The World’s Smallest Country – With a Huge Influence
It's 730am and we're leaving Lucy's to continue our journey to Rome. After a slight mistunderstanding of the train stops, we find the correct station and still have time for some sfogliate – yummy pastries with a filling the consistency of paste, but the taste of mousse.
At our destination, we buy our Roma pass (good for museum entry and all public transportation) and bus to our Roma apartment. It's in the Trastevere neighborhood, sort of the Left Bank of Rome, a couple of blocks from the Tiber River. It's on the ground floor and the neighborhood seems quiet enough. Everything looks great, except for our promised internet is not working, but we are assured it will be fixed that afternoon. Fine, we're off to Vatican City anyway.
Vatican City is the world's smallest country – all that's there is St. Peter's Basilica and the Vatican Museum. Tourists, Romans, monastics, and clergy mingle, creating an electric, yet peaceful energy. We have prereserved tickets to the Vatican Museum (home of the Sistine Chapel) at 7pm tonight. It's 4pm now, so we have time to see the church and get some dinner.
St. Peter's Basilica is the grandest and richest church on the planet. Home of the bones of it's namesake, it also houses Michelangelo's Pieta, the sculpture of the body of Jesus in the arms of his mother, Mary. The sun shines through the nave like beams from heaven. We can't get all the way to the altar because they're having mass, but we can hear the choir. Today's Friday, but we resolve to attend the mass on Sunday, just to be a greater part of that sacred place.
Just outside of the Vatican we find a sandwich shop and have panini (sandwiches) of zucchini flowers, mozzarella, and pesto, along with a Peroni, the Italian beer. We find a spot to sit on the square across the street and watch the cars and the people cruise by.
The Vatican Museum, as you might imagine, houses some of the world's greatest pieces of art, which are lovely. We pass by ancient Roman sculptures, medieval tapestries, walls decorated by Rafael. But those are only appetizers for the main course, the Sistine Chapel. Painted by Michelangelo, it tells the story of Creation from a Renaissance perspective. Breathtakingly beautiful, especially in the fading light of the evening, you want to devour every inch of it. Bellissima!
On the way back to our apartment, we swing back through St. Peter's, which is illuminated for the evening with a crescent moon above to complete the scene. The two windows of the Pope's apartments are backlit in green, with the shadow in the shape of a head in the center. Is he watching?