In the Vatican, the Renaissance Rules.
September 4, 1999:
We dubbed the bus in the center of Rome 'The Gypsy Bus' because the first time we rode it, gypsies got on and though we got off at the next stop, they'd already fished in our pockets and opened our money belts...
So when we went to the Vatican, we got off the bus early and followed the first nun we saw.
She led us to the Vatican, considered per square meter, easily the most influential country on earth. (Vatican cars are marked by a 'V' inside an oval.)
The renaissance masters like Michelangelo who designed this place made magic happen.
The building is so big, every other cathedral in the world (save one just finished in South America) could fit inside.
The floor bears plaques showing where other cathedrals end.
But it doesn't feel that big.
Because they used enormous decorations, and made the windows huge, it belies the size of the building. Those windows are big enough for god to hand in a couple of tractor trailers at a time.
Michelangelo makes us feel comfortable walking around in a giant's home.
Like many cathedrals, this one's lined with tombs of saints and popes. This one contains the body of someone who was incorruptible, i.e. their body didn't decay after they died.
A kid in our tour group asked the guide, "what's that gold stuff on his hands?"
The guide replied, "that's where they replaced the parts that decayed."
There's an exclusive order of nuns who spend their days preparing for the hundreds of masses and other ceremonies.
Here you see the slant inside the great dome.
Henry's standing straight up while Kathleen's mother Roberta climbs the 243rd out of 320 steps (after the elevator).
At the Post Office, it's always busy as a room full of people babbling tongues from all over the world prepare their cards for Vatican postmarks.
The vast wealth and privileged position of the Catholic Church has allowed them to amass one of the most impressive collections of art in the world.
This giant torso on the right is one of the ancient Greek pieces that shows their mastery of sculpture.
Michelangelo spent days lying on the floor in front of this, just looking at how it was done.
Sadly, a lot of the beautiful sculpture was despoiled by Popes who didn't appreciate the finer points of human anatomy.
Also, sadly, we've got no pictures of the Sistine Chapel. The Nippon group owns copyright to them now because they paid for a restoration about five years ago.
Here our tour guide explains every figure of the Last Judgment.
There's a lot of figures in the Last Judgment.
Out on the streets, we got to enjoy the beat of Rome.
The head waiter at the restaurant in Piazza Novone where we ate had his singing buddies entertain. Afterwards he got up and joined them with his concertina.
This guy gave us a deal on souvenir books, and a flirtatious squeeze at no extra charge.
And new masterpieces are baked every day in local kitchens.
Food comes presented as a work of art, more so it seems when they don't expect tourists.
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