Thursday, February 12, 2009

the Vatican

Yesterday I was chatting with a guy in the hostel from Australia. We were talking about Rome and what sites to see, then he mentioned something about "tourists" and how they're all over the big sites. I sort of wanted to remind him that he was a tourist as well, but instead I let him continue and realized that he had a point... Because in Rome there are a different breed of tourists. You see them in every city, herds of people clumped together, reminiscent of schools of fish or perhaps flocks of sheep. They mass together at the major sites, milling about while the alpha tourist buys tickets or finds directions. While on tours, they often stop to graze or preen each other on the sidewalks or directly in front of famous sites. Watch for the the flashing lights of cameras and camera phones. When massed together, it gives the larger sites a glimmer of their own.

Alright, I'll stop. But really... it's distracting. Today I went to the Vatican Museum (amazing) and the Sistine Chapel. The museum is divided into different sections. You can see what you want and as much of you want, until you decide to go to the chapel. Then you have to go through about a half a mile of shoulder-to-shoulder people. The sites on the way are interesting, but... literally I went a little crazy near the end. I don't think I realized how far it was. They wind you around an entire building and then suddenly... you're there.

The Creation of Adam (Thank You, Wikipedia)

The Sistine Chapel is impressive (to say the least), although I wouldn't really call it a chapel. I always imagined it would be an actual church, but in reality it's more like a gigantic painting that covers an entire room. There's not much decoration besides. It took me awhile to adjust and enjoy myself because the entire floor was covered with people. It is the cesspool-mecca of tourism in this city. And really, the massive painting is so overwhelming at first. The Creation of Adam (see above) part is rather small in comparison to everything else. Once I took it section by section and really tried to figure out what was going on, I really enjoyed myself. The front is actually a lot more gruesome than I expected. I found out later it is supposed to be the Last Judgement of Christ, hence the demons dragging bodies into Hell.

The crowds. Maybe this is why cameras aren't allowed.

I'm being too negative. This is a really cool city. It's so picturesque and romantic everywhere you go. Good thing I'm by myself (sarcasm). But at least I have my camera. To quote something I emailed my sister yesterday: You could take any block in this city at any time of day and use up an entire roll of film easily.

I think mainly it has to do with the Renaissance. I also noticed this with London, only I didn't really realize why until just now. Athens was a really cool city, but while most of the major European cities were flourishing during the Renaissance, it was being taken over by the Ottoman empire. The whole concept of the "Renaissance" all makes sense now. It's just so evident here.

Some weird people want to play cards with me. I don't really want to play, but they need a fourth player. Argh... alright, I'll be social.

No comments: