The Vatican

Tuesday we went to the Vatican.  We began the day in line for the Vatican Museum, which took over an hour.  Too long.  Too many people.  Too much cutting.  The museum itself was wonderful though.  I saw the Prima Porta, the statue of Laocoon and his sons, beautiful Egyptian artifacts, and countless other things.  The crowds however will deter me from returning any time soon.  I saw Raphael’s Explusion of Heliodorus from the Temple, which I almost missed and it would have been a terrible terrible shame. The museum is connected to the Sistine Chapel and it was completelyyyyy packed and has a strict “no pictures” rule which I of course disobeyed.  I will admit that it was pretty astonishing.  I wish there had been less people.  I expected it to be bigger but maybe it really was big and just crowded so I didn’t get the “I’m so small and this is so big” feeling I get so often in Rome.  Afterwards we got lunch and prepared for the walk up to the top of the dome of St. Peter’s.  It wasn’t nearly as rough as the walk in Florence and it was a beautiful clear day so the views were perfect.  I don’t know how to explain this feeling but it was very strange/gratifying/overwhelming to be able to stand up there and really know what I’m looking at, to understand the layout of the city and know the streets and say “oh our house is there and the grocery store is there and school is over there” and so on.  I hadn’t realized my true understanding of Rome until that moment.  As I am closing out my time here I am beginning to comprehend the impact that this quarter has had on me.  Rome has snuck up on me in a way I didn’t expect, or maybe I did…I’m really unsure.  We descended from the dome into the church of St. Peter’s.  It is hugeee and beautiful and clean and I loved it.  And now here I am with a week left to go.