Tag Archives: Holy City

Our Trip to Italy~Part 10

8 May

A Slice of Life

Bill LItes

After a wonderful Continental breakfast with the sisters of our convent lodgings, we started our day with a tour of the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel. 5

The Vatican Museums were founded under the patronage of two 18th century popes – Clement XIV (1769-1774) and Pius VI (1775-1799) – who were among the first to open collections of art to the general public.  The idea was to provide some of the Vatican collections for viewing, therefore promoting culture among the masses. As the decades passed, more popes added to the already impressive collection of diverse artworks owned and displayed by the Vatican.  Today, there are 13 museums in about different Vatican palaces that are now included in what is called the Vatican Museum Complex, and can be toured by the general public.



Our Rick Steves tour book says the tour leads you through almost four miles of galleries and art treasures before you get to the Sistine Chapel.  Well, we believe him now!   They provided a great self-guided audio tour, and we were absolutely amazed at the quantity of Great Masters’ art treasures in the museum.  I can’t begin to imagine the overall worth of all 13 museums.


In one of the corridors, DiVoran was especially interested in a woman copying paintings in miniature from some of the Master paintings there in the Vatican museum. She wore a fur hat and a heavy coat because it was so cold in there. The lighting was spectacular and all natural. What a way to make a living!


It was like being saturated with so much art, my brain couldn’t hold any more.  We spent a good 4 hours trying to see as much as we could before we were able to work our way to the Sistine Chapel, and that was by cutting short a number of galleries.  I can now better appreciate the pain and agony Michelangelo had to endure those 4 years (1508-1512) he spent, laying on his back, painting all those magnificent works of art.  Then, at the end of the chapel, is what many call his most crowning achievement in painting, The Final Judgment, which itself, took 4 years (1535-1539) to complete.


We had a delicious lunch in the Vatican Museum cafeteria.  Then it was on to St. Peter’s Basilica.  The basilica itself is approached via St. Peter’s Piazza (otherwise known as St. Peter’s Square) and is bordered on either side by semi-circular colonnades, which, according to Bernini, symbolize the out-stretched arms of the church embracing the world. The colonnades were built around 1660 and consist of four rows of columns with in total 284 Doric columns and 88 pilasters.  A total of 140 statues were installed on top of the colonnades, all created by Bernini and his students at the time. These statues depict popes, martyrs, evangelists and many other important religious figures.

The facade of the basilica stretches across the end of the square and is approached by steps on which stand two 20 ft high statues of the 1st century apostles to Rome, Saint Peter on the left side and Saint Paul on the right side.  It’s amazing for me to think of news reports, I’ve seen on TV, such as the appearance of the newest, Pope Francis, where as many as 250,000 people have been known to crowd into St. Peter’s Square for the special event.


—–To Be Continued—–

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