Tuesday, June 09, 2015

The European Trip, Day 3 - The Sistine Chapel Tour and Evening Views of Castelo San Angelo

All of us rose bright and early this morning, Martha being the early bird.  After a brief attempt to flood the hotel room hallway due to a not fully closed shower door by my son, and a subsequent inattention to bread being toasted by Martha, causing a near activation of the fire alarm sensor; we were ready for the day!

The schedule today was the Vatican Museum with the main event being an early tour of the Sistine Chapel before the maddening crowds were allowed in.  We met up with the tour people as arranged and were not impressed by the seeming chaotic process of getting checked in, assigned to a guide and then proceed on to the tour.  Still, only 10-15 minutes late, we go there in time still have to wait a bit before the tour groups were allowed into the museum.

I at first thought: "we paid extra to get in before the crowds, and yet there's already hundreds waiting to get in!".  I was to be shown later, what real crowds within the confines of the museum were like.

One of the first hallways one traverses on the way to the Sistine Chapel
Note how "roomy" it was....

The Sobieski Room, a Polish artist's painting dominates this room, its 
the one in back of my son Patrick who is looking pretty thrilled. 

Artwork in the room of the Immaculate Conception

I believe this was in the Constantine Room, depicting scenes related
to the battle where Emperor Constantine won and later declared
Christianity a "legal" religion in the empire.

Battle scene in the Constantine Room

Above is main painting in the room dedicated to showing the
miracle performed by one of the popes, where he caused the 
fire raging in a Borgo to go out by performing the sign of the cross.
wikipedia: LINK

Part of the ceiling art in the room of the last secular and most reviled
of the secular popes, Alexander Borgia Valentin.  He was apparently, not a saintly man.
No pope after this one, wanted to stay in these apartments used by Borgia and so
the rooms were closed and isolated for decades, resulting in the remarkable well
preserved artwork.  The floor tiles are original to the time of the Borgia Pope and one
can actually walk on them!

Another example of what became a numbing display of ceiling artwork
I think the above was in the Papyrus Room

There was, no photography allowed within the Sistine Chapel where the Conclave or Ceremony whereby all the Cardinals of the Church gather to elect a new Pope.  Very impressive, not too crowded when we went through the first time.  It was, later, massively crowded as we made our way through again, this time trying to exit the museum.  Apparently, you had to retrace a route that was by then crammed with people.

This small Vatican Flag was flown, among flags of all the other
nations of the world, to the Moon on Apollo 11 and later presented
to each respective country; except for Venezuela who was accidentally
forgotten apparently.  Whoops!  A later flight to the moon
rectified that situation apparently.

A view of Saint Peter's Dome from the museum gardens

In the gardens, one sees this large pine cone, used to be a
fountain in its original location.  As most metals were scavenged after
the fall of the Rome Empire, the fact this large bronze sculpture survived
makes it special.  More info here: LINK

The large stone face you see peeking out, is all that remains of 
what must have been a pretty large statue.

Statue of Greek God Apollo, this work was long held as the
"standard" in terms of stone sculpture during the Renaissance according
to our guide.

Laoco├Ân and his sons, depicted being attacked by serpents since he gave
warning to his fellow Trojans about the Trojan Horse:  
"Do not trust the Horse, Trojans / Whatever it is, I fear the Greeks even bearing gifts." 
source: wikipedia

Just off the Vatican Museum Gardens, was this hallway with almost 1000
sculptures.  Our guide told us how someone from a past tour group, who worked for
Sotheby's, estimated the value of the half statue pictured above at several million dollars.
The full statue next to it, would of course, be priceless as they never come up
for sale anymore, all owned by museums apparently.

The irony, is that for hundreds of years, Rome was an abandoned ruin, with sculptures
like the ones on display just laying about!

Sala delle Muse
The Belvedere Torso, believed to be a depiction of Hercules
One of the more famous sculptures at the museum.
more info here: LINK

Sala Rotonda
The middle statue is that of Julius Caesar I believe.
The large tub shaped purple porphyry marble object was apparently part of a fountain at one time?

The above shot of the how crowded things got later in the morning give
just an inkling of how stifling and uncomfortable things got for
us as the press of slow-moving and sometimes unwashed humanity
plodded along, gawking unknowingly at the art work in the museum.
Oh, and of course, blocking the way as they took selfie shots of themselves.

One of two large tombs made out of Porphyry Marble, a rare 
purple marble reserved for nobility back in the day.

The tour guide then proceeded to guide us yet again through some of the hallways we'd been through already.  My guess is there's no options in terms of how to navigate the museum and finally exit out near Saint Peter's Basilica.  It was annoying progress, through now very crowded hallways full of slow moving tour groups.  We finally broke free and into open air and found ourselves gathered in front of one of the doors next to the main entrance to St. Peter's Basilica:

Near the main entrance to the basilica

As we waited for our tour guide to get "authorization" to take us into the church; Martha and I looked at each in the miserable heat and agreed to ditch the tour at this point.  We informed our guide that we'd previously seen the inside of the church, returned our listening devices, thanked him for his work and quickly left the ground of Saint Peter's Basilica.

The crowds waiting to get into the church were even larger than the first time we'd seen this complex.

We made it back to our nearby hotel room with no issues and collapsed into naps.  The rest of the day was devoted to rest and recovery from the last couple of days of grueling touring.

Patrick was the most tired of us all it seems

This evening, we wandered out towards the Pantheon area both to check things out for tomorrow morning and to find a place for dinner.  It was just Martha, Miles and I; Patrick elected to hang out at the hotel room and have cold cuts for dinner.

Castelo San Angelo from the opposite river bank

We not only found the Pantheon but since we were so close, wandered over to the Trevi Fountain which is under extensive renovation.  Martha did the "turisti" thing and flung a couple of pennies over her back and into the fountain.  The idea being that if you get the fountain, you'll be back in Italy/Rome another day.

After this, we wandered some more until we picked this ristorante that wasn't too packed or touristy or with cars careening just outside its narrow street.  Dinner was OK and not expensive, nothing really to talk about though either.

We thought of Roland's steed, Whitey, when we saw its Roman cousin

After dinner, it was a few minutes of walking until we came to the bridge leading to the Palace of Giustizia or Justice where we got this shot of the Castelo San Angelo and its bridge:

We walked back down to the riverbank towards the Castelo San Angelo bridge pictured above.  We had the whole riverbank to ourselves, and the area was well lit.

We went under the above bridge and got this angle on the castle and bridge arches:

Castelo San Angelo

The weather was not hot, only slightly humid with a good breeze blowing sometimes.  Much more enjoyable a walk than this morning!

Hope you like the pictures.  Tomorrow is a no tours planned day, just a visit first thing to the Pantheon and we'll just wing it from there.


RichardM said...

Beautiful photos, especially the night shots! Thank you for braving to mobs just to get us some wonderful pictures.

Bluekat said...

These are awesome! I think the crowds would make me crazy. I'm so glad for you all taking this trip. Have a great time!!

Oz said...

I hope to tour that area some day. Great photos. Thanks.

redlegsrides said...

RichardM, you all are quite welcome. I liked the way the night shots came out.

Bluekat, thanks, and yes the crowds made me crazy.

Thomas O. Thanks, go early and if you can afford it, with an outfit specializing in smaller groups....

Trobairitz said...

Don't you think it is amazing - the skills of the artists and sculptors from that long ago? And to think of how they built all those beautiful buildings and churches....

Thanks for sharing.

SonjaM said...

What Richard said, stunning pictures. Thanks for diving into the crowds for us. For me that might have been too much, especially in that hot and humid climate I would have been close to collapsing.

I am certainly a big fan of Roman architecture, but in these pictures, honestly the sphere does it for me. Fascinating to quote the late "Mr Spock".

Looks like you did an excellent performance as regular tourists (flooding or alternatively burning down the hotel). Well done ;-)
I very much enjoy your trip, and Martha looks like she's very happy.

Roland said...

Great to meet Whitey's cousin (must be the older one)! I will let him know immediately!
Rome is indeed an impressive city. I will have to show Sonja one day, but this would have to be during a World Cup Final with Italian participation, otherwise it would just be too crowded for her...

redlegsrides said...

Trobairitz, yes, quite the talent shown....as to the architecture, the Romans surely left a lasting legacy....not to mention their invention of concrete!

SonjaM, Danke, the crowds were quite a pain but for you readers...sure! We're all doing pretty well in spite of the occasional "issue", trying not to lose our tempers.

Roland, Rome is impressive but quite dirty as well. Not sure where the 4 euros per guest per day that the hotel charges goes but I am pretty sure its not going to city cleanup services. As to being here during an Italian/German World Cup Final....I wouldn't blame Sonja if she chose to "opt out". ;)

ToadMama said...

Oh. My. GOD! Those ceilings. The sculptures. I'm drooling on my keyboard right now. Like the pictures? I LOVE them. Thank you so much for sharing. As I was making my way back to start this journey, I wondered what it would be like traveling with teens. Now I know. LOL. I'm sure they enjoyed it more than it appears, and will remember it forever. Such fabulous art you are sharing with us, artfully. LOL. Great stuff, Dom. Knowing how long posts like this take, I am extra thankful that you decided to share. :-)