Vatican City and the city of Rome are preparing for what could be the greatest event in modern history – the 500th Anniversary of the Sistine Chapel. Restorations of Michelangelo’s architectural projects are underway, and new sign-boards in Italian and English are being placed all over Rome where Michelangelo was involved in the art or architecture of a building or church.
Best Tours of Rome, a cooperative group of American, Canadian and English secular and art historians, also recognize the importance of this historical event, and are preparing a special series of tours to help travelers to Rome. There was already a huge emphasis on Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel before, and now, with the 500th anniversary approaching, these historians see an ever more pressing need to teach and direct tourists.
“I received all of my formal education here”, one American guide stated. “I know that 95 percent of us are not given a decent art education in the States, and it’s important to have that – just like parks are essential for the well-being of those living in a city, so also good art is necessary for our growth and development.”
Michelangelo Buonarroti was born outside of Florence in the year 1475. His mother died when he was still young, and his father was not initially enthusiastic about his career choice.
“What we try to do also is explain to students – it’s not about justifying disobedience – it’s about doing hard work, giving 150 percent to a difficult project and completing it.”
Michelangelo was a tremendously important artist in four different art styles – Early and Late Renaissance, Mannerist and Baroque. He actually started the Baroque style of architecture, but Gian Lorenzo Bernini will get most of the credit, about 50 years after Michelangelo.
As another historian explains, “Raphael did in fact sneak into the Sistine Chapel before the ceiling was completed, and copied what he saw. He recognized the importance of Michelangelo’s work before it was even completed. It’s a competitive world, but then, Raphael painted Michelangelo’s image in one of his own paintings.”
Who are the “Best Tours of Rome” group?
“Some of us came to Rome to study sciences like philosophy or theology and, being surrounded by such an intense and varied collection of art, realized there was more to life than we had imagined.”
Others arrived here already with their degree in hand, and recognized Rome as the best place to practice what they had learned.
What they all realize is a tremendous need to properly educate the masses. “We have to educate, and we also have to entertain. There is a fine balance between the two. A lot of people don’t realize that, and a lot of guides, unfortunately, don’t have the full picture, either. There is a tremendously beautiful culture here waiting to be discovered. We shouldn’t allow anyone to distract us with ‘Dan Brown’ style stories – half truth and half lies – at the expense of truth.”
Any tips on preparing for a trip to Rome?
“What I’m suggesting is that people should get to Rome now, if they plan on coming, before the big splash – 2013. The cost of travel and hotels are better during the off season, and I expect prices to rise for the 2013 celebrations.”
“Also, come during the off-season (November – skip Christmas – then, from January 8th until a week before Easter). Think about when Americans would never travel – Thanksgiving, for example.”
“Michelangelo painted a ceiling in a private chapel five-hundred years ago, and people are still talking about it today. It’s important to know why, and we are one of the few native English speaking groups that can answer those questions.”