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Trip Start Nov 09, 2012
16Trip End Nov 25, 2012
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We walked all over the section of Rome detailed on our free map. We really didnt mean to but we were always "so close" to something that we had to stop by. The kids held up like champions. I realized that a minute of looking at art (with its associated activities of being respectful and still) is equal to walking about a mile.
Climb to the top of St Peters
No one was ever meant to see St Peters from this angle. I'm not sure what possessed the Vatican to put in the 572 stairs needed to reach the top. It seems to be a common trend in tourist locations. Most tourist cities have a climb to the top of (fill in the blank).
My kids were dragging on my arm pleading exhaustion and then leapt up the stairs like caged bunnies set free.
The place was deserted that only highlighted the sense of sneakiness. I kept thinking that none of the artists ever intended for their work to be viewed this way. I felt floored by the artistry. I could see an overworked shop assistant asking "But Bernini no one will ever see the back of this huge sculpture unless someone builds a staircase to the top. And that would be crazy" "Don't care. Make that drape sway!" There are crests that are invisible from the ground and can only be viewed from small slits of windows near the top of the dome. We walked around furtively looking into rooms an around the dome (can we really be here? Oh there is a priest going in so it should be okay...)
I was surprised at how much I liked going to the perspective of giant statues (ghost busters II kept springing to mind) and hidden crests.
St. Peter's is covered in gold and every four steps there is a staggering work of art. It is the largest cathedral in the world. Marked down the center of the nave is a star for you to see how far other large cathedrals would fit. Built over Nero's circus it contains the bones of St Peter.
There must have been a special event later that day because they had corded off sections of the cathedral and six men were pulling chairs off a cart and lining them up. I feel right at home with setting up chairs in churches and kind of wanted to join in. I've spent most of my life as a mormon setting up and taking down chairs; church service, youth activities, firesides, weddings There is nothing quite like being a lone in a still dark chapel on flipping open chairs and straightening them into rows. It is mediative and hopeful and, frankly, holy. So the chair setters didn't look out of place to me, quite the contrary. Seeing them gave me a kinship to this place. Just one more church service with chairs. I did notice they went with padded non-folding chairs. The Holy See is a class act.
We were half way between the vatican and the colosseum when we needed a stop. Luckily there is a Pizza place every twenty feet. So we sat down ordered three gigantic pizzas and one gigantic pasta and were grateful--really really really grateful.
They had a pot of mozzarella swimming in sauce. It was a little like a lobster tank. Choose your moterella. The food was good. The bathrooms were clean. And then we headed back out.
the Colosseum is big. There was statues in there before there was the earthquake in all of those holes. The colosseum was straight there wasn't that big hole. An earthquake made that hole happen.
I liked the little model with the bears in it. They had those traps to trap the bears and tigers too and the mighty chicken (Giggle).
Let's just get this out of the way: yes, we are more humane now. We don't let people kill each other for our entertainment. We seldom set lions on adulterers. We don't even make hunting or butchering of exotic animals into a spectator sport. Well, la-dee-da. But for all that, it's the ways that we are similar to the Roman coliseum attendees that's striking. There are remnants of refuse from the spectator snacks: bottles,, peach pits, chicken bones. Someone chewing down on a leg of Pompeii Fried Chicken while watching a game? Yeah, I can see that. I've been thinking a lot (read: one good book plus 15 minutes of gladiator on a hotel tv) about gladiators lately. And while it seems so alien to think that we, as human beings, could think it's okay to execute people for a Saturday entertainment, the rest of it, graffiti and snacks and souvenirs and T-shirt cannons and halftime shows and beer hats (I'm only kidding about the last one) feels familiar. I am pleased that it is, ultimately, our tackiness, not our cruelty, that has endured millennia.