25th July 2019, Thursday
Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel, St Peters Basilica, Leaning Tower of Pisa
Food: Breakfast from Hotel Pineta Palace, Rome and Check-Out, Lunch from Papa Rex, Dinner from Grand Hotel Plaza & Locanda Maggiore
Stay: Grand Hotel Plaza & Locanda Maggiore
We check out from the hotel and started our journey to Vatican city at around at 7.45am.
It will take around just 20 mins to reach the Vatican Museum from our Hotel. We were notified that we should not take any extra bag with us becuase there will be strong checking at the entrance. If we carry any bags, we have to deposit it at the entrance and once we finish, we may have to come back and stand in queue and collect our bags. This is time consuming. Hence I took my shawl, sunglass, 20 Euros and Mobile only. Make sure that you dress appropriately. For men, this means wearing long trousers and a shirt that covers your shoulders. For women, shoulders and knees need to be covered and low-cut tops are a no go. We reached Vatican Museum by around 8.30am. We could see a small queue at the entrance. We waited for our Local guide to join us.At the entrance, we could see a security checking similar to the airport. We cleared the queue and followed our guide. We took the stairs and reached the 1st floor. They gave us a headset and a radio device. Now the things which guide told us are more audible.
The Vatican Museum is one of Rome’s most significant buildings – not only for its Papal connotations and rich history, but for the extensive collections of art within its walls. On average walking around the entire Vatican Museum will take you a solid four hours if you were to try and see everything.
The museums contain roughly 70,000 works, of which 20,000 are on display. The Sistine Chapel, with its ceiling decorated by Michelangelo and the Stanze di Raffaello decorated by Raphael, are on the visitor route through the Vatican Museums. In 2017, they were visited by 6 million people, which combined makes it the 4th most visited art museum in the world. It is one of the largest museums in the world. Not only does Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece, the Last Judgement, adorn the ceiling but you can admire Botticelli’s long murals which often get overlooked.
One you enter the museum, guide will explain about each sculpture exhibited there. The four Raphael Rooms act as a grand entrance to the Vatican where you can’t help but be wowed as soon as you arrive.
Gregorian Egyptian Museum now houses ancient artefacts originating from ancient Egypt, and taken via Rome and Villa Adriana in Tivoli through the Imperial Age. Occupying nine rooms, this section displays sculptures and statues, clay figurines and bronze objects – among many others! If you are fascinated with ancient Egypt, this is a section not to miss.
The Gallery of Maps is located on the west side of the Belvedere courtyard and, as you’ve guessed, contains a series of painted topographical maps. Commissioned in 1580, it took Ignazio Danti three years to complete the 40 panels. The Gallery of Maps contains the largest collection of geographical paintings ever created. These wall-sized maps depict Italy and Italian provinces, and were commissioned by Pope Gregory XIII in the 16th century. These maps, based on drawings by the Dominican Monk Ignazio Danti, are amazingly accurate for being made in the 1500's! The maps are really well-detailed, showing mountain ranges and even boats in the water, but they are also somewhat whimsical, containing fantastic sea creatures and even Neptune, the Roman god of the sea.
Tapestry Hall, as you literally have to walk through it to get to the Sistine Chapel. But it could be easy to breeze past these special works of art, and not really know what exactly you should look at. Most tours cover at least some of the tapestries room, but in case you are on your own, take some time to notice these things:
First of all, look up. The ceiling looks like a plaster 3-dimensional design. It's actually painted! Each tapestry took years to make. They were finely woven by the best weavers of the day, out of wool but also silk, and gold and silver thread. Notice in particular the tapestry of The Resurrection of Christ. As you approach it from the left, keep your eyes on Jesus's eyes, keep walking and watch his eyes. By the time you pass the tapestry, the eyes are still with you! It's a wonderful example of "moving perspective", a technique you find sometimes in paintings (like the Mona Lisa.) But to do this with a tapestry takes a lot more mastery and talent, and requires some very fancy stitching indeed!
And of course, no visit to the Vatican Museums would be complete without the Sistine Chapel. In fact, it's usually the only reason people come to the Vatican Museums. And since it is at the very end of the museums, you won't miss it. Our tour guide explained that we should be quiet and camera or photographs should not be taken inside the Sistine Chapel. Its such a divine place where you will be amazed by the Michelangelo paintings and the blissful atmosphere.
When you are inside the Sistine Chapel, make sure you did not miss to observe the below. I think the most famous part of the Sistine Chapel is the series of paintings by Michelangelo on the ceiling. These are 9 scenes from the book of Genesis. And the most famous painting in this series, perhaps one of the most iconic paintings in the world, is the Creation of Adam. It's spectacular.
But also, take the time to enjoy some other things in here as well, especially Michelangelo's other great masterpiece in this room: The Last Judgement.
This painting was done later, between 1535 and 1541. And by this time, Michelangelo was in his sixties. He'd thought he was done with painting. he'd thought of himself primarily as a sculptor. But the new Pope Paul III (Farnese), convinced Michelangelo he had more in him, as a painter but also as an architect. So he had Michelangelo finish St. Peter's Basilica. And the Pope had Michelangelo paint Il Giudizio Universale, The Last Judgement.
The painting shows the second coming of Christ on the Day of Judgment (Revelation of John). Notice Jesus' position in the center, he is neither standing nor sitting, but almost in motion. On the bottom left are the souls selected for passage to heaven, and on the bottom right, are the damned souls being transported to hell by Charon on the river Styx.
Michelangelo painted The Last Judgement after the Sack of Rome in 1527. Also, he'd become much more devout as he'd gotten older, and had a lot of inner conflict about his younger, more pagan days. So the painting has a considerably darker feeling about it than the ceiling panels. And, if you look closely at the flayed skin of St. Bartholomew, just below Jesus and to our right, you can see that is Michelangelo's face. It was his way of atoning. He has worked only on freshly laid plaster and each section of work was completed while the plaster was still in its fresh state. In other words, Michelangelo did not work 'a secco'; he did not come back later and add details onto the dry plaster.
We stayed inside for 10 minutes and then got out towards the St Peters Basicilla. I could still close my eyes and visualize the stunning paintings which we saw there inside the Sistine Chapel.
St Peter's Basilica is considered important because the church is built over the tomb of Saint Peter (the 'prince of the apostles' and first pope). It is also the largest church in the world. It is traditionally believed that he was crucified in Rome and buried where the Basilica of St Peter was later built, beneath the high altar. The basilica is a Renaissance church, built in the 1500's. It replaced the first St. Peters Basilica originally built under the emperor Constantine in the early 4th century.
It took around 120 years to construct Basilica and this is the church which can include maximum crowd around 60,000 people at a time.
The first thing I would tell you is that you should just see the church itself, inside and out. It's magnificent.
Inside are incredible works of art, including the altar with Bernini’s Baroque baldacchino and Michelangelo’s moving Renaissance sculpture, Pieta. When we enter inside the church, towards the right side , we could see the very famous Pieta Statue. Michelangelo was just 25 years old at the time when he created the 'Pieta' statue. This famous work of art depicts the body of Jesus on the lap of his mother Mary after the Crucifixion. It was carved from a single slab of white marble and was the only work Michelangelo ever signed.
We could see the Michelangelo's dome- Its dome is the tallest dome in the world at 448.1 ft. There are two stunning fountains either side of the square. There is also a 40-meter high Egyptian obelisk (including the base and the cross on top), which was bought to Rome in 37 B.C. From here you will also be able to see the 140 aforementioned statues of saints on top of the pillars. At the front of the square you will be able to see the large statues of St Peter and St Paul.
St. Peter’s Baldachin – Situated directly under the dome in the Basilica stands this 29-meter high bronze canopy. Gian Lorenzo Bernini started work on the Baldachin in 1623 and it was completed 11 years later in 1634. The Baldachin stands over the papal alter which is directly above St Peter’s tomb. Only the Pope may serve at the altar.
Bronze Statue of St Peter – Created in 1300 by Arnolfo di Cambio, the statue of St Peter seated on a throne has been situated in the Basilica since 1605. The tradition of pilgrims either touching or kissing the statue’s feet has caused the right foot to wear down.
After spending some time there, we got out to St Peters Basilica Square where Pope used to address people. During noticeable events St. Peter's Square has held more than 300,000 people. We could spot Swiss Guards there, the Pope’s personal body guard and the standing army of the Vatican City-State.
Then we walked towards one souvenir store. I purchased a copy of the two paintings inside the Sistine Chapel, which costs around 5 Euros each. Since I was so hungry, had a veg sandwich and lemonade. Then we walked towards the parking area and continued our journey, had lunch from the famous Papa Rex hotel. I loved the Spinach-Cheese Veg Pasta as starters they served along with the roasted vegetables and Rice! The Desert Chill Ice cream was also yummy! Best food I had from Italy! After lunch, we started our journey to Pisa by around 1.40 pm. We reached Pisa by around 7.30 pm.
Captain dropped us in the parking area and we walked towards the Lenaing Tower of Pisa. It wook aorund 12 mins to reach the Tower. On the way, you could see many Africans selling leather bags, soveniers etc.
Leaning tower of Pisa (Height 57m) is a bell tower of a church. In old times, churches were constructed as per the Gothik style of Architecture, thus bell tower of church will be outside the church. Speciality of gothik sryle they considered life by 4 Stages. Birth,Baptism, Church(signifies life) Balance compound is cemetery or death. So Birth, Baptism, Life , Death Gothik style of churches.
The Leaning Tower of Pisa took 344 years to build, beginning in August 1173. It began to lean in 1178 once construction on the second floor had begun. The lean was due to one side sinking into the soft ground. The construction was stopped twice, the first time for 100 years, the second time in 1284. Both times it was due to wars. When 1st 3 floors were constructed, due to construction issues and speciality of sand, constructed was stopped for around 100 yrs. Then again war happened. During World War II, the Allies heard that Germans were using the Leaning Tower of Pisa as an observation post. Once the Allies saw how beautiful the tower was they refrained from destroying it. Germany conquered this tower and then they used Pisa 3rd floor as Watch tower. After that in 1272, 4 more floors were constructed and then above that 7 bells were placed. Each bell represents one note of the musical major scale. Slanting happened again after the installation of Bells. They stopped the work for 100 years, Then in 1655, renovations were done and bells were removed and replaced with bells having weight adjusted with that of the total Tower weight.
The Leaning Tower of Pisa became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. Also included in this designation were the cathedral, cemetery and the baptistery.
The tower was closed to the public from 1989 until 2001, after the restoration was complete. It is thought that the restoration will keep the Leaning Tower of Pisa stable for at 300 years more. In 2008 engineers stated that the Tower had stopped moving. This is the first time in its history that it has not been slowly leaning further to one side. The Leaning Tower of Pisa is a circular shape and has eight floors. The 7 bells are located on the eighth floor. It is having a 4 degrees slant, there are 249 stairs to reach the top of Bell tower. 12 euro entry fees to get to the Top. Maximum of 50 to 60 people can be entered at a time.
We took many pictures and walked back. On the way back, I got 2 samosas from an Indian hotel. We then started our journey to Milan. I felt sad that tomorrow is the last day of our trip and also felt grateful that I got a chance to see all these wonders. Not everyone will get this opportunity.
Our Dinner was arranged in Grand Hotel Plaza & Locanda Maggiore and after dinner, we Checked-in to the Hotel.