Kate's Queen City Notes

Blundering through Cincinnati, laughing all the way


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The Vatican & The Colosseum

Our guide at The Vatican was a lovely man. But he pointed out, too many times really, each time something was painted to look at though there are three dimensional decorations. While we lumbered through The Vatican we were regularly treated to him pointing to something and saying “It’s painted.” We got used to this familiar refrain, and we found ourselves reflexively saying “it’s painted” every time he drew our attention to something.

His consistency made it remarkable when his repetitive statement changed once we entered St Peter’s Basiclica. St Peter’s has had a history with fire and has had several of them over the years. Some wise guy during a rebuild had all the paintings replaced with mosaics. Have you guessed yet? It’s mosaics. It’s all mosaics.

And these two statements have come home with us.

 

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The Vatican And The Colosseum Is A Lot For One Day

I think I am sensitive to echos of the past. I have seen ghosts, and have lived haunted places. I am honestly not sure I believe my own experiences, so I completely get your skepticism.

Regardless, my life goes better when I take some care in going into spaces that have held big human emotions for decades and centuries. I get fatigued in antique stores. I love them, but I need to monitor my energy level and leave as soon as I feel fatigued, otherwise the emotions attached to those objects can overwhelm me.

So, I needed to be mindful going into the ancient places in Rome, like the Colosseum, the crypts, and catacombs. I have a grounding ritual where I envision sealing myself with white light, and I made sure to do that before entering any of those spaces.

Does it actually work? Who knows. The placebo effect works around 50 percent of the time. So maybe it works because I believe it to be so. That’s good enough for me.

So, in addition to that at The Vatican there’s the mental fatigue that comes from reconciling the raw political power and wealth of the church with a poor rebel who said things like the meek shall inherit the earth. I don’t even really ascribe to these beliefs anymore, but the ostentatious display of wealth at The Vatican still made me feel nauseous. Further, it was difficult for me to see these riches and then think about how the church in its response to abuse allegations clearly moved to protect these riches and its reputation over protecting children.

As if those aren’t reasons enough to feel drained, we also walked over 30,000 steps on this day. So. I am so thankful for this experience. But this day was hard on multiple levels, and I feel bad in no way whatsoever to say that I will never go back to The Vatican again.

On thing of note: we have no pictures of the Sistine Chapel. Photography is forbidden in there. It was amazing, but kissing the papal ring and giving them an offering of money once was enough. I will not do it again.


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First Day In Rome – The Pantheon & Trevi Fountian

On our first day in Rome, we walked around and got our bearings. We checked out The Spanish Steps, The Trevi Fountain, and the Pantheon. Rome at a population of 2.8 million is quite a bit bigger than Florence, a mere 300K. It felt it.

We learned that the Pantheon was originally a pagan temple that had been turned into a memorial for Christian martyrs. This became a theme in Rome. Pagan temples seemed to be frequently re-purposed churches. Which doesn’t feel weird to me until I think about what would happen if the Church of Satan bought up St Patrick’s Cathedral in New York and flipped all the crosses around.

One thing that might not be apparent in all our pictures was that most of the places we visited in both Florence and Rome were jam-packed with people. And The Trevi Fountain was no exception. But I just adored it. It’s oddly tucked away, and it feels like you emerge from a unremarkable alley right into it. I liked it so well that we circled back to it later, so we could get some pictures of it at night. I think it’s partially that its placement in the city feels like so much of a surprise, and partially that some of the marble is unfinished and provides such a dramatic contrast to the sculpted stone.

Forgive me because, I just wanted to share all the pictures we took of it. I just loved it.