samedi 5 janvier 2008

Friday morning we woke up and managed to get going a bit earlier. We wandered over to the Vatican, where there was a huge line to get into St. Peter’s. You could either wait in the line and pass through the metal detectors (about 30-45 minutes wait) or you could wander up the left side, pretend that you are going to the Vatican Post Office or Bookstore, then sneak in. We choose option 1, only because we felt bad about cutting in line. Other people apparently didn’t, evidenced by the brazen line-jumping occuring all around. Well, anyway.

We finally got into the basillica. It was amazingly decorated and huge, but it left me feeling empty. Perhaps it was just too much- too many tourists taking pictures of anything and everything. Too many tour guides shoving other people out of the way so that their group can go through. Too much marble. Too much in general. It didn’t feel at all spiritual or holy. In fact, all of the Italian churches left me with this same impression. Beautiful- definetely. Overdone? Oh yeah. Alain felt the same way. He said “It just doesn’t feel serious”. I much prefer the quiet, albiet crumbling, Provencal churches. For lunch we ordered sandwiches from a truck on the side of the road. Not particularly good nor cheap, but cheaper than a sit-down meal somewhere. We wandered back over to the river to the Piazza Popolo, because I wanted to see the church Santa Maria en Popolo, (yes, again featured in “Angels and Demons”). Only this time, you had to pay to get in, which I thought was rather scandulous. We didn’t even have to pay to get into St. Peter’s for goodness sake! I guess it could have had to do with the Leonardo da Vinci exhibition taking place in the church at the same time, but we decided to keep walking. We walked towards the Spanish steps. On the way, we decided to have a gelati ice cream, so we went into a small gelateria-- where they completely ignored us and wouldn’t serve us. We walked out, quite frustrated. Alain still had pain in his foot, but was able to walk. We headed over to the Triton Fountain, then went to see the church of Santa Maria della Victoria, where the famous “Ecstasy of Saint Teresa” statue is located. I am amazed that all the famous statues are still (supposedly) located in the churches. I would have thought for safety they would have been removed long ago. Perhaps they have actually and been replaced with copies, I don’t know. Afterwards, we walked to the fountain of the Four Bronze Naked Nymphs. Okay, that isn’t the real name, but I forget what the real name is. It was unveiled in 1901 and caused a flurry of dismay, even among Italian respectabilities. It features four naked nymphs, each perched with various representations of the different waters (lakes, rivers, ocean, and underground). We walked slowly back to Trastevere and had a good meal, splitting a bottle of wine between us. Luckily, we were able to take the tramway home and even got off at the right stop!

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