Vatican City

August 23 & 25, 2000

Walking into the Vatican on a Wednesday morning graced me with the Pope’s presence. Large TV screens on either sides of the center allow closer views for fans in the crowd. It reminds me of a small rock concert with more security. It must huge last week during the Jubilee ceremony.

While the shops in the area have their fill of tacky souvenirs like Pope on a rope, St. Peters Square and the environs are tastefully set.

Around the corner is the Vatican museum, which is has an excellent collection of ancient sculpture worth spending most of a day on, but inarguably biggest crowd drawer is the Sistine Chapel. Michelangelo’s famous frescoes and interpretation of the Creation adorn the ceiling, but what is equally impressive is the illusion of depth created here. The Chapel is a large, hard semi-domed rectangle, yet it appears to be have a vaulted roof and the walls covered with drapes. I spent nearly an hour switching from left brain to right brain, appreciating the art and then trying to grasp the technical feat that continues to be a religious experience for devout believers and atheists alike.

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