So… the Vatican. You have to do it, and honestly I was dreading it a little bit. But as soon as we got there and dribbled out of our tour buses onto the wet pavement outside the Vatican wall, rain dribbling (dribbling, drabbling, drizzling) over us—there was that instant of recognition, that I was somewhere very important and very special, and from that instant I felt, for at least a few more instants, Italian. Or at least Catholic.
I love to hear Italians speak English. Our tour guide said the most amazingly detailed things (most of which went completely over my head) about the Sistine Chapel, the history of the Vatican city, and the roots of the Catholic faith in Italy. But I was more enraptured by her charming malapropisms and mispronunciations, especially the word “choosen” and her difficulty with any and all prepositions, which are, granted, pretty tricky. My favorite memory of the day was her description of the ceiling grotesques as “women turning into, you know, like vegetables—not grotesque, as in ugly, just a little bit weird.”
This time around I was able to appreciate more of the art than when I came in high school: Rafael’s angels’ wings, the shimmering silk tapestries, the storied progression across the Sistine Chapel, and most of all the sheer magnitude of art amassed in this tiny state. And then after the museum, the church…
The inside of the Basilica was (and I know I overuse this word but this time it is absolutely correct to say) literally a spiritual experience. I ended my visit feeling so small, as if I can’t quite (and never will) see above the grownups’ knees to know what they’re talking about, but like a child, enveloped in thick blanket of faith in those higher-ups.
On a lighter note, literally (I’m on a role today), we went back the next day and it was sunny! And I got to re-take all of my dark and hazy pictures, inserting my new friends in the foregrounds.