|Photo: The storefront for an Italian clothing company named "Stop Here."|
The Domus Aurea was Nero's extravagant palace. Nero (he of "fiddling while Rome burned" fame) was not a popular leader, and after his death, the Domus Aurea was looted (our tour guide emphasized that Italians were big on reuse/recycle!) then buried in dirt. Now, excavation is ongoing, and we donned hard hats to tour the site. Because so much that was there in the past is now missing, or at least incorporated into other buildings, it is difficult to imagine how it appeared in Nero's time. Fortunately, our tour included a virtual reality experience that allowed us to envision the opulence.
|Photo: Three visitors, wearing yellow hard-hats, explore inside the tall bricked Domus Aurea|
|Photo: Some walls, such as this one, still contain remains of murals|
Although we toured only part of the palace, we were able to gather a better understanding of the enormous size of the Domus Aurea, and Nero's ego.
After our tour of the Domus Aurea, we decided to visit the Capuchin Crypt. No photos are allowed there, and quite frankly, I probably wouldn't have felt comfortable taking any even if it had been allowed. Room after room is filled with artistically arranged bones of friars. Even the light fixtures are made from bones. It is quite the sight. If one could forget the medium, one could appreciate the artistic ability more. The intended message, though, is one of hope through the resurrection of Christ.
We visited many churches while in Italy, but St. Peter-in-Chains definitely was memorable. It featured, as you might guess, a display of the chains that are claimed to be the ones that bound Peter when he was in Rome. When I read in the New Testament about Peter preaching in Rome, now I have a better picture in my mind.
|Photo: Chains are displayed inside a gold and glass container|
The Church of San Pietro in Vincoli (St. Peter in Chains) was impressive, not only for the chains, but also for Michelangelo's statue of Moses. This statue is part of the tomb of Julius II, and other statues also decorate the tomb. Michelangelo died before he could complete all of the statues, though, so the other statues were completed by other artists. The talent of Michelangelo is apparent when the detail in Moses is compared to the other statues.
|Photo: Even from a distance, it is apparent that Moses, the center figure on the bottom, is much more detailed than the other statues that surround him|
|Photo: A closer view of the statue of Moses shows how life-like Michelangelo could make a block of marble, with details such as Moses' curly beard, visible veins, and his flowing robes|
I certainly gained an appreciation of sculpture when in Italy, thanks in large part to this statue of Moses, and the side-by-side comparison to the other statues on the tomb.