And then, I got to the B&B in Rome after an uneventful taxi ride. It's a lovely city, I try to tell the cab driver. "si" Is this the Vatican? "si" Are we almost there? "si" No one is at the desk at the address I'm given. I call. No one. Finally, Mauricio comes bounding down the stairs, trying to tell me that Cristiano is not here just now, but come, come. Cristiano will be here in a 1 1/2 hours, he says.OK, I say, but my baglio is lost (half Spanish/half Italia) Perdito? Si. Oh. Cris will come soon.
Cris came soon. A tall, friendly looking man; two 10 year old girls off in the other room. One is his daughter; the other her friend. They are shy; Cris is not. He feels like a haven. He calls baggage delivery company and they tell him they will deliver it sometime tomorrow morning. Va bene. I am still awake from the adrenaline and I ask about computer access. He gives me the code, and we work on connecting my computer to the wi-fi. Tutto va bene. The girls interrupt with the bon bons I brought for Cris from Heathrow. It is as if a matter of course that I brought a gift, but they thank me sincerely.
I got to bed and sleep at once. One wake up at about 1:30 and then back to sleep until 9:30. At breakfast I meet a couple from Holland who speak English.
And then I'm off to the Vatican for my 1:00 tour date. I don't usually take tours, but with the amount of stuff I know I'm about to see, this is important. I don't have a camera, because it's in my luggage (dont ask why) so I'm free to soak it all in without the thought of reproduction. For those of you who've seen the Vatican I'll just say "you were right. it's astonishing. I'm really happy that I finally got here." We've all seen pictures of it and read about it, and wondered about the power of popes who could have put together such a collection. Now I wonder more. I guess they were the rock stars, billionaires, atheletes and most powerful, famous people of their day . The popes collected and displayed the most opulent, over the top, and beautiful assemblage of art and architecture imaginable. That it came to them from religion and power and exploitation may be unconscionable, but here it is for us to see (if we're lucky enough to come to Rome).
The tour guide was fantastic. She knew history, art and religion. She knew how much to talk and how much to leave us to wander. She knew how many pieces to stop for and how much to skip. Her voice came clearly to us over remote speaker/ear plug device that we carried in our pockets and in our ears. So I could wander a room or two away and still hear her talking to the group,
I think Rafael surprised me the most. I was moved to tears by the library/office room where the four walls and ceiling were painted to depict the four intellectual treasures of this pope (who's name I can't remember): philosophy, theology, poetry and law. Socrates (whose face was Leonardo da Vinci), Plato, Michaelangelo (a twisted, neurotic figure at the bottom of the wall) and Rafael himself inspired the Pope while he was at work in his office.
The Sistine Chapel... the more I looked at it, the more beautiful and amazing it became. The perspective and sheer brilliance of the ceiling design was astounding. He had to incorporate the curve of the ceiling and did so by using a system of triangle and two different sizes of rectangular shapes. The figures of the prophets leap off the ceiling in tromp l'oeil technique. Three of the paintings of creation were especially amazing to me ... the separation of light and dark, the creation of the sun and the moon, and the creation of man. These three have distinctly dual form .... light and dark; sun and moon (with a light and dark background), and man and god reaching for each other on a light and dark background. When the serpent enters the garden, the dualism ends. The center becomes the tree of knowledge and after that man becomes the center of the canvas.