Posts Tagged 'art'

Roman Holiday (Part Three)

Saturday, 8 Mar: There’s No Place Like Rome

Today, apparently, is our Vatican day. We spend the morning in the Vatican Museum, which…well, it goes on pretty much forever. There’s just so much stuff in there – so much stuff – that it’d be impossible to actually study it all, to give it the attention it deserves, and the museum is a constant mass of people. We pick a lovely day to wait outside in the line (sunny, blue skies, finally), and get there early enough to gain entrance pretty quickly. Once inside, I’m totally fine through the Egyptian and Greek and Etruscan collections, but by the time we reach the endless galleries of Christian art, the endless rooms with magnificent carvings and painted ceilings, I’m hungry and I have to go to the bathroom and my body is rebelling against the Museum Walk – you know, the terrible slow shuffling motion that, after a few hours, becomes unbearable. We keep turning corners and seeing more and more seemingly infinite series of galleries, and even though I pride myself on having a greater museum attention span than most, by this point my brain has totally shut off. Even worse, the crowds inside the museum are making it impossible to just rush through to the Sistine Chapel (the anticipation of which is the only thing keeping me sane), forcing us to move at an infuriatingly bovine pace. Let’s go, I want to shout at the tourists, forgetting, of course, that I’m one too.

Finally, just before the Sistine Chapel, we find bathrooms (sweet relief), and book it through the last few rooms to the grand prize awaiting us at the end of the line. The Chapel, of course, is jam-packed with people, but after a couple of minutes we find spots on the long bench at either side of the room. Sitting down, I’m much more able to appreciate the ceiling – which is, of course, incredible, and thanks to its most recent restoration in 2000 (or thereabouts), is exactly as you would hope it to be. The ceiling is impressive purely by its scale, of course, and by association with Michelangelo, but the more I look at it, the more details I start to notice, the more I start to appreciate it. Michelangelo’s sense of humor comes through in the most subtle touches – the expression of a face here, the angle of an arm there – and the overall composition and rendering is textbook Renaissance. Religious art has never been my favorite field, aesthetically speaking, but the Sistine Chapel is really incredible.

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London Retrospective, Week Four

(4 Feb to 10 Feb)

Classes continue, business as usual, except for the part where our instructions for certain classes include things like “Meet in front of St. Paul’s.” You can’t really…do that, in Syracuse, you know? By now I’ve established a fairly consistent pattern in my weeks – classes Monday through Wednesday, group-project meeting(s) on Thursday, field trip on Friday, Saturday and Sunday for homework and one or two jaunts around London. It’s a pretty good arrangement, I think.

This week’s field trip is Oxford, and, since I’m a nerd, I’m incredibly excited to see the famous university and its town. Yeah, yeah, it’s where Harry Potter and The Golden Compass were filmed, blah – I’m more interested in the fact that it’s where the The Golden Compass, as in the novel, is set, and in the history of the actual place. The coach ride is about an hour and a half, and as I’ve discovered, it’s one of my favorite parts of the day, a chance to catch up on music-listening and watch the scenery flashing past. Today, because of a reported accident ahead, our driver pulls off the motorway onto the country roads, and it becomes quite evident where the term “scenic route” came from. Broad green fields sitting under the sun, the fog still in the process of burning off; wooded hills gently receding into the distance; narrow roads I’m surprised the coach can even navigate, birch trees closely crowding either side. Villages – actual villages – nestled romantically between the woods and the fields. It’s so picturesque it’s hard to believe it all actually exists; “Come on,” I find myself thinking, “there’s no way it can be this pretty.” But it is, and that’s the incredible thing, this beautiful and green country just sitting there, existing, content in itself. We drive through Henley-on-Thames, a (ridiculously) gorgeous little village bridging the river (famous for its boat races), with all the old houses sitting sleepily in an odd mixture of sun and mist from the water.

Continue reading ‘London Retrospective, Week Four’