It is hard to believe a week has passed since leaving Augusta. Tomorrow starts our second week in Rome.
Our day began fast and furious with a wake-up call (annoying alarm clock) at 6 am. While I think I got the full eight hours of sleep Clark and Aaron said they were well into the early morning hours before they fell asleep. By the time our bodies adjust it will no doubt be time to head back home.
caught our bus at 6:45 and were deposited right beside the Tiber River where we walked for about a half an hour until reaching our ultimate destination – the Vatican City. Since we had a few minutes extra before meeting up with the rest of the class, we enjoyed a brief breakfast of rolls and coffee. Aaron attempted to order milk and was presented with latte. He gave up, and I enjoyed an extra beverage.
The time to visit the Vatican Museum is early in the morning. The crowds were not nearly the size they were when we left around 2:30. There are no words or space to describe our six hours in the Museum. I confess that for both boys this may have been too much, but it was not nearly enough time to spend with all the artifacts, paintings, frescoes, sculptures and tapestries.
There were a few surprises I would like to share with you. Their section for religious modern art was quite good. I saw paintings by Weber, Klee, Chagall, Bianchini and my favorite – Dali. There were probably many more that I missed but I honestly thought Aaron was going to self-implode so we moved on to the famous Sistine Chapel.
The Sistine Chapel was another welcome surprise. As much as I have read about it, studied its frescoes and heard stories I was prepared to be let down. Indeed, in spite of our comparatively early hour it was already crowded. Yet a good half hour in that sacred room is transformative. What a genius and what a moving place that room is. My neck is still sore from craning the whole time.
The highlight of the day came when we returned to the Raphael rooms at 2 pm. As a family we spent some time in there before lunch but at 2 we joined Michael Schwartz for a lecture with all the students. He did his PhD work based on one of the rooms and so his 45 or so minutes with us far exceeded in value what any tour guide could hope to give.
Speaking of highlights and Michael Schwartz it was beautiful experience to see Raphael’s Transfiguration. Once again, I have seen more than my fair share of prints but to see it up close and personal was incomparable. Some of you may recall that Schwartz and I led in a discussion and conversation around this painting for senior adults several months ago. I wish I could have a “redo” now that I have spent some time with the actual painting.
What I am about to say may sound sacrilegious, but hear me out. I was not overwhelmed with St. Peter’s Basilica. Architecturally it is stupendous. Michelangelo’s Pieta was breathtaking and Bernini’s Canopy beneath the basilica is indescribable. For some reason, however, I struggled with connecting. The whole edifice seemed to be more a veneration of the papacy and I suppose my Protestantism began pushing back. This was now my second visit to the Basilica in the last three days, but I plan to make at least one more visit and give it a fair viewing. After all, something that massive cannot be summed up in just a few visits, right?
Everyday has been marked with new experiences and inspiring conversations. I do wish you could be here. Some of you have made this travel and others of you are hoping to do so. For all I simply wish to say that I remain grateful for this city that has preserved a part of our past as it continues to shape us for our future.
Amy and I got off a few stops early to shop for groceries while the boys went ahead to cool off their weary feet. We have found a wonderful little grocery store for our meats, olives, and breads (what else, I ask you, does one need in life?). I bought some salami that was so good I am surprised you cannot smell my breath from here. Now I have to figure out how I can smuggle this home.
After a full day it is nice to have a little quiet time before the day comes to a close.
Peace be with you,