Thursday, January 21, 2010
January 31, 2010: Relief, Rome, and Relaxation
January 31, 2010 (Dieter). We made it! Took turns sleeping and watching our back packs, nibbling, running to the WCs, and getting our boarding cards printed at 0330. Checked into the security at 0430 and onto the tarmac and in the air by 0610. No sooner had we locked the buckles to our seatbelts and we were gone, sleeping most of the flight to Rome. Saw the Italian Alps covered in snow. Blue skies and sun shining as we landed in Rome. A wonderful taxi ride through old and new Rome to our new apartments for the next 5, oh no, I mean four more days. It is a wonderful room (thanks to Rey and Laura) overlooking Piazza Norvona. Our building dates back to the early 4th century build of post and beam (oak) structure. After meeting with the landlord, we managed to get pizza and off to get into the cue at the Vatican City for a "free" (music to my ears) tour. On the way there, we pass by a large demonstration at St. Peter's Bascilica. We had no idea what the demonstration was on, but we heard the Pope addressing the audience and large applause by the audience that had assembled in mass under umbrellas. The little Vatican country is well protected by the Swiss Royal Security in period costume (but ready to defend). We managed getting passed security and into the Vatican Museum at 1226, with the last tour closing at 1230. What an amazing experience! The Vatican Museum held artifacts dating back from the Pharonic period, through to the Etruscans (people who lived here in Rome prior to the Romans), Roman, early church artifacts, to the hundreds of painting, both hung as well as part of the ceilings, tapestries dating back to the early 2nd century, and the amazing Cistine Chapel paintings by Michelangelo - wow! And to find the one painting on the back wall with the amazing details of the Last Judgement - he even found a way to paint a person whom he disliked in an characture of evil (see the lower right corner and look at the male he painted next time you see this picture). Then to see how the paintings from the front of the Cistine Chapel were in amazing details, with every detail of human muscles to the fine details of hairs. As we looked at the ceiling toward the back, we noticed how the artwork became less detailed, with the figures being much larger. The theory is that the painter was much more meticulous in the beginning, providing the many details and as the time progressed and the lack of payment for his work became more obvious, his willingness to spend the time with the details become less as well. We watch museum attendees slowly descending down the circular stairway. Alex and Karannina enjoy a final rub of the brass hand rail as we leave the Vatican City (or is it country). One the way back, we encounter various shop keepers and kiosks trying to sell their "holy" Catholic memoriablia. We are able to walk through the piazza facing the St. Paul's Basilica, take a few memorable photos, one with Alexander demonstrating his greatness under his inscribed name. One the way home, we found a grocery store and found another way to save more money with a wonderful fixings for a supper meal of pasta, beef, and vegies for a salad and oh, did I forget the Toscana red wine. All our senses have been stretched to the limit and its time to complete this blog and crash in this most peaceful abode.