Had again reached that day when you think of how much you still wanted to see & how best to spend the hours you have left –
As we had arranged our tour guides picked us up for a trip to the Vatican –
Our bus traveled along the Tiber River on another beautiful morning – We passed the very very large Ministry of Navy Building that our guide told us rules a very small navy –
For the second time we found ourselves in the Square before St. Peters – This time we looked up at the colonnade that makes such a majestic place for the Saints that look down over the Square. Everything is on such large scale it’s hard to appreciate the size of it all.
It was then into the Museum and the Galleries of the Vatican
This building has over 3,000 rooms and over 7 miles of corridors – so by necessity we saw only a very small part of what there was there. We did see beautiful tapestries centuries old – the detail work was unbelievable with such things as eyes that seemed to follow you – There were beautiful silks, gold & silver treasures, paintings, marble objects and a collection of original maps made in the 13th century – our guide made the remark that “these maps were made before we Italians found you Americans”
Of course the highlight of this tour was the Raphael Rooms and the Sistine Chapel.
The first being the beautiful frescas done by Raphael to decorate the Pope’s apartment – This in 1508 & ordered by Pope Julius II – The figures & the grouping of same really shows his talent –
Then it was in to beautiful Sistine Chapel so named from the Chapel Sistux IV hence the name “Sixtine” or “Sistine” – The figures on the ceiling show the training of Michelangelo as a sculptor (muscular and mostly nude) They tell the stories from the Creation of the world, creation of man, expulsion of Adam & Eve from the garden – at one end of the Chapel is the famous Last Judgment & at the altar end the separation of Light & Darkness – In the former one can see the face of a man named Biagio who complained of the nudity of the figures done by Michelango so the artist included the man’s face – with a pair of ass’s ears – among the demons of Hell –
The story is told that when Biagio complained to the Pope he was told “I’m sorry my son, were you just in purgatory I could help; but in Hell you are out of my reach.”
The frescas on the side walls done by other famous artists go almost unnoticed but some of the most famous are: Moses crossing the Red Sea, the Sermon on the Mount, & the Last Supper – These plus 9 others all have Biblical topics-
The Chapel is the Pope’s private chapel & in this room conclaves to elect a new Pope are held –
Back into St. Peter’s again to see more of this beautiful chapel – and at close range
Very few people in the church this day, so we could stop and look at our own pace – This piece of sculpture would be impossible to describe
the artists name is displayed on the sash over the Virgin’s shoulder
[Editor’s Note: Mom obviously thought she didn’t need to mention that this is the Pietà by Michaelangelo. Less than fourteen months later, the sculpture was attacked by a hammer-wielding geologist, shouting “I am Jesus Christ!” Since its restoration, it has been surrounded by bullet proof acrylic glass panels.]
After a turn around the great church we went up to the top of the building & stood behind the great statues you see from the Square below – The figures stand over 18′ high – on the roof behind them we saw & heard two things that just didn’t seem to belong here – first a “curio shop” with a very “tourist” flavor and secondly, a very loud recording of “Mack the Knife” filling the air –
The men climbed from here on up to the top of the Dome where they reported a very worthwhile view & the rest of us took their word for that –
[Editor’s Note: I’m not sure why I didn’t have the energy to climb up for that view – I was only 15!]
As we stood in the Square wondering where to lunch a very enterprising Roman came up & led us to his own establishment where we did have a wonderful lunch –
Each lady was given a beautiful red carnation by our “new friend” as we paid the check & began an afternoon of last chance sight seeing –
Earl, JoAnne, and Tim decied to see Hadrian’s Tomb so we & Harold & Ruth struck off in another direction that took us first to the church of St. Maria Maggiore – the one built on the site of the miracle snow fall in August – Here we saw the very beautiful Holy Crib & the celing made by the gold that Columbus brought back from the new world. The mosaics seen at the top of the columns are some ancient ones that were in the original church on this site in the 4th century.
A short walk & another very interesting experience awaited us at the Basilica of Saint Peter in Vincali where we saw an urn with St. Peter’s fetters (chains) This beautiful statue of Moses done by Michelangelo is in this same church – the detail in the work is something to behold.
The very clever Romans have installed a lite that shines on this work of art only one deposts a lire or two for a few seconds of light for a better look or a quick snapshot.
It was back to the Hotel where our crowd a little tired but undaunted bathed, dressed & set out for one last fling in romantic Rome – After consulting all our guide books we decided that a place called “Romolas” sounded much to our liking so in two cabs we set out after discovering that one cab driver had never heard of it & the other said ” Romolas?” followed by a funny laugh – Indeed it was a wild cab ride in heavy traffic with the second cab driver trying to keep up – finally we came to a screeching halt in a very dark, narrow street in front of a dingy looking entrance – after collecting the fare the two cabs left us there wondering so we went in here
and how glad we were that we did –
We had a wonderful dinner & discovered a wonderfully exciting story about the place = It seems that in a bedroom upstairs there once lived a lady who divided attention between Michelangelo and Raphael – Raphael started a fresco on one of the walls & Michelangelo took it upon himself to make a few changes – this angered Raphael so that he never finished the work
following dinner it was no small task getting two cabs – finally one Italian got the messsage & made a call for us –
We did a lot of sorting out & a little packing before we went to bed – Jim worked on the list for custom declaration as Malissa & I wondered how we’d possibly spent that much – but we surely had as the evidence clearly makes known –
Volume labeled “The Pennsylvania Lawyer’s Diary 1971”, used as travel journal by Elizabeth W. Ruffner, for a trip taken in March-April 1971; held by Malissa Ruffner, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], Baltimore, MD; 2011.
For background information on this series of posts, see Spring Break, 1971.