NOTE: PLEASE IGNORE ALL "BLANK"S THIS IS INFORMATION I DONT HAVE YET. SOON IT WILL BE ENTIRELY UPDATED. NOW AT LEAST YOU WILL BE ABLE TO UNDERSTAND WHAT WE HAVE BEEN DOING IN ITALY, SPAIN AND PORTUGAL. SORRY FOR NOT HAVING THIS UP SOONER! THANKS. GRAZIE. GRACIAS. OBRIGADO.ITALY reflections: The Renaissance
Italy is the birthplace of the magical Renaissance; from Michelangelo to Da Vinci each contributed to this priceless era of masterpieces. Many artists were commissioned by someone wealthy, like the Medici family or the Vatican, to make the sculpture or artwork. The most famous works to this day were created by Italian artists in a vibrant display of the intricacy of perfected Renaissance artwork in Italy. Michelangelo's Creation (1508-1512; Sistine Chapel, Vatican City) and Last Judgment (1535-1541; Sistine Chapel, Vatican City) in the Sistine Chapel is probably one of the most known works of art in the world. The only rival to the magnificent Sistine Chapel would be Leonardo Da Vinci's world-renowned Mona Lisa (1503-1507; Musee du Louvre, Paris) which has been already stolen and returned to the Louvre. Now, because of Dan Brown’s international best seller, The Da Vinci Code, Da Vinci's controversial Last Supper fresco (1495-1497; Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan) might be one of his most talked-about paintings. Although Michelangelo and Da Vinci are perhaps the most famous painters of the Renaissance, others still were of extremely high-class quality in their day. Raphael and Botticelli are excellent examples of lesser known Renaissance artists with tremendous skill in painting. Sandro Botticelli also helped in the Sistine Chapel, though earlier then Michelangelo, creating the Temptations of Christ and the Trials of Moses (both 1481-1482; Sistine Chapel, Vatican City). Joining Botticelli later, Raphael also made a visit to the Vatican to start work on the Raphael Rooms: the Hall of Constantine, Room of Heliodorus, Room of the Segnatura and the Room of the Fire in the Borgo (all were painted during 1508-1524 by Raphael and his school; Raphael Rooms, Vatican City). From these rooms emerged the School of Athens and the Battle of Constantine which both display the true talents of Raphael. Around the same time in Rome, Michelangelo began work on his wonderful La Pieta (1498-1500; Basilica di San Pietro, Vatican City), and it was finished before Michelangelo turned 25. Moving north we find unimaginable artwork in the birthplace and hotspot of all Renaissance art, Florence. Before Michelangelo started in Florence in the early 1500s, a masterpiece was already in the works, and it was none other than Da Vinci's unique ááAnnunciation (1472-1475; Museo degli Uffizi, Florence). At first many scholors had belived that Da Vinci had screwed up, something that the master rarely did in his artwork. The problems were numerous and obvious: Mary's hand is bent at an unnatural angle, the angel is leaning too far in, to the point where he should fall over, the building is not shaped at a right angle but more along the lines of 100 degrees. Then a new idea came in: to view the painting from the right hand side; by doing so, everything is righted, truly displaying Da Vinci's genius mixed with his masterful artistic talent. With a block of marble turned down by numerous famed artists, including Da Vinci, Michelangelo saw this new commission as a challenge to prove himself above the other artists. Michelangelo was able to skillfully craft the block of marble in three years to peak the beginning of his career, finally completing his famous David (1501-1504; Galleria dell' Academia, Florence). Also in Florence Michelangelo painted the Holy Family or Doni Tondo (c. 1506; Museo degli Uffizi, Florence), which vibrantly displayed the artist’s style with the fluidity of the painting. Also making a splash in Florence was Botticelli who created two of his most famous masterpieces at this time and regularly painted throughout his life for the wealthy Medici family. Both of them were painted for the Medici; they were found hanging in a living room inside one of the Medici mansions. Botticelli’s wonderful La Primavera (c. 1482; Museo degli Uffizi) and his Birth of Venus (c. 1484; Museo degli Uffizi) could easily be considered two of his greatest and most well-known paintings. Each and every artist contributed to the golden Renaissance time, fusing emotions with the discovery of a new world of knowledge.Milano: Days 312-314; 5-19/21-06: Leaving the vineyard from the Udine train station, we got off in Venezia Mestre and got on another train to Milano Centrale. We decided that instead of spending the two days before we had to go to Nice in Milano, we would get off the Milano train in Verona. What we heard from Lina, Verona is a beautiful town, also home of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Soon we arrived in the Verona train station and dropped our packs off at a café near the center of town. After looking for hotels for over an hour and not finding any inexpensive we talked about our options. Eventually we settled on going on to Milano and spending two nights there waiting for the train. Big mistake. All the hotels were way more expensive then the ones in Verona and most were booked anyways. At almost half past eight in the evening we finally begrudgingly decided on a place and went back to the train station to pick up Paul and Grandma who were waiting with the bags. I didn’t want to stay at this place because it was too expensive but Grandma just wanted to go to bed, thus an argument ensued. Eventually I was the one who found a better place for a cheaper cost when I continued to look. The next day we started out going to the information inside the stazione and then walked into town. We started out by walking down into the center of town and then walked down a main street market towards the main duomo. This cathedral was built as a model for most new Christian churches after the Church made some changes when Martin Luther started the Protestant branch off Christianity. After that we had lunch and then went over to a castle where a Leonardo Da Vinci presentation was going on. When we finished walking around the castle dad and grandma walked back while mom, Paul and I walked to a trolley station. We took the trolley to stadium where AC Milan and Inter-Milan play in the Serie 1 league in Italia. Unfortunately we weren’t able to actually see the stadium except from the outside and going into the store. Soon we had to head back but we ended up really enjoying the AC Milan stadium. Waking up the next day we went to church down the road before we left for Nice on a train. Venice: Day BLANK: My dad drove the Fiat down the autostrada from Buttrio to Venezia Mestre stazione. There we parked the car and got on the shuttle train to Venezia Santa Lucia. The train ran across a large bridge connecting the multitude of islands in Venice to the mainland. Eventually the train arrived in Santa Lucia and we entered Venice. Venezia is comprised of over 200 islands, all connected by a spider web of bridges, canals and the excellent public ferry system. Next to the termini we were able to find the public ferry transport around Venice and boarded the first ferry out. We tried to get on board the boat going to Piazza di San Marco via the Grand Canal but instead we started going to San Marco, but around the outside, a port with gigantic cruises and barges, the less picturesque way. When we arrived in San Marco we decided to skip it for now and got on another ferry going back to the termini, this time through the Canal. The Grand Canal is the major canal, bustling with boats racing past. The Canal has only three bridges crossing it’s great length, therefore making it a divider between the to halves of Venezia. From the termini we began to walk back through Venice to San Marco. Taking a route via small canals and walkways we soon found ourselves fully enveloped in the mystery of Venice. It’s enchanting canals and gondolas captivating us. Soon we arrived at a cheap pizza by the slice shop and munched while we listened to a guy singing in the middle of the piazza. After the pizza we kept walking until we arrived back at San Marco. We entered the famous piazza from the front and sat down on some steps. All around the gigantic piazza were pidgins. Some small some big, some crippled, but pidgins none the less. Thousands upon thousands of these birds were grouped around five or so feed venders, creating an ink black circle around the venders, some had radiuses of up to 10 meters. As we ate our lunch 50 or so pidgins gathered around us and a few people next to us, waiting for our crumbs. I guarded the packs while Paul went out to videotape the birds. Eventually we set off to San Marco’s basilica at the end of the long piazza. Halfway down the piazza we passed a guy lying on the ground covered in pidgins, we were barely able to see his face let alone the rest of his body. Soon we arrived at the front gate, waiting in line. The five domes’ ceiling are each a gigantic fresco, one had the Pentecost portrayed on it while another illustrated the Annunciation on it. St. Mark’s tomb was also inside but it cost to go in so I only got a quick look at it. Before exiting the basilica we walked up a set of stairs to a balcony to get a great view of Venice. Eventually we had to leave San Marco to get back to Buttrio in time for dinner. From San Marco we walked threw the canals to the BLANK bridge, covered with shops and boasted an excellent view of the Grand Canal. After the BLANK we walked back to the termini and left to Venezia Mestre. Vineyard: Days 305-311; 5-12/18-06: We arrived in Venezia Mestre to find Paolo, from Nairobi, waiting for us. My parents had met Paolo and his wife Lina down in Nairobi after they had finished a project for a bridge in Sudan with ICOP, the construction company that they own. Paolo has one daughter and two sons: Piero, Vittorio, and Stefana. We loaded our bags into Piero’s Fiat minivan and shot off down the autobahn to Buttrio. After an hours drive we finally arrived, greeted Lina and unpacked. Since they also own a vineyard we had an incredible view of the surrounding wine mountains. That night we went to ICOP a baptism party and played football/soccer afterwards. The next day we had to wake up early because we were going of to Slovenia and parts north of Udine to see the Alps. First we drove down to Trieste to see the city and have a gelato, and then we carried on till we arrived in Slovenia. After stopping at a road side restaurant overlooking a beautiful river, we mainly drove through the countries mountains. The Alps were amazing. Surrounding you were gigantic peaks, over-laden with white powders, forming an almost Cappadocia like effect. We stopped at a small town, and then later in a snow-filled valley in between to colossal peaks close to the boarder of Italy and Austria. After walking through the valley and taking in the mountain air we headed back to Buttrio for dinner, after seeing his apartment in a ski resort. Piero, his wife Chiara, and there kids came over for dinner, from Udine, to the vineyard. Paul and I played football with the kids, Giacomo, Luigi, Nicola, and Paolo, in the front yard. The next morning we went to church in Buttrio and then walked back to the vineyard. Since Paolo had to leave on an early flight to Sudan and Lina had a wedding to go to, we stayed at the vineyard and tried to get some work done. A couple days later we went to Udine to visit Piero and his family in there house. We got to have a delightful dinner with Piero’s family. Lina also showed us around the vino prossesing plant, where we were able to see tons of gigantic barrals filled with wine that had probably been sitting there for a few years. At the end of our stay with the Petrucco’s we were finally able to fit in another futbol match right before watching the Champion’s League finals. FC Barcelona ended up defeating Arsenal 2-1 in Paris with two quick Barcelona goals nearing the middle of the second half by Eto’o and one of there other top forwards. Florence: Days 302-304; 5-9/11-06: After a short ride from Roma to Firenze we disembarked and started the routine search for a hotel. After dropping off our bags at a café we started to look for something like we had found in Roma, a small family owned place. Soon we came across a soggiorno, which was quite similar to what we had got in Rome. Since the weather wasn’t too good today we decided not to visit anything to today. The following day however we had to wake up early and wait in line until the museum opened, luckily we got there in good time and found a good place in line. The Uffizi gallery in Florence is one of the most famous museums in the world. Housing works of Michelangelo, Da Vince, Botticelli, Raphael, Caravaggio, Titian, all great Renaissance artists. Inside the Uffizi two long wings are connected forming a long U. Currently an exhibition in taking place in the Uffizi about Da Vinci’s life, titled BLANK. The first rooms were filled with icons depicting Jesus’ life usually or other scenes from the bible. The painting were also the early Renaissance and 14th century works. Filippo Lippi also had a room, though not famous to the world Lippi is known to those we study art history. Rooms 10-14 were dedicated to Sandro Botticelli, although all four rooms were really just one big room. The main painting here are Botticelli’s Primavera and Birth of Venus, although his Madonna of the Magnificat and the Annunciation are splendid works of art. The Primavera was thought to be commissioned by the Medici family as it was found in 1498 in the house of Lorenzo Medici. A host of people gather in the Primavera in the springtime under a grove of orange trees. On the far left the spring time wind Zephyrus chases Chloris, next to Chloris is Flora, whom Chloris changes into after marrying Zephyrus. In the middle of the painting is Venus; and this painting is her garden. Next to Venus are the three graces and what we think is the messenger Hermes or Mercury. On the walls adjacent to the Primavera is Botticelli’s Birth of Venus. The historians think that this symbolizes Venus’s arrival on the island of Cyprus. Floating towards land on a shell Venus is pushed along by the winds Zephyrus and Aura flying behind her. On the island a lady awaits the arrival of Venus and is prepared to throw a cloak on her. The next room was made for Leonardo Da Vinci, although the Uffizi did not have enough Da Vinci’s to fill the room, some paintings of Da Vinci’s workmates were added to the collection. On the far wall is Verrocchio and Leonardo Da Vinci’s Baptism of Christ were John the Baptist is baptizing Jesus. The next painting to the left is Da Vinci’s unfinished Adoration of the Magi. Next to it is Da Vinci’s infamous Annunciation with Mary and an angel. Historians originally thought that on this one Da Vinci had screwed up. Mary’s arms are disproportionately long and bent at a weird angle, the angel’s shadow is to dark for the early morning light and he his bent to far forward. Yet if you look at the painting from the right side all mistakes are corrected and the painting actually turns out to be an ingenious work of art. The next room was circlar with a the dome decorated with mother-of-pearl shells and statues in the middle. Room 18 also houses the famous Musical Cherub by Rosso Fiorentino, with a little cherub playing a 12-string guitar. The last rooms in the first hallway contained various works of art from icons to portraits. In the second hallway the first room was titled Michelangelo and the Florentine painters. This room contained the only example of Michelangelo’s work in Florence with his Holy Family with John the Baptist, titled Doni Tondo. Here Mary is taking or giving Jesus to Joseph while St. John the Baptist as a baby looks on dressed in animal skin. In the following rooms we passed through Raphael, Titian, and 16th century artists. After seeing the Uffizi we started to walk back to meet Paul, grandma and Dad who were back at the hotel. I woke up the next morning and walked to the Galleria dell’ Academia with Paul and grandma. Here in the Academia an exhibition on Lorenzo Monaco was going on showing works from different periods in his life, but the main work to visit was Michelangelo’s masterpiece David. After passing a sculpture by Giambolonga we walked through Lorenzo Monaco’s rooms before heading into the music room. The music room was just a bunch of old musical instruments mainly from the Medici family. After seeing the instruments we entered into the main hall. The first statues were blocks of marble that had been started by Michelangelo but unfortunately hadn’t been finished. There was even another Pieta that was unfinished but looked like it would have been great if he finished it. Standing about two times the size of an average human being, the masterpiece of Michelangelo is…human. The torso fits perfectly on the legs, the muscle structure is flawless. If David could move he would probably fit the PHI body proportion formula. The veins pulsing in his hand are extremely relative to my own. At his knee joint, the ligament has been sculpted taunt due to the strain of the battle with Goliath. Because sculpture was taken after David’s battle with Goliath, David’s sling is barely visible, draped across his back, to portray the fact that he knows his victory was not by strength but by his faith and innocence. His fingers and hands grasping the rock are in a perfect ratio to his body, not to long or short but curled gently around the stone. The knee cap on the right leg bulges as he leans to the right on the straight leg. His stomach and rib cage are similar to someone who has had a vigorous workout and are breathing heavily. David’s curly head of hair shadows the humble expression on his face, knowing the defeat of Goliath, but also understanding that it wasn’t his doing. After seeing Michelangelo’s David we continued into the adjacent hall where there were a bunch of plaster casts of busts all made by one guy. After seeing the Academia we walked back over to our place where we met up with mom and dad. From there we went to the center of town to see the Duomo, the 4th largest cathedral in the world. Outside, the Duomo almost reminded me of the Taj Mahal because of the inlaid marble; even though it was green marble it still had the same effect. It was very easy to believe that this was one of the biggest churches in the world, the Duomo looked absolutely gigantic. Walking inside I got the same impression from the high, vaulted ceiling and the enormous pillars. Over the main alter there was a colossal dome all frescoed-up with different scenes from the bible. Underneath there was a crypt section but it cost too much to go down there to see it. My grandma didn’t want to continue to Piazzale Michelangelo so she headed back to our place while we walked over to BLANK which is near the Uffizi and has a remake of David. From there we started to follow a free booklet that l’ufficio informazione had given us as a guide. First it took us to Piazza Repubbilica, which BLANK. Then we continued to Piazza BLANK where townsfolk used to gather to play an ancient form of BLANK. At the end of this piazza was a very beautiful and big cathedral which was decorated BLANK. Walking over the bridge we started along the river before started the journey up the hill to the wonderful Piazzale Michelangelo. One of the less-frequented places by tourists, Piazzale Michelangelo gives a breathtaking view of Firenze. Another copy of Michelangelo’s David, though this time in bronze, stands here overlooking the city. Behind the piazza was another church perched on top three or four flights of stairs leading up to it. Inside the church it was hard to see really good because of the waning light but we still got to see very beautiful frescos. Roma: Days 299-301; 5-6/8-06: After the train from Naples to Roma we dropped our stuff off at a café by the stazione and started to look for a place to stay. After multiple tries it seemed like 95 percent of the places were full and the two we did find were very expensive. While we sat at the café pondering our choices a man came up to us and gave us a business card of a small place with just one room and owned by an Italian family. We checked it out and within ten minutes had moved into our new place. Upon arrival we headed back into the termini and got on the metro to take us to the Coliseum/Roman Forum. As soon as we exited out the stairs we got our first glimpse of the Coliseum. Colossal. No other way to describe it, just flat out gigantic. We were not going to pay the steep admission fees to view its empty interior so we made the most of the sight. Next to the Coliseum was the Arch of Constantine, was built by the Romans after his victory over Maxentius in 312 A.D. Carrying on we enter the Roman Forum by way of the Arch of Titus. During the Roman Empire, when it covered the Middle East, uprisings and rebellions were frequent in Israel. Titus’s father went over to Israel to squash the rebellion and when he came back after massacring the Israelis an arch was built as a memoir. After the days when the Roman Forum was Roma’s city center, with the government buildings, courthouse, ect., building were built over the former Roman buildings. For example the Arch of Titus was found in the middle of a 15th century apartment building. To the left of our path there was major excavation going on to try and salvage more buildings. Soon coming up on our left was the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina still mainly intact with it high pillars of marble. After the temple we passed by Julius Caesar’s cremation site. Just incase your wondering, the story (as we can gather from "hitching" on to tours to get information) goes just like this: Julius was gaining power and that worried the Parliament that he would become a megalomaniac, also Julius had just declared himself emperor for life, something that supposed to come in terms. So the Parliament sent out an invitation for Julius to come for a meeting in the Pompeii theatre. All of his advisors and soothsayers warned him against it and his wife had become to have dreams of him getting killed. So he went to the meeting and there Brutus killed him. So we continued on down the Via Sacra and passing ruins on both sides, until we got to the Arch of Septimius Severus. From the arch we could see the Tabularium were the current mayor lives and orchestrates business from. The bottom half of the Tabularium was built in BLANK while the top half, built in BLANK, was built on top of the ruin. Dignitaries like Clinton, Hitler, and Queen Elizabeth view the Roman Forum from a balcony on the Tabularium. Afterwards we continued on to the Vittorio Emanuele II monument, nicknamed the wedding cake, the gigantic building that was built in memory of the first king of Italy, Vittorio Emanuele II, uniting Italy in BLANK. Hundreds of statues line the building in memory of the unknown soldier who died during the wars. From the wedding cake we got on the bus numbered 64, taking us directly to Piazza di San Pietro. When we got off at the stop we walked over to the Castello Sant’Angelo where the 500 year anniversary celebration of the Swiss Guard was taking place. Unfortunately there was a blockage before the Castle and a guard told us that the tickets to get in 90 euros each (for our whole family that equaled about 5 days of living in Italy) and the tickets were sold out. So instead of letting this ruin our day we walked back across the river and went to Piazza Navona. Piazza Navona is a large piazza, similar in shape to a long rectangle with three fountains, one in the middle and then one on each end. The fountain in the middle is Bernini’s masterpiece, Fountain of the Four Rivers with an Egyptian obelisk perched on top. Just as it got dark we exited the piazza and looked for a place to eat. As it started to get late we walked back to San Pietro to see the fireworks and get a look at San Pietro in the dark. One of the biggest churches in the entire world, Basilica di San Pietro sits prominently at the end of its circular piazza. Michelangelo constructed the colossal silver-blue dome perched on top of the columned basilica. The semi-circle wings surrounding the circular piazza, the Colonnade, were built by Bernini. Also designed by Bernini were the 140 statues of the saints placed along the top of the Colonnade, those were built with the help of his students. Since it was already late and we were thinking of coming back the next morning to see the pope talk we didn’t hang out a lot, even though it looked really cool at night. The next morning we walked to the metro station, taking it to San Pietro station. From there we walked to Piazza di San Pietro and entered the crowd converging in the piazza. After about half an hour the pope arrived in a high window to the right of the basilica. After a short Angelus that the pope said in Latin, Italian, English, Spanish, French, German, and Polish, the pope did his famous sign of the cross and then disappeared. While the rest of the crowds wondered off to see the basilica we walked back to Piazza Navona to see it in the day time. After seeing Bernini’s masterpiece again we walked to the Pantheon. The domed roof of the basilica as a wide hole in the middle, casting a beam of light into the cathedral at all times during the day. Now the Pantheon houses the tomb of the first king of Italy, Vittorio Emanuele II. Entering the basilica the Pantheon’s circular shape springs out at you, deferring from the typical right angle cathedrals. Soon we left the Pantheon and continued to Fontana di Trevi. The legion is that if you throw a coin into the fountain with your right hand over your left shoulder that you will return to Rome during your lifetime. Bernini started constructing this fountain in 1641 though it was later finished a century later by Salvi. The reliefs on the building display the legion of Agrippa’s soldiers. From Fontana di Trevi we walked over to Piazza di Spanga, where the famous Spanish steps are. Located near the Spanish embassy the piazza is named after Spain. At the top of the Spanish steps is the Church Trinita dei Monti, now unfortunately under reconstruction. After the church we decided to go to mass at a church down the road, while we were in mass we looked to our left and right and noticed two Bernini statues there. It’s amazing that we can find works of great artist in these small chapels that no one hears about. After mass we walked back to Fontana di Trevi to get a glimpse of it at night before heading back to our apartment. Today we had to wake up extremely early to get in line for the Musei Vaticani, the famed Vatican Museums. After a two hour wait we were finally let inside. Since Paul and I got separted from the group we immediately rushed to the Sistine Chapels since all the tour groups do the Chapel on their last stop, we hoped it would be empty. Running past priceless Rapheal’s, with no one around us Paul and I thought we had a good chance of being the first people in the Sistine Chapels that day. After every bend we kept on thinking that it would be around the corner. Eventually we came upon it, though not extremely crowded the Chapel still had a lot of people in it. During the years 1475-1483 the pope at the time, Sixtus IV, commissioned Giovanni de’ Dolci to build the Sistine Chapel. Eventually it was built and the decoration began with some of the most renowned painters of the day. Perugino and Botticelli among other started the narratives of the Old and New Testaments central strip. Walking into the Chapel on the left is the New Testament strip depicting about seven scenes from the life of Jesus. The first scene is the Baptism of Jesus, showing John the Baptist blessing Jesus with water from the river. Next after is the Temptations of Christ, showing four or so different temptations in the vault. After that was the Healing of the Leper, this one and the Temptations were done by Botticelli. The next vault was the Calling of the Apostles, done by Michelangelo’s master, Ghirlandaio. The Delivery of the Keys to St. Peter shows Jesus giving a big key to St. Peter in a square. The next one was one of Cosimo Roselli’s greatest works, The Last Supper (not the famous Da Vinci one in Santa Marie della Grazie in Milano). Over on the right side of the walls is the strip of the Old Testament, depicted scenes from Moses’ life. The first painting is The Journey of Moses, then one done by Botticeli, Moses with Jethro’s Daughters. After the Botticeli work, the Crossing of the Red Sea is next, which was painted by Cosimo Rosselli. Next is Moses receiving the Tablets of Law which, also in the same fresco, he broke seeing that the Israelites were worshiping a golden calf. After the Korah, Dathan and Abiram, by Botticelli, is the Testament and Death of Moses. In the year 1508 the pope Julius II commissioned the young Michelangelo to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Eventually Michelangelo completed the work in 1512, just four years time. In a strip along the center is the Episodes from Genesis, including one of the most famed pieces in the Chapel, The Creation. First off, though, is the Separation of Light and Darkness, then the Creation of the Sun and the Moon. After those are the Creation of Trees and Plants and then the Creation of Adam. The Creation of Adam is the central point on the ceiling, portraying the Creation by the touch of a fingertip, creating a defining line between Adam and God. After the Creation is the Creation of Eve which is followed by Original Sin. Original Sin is broken into two parts by the tree, the first shows Adam and Eve being invited by the serpent to pick the fruit while the latter shows cause and effect. Noah’s Sacrifice, the Flood, and the Drunkenness of Noah are after Original Sin. After Michelangelo finished the ceiling some 23 years passed before Michelangelo returned to the Chapel to paint the world famous wall behind the main alter, The Last Judgment. This wall was started in 1535 and finished by Michelangelo in 1541, again such a short time for the masterpiece. This wall depicts Judgment Day, in the middle is Jesus while below him a group of angels blow their trumpets and carry the Book of Judgment. After learning about the different frescos we just walked around a bit to try and soak it all in. An hour or so later we decided to leave and headed back out to the beginning to start over. After walking through a bunch of rooms we came upon the Borgia Apartment. The Borgia Apartment is the beginning of Paul VI’s creation of a religious Modern Art Gallery. Inside the Apartment in the Room of Mysteries which includes all of the main parts of Jesus’ life. In another room, The Room of the Saints depicts the main scenes and stories of the martyred saints. After the Borgia Apartment comes one of my favorite collections of rooms, the Raphael Rooms. In 1508, when Michelangelo had started to work on the Sistine Chapel, Pope Julius II commissioned Raphael to cover the walls of four rooms that would become the Popes bedroom. The first room is the Hall of Constantine, which is dedicated to the emperor who in 313 declared freedom for the religion of Christianity. Skipping one room we move onto the Room of the Segnatura, which is almost all of Raphael’s work. Opposite the entrance is The Dispute of the Blessed Sacrament, which shows the scholars arguing if whether the host and wine were the body and blood of Christ. Across from The Disputation is the School of Athens, which we figured was Plato’s Academy, which we were going to see in Athens. From the Raphael Rooms we entered the crowded Sistine Chapel once more and then exited into Piazza di San Pietro. From the Piazza we went into the Basilica for the first time after all the times we had visited the Piazza. Basilica di San Pietro is one of the largest basilicas in the world, Bramante was commissioned by Pope Julius II with the design and when Michelangelo was very old he took on the task of the dome. At the beginning one is drawn to the right where the masterpiece by Michelangelo sits, La Pieta. Sculpted by Michelangelo in just one year, La Pieta depicts Mary holding the dead Jesus as he came down from the cross. Since there was a glass wall about 10 feet in front of La Pieta it was hard to see the delicate intricacy in the sculpting, although a strange power emanated from the marble. Apart from La Pieta the other numerous monuments were dedicated to the dead Popes, going really far back in time, in case you didn’t know, St. Peter, the first pope of the church, is also buried here. It is impossible to name all the of wonderful monuments dedicated to various popes and crafted by the best of the best, that alone should show the enormity of this cathedral. In the middle/back part of the church is the main alter rising above the remains of St. Peter in the Sacred Grottos. Over the high alter is the baldacchino (canopy) which was done by Bernini with the bronze taken from the Pantheon. The following is a list of the many popes of the church, the year in front of them is the year that they died. All of the years are in A.D. (obviously). Remember it’s in Latin so some of the Vs are pronounced like a U in English, yet some Vs are just like a regular V.
Days 295-297; 5-2/4-06:
I got to sleep in today, and woke up to an excellent Italian colazione (breakfast) in the dining room. After eating we left on a walk around the hills in the Amalfi area. We started out walking up over a thousand steps to get out of the surrounding cliff wall around the city. Soon we entered a small town standing above Amalfi, we skirted the outside and came to the ancient castle over looking Amalfi on the left side and its neighbor town on the right. The castle unfortunately wasn’t open, locked with a metal gate. Across the from the gate was a house where a man was doing the laundry on the second floor. In broken Italian we asked when the castle opened, it turned out that his dad had the key to the gate. Once we got inside we looked briefly through the ruins but then looked out through the old windows on the far side for the view. It was amazing. We were able to see most of Amalfi and the over on the other side of the hole Amalfi created. Looking the other way we could get a clear view of Amalfi sister town and hills beyond it. After we rapped up looking at the view we started the walked towards the Castello della Ziro, perched high on a mountain on the bridge between Amalfi and its sister city. Soon we arrived at a landmark we thought to be the Castello. We were wrong. It turned out that we were one terrace above the Castello. Since we were starting to get hungry we decided to pull out the pane (bread), salami, formaggio (cheese), and proscitto (ham) for our sandwiches. After lunch we climbed down and around, finally coming to the Castello della Ziro which offered once again a spectacular view of both cities and the Amalfi coast. Soon we headed back down the thousand some odd steps back to Amalfi. At the hotel we picked up our bathing suits and headed for the beach. The next day after a welcoming breakfast we decided to go on yet another hike into the cliff surrounding Amalfi. We got started late because we were doing research about how to see the famous ruins of Pompeii. We hiked up a ton of stairs till we once again got to the cliff rim around Amalfi, except this time we were even higher up than before. After a decent view we started to hike back down the 1300 stairs to the port. That night we were invited across the hall at our hotel by Isabelle and Marcus, a couple with a baby, Chiara, from Munich, Germany on vacation. We had a lot of fun talking about the world.
Day 294; 5-1-06:
Getting off the ferry in Brindisi we boarded the free shuttle into town where we then walked to the stazione-centrale. We boarded a train from Brindisi to Salerno, only €12 for crossing the boot. I title this section Salerno, Italia because in Salerno we spent most of the afternoon. When we disembarked from the train we were very hungry, so we walked two blocks and came across a cheap pizzeria, €1 per slice (giant slice) and €1.20 for a calzoni (calzone). I got both. Soon we had bought tickets to the mountainous, sea town Amalfi, hub for the Amalfi coast. The bus was late so it took a long time for it finally to arrive. In three hours we had arrived in beautiful Amalfi, and my mom and dad set off. This is when I tasted my first scoop of gelato. My dad had given us €5 for a caffé while we waited, but I got a gigantic scoop of chocolate chip gelato. It was delicious, beyond explanation. Eventually my parents came back and had found a good room for five people and kitchen facilities just off the main piazza.