A Visit to the Vatican

mailife - - Contents - By PRIYA DARSNI

With a pop­u­la­tion of a thou­sand peo­ple and a land area of only 110 acres, the Vatican is the world’s small­est state. A coun­try lo­cated within Rome city in Italy, it at­tracts al­most five mil­lion visi­tors a year and finds it­self on many more bucket lists around the world. When it came to my own bucket list, the city had al­ways held the pres­ti­gious po­si­tion of num­ber two — ow­ing, in ab­so­lu­tion, to my love for the art work of Ital­ian re­nais­sance master, Michelan­gelo. The num­ber one po­si­tion on the list, is in fact Florence — home of Michelan­gelo’s statue of David which is quite sim­ply the most beau­ti­ful work of art I have ever seen. I woke up bright eyed and bushy tailed in my ho­tel room near the Pan­theon in Rome, swigged a cup of espresso from the cafe down­stairs, grabbed a pas­try, waved at the barista with a ‘gra­zie mille!’ and started my walk to the Vatican City. Within 40 min­utes of leisurely strolling and stop­ping for a pis­tac­chio gelato on the way, I ar­rived at the key-hole shaped St Peter’s Square. I had been ad­vised by my friend Neha to start my day there early to avoid queues, but even with a 8am ar­rival, there were al­ready hun­dreds of peo­ple lin­ing up to en­ter the Vatican Mu­se­ums. The brick walls en­cas­ing the city were mag­nif­i­cent and with my pre­pur­chased on­line ticket, cost­ing only 4 euro more, I traced them with my hands while whizzing through a much smaller queue. The Vatican Mu­seum is of­ten called the world’s great­est art col­lec­tion. These el­e­ments of great­ness be­gin with the im­pres­sive spi­ralling stair­case that forms a dou­ble he­lix and is one of the most pho­tographed stairs in the world. As I walked through the Gallery of Maps, the ta­pes­try of hand­painted topo­graph­i­cal maps spans more than 100 me­ters across 40 pan­els of work by Ig­nazio Danzi, who im­pres­sively com­pleted the en­tire piece of work in just three years. I found my­self re­flect­ing on what I had achieved in the past three years and made a note to wal­low in my short­com­ings with an ex­tra serv­ing of gelato in the evening. The Raphael Rooms are an­other high­light of the mu­seum, cel­e­brat­ing the work of an­other re­nais­sance master. Past the fa­mous Belved­eres Court­yard lies the four fa­mous halls, or “stanze” of Rafael — Sala di Costantino, Stanza di Eliodoro, Stanza della Seg­natura and Stanza dell’In­cen­dio del Borgo. I could have spent the en­tire day mar­vel­ling at the 1520 al­fresco paint­ings in Sala di Con­stantino if it wasn’t for the up­com­ing jewel of the mu­se­ums — Michelan­gelo’s Sis­tine Chapel. As I en­tered with a mob of visi­tors, we were asked to pay our re­spects and ap­pre­ci­ate the work of Michelan­gelo in si­lence and without pho­tog­ra­phy. The ad­her­ence to these rules cre­ated a mag­i­cal seren­ity in the chapel where hordes of peo­ple craned their necks up­ward to view the mas­tery of the painted ceil­ing pan­els. The pan­els de­pict sto­ries from the Bi­ble, start­ing in the mid­dle with the fa­mous “Cre­ation of Adam” paint­ing and work­ing its way out­wards to the “Last Judge­ment” above the al­ter. It is said that Michelan­gelo re­fused to paint the chapel un­til the Pope him­self asked him to. Re­luc­tantly leav­ing his true pas­sion for sculp­ture, he agreed with the

ac­cepted con­di­tion of free­dom to paint what he wanted to. Michelan­gelo painted the fresco ceil­ings of Sis­tine Chapel by him­self be­tween 1508 and 1512 while ly­ing on a wooden panel sus­pended from the ceil­ing, with a can­dle for light. I sat on a wooden bench in the corner of the room for a full view of the ceil­ing and thought about what Michelango had cho­sen to de­pict on the ceil­ing - God’s cre­ation of the world, God’s re­la­tion­ship with hu­mankind, and hu­mankind’s gall from grace. When I walked out into the open bright­ness of St Peter’s Square again, the mass of visi­tors had quadru­pled. With the colour­ful brush­strokes of the Sis­tine Chapel still swirling in my mind, I lined up the fi­nale of my visit to the Vatican — St Peter’s Basil­ica. The se­cu­rity checks re­quired to en­ter the Basil­ica make the wait much longer than the mu­seum en­trance, but it is well worth the wait. Once in­side, I looked at my watch and re­alised I only had a cou­ple of hours be­fore I had to meet Neha for a sun­set din­ner back in Rome so I quickly found the statue I was on edge to see — Pi­età by Michelan­gelo. The sculp­ture de­picts a solemn Mother Mary hold­ing the body of Je­sus on her lap af­ter the cru­ci­fix­ion. Michelango man­ages to bring out beau­ti­fully sub­tle notes of re­nais­sance ideals with a mix of nat­u­ral­ism in the piece and stay­ing true to his bold na­ture, made the sculp­ture at a time when this de­pic­tion of the holy fig­ures was un­seen in Italy. Al­though Pi­età is a mas­ter­piece in­side the Basil­ica, the real high­light is ac­tu­ally the dome of the Basil­ica it­self, de­signed by Michelan­gelo. The hol­low­ness of the dome from the in­side, cov­ered by paint­ings, trans­posed it­self in and out of a square as my eyes ad­justed to its beauty. Af­ter I pol­ished off my bowl of pasta that evening and watched the sun set over Rome, I took a folded piece of pa­per out of my purse and with a smile crossed the Vatican off my bucket list.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Fiji

© PressReader. All rights reserved.