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Rome redux

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Nov. 3rd, 2010 | 06:13 pm

I have one more full day in Rome, and I can safely say I'm ready to come home. In fact I'm not entirely sure what I'll do tomorrow. I've sort of had it with wandering around. I'm tired! And the downside of being in a foreign city and dwelling in hotel rooms is now looming larger relative to the pleasure of seeing so much art and beauty.


Today I visited the Vatican museum and St Peter's Basilica, which I don't mind admitting pretty much did me in. And I didn't even look at most of the stuff in the museum (apart from the Pinoteca paintings gallery) because I didn't want to be exhausted before I got to the Sistine Chapel. The place was a madhouse -- and if it was it so crowded now in Nov I can only imagine what it's like in July. The chapel WAS wonderful ... I guess ... I also have to admit I'm not a huge Michaelangelo fan. He is great, yes, of course, but his stuff doesn't turn my crank the way other artists of the period does. The chapel was very crowded and every three minutes a guy like a high school principal got up and shouted "Silenzio! Silenzio!" and then tried to herd people away from the middle of the room, which was pretty much impossible. What a job, I hope he's paid well to do that all day.


After the Sistine I went into St Peter's Basilica, which as you may or may not recall is all Michaelangelo and Bernini (I do like Bernini) and HUGE HUGE HUGE, and while it was impressive and beautiful by then I was a bit grouchy and just thinking how over the top it all was and what a shameful amount of idolatry was going on in there. The piazza outside actually gave me a spooky feeling, it was so big. Is that agoraphobia? It might have been folding chair phobia, as there were a huge array of chairs still out from the pope's morning thingie that he does on Wednesdays. I fled.


Then I tried to find one of the lunch places recommended in my guidebook -- the first two I tried were shut and the third was now a Japanese restaurant, so I ended up sitting down at the first place I could find after that, and had a truly terrible pizza. I've eaten better pizza in Nebraska. I've eaten better frozen pizza. But the area just didn't have many sit-down places -- the Italians love to eat standing up.


Then I decided to get on a streetcar in the Piazza Risorgimento and just ride it to see where it went -- I needed to stop walking at that point -- and it ended up going all the way out into the suburbs somewhere, and finally I had no idea where it would ever turn around and go back, but I was able to jump off and get an inbound one that went to the train terminal, which is right near my hotel. So I saw a lot of the Rego Park and Jackson Heights of Rome. But I also saw an ancient gate of the walled city of Rome, Porte Maggiore, which the streetcar went right by.

That was really nifty, especially as it was unexpected. (I followed the twists and turns of the streetcar route on my map until we disappeared over the edge, going farther north than apparently any tourist has any business going.)


I was up and out very early, and since my reservation at the Vatican Museum wasn't until 10:30, I set out to revisit the church of Santa Maria della Vittore, which is a 5 minutes' walk from my hotel, and which houses the amazing Bernini sculpture -- it's an installation, really -- of the Ecstasy of St Theresa.
I find this work fascinating.

Also fascinating, on a different level, was the waxwork corpse in a glass box displayed across from it.
Sculpture of saint's corpse in Santa Maria della Vittoria, Rome
The church is a weird mixture of high ornate Baroque insanity
Ceiling at baroque church of Santa Maria della Vittoria, Rome
Ceiling at baroque church of Santa Maria della Vittoria, Rome
and statues equipped with electric halos that light up. (I didn't bother to photograph those.) When I went in early this morning, I first looked in at the church across the street, because I couldn't remember which one was the Bernini church -- they look almost identical on the outside. As I was leaving a middle-aged man came out behind me and in the vestibule whispered to me, "Ciao bella". So I guess I've had the quintessential Italian experience. He then proceeded to follow me across the street and into the other church, and I spotted him waiting at the back, but I lingered until mass began, which I waited out by standing in a side chapel, and when that was over, he'd gone. So I attended mass. Which was heard, apart from me, by fewer than 10 people -- not a minion!


In the Pinoteca at the Vatican Museum I saw this painting by Carlo Crivelli, who as you know is the painter of my favorite painting ever. He may even be my favorite painter though I've seen very little of his work.
Rome, Vatican Museum, Virgin & Child by Carlo Crivelli
Alas my attempts to take a picture of it didn't come out well, and my hopes of finding a postcard in the giftshop were foiled when I exited the museum straight into the basilica and therefore couldn't double back to the museum giftshop. (The souvenir stands outside the Basilica only had postcards of the pope.) So I have no postcards from the Vatican Museum at all. Once you've exited, you can't go back in unless you pay again -- though I might have been able to get to the museum bookshop near the entrance for free, but that would've involved a huge hike around the periphery of the Vatican walls to get to the entry again, and ... yeah, no way. The place is just too damn big.

After my streetcar adventure into outer Rome, I went back to look at the St Theresa statue again, and then wandered around a bit wishing I could just sink into an armchair somewhere and be plied with cocktails. I find the restaurants in Italy sort of intimidating, and though I passed a couple of places where I could've sat at a sidewalk table and had some wine, I just somehow couldn't. Now I'm back in the hotel room, but will go out again around 7:30 and find some dinner. After that awful lunch I want something nice.
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Comments {2}

from: pazitamm
date: Apr. 15th, 2011 05:24 am (UTC)
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hello, I sent an email to you about this post, its not coming thru for me. Can you connect with me when you get a chance.

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