Sunday, August 02, 2015

Exploring Rome!

One word for Rome: HOT! I have to say that our trip would have been a million times more exciting if it wasn't for this crazy insane heat! We were crippled into taking long afternoon siestas and, in general, feeling pretty exhausted after every outing!

Kudos to grandma and BB for putting up with the metros, buses and insane walking despite all. It wasn't easy and I'm lucky to be traveling with these troopers. We spent four full days hanging out, consuming many gelatos, chocolates, pizzas and pastas and enjoying this lovely historic city.

One last magic moment tonight when BB and I went for a late night foot-dip in Bernini's masterpiece. No Trevi so Tritone it is! The water was so refreshing and the moment was pure magic. We giggled our way back bare foot around the cobblestone square!

Off to Florence tomorrow for more Renaissance treats and Tuscan sights! Arrivederci Roma!

Seeking Michelangelo

Thank God for online tickets! Gotta do it if you want to visit the Vatican museums painlessly. Armed with our tickets, we skipped the long lines snaking around the Vatican walls and waltzed right in. We almost couldn't believe that we were inside and starting our visit already.

Rome is hot! The heat and humidity is nothing like I've ever experienced before. Either that or I have no recollection of things being this unbearable! At 9:30 am I felt like I was going to pass out. I had to step onto the Vatican lawns for a few brief minutes to gulp some water and munch on some Parle Gs before I felt confident enough to proceed with the crowds.

We briskly followed signs to the Capella Sistina or the Sistine Chapel, admiring along the way countless Roman statues and busts, gilded ceilings, and halls filled with gigantic tapestries teeming with biblical tales. Oh and here's a Roman claw foot tub I fancy - DB are you listening?

The passage to the Sistine Chapel suddenly narrows, as if for effect. When you enter the space, it takes your breath away. No pictures can do it justice, you just need to sit down and soak in what you can. This is where the papal conclave chooses the Pope. What a conference room! The Last Judgement is stunning - it was painted by a more mature Michelangelo 25 years after he finished the ceiling. The frescoes above are classic, and like the Mona Lisa you've seen these images so often that you can't believe you're staring at the original. My favorite is the expulsion of Adam and Eve from paradise and of course the famous one where God gives birth to Adam. When we sat down, the characters on the ceiling seemed to be dangling their legs from the ceiling. The scenes are replete with energy and movement, it's hard to shush the mounting excitement of the visitors and yet, there's peace in that very busy room. No photos are allowed, so none of these are of the Sistine Chapel.

BB had countless questions! It's so hard to provide explanations for biblical stories. Where was paradise located? What country? What was Adam and Eve's race? (Easy - they certainly don't look Asian or African :) right?) But I had to try and come up with logical and politically correct answers that can exist in parallel with the Darwinian theories.

We couldn't believe how easily we had completed our tour. We were ready to conquer Saint Peter's Basilica quickly too and stick a nice pink feather in our caps. Not so soon!!! No online reservations for the church means long lines. By long I mean snaking all across the humongous plaza till where your eyes cannot detect  the end of the line even.

Heat and hunger is a terrible combination. We decided to tackle one problem by lunching at a quaint little restaurant run by an Italian grandmother who spoke no English at all. But she brought us a nice meal that energized us enough to tackle that insane line.

Either the authorities are sadists or fools. I see no reason why the line cannot be formed under the shaded colonnade or why there cannot be multiple security check points? One single line snakes through the open plaza, with the sun blazing directly overhead, moving like molasses and bottle necking at the single security check point. It is apparently like this every single day with the line shortening at no point in the day. Nuts! Please consult Disneyland for crowd management - fast passes would be ideal here!

Forty five minutes of blazing sun did us in, umbrellas notwithstanding. If we look drenched in sweat, let me assure you that we are! It was pure hell! Saint Peter's makes up for it though. 

Just seeing The Pieta - Michelangelo's only signed piece and one that he made before the age of 30 (like David) - made my day. There's beauty in his art! The perfect proportions, the emoting stones, passion seeps out of every pore of his art. This church is all high Renaissance - in contrast to the somber Notre Dame - filled choc-a-bloc with heavy sculptures, ornate carvings, and a gaudy granite altar. 

We took in all the grandeur and headed back home for a much-needed afternoon siesta! But not before mailing off a little surprise from the Varican state post office!