But then we moved on to our next Italian wonder. And then our next. And then our next. Then, days and days later, we came home and I was bursting with wonders and speaking with a Mario Brothers’ accent. I was able to get to a few posts before the coals cooled, but like Samuel Coleridge’s Kubla Khan, I forgot much of Vatican City.
Mostly these days, I remember a parking lot.
But here are my remaining impressions, such as they are. And my photographs such as they are, as Vatican City is square-inch-to-square-inch wonder, and therefore impossible to focus the camera on any one item with certainty or to realize the full import of what you’re seeing. You just point and shoot and hope. Hope that you get something cool. And that they’re wrong about Hell.
No reason to go into the history of the papal zip code. Actually a big reason. It’s hard to sum up in a couple casual sentences. I just think of it as Catholic HQ, a religious District of Columbia, and that’s as deep as this lay(d)man gets, inaccurate and possibly heretical though it might be. Life’s too short to figure out religious nomenclature, law, and history…unless those religions are right about eternity.
In the Vatican Museums, this series of 50-odd galleries that prove that man can improve on God’s nature, I marveled at sculptures and paintings by the immortals, by Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Raphael, da Vinci, Titian. I marveled like a layman, of course, not because I understood what made those works and those men great, but because I had seen those pieces so many times in books and movies. It was more like meeting a celebrity than seeing art.
I have never been in a bigger crowd in such a confined space. It was less shoulder-to-shoulder and more skeleton-to-skeleton. Panic-inducing. I mean, the Vatican was generally crowded (it was a month before Easter), but that room through which Plato and Aristotle forever-discourse was, I don’t know. I just kept wondering if it were possible to walk across the tops of people’s heads like at the end of Crocodile Dundee. But I didn’t have any crocodile-skin boots and I was wary of screaming, “Help! Save me.” It was the Vatican, after all.
|Of course I did.|
It was more a riot experience than one of art appreciation.
But it summed up my Vatican City experience sublimely. It would be a heavenly place if it weren’t for all the people. Much like the big flaw of Heaven itself, I assume.