michelangelo, mosquitoes, and motorcycles

Wooh, I am wiped. It might be the hypoglycemic effect of eating too much bread, or pizza, or gelato. It might be overexposure to Italian renaissance art, but I doubt it–I could spend a weekend in the Vatican.

Italy2013 050 IMG_2580[2]

I think it’s all that walking, and walking, and walking, and walking. I need my chiropractor, a couple Advil and a strong massage. Even the kids are complaining of sore backs and feet.


Have you heard of Michelangelo’s scribble in the Sistina Capella? They declare it a holy place, which requires silence, which no one but our family considered, despite the polizia presence.


….these are not pics of Sistine Chapel…the sign tells you why…the blue with gold stars was once what covered the ceiling of the Chapel…the other is a hallway leading to the Chapel…no pics allowed in the Chapel…

I’m not sure about the ‘holy place‘ thing, but it was impressive. He worked hard on that historical piece. Can’t imagine having my feet molded into my boots, unable to pull them out at the end of the day without removing some skin to boot…ha ha.

Michelangelo Buonaroti ate, breathed and slept “The Creation of Adam“, though he reported to his brother that he wasn’t fond of it. He didn’t paint the part about Noah; but after he had received “help” painting that aspect of the Bible story, he decided he would go it alone till the end. A perfectionist after my own heart.

Sure enough, four years later, he was asked when he would ever be done. He threw the brush down, mid-stroke and declared “finito“.

Yesterday, we thought we could cover St. Peter’s Cathedral AND Vatican Museum. Much like Paris’ Louvre, it is much larger than one thinks; the stream to the Mona Lisa, in Paris, wasn’t nearly as daunting as the stream to the Sistine Chapel. We were cows in a cattle drive. One misappropriated yell of “fire” and people would have perished.

Why did they like it so much? Rachel asked.

Since there was so much remarkable art in this museum, and she saw some of it on her birthday in the Louvre last year too, I can understand her question.

Can I be honest? I really like it. I am not capable of painting anything remotely similar or even in the same light year. But I don’t understand myself why it is considered holy.

Italy2013 042…the Pieta…

Italy2013 043

Maybe it was his genius, his natural aptitude. He’d fashioned the Pieta out of one piece of marble single-handedly when he was twenty four. People didn’t believe it could be anyone so young. He was so offended, he headed back to the statue and carved his name into Mary’s sash…his only signature to any of his work. Might be that.

Might be that he depicted the story of God’s intention toward mankind too, which in the Roman Catholic world, was all it took to get their attention. Why don’t we hear of Santa Michelangelo? Maybe Pope Francesco will still have his way.

Michelangelo had not seen the entirety of his work until the scaffolding was removed. Then he saw…that it was too small. So when he had a chance to do a little more work, he increased the size.

Seeing the Sistine Chapel was like one of those moments where you remember where you were on 9-11, or the day your husband proposed.

What was also memorable today were the mosquitoes. No, not that type that require a cream. Rather, Italia’s mosquitoes…people selling tickets in the line-ups: “It will take you three hours to get through the line-up. I can get you the tour for just 1 million Euros; and I’ll tell you all about Giotti and Raphaelo, though I know nothing about him. But you don’t know my Uncle Gino…his story’s interesting enough. I can tell you of his life, changing dates as needed…”

By the second dozenth scavenger, I looked one in the eye and bit: bit back, that is….if I need you, I will let you know!

But it wasn’t these guys that were evoking the deepest disdain in me. It was the impazzito conducente! After the near deaths of each of my family members these last few days, I was eager to learn a few ItaIian swear words.

Roman drivers make our hometown look passive, make New York look civilized, make Kenyan motorcyclists look timid.

Italy2013 028 IMG_2564[1]

The motorcycles weave in and through traffic….motorcycles line the walkways, dozens sit at all angles along the parkways, beside fire hydrants, encircling fire hydrants, cars too. When crossing crossworks, pedestrians can expect oncoming vehicles to speed up! The only way to get through traffic is to throw yourself toward it. And that is a little unnerving with four kids. There is so much illegal parking, if they borrowed a few of my hometown’s parking police, they could afford to reconstruct the Colosseum in a week.

But tomorrow we take the show on the road. I’ll admit, I’m a wee bit scared. Just cause we have International Driver’s licenses and thirty years driving experience, each, does not mean we can handle these drivers. We might need to get Papa Francesco to splash a little holy water and ask for a few Hail Mary’s. God bless us all.