Next spring I’m traveling to Rome, and taking six weeks to wash the dust of the world from my soul. My primary goal is to thoroughly explore the Vatican Museums. It’s a challenging prospect; this bastion of papal privilege is filled to the brim with the best art that power and wealth could accumulate, but housed in a venue conceived and built for the delectation of a very limited audience. As a building, it was neither planned for nor concerned with the priorities and comfort of multitudes tourists.
As I see it, the three most daunting obstacles are
- The one way system. There are set routes through the museum and no backtracking is permitted.
- The paucity of bathrooms. I’ve read there are four. Holy cow.
- The surge of tourists, art lovers and pilgrims alike, that can transform the experience of viewing art into something resembling an overcrowded TSA line.
I am going to have to bring my A-game in terms of strategy. I hope I am equal to the task.
The beauty part is Rome is covered up in amazing venues. Not only is every church door is worth opening, there are private museums I plan to visit and revisit. Caravaggio’s The Repentant Magdalene and Rest on the Flight into Egypt would be more than enough to bring me back to the Palazzo Doria Pamphilj, but they also have Velázquez’s portrait of Innocent X.