Gallery of Maps --...another favorite area for me. I remember this from my last visit here in the early 70s and it is just as fascinating now. These painted maps were commissioned by Pope Julius XIII in 1580. Surprisingly it only took three years to paint the 40 huge panels in the 394 foot (120m) long hallway.
They are based on topographical map drawings of the Roman Empire by Ignazio Dante, a friar / mathematician / cosmographer (person who maps the general features of the cosmos or universe, describing both heaven and earth, but without encroaching on geography or astronomy...huh!). This Dante also helped improve the accuracy of the Julian calendar.
With the Apennine mountain range as the divider, one side of the hall depicts the areas along the Ligurian and Tyrrhenian seas and the other side shows the regions along the Adriatic Sea. The ceiling is also spectacular displaying scenes and saints in Christianity which relate to the maps nearby.
Most of current day Italy, along with the islands of Sardinia and Corsica. Note the maps were painted from the point of view of the pope in Roma, so sometimes in a weird juxtaposition.
Calabria, the toe of the boot. This map is a little disorienting as the area is painted in two parts, but actually they are completely and solidly attached.
Rhone and the city of Avenio (of the Roman empire, but currently in modern France).
Island of Sicily.
Island of Sardinia.
Map of Campania, includes Naples and the surrounding area. Remember the Pope is looking down from the north, so this map is also askew. In actuality Napoli lies on the west coast of Italy, yet appears to be facing east here. So north is really at the bottom end and south at the top.
This is the port of Civitavecchia just north of Rome. Notice the ship at bottom carrying a huge obelisk. Maybe it depicts one of the Egyptian obelisks we saw while touring Rome.
The Contemporary / Modern Collection --You've already seen Michelangelo's famous Pietà in the cathedral. Here is another famous sculpture that I'm sure you recognize. It is The Thinker. This is one of several versions created by Auguste Rodin (1840-1917). It represents the other Danté contemplating his poem The Divine Comedy.
This contemporary piece was displayed near the end of our tour. It is Mater Purissima (Mother of Most Pure), Pope Pius XI by Adolfo Wildt, an Italian sculpture, in 1931.
This is The Madonna by Lucio Fontana. This is a chunky but elegant piece from the mid-fifties. Its location later became the Matisse display area, but the sculpture was too heavy to move, so they left it there.
There are a number of Matisse pieces highlighting his attachment to religious thought. This 1949 media piece is cloth cut-outs. It was the cartoon for a stained glass window in Vence (south of France) titled The Tree of Life.