Friday, September 2, 2011

Italy 5 - Holy Places Day!

It was Sunday in Rome and we had an invitation to a baptism at St. Peters. We rushed to the Vatican perhaps a little too enthusiastically because the Lambert camera was left behind in the taxi. Sad!

In any case, the theme of our last day in Rome was Holy Places.

Driving to the Vatican. This taxi driver now has a very nice camera. I hope he uses it well.

Arriving at St. Peter's Square. I cannot relay to you, gentle reader, the immensity of the buildings and square. The Vatican is tiny, but everything is built on a huge scale. To me it made it feel palatial or political rather than sacred and contemplative.

We wandered frantically trying to figure out how to get in. We asked a very serious Swiss Guard (their outfits are ridiculous so they have to be serious) and he just pointed back to the square. Thanks, guy.

Finally we went through "security" (Italian security pales in comparison to Israeli security) and wiggled past the huge line for the Vatican Museum. Didn't make it there. Next time, Sistine Chapel, next time. 

Up the stairs!

So beautiful and huge!

Breathlessly watching the end of the baptism.

Lamberts looking on.

While the Lamberts greeted their friends and the newly baptized baby, I wandered around ogling the art.

My passionate love of mosaics cannot be overstated. In Florence we saw some truly stunning examples.

After elbowing through a group of Japanese tourists and some German sightseers, I finally bellied up to Michelangelo's famous Pieta.
It is stunning, even behind bullet-proof glass. Such a beautiful Mary.

Also, I want to know why Mary is so young in this one. I know she's supposed to be young and dewy, but she's holding the body of her grown (and recently crucified) son. 

Further down, a peak inside the dome and a look at the altar. It really does make you feel miniature.
Also, so much gold! Sparkle!

Floor grating over a tomb.

This might be my favorite picture. You see that fuzzy table in the far room? With the white blurry guy sitting there?

The Bishop of Rome.
The Papa.

Whew. I needed some fresh air after that excitement (and mass was starting so they kicked us out).

The square set up with chairs for mass.

Windswept nun!

Contemplating the colonnade.

Here I am, holding the Pope-a-tron screen!

After some souvenir shopping, we continued into town to eat lunch and see the Pantheon.

Egyptian obelisk on crazy Baroque fountain of twirliness.

Lord and Lady Lambert are so lovely and picturesque in my furtively taken photo!

Self portrait with a stranger behind me!

In front of the Pantheon!

At the restaurant. I don't remember what I ate, but I tried on G's hat!

Then back to elbow our way into the Pantheon.

It was so peaceful and serene. Gorgeous Rome Classical architecture.
Also, this was the largest free standing dome until the Renaissance. HUGE!

Then we hiked over to see a Gothic church (very unusual in Rome). 
And I can't bloody well remember the name of it!

Fantastic blue ceiling with angels etc. and fantastic trim on everything. I liked it much better than the Baroque golden twirly insanity of some of the other churches.

The colors were so lovely, I couldn't capture them accurately. The blue and teal were so deep and saturated.

Some of that fantastic trim.

Having a very Israel conversation with the bust.

Following this, the Lamberts returned to our villa (er... hostel) for a siesta.
I soldiered onward to my favorite holy site of the day, the Great Synagogue of Rome.

Two slow-walking dudes.

After I took this photo I kind of zoned out and forgot to follow the directions that G had given me. I ended up strolling all the way to the Tiber and then down until I found the synagogue. Along the way two tourists stopped me to ask if I knew where the synagogue was. At first I was a little confused. Why would they ask me? Am I that "Jewish" looking (er... yes.) But then I realized:

Covered + pale + dark hair + HEADSCARF = Married Jewish lady.
The reason why I don't wear head scarves in Israel. 
People will ask about my husband, or just assume that the closest man to me is my husband. 

Anyhow, the tourists attached themselves to me until we arrived at the synagogue. Then the woman preceded to follow me through the whole museum and tour. Oy.

Anyhow, I took some pictures as I meandered down the banks of the Tiber.

Woo! Moorish-ish architecture! Funny pointy domes and arches! Hurrah!

The synagogue was absolutely amazing. Unfortunately, due to security concerns, it is forbidden to take any pictures on the premise. The museum was fascinating and included some of the most beautiful example of Jewish ritual objects. Stunning tapestries, embroidery, torah covers, inlaid tile floors, clothing, silver world. It was spectacular. My favorite was a torah cover that was embroidered with the holy temple of Jerusalem, except that it looks like the Jewish ghetto of Rome.
The synagogue was built in the Art Nouveau style, reusing some of the architectural details from the Five Synagogues building in the ghetto. The center of the ceiling is the stunning and unique square dome.

After the synagogue, I made my way toward the Forum, stopping at the Victor Emmanuel II memorial. Apparently the Romans hate it, rather like the Parisians hate the Eiffel Tower.

Again with the militarized police and their fixation with their hats. These two were supposed to be guarding the monument. Or something.

I popped into a funny little round church, just in case I needed more churchy goodness.

I do LOVE mosaics.

This stained glass was in a little chapel off to the side, but I rather liked it.

Just outside was the Roman Forum.

Trajan's Column

YGirl, with a different style of headscarf.

That little round church.

The Forum. It is so huge.

I returned just in time to hug Lord Lambert before he drove back to Napoli.
G and I went to a lovely wine bar for dinner. The food was yummy, the atmosphere was loud and happy, The wine was very tasty and I definitely ate a whole mozzarella by myself. 

We saw this balcony on the way to the wine bar and I just loved it so much. G. promised I could have one.

We stayed that night in Rome and continued North to Florence the next day! 

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