This seems like the perfect day for me to potentially offend and alienate my readers with a blog about The Vatican. Well, not about The Vatican so much as the Sistine Chapel. Dan and I traveled to Italy for the first time back in 1997. As you can imagine, we spent a lot of time in churches. Big churches, little churches, famous churches. Sure, there were a few synagogues here and there, but mostly churches.
The Vatican Museum, St. Peter’s, and of course the Sistine Chapel were highlights of our trip. Regardless of your beliefs, it would be hard not to be moved by the beauty of it all. We saved the Sistine Chapel as the grand finale of our trip to The Vatican. We anxiously followed the lines on the floor that led us to The Chapel. There were nuns stationed everywhere, whispering “silenzio!” to the groups of school children. As we approached, there was a short staircase into the entrance, and a longer staircase below the entrance.
We were obviously very conscious of being respectful in this amazing place, and were silent as we came to the door. But then…the nun standing there whispered “Sistine Chapel to your left, restrooms to the right” as she gestured to either side of us. I definitely could not look at Dan as we considered our weighty philosophical decision. And while I’m sure the restrooms were lovely, I doubt the artwork was nearly as good.
Of course, I couldn’t help but start thinking about all those pearly gate jokes; St. Peter giving someone the thumbs up or thumbs down (and with all due deference, I’m sure it is more complicated than that). I mean it’s a pretty interesting choice; and metaphor I guess. Beauty v. The Toilet. To my horror I started giggling, and the next thing I knew one of those nuns was hissing “silenzio!” at me! I was scared straight and got my act together.
We spent quite some time enjoying The Chapel and marveling at the ceiling. It was magical. And the second time we went to Rome, I was prepared and got a picture of the set-up!
Of course, as you exit this amazingly beautiful place…you are dumped directly into a gift shop. For all your Sistine Chapel gift needs. And best of all, it turns out that The Vatican has a suggestion box. So, you know, I just mentioned a little something about the whole bathroom situation.