While in Rome, we spent time in and out of Vatican City, sometimes on accident just walking by, and sometimes very much on purpose. We visited the Basilica, sent postcards from the world’s smallest (and most efficient!) post office, and ate the best Pizza from a back-alley restaurant.
The Vatican Museum
On the last couple days of our trip, most of our time was spent inside the Vatican Museum, a must-see for anyone visiting. The museum holds art by Da Vinci, Raphael, Salvador Dali, Van Gogh, Matisse, and pretty much any other artist who ever painted something from the Bible (so everyone).
Armed with our knowledge of Michelangelo, Caravaggio, and the greats from our time in Florence, we came to the Vatican Museum with artistic experience; but even that couldn’t prepare us for the downright majesty of seeing the Sistine Chapel.
The Sistine Chapel doesn’t really seem like a chapel at all. It’s a wing in the Vatican Museum, whose building was (and still is?) used as the official residences/offices of the pope. A chapel is basically the Catholic version of a conference room.
You walk through wings and galleries, down a long hall, outside then back inside, down some stairs, up some stairs, through a narrow passageway and empty rooms until stepping through a nondescript door and then all of a sudden, Adam and David and Abraham are peering down as a Vatican priest prays over you.
It is surreal and mystifying. The figures pop off the ceiling as if they were leaning to get a better look, and just might join you on the ground. It is dizzying.
We went through the museum a second time just to look at it again.
Seeing the Sistine Chapel was a highlight of our trip to Italy, but genuinely, everything was a highlight. It’s been a while since we returned, and we’re still talking about the food, the art, and the places we saw.
Italy is a place that sticks to you like cooked pasta to a wall. Tomatoes so fresh and juicy that the grocery store pales in comparison. Wild scooters that makes rush hour seem orderly, and people that can out-hug and out-gesture anyone. We can’t wait to come back.