Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Rome: The Vatican, Days Four and Five
I arrived at Piazza San Pietro. Finally. It's been a long journey, and I don't mean just the trip from New York to Rome. It's been a decades-long journey, maybe a lifelong journey, and the culmination of a dream. The visit to St. Peter's Basilica and the Scavi underneath it, the Sistine Chapel, the Vatican Museum and all that went with it was so fantastic I don't think I could possibly capture it in a quick blog post. I will have to digest all this and break it down into separate blog posts later, but for now, here are some photos to give you a glimpse of what's been going on here. Today I have a full day of classes with some aimless meandering and fabulous food mixed in. Sounds perfect to me after the full and tiring two days we've had.
That's me trying to have my picture taken with the Swiss Guard at the Bronze door of St. Peter's He was not amused. (My tour guide took the photo when I went to pick up my special ticket for the audience.)
This is Castel Sant'Angelo, which was originally Hadrian's mausoleum and later became a fortress where the pope could escape to via secret tunnel when the Holy See was under siege. Now it's a museum. The Ponte Sant'Angelo is amazing with its fabulous angels, each holding one of the instruments used to torture and kill Jesus Christ. Like the one below with St. Peter's in the background.
Art students and others sit on Ponte Sant'Angelo and sketch the angels. The light at it hits the angels makes the whole scene especially breathtaking.
No photos of the Sistine Chapel or much of St. Peter's because I either wasn't allowed to take photos or could not because my camera is not good enough. Let's see if I can give you at least one shot from inside, the Pieta. St. Peter's and the Sistine Chapel are, as you would expect, unbelievably beautiful and inspiring and overwhelming. I'll do a separate post at a later date on those.
Part of our day also included meetings with Vatican officials. Here's a photo from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. In a courtyard there a family brought some turtles and dumped them into the fountain. It was a really sweet moment. That certainly doesn't look like the Inquisition.
After a long day, I went to dinner with two friends from the program. That's Sarah Hayes, OSV's presentation editor on the left, and Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle, author and EWTN TV host on the right. Great meal in a place we found by accident when two other places were closed and MIA. Another great story from that night, which I'll post about later.
Bonus for eating near the Vatican? We got to go back through Piazza San Pietro at night. Here it is.
Yesterday included the papal audience, for which I had front row seats. It was pretty amazing, to say the least. Here's the best photo I could get with the lame-o camera:
Later, after a tour of the Scavi -- no photos allowed there but a post to follow later -- I rambled back over the Tiber and found the Trevi Fountain, which seems to appear out of nowhere when you turn a little street corner. I threw in two coins so I can try to get back here some day.
After an evening class on canonical stuff far too heavy to discuss on this blog, I went with some friends to Tre Scalina, a restaurant on the Piazza Navona, where I had this delicious but somewhat scary looking meal. Don't worry, Olivia, I didn't eat that thing sitting on top that looks like it could be a house pet. I followed that with a tartufo, a black truffle ice cream sort of concoction that I was told to order by the priest I met on the shuttle bus to JFK. Squisito! Now I'm off to class. Ciao.