Luckily we found out that on the last Sunday of every month, the vatican museum, which normally costs 25 euros is free!!!!
Sunday morning was interesting. In America, the phones automatically change for daylight savings. Austrian phones do not automatically change. And I was charged with waking everyone up Sunday morning. I ended up accidently waking the rest of my fellow travlers up an hour earlier than we needed. But it all turned out ok because we just went to St. Peter's just as the sun was coming up over the buildings and so we were able to get some great pictures with hardly any people in the square. Sunday morning was the least filled I saw the square my whole time there.
Then our group proceded to the line to get in the museum. We stood in line for an hour and a half. But that turned out to be worth it too because we met some people from right outside of Salzburg that we were able to practice our German with. They were trying to talk to some people that they were in line next to who only spoke Spanish. So Megan and Andres were doing this crazy German to English to Spanish translation. It was really cool! Our brains were all a little muddled by the end of it. But where else will a situation happen like that except for in line to go into the Vatican.
We got inside and it was great. I didn't really know what great sculptures the museum has. My favorite is the Pieta by Michaelangelo (that's actually in the Basilica, so I didn't get to see that until later). But Megan and I just spent our time, going through slowly, taking it all in. There were nuns and priests all over the place. It was kinda crazy. But I loved it. I think my favorite part was seeing all of the frescoes in the papal palace. I got to see the School of Athens by Raphael! The Sistine Chapel was a bit of a let down I think. There's sooo much hype about it. And I had this idea in my head that it would be more like the dome in Karlskirche. But there's actually no dome involved at all. And the chapel is small comparitively. But I do love the center fresco called The Creation. It's where God and Michael both have their fingers outreached towards one another. I just really like that sentiment. That Heavenly Father loves us and reaches out for us just as much as we reach out for him.
The next part of our tour through the Vatican took us to the picture gallery. The Vatican has a very nice collection of modern art, which surprised me. I expected more classical art. But I was pleasently surprised. I really like modern art. And this is why: modern art was developed in a time where artists no longer painted for their patrons, or as a career. But they painted to express themselves. So modern art may not be 'pretty', but the real human emotions that are expressed are absolutely beautiful to me. But just because I love modern art, doesn't mean my love for painters like Da Vinci should be discounted either. I got to see a real life Da Vinci painting in the classical gallery. St. Jerome in the Wilderness. It's techniquely unfinished. But I think the viewer can still see the beauty of Da Vinci's work. I can't even put into words really why this painting touched me so much. I think it has to do with the emotion on St. Jerome's face. The picture gallery was my favorite part of the Vatican museums. There was so much to see there! It did take us two days to get through all that we wanted to see, but I think that St. Jerome will always be one work that will be first in my memories of my time here.
After a short lunch break, we got in line to see inside the Basilica. It's weird how the size of St. Peter's square can change depending on how many people are there. That morning it hadn't seemed soo big to me, but then later as we were in line, it seemed huge. But still not quite as big as it is in the movies when thousands upon thousands of people gather there.
We finally made it inside the Basilica, and I was stunned. It is one of the most beautiful buildings I have ever been inside. It takes your breath away. It's not really comparable to any other building that I've seen. It's just so massive. Directly to our right as we first walked in was a crowd of people. And in front of them was the Pieta by Michaelangelo. I love this sculpture. It was perfect that we got to see it because we had just had a lecture on it in Art History the week before. The goal of Michaelangelo's works is to display human perfection. But this piece is different. The Madonna expresses great emotion on her face; the body of the dead Savior isn't proportional to the body of the Madonna. There are many different theories on why this is. But I liked what Professor Kröll said the best. Perhaps the Madonna is disproportionately bigger than the Savior to express the overwhelming grand love that a mother has for her son. A mother's love has a greater presence in our lives than we know.
The Pieta is behind glass now because some crazy ran and started hacking away at it with a hammer. It's a shame.
The Basilica is a building that everyone should see for themselves. It's impossible to describe it's full beauty and the genius of it all in words. Go to Rome. That's all I can say.
That night, we were able to attend a mass there. The choir was angelic. Different from the Tabernacle choir, that's for certain. I didn't really know what was going on in the service. But it did make me greatful for the fact that I still know what's going on in LDS services even if I don't really know the language.
The next day, our public transportation passes ran out. So my faithful roomie, Megan, and I just decided to walk to the Vatican so we could get up inside the cupola. It was undescribable. Definetly a MUST DO if you're ever in the basilica. We made it to the basilica just as a mass was going on below us. I was able to record a chior singing. It felt like the music was all around us. And then we climbed hundreds of stairs. Literally. To the the top of the latern on the top of the dome. The view was soo worth it. I saw all of Rome. Those two days were probably the most content I've been in a long time. Rome is really spectacular. Go. Go to Rome. It's well worth every cent.
As we were leaving, our whole group decided to eat one last celebratory dinner in front of the Colosseum. This is where we learned twice a lesson we thought we'd already learned quite well in Venice... We ordered our dinner around 6:15, only to recheck our tickets and discover that our train actually left 7:15. And we were two metro stops away from the train station. We didn't really get the chance to enjoy our lovely pasta. And I'm sorry Rachel, I didn't get the chance to purchase the pasta I wanted for you. So it was another rough transport while I freaked out about getting to the train station on time, but we made it before the train. And arrived just in time to make it to class on Tuesday. I love being a college student.