(by Alie) Organised by our good friends Sally and Andy, we all jetted off to Rome to visit a good friend Martina, who lives in Rome. Its a testament to this blog that without a visual jolt, the recollections are happy, but hazy. To be honest, with the passage of time, the days blended into each as a happy, hot, chatty, sightseeing filled long weekend. But viewing the photos and writing the blog, brings back so many memories.
The first thing I remember was flying over the capital city of Rome, seeing the Colosseum and the Vatican. We descended to land and then quickly ascended and banked and had a second go, to make sure the landing gear was working this time – thankfully it was… Then into the hot, bright and arid airport of Rome, located 16 miles southwest of the capital. An animated taxi drive got us to the centre of Rome.
After some clarification we found Martina’s apartment – she was busy working, but would meet us in the evening. We visited the Vatican square, as at the time Martina lived a few streets away. I remember going to the supermarket – there seems so much more animation and friendliness in a little trip to the side street supermarket in Italy, than in England. Then brochette and vino and hours of chatting – don’t remember much else. The next day and following Marti’s guidance, we took a tour of the Vatican.
The first thing that struck me was the lavish opulence on show, paintings, sculptures, stone mosaics, frescoes, marbles – adornment run riot. A splendid whistle stop tour through an abundance of ornamentation and art history – to such an extent that when you arrive with the heaving throng into the Sistine Chapel, its less of a majestic wow, and more of a wow another ornately decorated room. Sadly no photos were taken, but we did get the compulsory guidebook (compulsory in my world, for when I’m too old and forgetful to remember everywhere I’ve been). So sadly Michelangelo blends into a sea of paintings and sculpture. Am I a complete heathen to admit such a thing – don’t answer that!
So what did I learn about the Vatican? That it is far more wealthy than I ever suspected, in fact the word opulence may have been invented to describe it, you can see where all the coffers have gone! The church is akin to royal grandeur of old, like the Hermitage in Russia or the Palace of Versailles in France. Perhaps because of the over-exposure / cultural overload, I came to the conclusion that less is sometimes definitely more. Don’t get me wrong though – I’m so glad to have had the opportunity to visit such a place – the feeling of power and reverence is palpable, and as a non-Catholic its certainly a thought provoking place to visit.
An interesting Wiki fact “Vatican City ..is a landlocked sovereign city-state whose territory consists of a walled enclave within the city of Rome, Italy. It has an area of approximately 44 hectares (110 acres), and a population of just over 800. This makes Vatican City the smallest independent state in the world by both area and population.”