Today we learned that nobody messed with Michelangelo, not even the pope. When Michelangelo was painting the Sistine Chapel, he got into a feud with one of the high ranking cardinals. Michelangelo was so mad he painted the cardinal as the judge of the underworld with a giant serpent hanging where a figleaf would normally be. The cardinal was furious and begged the pope to tell Michelangelo he had to change and repaint it, but the pope sided with Michelangelo and told the cardinal to get over it. Now, half a century later, I got to feel like an ant in a land of giant naked biblical figures.
But anecdotes aside, the Vatican was.... indescribable. It's so huge, and the line is so long, Ben nearly had a heart attack trying to get the class to the right place at the right time. We had prebooked a tour, so we cut through the crowds and met out tour guide Carla who was at least 70, and perhaps suffering from conjestive heart failure, but scuttled us around three miles of vatican museums like a very efficient church mouse. She was inspiring because it was embarrassing to have to work hard to keep up with her. Her voice kept going out, and she'd smack herself in throat and keep going. Magically, it actually worked, like she had some sort of reset button on her juggular. Never slowing down, she "andiamo'd" and "belissimo'd" our wide eyed class like a pro over ancient mosaic floors and explained paintings we'd only ever seen in schoolbooks. There are truly no words. Imagine the most precious thing at San Diego's Balboa museums. It's locked behind plexiglass and you have to stand ten feet away with your hands in the air and security doscents watching you like a hawk. Now imagine miles and miles of halls and rooms jam packed with thousands of those same things. Every square inch is covered with priceless and famous statues, tapestries and paintings. There's no plexiglass and you can get as close as you want, but you're basically in a human tidal wave and you can't really sit still and appreciate it properly. That's how the Vatican was and it's such a weird juxtoposition.
After we finished the tour, we climbed St. Peter's dome to the very top. The kids were exhausted and starving, but still wanted to keep going. They were troopers and it was one of the highlights of the day. The stairs were a piece of work in and of themselves. They twisted, and zigzagged and slanted sideways at times. Some of the dads had to go through sideways and a few people got claustaphobic. The litigious American in me was shocked any of it was legal and allowed since nothing was to code (which honestly was half the fun).
We left at 8:30 this morning and besides sharing pizza with a peg legged pigeon for a few min, we didn't sit down until we got back to our apartment at 5:30. Blisters and sore feet abounded, but so did happy attitudes and still more energy than seemed possible. To get back to our apartment, we have to go through a thunder portal. It's so loud and earth shaking inside, it feels like some sort of "beam me up scotty" experiene.
We may never want to see pasta and pizza again by the time we're out of here, but gelato hour will never get old... even when it happens at bedtime.