NOTE TO READERS: The Rome 2014 trip begins with post #30. Posts #10—29 were Rome 2013. Posts 1–9 were Florence 2011. If you'd like to be notified of new postings by email, let me know at

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

#19—Goin' To the Chapel

Full discloser: I am not fully responsible for the contents of this blog post.
I would like to sat the illumination comes from above. But I am and have been for a somewhat short while been drinking A Montepulciano d'Abruzzo called Illuminati.

So first off, what would you think if the person who sold you a very expensive ticket for il Museo Vaticano so that you could skip the line said, "You go to St. Peter's Square, and on the left side, you will find an office where you give them the ticket. They will show you where to go. So you would go to the square, right...and look for the office on the left, right? Wrong. The office is on the left, but down a street and around the block where you will find lines of people numbering in the hundreds. Actually, 30,000 people a day. It's Easter, and we've got a new Pope.

Gasp. I didn't drink a lot of water at lunch because Rick Steves said sometime il bagno is closed. By the time I raced to make the designated time, I arrived at the museum parched and in a state of high anxiety...relieved to find myself staring at all the lines beside a couple from the U.K. She asked me if I knew where the online reservation line was. I asked her if she knew where reservations not made online were. The only calm people were the massive groups of teenagers led by well-informed guides.

I was here for a mystical experience in the Egyptian and Etruscan rooms, in the Raphael Rooms and the Sistine Chapel. The teens were having a great time texting, bantering, and being young and loud.
So the UKers and I figure it out, get in, go through security, and wish each other luck. I am told by a guard that I take my reservation to "the woman under the sign." I go to the woman under the sign. She gives me a ticket that I tuck in my Rick Steves book. We have greeted each other in Italiano. "Oh," she says recognizing my accent, "would you like me to speak to you in Italian."

"Sure," I reply. I get the directions but in the stressful process forget that she has given me a ticket, so the guy upstairs says my reservation slip is no good. I need a ticket from the woman under the sign.
I say I have been to the woman under the sign and she sent me up here.
He shrugs. The Italian shrug. I go downstairs. I have been to the woman under the sign, I say, but she told me to go upstairs...the man upstairs tells me to go downstairs...the bell of mercy and condemnation rings...the agent closes her window on me. I want to shout...what the F****...but she has closed her window to help me get to the woman under the sign...who shows me the ticket I should have...which I forgot I had.

I follow the swarm of people to the entrance of the museum. I cannot describe what it feels like to be in a mass of wall to wall people going through...well, how about the teenage girl making a cellphone call while standing in front of the mummy of the woman who died 3 millennia ago. I wondered what that ancient woman would have thought if she suddenly came back to life and met that young girl with her cellphone. I wondered what that ancient woman wanted from life...did she get it...her mummified hands were so sweet, delicate...her face seemed peaceful...nice haircut, short and did ancient Egyptians cut hair. People are swarming all around me. Hundreds of people. Cameras are flashing. So many have not come to look or commune but to take pictures. I am freaking out. This is crazy. I retreat to the Etruscan Room. No one is there. Who the hell were the Etruscans? No one cares about the Etruscans, the more civilized neighbors of the early Romans. They have some cool vases and stuff. But everyone is just passin' through, goin' to the chapel.

In the Room of Muses, there was an incredible bust of Pericles. Alive. The marble was inhabited by the mind and spirit of the great man.
So was the bust of Julius Caesar in the map room.
Even in those blank marble eyes, there was wisdom, power, and spirit.
It seems interesting that of all the marble around Rome, these two heroes of their time were able to inhabit the marble in ways the gods and lesser figures could not.
The Map Room was wild with a spectacular gilded ceiling and ancient maps all over the world. But it was wall to wall people.

Some kid kept tapping people on the shoulder so they would turn around and find no one. In the days of the ancient maps, the world was still flat. To bad it still wasn't so that kid could fall off.

I moved with the swarm into the Raphael Rooms. The School of Athens...everyone remembers that great work laying out the duality between science and faith.

The old finally gave way to the new...through neither science nor faith, just plodding along...the contemporary collection acquired in recent years by the Vatican. My fave was a very fat cardinal in red walking across a green field. It was called "Going to the Ecumenical Council."
Il bagno was open at the foot of the stairs where the swarm was makin' its way to the chapel. I stopped...and then...I was tired of it refusing to go with the flow any longer I went up the down stairs to The Chapel...stepped through the door...and...

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