Friday, November 02, 2012


If you are an agoraphobic misanthropist, like me, you should probably not go to the Vatican, or even, perhaps, Rome, at all.  Truthfully, I'll admit there were moments that I was quite overwhelmed by the crowds of endless people and the stifling crush of human bodies basically everywhere we went, however, none so much as the Vatican and Sistine Chapel tour.   I remember that night when we got home to our Roman apartment, I said something like, "I think I handled that pretty well!" and M just rolled his eyes and reminded me about the three or four panic attacks he had to talk me down from.

The Sistine Chapel - whose ceiling was painted by Michelangelo in the early 16th century, beneath which are frescos by Botticelli, amongst others, as well as the magnificent alter wall, featuring Michelangelo's incomparable Last Judgement - as a whole, is often referred to as the single most important and impressive art piece of all time.  Not only that, but it's a holy place.  Beneath this artistic and spiritual extravaganza were accumulated humanities worst examples - taking pictures with flash and making a bunch of noise even though you're supposed to be silent.  The guards would shout "SILENCIO!" every 1 minute or so, at which point the noise would dull to a quiet roar, the rose second by second to a din 1 minute later.  If that all sounds negative, it was rather a bizarre experience - not at all what I expected.  I always get really embarrassed when tourists misbehave in religious spaces, it bums me out that people have so little respect for locations.  Anyway, if you're like me - get antsy in crowds and have a tendency to think that the world's a terrible place and we're all doomed and humans are horrible, narcissistic creatures bent on destroying the earth and everything that's beautiful and good - spend 15 minutes in the Sistine Chapel and have all your fears compounded.  Then look up, block out the noise, and try to have a good sense of humor, just like Michelangelo:

Creation of Sun and Moon (get it?)

Here's a really cool 360 view of the whole thing.  It was nice to see the floor.

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