Thursday, December 29, 2005

Tourist detraction

Its my last day in Rome, I still have no apostrophes and I could stay here for another five months and still feel like Id only scratched the surface.

Yesterday we went back to the Vatican, because Mum wanted to find the grave of a Czech writer who my uncle loves who died in Rome (I think my family has a grave fetish). We arrived and there was an enormous crowd gathered in St Peters square, as well as huge TV screens and lots of security. And... il Papa! Apparently the pope does a mass every week on Wednesday and we just happened to catch it. I can thus safely report that the Pope is doing well, and looks smashing in red. I was not, however, moved to convert, and no angels appeared to me in the sky, which was kind of disappointing. Ill never get to be a saint.

We then got roped into an English-speaking tour of the Vatican museums, including the Sistine Chapel, given by a very clever English guy (who it later turned out Mum was checking out...!) who was a bit of an art expert. There were also some really nice Australian boys, three brothers, who were on the tour, giving me renewed hope that I like Australians who travel...

The tour was great, if a bit long, and when we finally got to the Sistine Chapel we all knew what to look for and to admire. But if every square inch of the building was was covered in paint, every square inch of the floor was covered with tourists. It reinforced my feeling that international tourism has a dreadful effect on what it seeks to share, and support. It changes spaces so dramatically they are almost unrecognisable- there was nothing holy about the chapel to me. It was simply an art gallery filled with crowds. Although the artwork was incredible, I think I would feel more connection with it looking at a good reproduction in the peace of a library.

In fact so irreligous was I feeling that I couldnt help but notice what the guide has jokingly referred to earlier was very true- the picutre of original sin north of centre of the ceiling looks like Eve has just given Adam a blow job. Which, if nothing else, reinforces my feeling that Michelangelo very much had his own agenda. I think I like him.

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