So, there I was making my way through one long hall after another, each filled with the most amazing artwork in the world. Everything from Egyptian coffins and Etruscan pottery to paintings by European masters and Greek sculptures. Every doorway was a colossal arch held up by marble pillars, every ceiling decorated with frescoes and ornate golden trim.
Here's the scene as I entered the Gallery of Maps.
A few steps down the corridor I looked back and up and here's what I saw:
To say this is art and architecture on the grandest scale is an understatement. Descriptions such as profound genius and epic masterpieces seem to fall short. As I walked along the corridor, I listened to the audio guide and learned that Pope Gregory XIII, back in 1580, commissioned a map maker to draw and paint detailed maps of Italy along the corridor which is over 100-meters long. The maps look like this:
The intricate detail showing wooden ships with their sails full as they crossed the Mediterranean to Greece and Egypt made me wonder about the adventures those sailors must have had back in the 1500s. The elaborate paintings of sea creatures made my imagination run wild.
As you well know if you have read this blog before, I love nautical artwork in all its forms, including sea stories, novels, movies, tattoos, drawings and paintings. All I can say is that I was very happy, surprised and impressed with the fine details found in these old paintings. I would give almost anything to be able to travel in a time machine back to the mid-1500s and be able to meet with the artist who painted these marvelous pictures. I would give almost anything to be able to sail with the sailors back in those days, when the sea was full of mystery and monsters.
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Malcolm Torres is the author of sea stories and nautical fiction.