Your favorite Roman Holidayer is still reeling from the heat in this city! Its really hot here! If anybody reading this is considering coming to Rome, CONSIDER COMING IN MARCH. Yesterday I went on a guided tour of the Vatican City, where I saw just about everything there was to see in the Vatican. The Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter's.They also took me to see the Basilica of St. Mary the Major and the Basilica of St. John.
I have to say, I was honestly a little disappointed in the Sistine Chapel. The paintings on the ceiling especially were quite a bit smaller than I had imagined them to be. I honestly thought they would be a bit larger and easier to see. I didn't think I would be squinting and wishing I'd brought my glasses. It didn't help also that there were WAY too many people crowded into the place.
But the Last Judgment definitely lived up to its reputation. Much easier to see than the scenes of Genesis on the ceiling, it was awsome. Perhaps its one of those places you have to see again and again in order to truly appreciate.
The Basilica of St. Mary the Major and St. John were honestly more enjoyable experiences. St. John's Basilica was especially great, with fantastic statues depicting all the Apostles. It was also equipped with an enormous Bronze door dating from the second century. The Basilica of St. Mary the Major had a fantastic gold covered ceiling and 2 beautifully decorated chapels off to the side. Both were much larger than the sistine chapel, and with imposing sets of pillars and columns both outside and inside, they were much more interesting to walk around in.
The tour took a turn for the morbid when we stopped at a complex of catacombs! This was another highlight, if only because it was nice and cool underground. I learned some interesting things about the catacombs, including that they were in use and being built much longer than I had originally thought. Even as late as the 7th century, people were still ocassionally being buried in them, although at this point it was an oddity. They were only in regular use until about the 4th or 5th century. They also were not the secretive places they have the reputation of being, where Christians would hide out to escape the persecution of the Romans. They existed before and after Christianity was legalized in the Roman Empire.
They were not the scary places you see in Indiana Jones either. No spiderwebs and rats running around. They were tunneled through a type of volcanic rock layer. Some of the tombs even had frescoes painted into them.
Am I the only one who was slightly disapointed with the Sistine Chapel? Not to say that I didn't like the place, because I definitely was impressed. But I think maybe its a bit over rated. Perhaps I wrote one too many papers about the place in High School or College classes and brought all sorts of high expectations. What do you guys think? If you've seen the Sistine Chapel, was it overrated? Post a comment below or send me an email.
Stay tuned for my next day in Rome, which will include a viewing of Michelangelo's sculpture of Moses! And if this heat keeps up, an afternoon in the hotel taking cold showers!