Monday, July 19, 2010

Tears in Heaven

The Vatican! I don’t even know where to begin or end for that matter. We were gravely foreworn about the length of the lines to enter St. Peter’s Basilica, and so were amazed to arrive there on Saturday morning and see a line of very moderate length. As the Diplomat was lining for security checking, I decided to take a few pics only to notice that the line indeed was huge. We just unwittingly cut most of it and lined happily almost at its end. We did NOT go back to the end, I will tell you.
The Basilica is probably the most beautiful thing I have ever seen in my life. I actually cried, I was that moved. Until I was amused by the markings on the floor showing how other churches in the world compare in length to it—apparently, the competitive spirit had infected even the Vaticano. In a fit of sportive spirit ourselves, we decided to climb the 550 steps to the top of the Dome. Once upstairs, it occurred to me that it would be supercool to pack a picnic and bring it upstairs to eat while enjoying the Roman vistas. The Diplomat vetoed the idea of going back down, packing the picnic and climbing back up, I am not sure why, it sounded like a perfectly nice idea. He did have a great idea of his own though—he suggested that the Vatican install a spiraling slide all the way down from the Dome so that we don’t have to climb down stairs but slide merrily all the way down. We left the Basilica to procure libations and victuals—all the tourist places around offer a fabulous deal of an entrĂ©e, drink and gelato for 10 euros. Duly refreshed (or, frankly, rather sleepy from the beer and the pizza), we dragged ourselves to the Vatican museums to see the Sistine Chapel. One thing I will say about Roman museums—their layout in not intuitive in the least and we spent over 45 mins looking for the darn place. Once there, it was so packed with tourists making a lot of noise and taking pictures and guards screaming, “Silenzio!” and “No foto!!,” that I did not feel the awe I thought I would. It is very pretty though, I will admit that. Then, barely able to walk, we (foolishly) decided to look for the Raphael rooms. Another 45 mins later, passing through numerous corridors of maps, tapestries, ancient minutia, busts, cabinets, statues, bizarre art objects, massive golden bibles and other Christian paraphernalia, at the point of complete exhaustion, we found the rooms. They were very nice, I think. I don’t remember much more, I had practically fainted at that point.

We spent the evening at the Piazza di Spagna. A delightful area with lovely restaurants. It would have been a truly excellent dinner if there hadn’t been two drunk Texan couples next to us, insisting on talking to us throughout our entire (rather expensive) meal. What were the odds…..To cap the night, as we were strolling down the Spanish Steps, we witnessed a parade of endless cute little FIAT 500s, honking piercingly all over the city. It was merely midnight, after all.

(PS--the internet is giving me issues, I will post pictures once I get better connection)

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