it's the vatican, not the vatican't
Happy Saturday! Woohoo! You made it to the weekend! And I hope you did something like what I do every time I wake up on Saturday morning (especially while we shelter-in-home) - the weekend morning bootyrock happy dance! It’s basically just me shaking my butt from side-to-side while I do finger points to the sky. It is silly and liberating and never fails to put a smile on this mug. If you didn’t get a chance to read yesterday’s post - “father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife” - you can can click here to read all about my nighttime tour of the Colosseum in Rome, Italy. Otherwise, as your virtual tour guide, let’s strap in and get goin’ - yippie-ki-yay, motherbleeper.
Okay, pretending I’m John McClane is probably a bit aggressive for this specific post since it’s all about - bwah bwah bwah - my tour of Vatican City. Sorry for all the sound effects… did I mention it’s the weekend?! Ok, anyway, so when in Rome, regardless of whatever your religious/spiritual beliefs, the Vatican is truly remarkable. I knew from the moment I booked my flight to Italy that I wanted to see the Vatican not because of any underlying religious or spiritual pull but for the number of incredible works of art inside its walls.
When I arrived for my tour, which I booked through the same company as my tour of the Colosseum, I’m glad I booked the tour that I did. It was an early morning entry, and by the time I got to the meeting spot at 8:30 AM, there were already massive lines to get inside Vatican City’s walls. When my tour group started to walk to the gate to get in, however, we were let in almost immediately. I didn’t ask questions because when in Rome… do as the Romans do! Now, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that aside from all the art, I was really excited to see the place that condemned the Twilight series as a “moral vacuum” because I like to laugh at the ridiculousness of these claims. Also, I devoured the Harry Potter (“wrong model of a hero”) and the Twilight books as a teenager, so knowing the Vatican disapproved of both for a very long time (only in 2009 did they come around to HP) gave me a rush of rebellious adrenaline just by being inside its walls.
The inner thrill of rebellion aside, the Vatican was absolutely incredible. There were moments, standing in front of paintings and sculptures I’d studied in Art History and had looked at on my own in various art books where I teared up, and when I made it into the Sistine Chapel and saw Michelangelo's paintings, I openly cried. There was so much to take in, and everyone was so respectful of remaining quiet (and not taking pictures), that it was possible to sit in silence and absorb the magnitude and magnificence of the Chapel’s walls and ceiling. I also was not the only one who had to wipe away tears; the majority of people inside the Chapel walls wore looks of absolute awe on their faces, and many of those wondrous looks turned into silent tears of overwhelm at the beauty and wonder. (Yes, you have observed correctly; there were lots of tears from a lot of people.)
It’s incredible that we live in a world in which we can read books and browse the internet in order to see great works of art, but there is absolutely no comparison to standing in front of Raphael’s School of Athens and truly understanding the amount of time and commitment it took to complete a piece of art so massive in scale. Being a 5’5” woman, standing in front of a painting measuring 16’5” x 25’3” is truly humbling. It hits you like a punch to the gut and totally takes your breath away. I thought back to my 3rd form year, taking History of Art & Music class, and while I wiped away a few tears I laughed at how amazing it was that I’d made it to see the real thing just 15 years later. It was truly incredible.
After I toured the Vatican and had a mini cryfest over all the beautiful art with my fellow tourists (#notashamed #ilovetouristythings), I got to continue to explore Rome and meet up with a friend from home, which you can read all about in tomorrow’s post!!
Have you ever had a similar experience where something you'd studied years before came back full circle years later and brought a smile to your face like my example from the Raphael painting? I’d love to hear about it! Thank you so much for reading, and, as always, if you have any pressing questions or if you want to discuss something further with me, please subscribe in the e-mail submission box below, follow me on Instagram or Twitter, or reach out to me on the “contact” page. I’m so grateful you're here and that I’ve been getting a lot of really great, fun-to-read questions and feedback from a community all over the globe. Especially during this time of uncertainty and pandemic, it's important to find your tribe and surround yourself with good; we're all in this together. I couldn’t do this without you! So THANK YOU!
P.S. - If you want to catch up from the beginning on this series of adventures, here's a cheat sheet to the posts (in order in which they were published):
2. grateful for starbucks and sandymount strand
3. Once Upon a December in the National Gallery
4. plant a smooch for that gift of gab
5. may the 4th be with you: Dingle style
6. cinco de mayo: the best Mexican food in Dublin
8. mussolini’s window and the philosophers’ metro stop
9. father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife
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