Today I have spent the day in the Vatican, the other of the three countries represented in Rome (Maltese order apparently has the third official country in Rome since they have been thrown out of the Malta island in the 19th century and kindly welcomed by the Pope in Rome).
It is definitely a very impressive place, especially the San Pietro Basilic and its incredible size. It is difficult to comprehend, given that a small plane can fly inside the 100m dome, or that the baldanchin below by Bernini is 30m high. As a side note, the bronze to make this baldachin comes from the roof of the Pantheon. As the romans say - what the Barbarians did not manage to distroy, the Barberini did (the family of the Pope who dared):
The Swiss guard is still guarding the Pope:
But the jewel of it all is the treasure of the Vatican museum, or museums as there are 14 of them. Not as big as Louvre, it took me all 6 hours to make a complete tour - and several rooms were closed for that. Below is the statue of Laocoon, a good start to understant a little bit better the forms Michel Angelo painted in the Sixtine:
And here is Michel Angelo, as depicted by his rival, Rafael, on his incredible stanza of Athene School. While Rafael was working on the rooms of the palace, Michel Angelo was painting the Sixtine Chapel - both started the same year!
It is said that Michel Angelo did not allow anyone to see his work except for the Pope. Rafael stole a glimpse and was so impressed that he had to change his own style to introduce Michel"s muscular ways (i.e. the knees of this Michel Angelo...). Notice the girl in the left corner - she and Rafael himself are the only ones in this picture looking directly at the visitor. An apparition, similar to Rembrand"s angel in the Ronda painting.
And not to forget the master, here is a detail from the Sixtine Chapel"s roof, the God father himself, in the process of creating the Sun and the Moon:
Nothing, no other Pieta, can meet the standards sat up by this work of a 23-year old, unspoilt like his marble, Michel Angelo entering the world of Art: