What a traveler’s treasure! It is almost impossible not to find someplace to fall in love with in Italy. Even if you arrive in a grumpy mood, swearing to yourself that you are
going to have a lousy time, you will fail, because Italy just creeps into your mind.
The Coleseum in central Rome.
The people, the culture, the antiquities, the food- all are utterly fantastic, and you are soon overtaken by the “wonderfulness” of the place.
We had been in Rome for nearly a week. It was the last Sunday of the month, time for us to depart and go north. I had purchased train tickets leaving the station around mid-afternoon, and we had a few hours to spare. We decided to go
to the Vatican.
Leaving our luggage at the hotel, we went outside and hailed a cab, instructing him to take us to the Sistine Chapel.
“On the last Sunday of the month! Are you crazy?", the cab driver blurted out?
“Today is the last Sunday of the month. Today the Vatican is ‘No Charge’, and everyone comes in free. It is an insane place to be on the last Sunday of the month”. He must have grumbled that phrase, “last Sunday of the month”,
at least a half dozen more times under his breath as we drove on. He did make it a point to say this in English, just so there was no chance we would misunderstand his disapproval of what we were doing.
Approaching the entrance to the Sistine Chapel, we passed what had to be several thousand people already lined up waiting to enter. We pulled right up to the front. Fortunately, there was a ramp and special access for the disabled,
and we went right in.
Just inside was a foyer with a small room off to the side. In this room one could hire an official guide for a tour, and we were fortunate that there was a guide available. He was an older gentleman, with a cane, sitting alone, reading
the Sunday papers. He was so absorbed in the paper it was almost a shame to interrupt him, but I did anyway.
I asked, and he replied he was available for hire. He told us his hourly rate, and we agreed to engage him for the next few hours. Leaving his paper on the table, he walked in front of us, leading the way through the throng of people
crowded into the narrow passageways. When the crush of people became too great, he would reach out with his cane and literally beat on the backs or heads of people in front of us, shouting, “Prego, PREGO! Let us pass”.
He took a series of shortcuts and back switches, up and down elevators clearly marked,
“Not for Public Use”, arriving finally at the Sistine Chapel. He led us in, still beating on heads, until we were in the middle of the room. Then he stopped. “Look up to the ceiling”, he commanded, “and see the work of the
And he proceeded to give us nothing short of a doctoral dissertation explaining everything about the painting of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
Thanks to him, when we left Rome and traveled to Florence, we were able to appreciate all the great works of art in that city in a manner we never would have- had it not been for what he had demonstrated for us.
We learned that most people simply have no basic instruction for appreciating art, and as a result, they do not get the full measure of enjoyment out of being in the presence of great creations.
Like this one: