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Saturday, June 27, 2009

italy, day 3  

posted by Michael Piwonka 10:49 AM
After a nice complimentary breakfast at the hotel, we were off to the Vatican Museum and St. Peter's Basilica, where Allie's choir was scheduled to perform during evening Mass.


Simply put, the Vatican Museum is huge. Actually, it's more correct to say Museums, as we passed through numerous rooms, courtyards, hall ways, and stairwells. The final destination was the Sistine Chapel; we didn't realize the size of the Vatican until we followed the seemingly-unending number of signs leading us toward the Chapel.

Just as we thought we were approaching it, we would find ourselves instead in another room of priceless art and architecture, along with yet another sign teasing us toward the Sistine Chapel. It felt sort of like we were chasing a rainbow.

The scope is amazing. I have to admit that I was becoming desensitized to the works of art as walked through; there is simply too much to take in during a single trip. Fortunately we were listening to an audio tour Martha had found on iPod, downloaded from Rick Steve's website; his tours (which we listened to at other sites as well) did a great job of pointing out the most significant works without getting lost in the vast scope of it all.

Once we eventually found our way there, I was able to take only a few poor pictures inside the Sistine Chapel. Since flash photography was banned, the dark room (and the crush of people) made it difficult to get good pictures. Nevertheless, the room is amazing. More precisely, Michelangelo is amazing, a fact that was confirmed continually during our trip.

After we left the Vatican Museum, we walked to St. Peter's Basilica. For me, this was the highlight of the entire trip. Can there be a more impressive church, containing unimaginable works of art, in the entire world? The magnitude is breathtaking, and every inch of it is filled with the best of the Renaissance.

We ran into Allie's choir as they were entering for their performance at the 5pm Mass. Allie looked absolutely exhausted, still suffering from jet lag, but without a chance to nap given the choir's hectic schedule. They had toured the Basilica earlier in the day, and were returning for the service.

The Mass was in Latin, which I had never witnessed before. However, having memorized the ceremony as a child, I could easily keep up with the service. Allie's choir was wonderful, and even received recognition (in English) from one of the priests at the end of the ceremony (which I understand is a rarity). What's more, they received an ovation during the Mass.



After the service, Martha and I took a tour of the Basilica, listening to another of our Rick Steve's audio tours. I was able to get better pictures there than in the Sistine Chapel, but some are still blurry or dark.

All in all, an incredible place to visit. It didn't hurt that Allie was singing in the most important church in all of Catholicism.

We returned to our hotel via subway, stopping for dinner at a sidewalk cafe. And more gelato, of course. At our hotel, we were able to check our email, after getting help with the Italian keyboard (it seems they don't have the "@" sign on their keyboard).

Check out photos from the Vatican and from St. Peter's Basilica.

(To read more, here are links to days 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 of the trip.)

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random. arbitrary. completely unnecessary. yet refreshingly therapeutic.




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