I took my first art history class as a high school senior, and that's when I first realized that I had to go to Italy. My college Italian Renaissance class only deepened my desire. I don't know why it took me three decades to actually get myself there, other than: kids, work, the price tag, other travel opportunities jumping in line. But if COVID taught me anything it's that you shouldn't wait to live the life you want to live. Tomorrow is not guaranteed.
So I found a deal, took the plunge and took the trip to explore Rome, Florence, and Venice, where I felt like I was finally meeting the beloved works of art I'd longed to see!
And then there's the buildings themselves. St. Peter's Basicillica has the famous dome by Michelangelo as well as his Pieta. The moving sculpture of Mary holding the dead Christ was behind glass, since someone took a hammer to it years ago, but I was still able to feel close as not many people were there. St. Peter's is the largest church in the world and the dome was built after Brunelleschi's Florence cathedral dome, which was built after the Pantheon dome. Florence as the biggest dome in the world at it's time of construction. Michelangelo was as arrogant as artists come, but even he had the humility to admit that although St. Peter's dome would be bigger, it wouldn't be any nicer than that of Florence. Speaking of Michelangelo, it was such a thrill to see the Sistine Chapel paintings. Here was an example of someone who was clearly "in over his head" as Michelangelo didn't know how to do frescos when he started, and didn't want to do the paintings at all. He had said that painting was for women and Germans, and signed one letter to the pope "Michelangelo, the sculptor, not the painter." But sometimes life requires us to do the jobs that are less pleasant for the greater good, and I'm grateful for that masterpiece.