Rome, Italy

Jim enjoying his mozzarella, tomato and olive salad

Lasagna with a little Brunello di Montalcino to accompany

Italian security: sword and machine gun

Chestnuts for sale

A view of Rome from atop St. Peter's Basilica

Piazza di San Pietro (St. Peter's Square)

Part of Vatican City

Domes and towers on the roof of St. Peter's Basilica - only 320 steps lead you to this great vista opportunity.

The Basilica is a mammoth structure, covering 18,100 square yards and extending 212 yards in length, but the harmonious design makes the holy place feel inviting and not the least bit somber.

Inside St. Peter's Basilica you could spend a day, month or years gazing at the opulent and extraordinary architecture and design.

Michelangelo's Pieta (carved 1499-1500) is the most extraordinary sculpture I have ever witnessed. The innocence and beauty of the art literally brought tears to my eyes. I wonder if Michelangelo would say faith led him to this masterpiece or if it was solely his artistic ability?

Dress restrictions upon entering St. Peter's

St. Peter's Basilica (Basilica di San Pietro) - In 324 AD Constantine, the first Christian Emperor, decided a basilica should be built on the site where St. Peter was buried. In the 15th century, it was rebuilt and for two more centuries the plan of the new basilica constantly changed. Bramante designed a dome and Michelangelo adopted and implemented much of Bramante's work. Bernini decorated the Baroque style basilica from 1629.

3 November 1999 - Our first visit in Rome: the Sistine Chapel inside the Vatican Museums, which occupy space in the palaces built by the popes starting in the 13th century. On the walk to the Sistine Chapel we passed through the map room, which impressed me tremendously - walls graced with vivid, grand frescoes of maps with blue and green as primary colors and an even more ornate colorful ceiling painted with golden cherubs on intricate woodwork.

The Sistine Chapel (Cappella Sistina) was packed with hundreds of tourists looking directly up at the magnificent ceiling painted by Michelangelo from 1508 to 1512. The ceiling shows scenes from the Bible - Creation, the Flood and The Last Judgment (added by Michelangelo later in his life, 1534).

No longer are you allowed to sit on the floor and look up to observe the artwork. Signs show this is not permitted. I read that in the 18th and 19th centuries people used mirrors to view the ceiling so their necks would not ache. I tried this, but found leaning my head back offered a much better view than a mirror. When seeing this historical masterpiece, who cares if your neck aches?

Then to Piazza di San Pietro (St. Peter's Square) and Basilica di San Pietro (St. Peter's Basilica), which is the largest place of worship in Christendom. From the center balcony the Pope offers his message to the City and the World.

Inside the basilica, the first chapel on the right has the much-visited and photographed Pieta, which Michelangelo carved from 1499-1500. This marvelous marble piece brought tears to my eyes due to its obvious innocence in Mary and the sadness and frailty in Jesus. When viewing this work, I wondered at what point art and faith blended in the mind and heart of Michelangelo.


  Infrastructure problems in Italy and Rome (Jim)
  The Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica (Paige)
  Florence through Chianti to Siena to Rome (Jim)