is a close up that Sean took. We never even spoke about the faun! How cool is that? I tried to google the artist and date, but without luck.

Here is another marble sculpture that I remember seeing before, but cannot remember the name of the artist. Why doesn't the Vatican put the artist's name on their art??? Duh?

Finally, we reached the Map Room. Phew, I thought we would never get there! but to my complete astonishment, there were two souvenir shops IN THE MAP ROOM! You have to understand, that this is a very sensitive area that is climate controlled and no photographs, especially with flash, are allowed. The windows are permanently shaded to prevent sunlight from entering. And here of all places, they are hawking crapola! You can even see it in the Wiki photo below! See the posters on the left, that is where there is a souvenir shop.

How crass and capitalistic can the church be? They have no shame! We need Jesus (if I believed in him) to come down and throw these money lenders out of his church! I mean, WTF?
So, we saw the Sistine Chapel. It was really dark and gloomy, as it was a rainy day. This was the third time I have seen it and what struck me most is what a fire hazard that room is. It is huge and holds well over a hundred people, all of whom are gazing upwards. They are packed in there like sardines. God forbid there ever be a fire in there, because the exit is funneled down to one person at a time. The place would be a panic stricken madhouse. There is one fire extinguisher and it is really tiny. It is not strapped to anything and just sits on the floor. It would be lost and if not, completely useless in a real emergency.

Finally, completely tired out, we searched for the exit. How hard could it be to find an exit? Very hard, it turns out; especially when the obvious ones are closed off! We could see the daylight from where I was standing, but would have been stopped if we had gone under the velvet rope and escaped. No. We had to walk around, and around, and around, past all the Vatican shops again and again. I was stumbling tired! I just wanted to be on the bus to the hotel already!

And when we finally did escape the Vatican, I was so relieved, I can't tell you!

Tomorrow we shop!

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