People warned me that the Vatican would be mobbed and it was. Really mobbed. Our intrepid guide, five feet tall and carrying a flag on a stick, dispensed knowledge with a warm charm and kept a good pace going. The hours flew by.
Saint Peter’s Basilica (below) and our guide (above).
The dome is slightly smaller than the Pantheon’s.
Believe it be or not, I had seen Michelangelo’s Pieta before when it came to the New York World’s Fair. It says something about my mother that we went. For all our frequent trips to family in the city over the years, my parents never took us to the Bronx Zoo or the Statue of Liberty or FAO Schwartz. But we saw Michelangelo’s Pieta.
The artist spent eight months at the quarry looking for the right block of marble for this piece. He famously claimed that his sculptures were already present in the stone and all he did was liberate them. “He was not a modest man,” said our guide.
He sculpted this piece at the age of 25 and it is the only piece of art that he ever signed.
Outside the lines stretched for miles! Buying tix for a tour in advance is definitely the way to go (we used City Wonders).
Setting up for Easter services. I gather it was a little more crowded than usual given the time of year.
Here is a brief clip of lightening over the city from yesterday.
If it doesn’t load, you can view it over on Instagram (deeamallon).
(We weren’t allowed to take photos of the Sistine Chapel).
Our second memorable meal was at a tiny place down a little alley that we just happed upon. Boy, what Italians do with artichokes! I’m gonna have to up my game in future.
Palm Sunday in Rome — we ought to go to Mass, right? How to find a Catholic Church? Just kidding. Every block has one, maybe two, although it isn’t always easy to tell. “It’s either a church or a luggage store,” K quips to my pointing. We enter a building. No empty seats. Mass already in progress. For a pedestrian church, it is spectacular: walls and ceilings lavishly painted, gilt-raised frames, and a beautifully tiled floor. The Saints approve. But we exit anyhow, the blessed water on the brow not yet dry. Turns out I’m a 90-second Catholic, which is to say, a former Catholic, or a recovering Catholic, or not a Catholic at all. Take your pick.
So off we go, heading over to the wide, people-filled Piazza del Popola. There are singers, tourists, lots of us, and protestors. I shoot hostile looks at the silent Anonymous clump, surely protesting the recent arrest of Assange, that rat-faced fucker. Surely, they’d frame his wrong doing in a First Amendment paradigm, overlooking his gigantically successful attempt to bring down the West and BTW how do they square the fact that Wikileaks’ sweeping and supposedly neutral disclosures never harm Putin?
I don’t suppose you can tell what I think of Assange?
If you combine the fact that Assange’s underlying charge is rape with his notorious hatred of Hillary Clinton, you could alternately view his take down of the Western World as a petty, little-dicked man’s misogyny.
On twitter, pundits I admire say: watch who supports Assange. Who is calling him a “journalist?” Check out @gregolear on Twitter for more.
“Tulsi Gabbard is the Jill Stein of Hawaii,” said one of my favorite tweets (sorry can’t find to attribute).
But hey! There’s espresso and rosemary-sprinkled focaccia in the offing, so these depressing thoughts are shunted aside. We crossed the Tiber in search of a cafe with outdoor seating. Lovely!
I had TWO espressos, hoping it’ll help tide me through a three hour tour at the Villa Borghesi (my attention at museums tends to wane at the one hour mark, I’m afraid).
This, believe it or not, is a cafe. Not sure I’d want to eat with this crew watching me.
I’ve been shooting tons of pictures of the walls here in Rome — each distressed surface more glorious than the last. I’ll bore you with those another time. But for now, here’s a shot of sculptural daisy that inspired hopes of a wishing wall. I might even have been framing my own wish when I pulled out a dusty drug store receipt. Ick!
However, yesterday, at the Santa Ignazio di Loyola, where we oohed and aahed over a well-known tromp l’oeil dome painting (apparently executed when the builders ran out of funds), I did light a candle for my sister.
I’ll close with a few pictures of the interior of the Pantheon. It was all about the light.