I will always remain in awe of any culture’s self-expression through art. Being in Rome, this is evidenced everywhere. There is art in the architecture, the landscaping, the food, and of course, the art.
What better way is there to spend a sunny afternoon than in the airy lightness of an art museum? Not just any museum either, but the Vatican Museum that takes you on an overwhelming adventure of color, just to drop you oh so casually in the Sistine Chapel.
This past weekend allowed all of my daydream FAS 201 fantasies to come true. I stood in the presence of works of art that, only a semester ago, were simply pictures in a textbook or on a quiz. I think I walked around for over two hours with my jaw open and my neck craned all the way to the ceiling in the hopes that I could take in even a small portion of the things I saw. The tour through the Vatican Museum is an age old example that it is just as much about the journey as it is about the destination. The Vatican Museum features sketches from Matisse, floor-to-ceiling tapestries, sculptures that spring from the marble, and maps of the ancient world. They say that if you were to spend two minutes in front of each piece of art, you would spend ten years of your life in the museum.
Suffice to say, I did not spend ten years in the museum; however, I made good use of my time and the student discount offered. Without a map and with a very relaxed time frame regarding actually getting to the Sistine Chapel itself, I took my time and couldn’t help but be surprised every time I turned a corner.
Which is how I came across the “School of Athens.”
While my A in Humanities and my month and a half in Rome by no means make me an art scholar of any sort, let me digress a moment to tell you why I love this painting with all my heart. Raphael paints the greats of philosophy. He places Aristotle and Plato at the focus and all their contemporaries lounge around them. They are young and old and they come from every school of thought as they ponder time and meaning and man and God. And they’re just chilling in the Vatican. I might be a nerd, but I think that’s awesome.
If you ever find yourself in Rome, the Sistine Chapel is a must see. That may sound like lame, self-explanatory advice, but I mean it. Stay until your neck hurts; lie on the floor and look up; listen to the signs, put your camera away, and shut up. Take that advice into the rest of life too, whether you’re in NH or abroad. Sometimes, just be present.