Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Rome the sixth

If my feet weren't so sore I'd be kicking myself for walking so far today. Like, 20 kilometres far, according to the map. Did you know the minibar at this hotel is free, and I can't even bring myself to hobble the four metres over to it.

Proof that some roads actually lead away from Rome.

Good grief - I was so wrecked from my walk this afternoon that I forgot what I did this morning - and it was the Vatican. That's Saint Peter's, and trust me, it's not that the church is small, it's that the piazza is huuuuge.

This giant pope will devour us all!

I got there pretty early, so I headed to the Vatican Museums first, reasoning that the line there would still be short and St Peter's would be a breeze to pop into afterwards. As it turned out the museum line was shorter when I walked past it on my way out than when I arrived, and by that time the line for St Peter's was all-the-way-around-the-piazza epic. So St Peter's will be a job for another early morning. Anyway, this is the courtyard of the museums, complete with spinning installation thingy.

Typical lavishness of the museums. This part used to be papal apartments, and so doesn't function very well as a museum - it's a one-way system and woe betide you if you get stuck behind a tour group.

So here's Raphael's The School of Athens, High Renaissance fan fiction. I've always loved it, but I was kind of dismayed that it's in a reasonably small room, and I couldn't really get a straight-on view of it because of a crowd of Germans, and when you try to elbow your way through Germans boy howdy do they elbow back.

The guy in the black hat is Raphael's self-portrait. I suppose he was trying to come across as modest, but he mostly looks bored, like, "Painting, schmainting. Is TV invented yet?"

In between the Raphael Rooms and the Sistine Chapel is the contemporary art section, and, to be honest, that was my favourite part. How silly that I come to Italy and develop an interest in modern art. I neglected to make a note of the artists, but I do remember the crucifixion is a Matisse.

And this is a Dali. I believe it's called Crapbag, My Half-Horse Has Melted.

The Sistine Chapel itself (no photos, no bare knees or shoulders, no talking, no stopping on the steps and no looking) was, I have to say, disappointing. Any atmosphere was ruined by the attendants constantly shushing everyone, and the tour guides speaking louder to be heard over the shushing. The chapel was dimly lit and there just too much going on on every flat surface to be able to appreciate any of it properly.

I was considerably perked up by the exhibition of some of the Russian Imperial Faberge Eggs. These ones are the Hen egg, the Rosebud egg, the Bay Tree egg and the Coronation egg, which is just a copy because I'm pretty sure George Clooney has the original.

I'm not sure who or why, but I think this is based on a traditional bogan bedspread design.

That thing! What the heck? And I never managed to figure out what it is, because about five minutes later I accidentally wandered up someone's driveway, then realised I was somewhat lost. And hence began my afternoon of walking.

I had gone uphill in search of a view, and kept going up and up, with less and less clue about where I was, getting increasingly angry with my map-reading skills, until I realised I had walked right off my map. I kept expecting a massive vista of Rome to appear below me around the next bend, but everywhere was completely treed in. It was a stupid walk and I wanted to punch it in the face, but I did eventually (obviously) find my way to the view and hence my bearings. Anyway, with the aid of Google, it is now within my power to tell you that this impressive piece of work is Villa Doria-Pamphili.

Monuments to Giuseppe and Anita Garibaldi, red shirt wearers and fighters for the unification of Italy. It always blew my mind a little that Italy as a country is younger than New Zealand - this year is the 150th anniversary of Italian unification, and we had our sesquicentennial in, what, 1990?

This lighthouse does an exemplary job of keeping ships away. And I'm sure the lack of ocean also plays a part.


  1. That spinny-globe (not glove) photo is AMAZING. People were probably wondering what I was making orgasmic noises about in the store. Also the melted half horse: hilarious.

    Hey, if you ever get really, really insensibly rich, I'd totally like the Bay Tree Faberge for a gift, because it is SUPER cute.

  2. The Bay Tree also has a secret lever opens a hidden flap to reveal a singing bird. Just like you have!

  3. Everyone LOVES my secret lever, hidden flap and singing bird.