My recent run-in with the Mona Lisa at the Louvre has made me a little nervous about my upcoming trip to Italy. I probably won't visit a museum as immense or crowded as the Louvre, but I understand that the cities of Rome and Florence are so densely packed with fine art that they may as well be open air galleries. Strange as it sounds, I don't know how I will deal with all this art. For many, art isn't something that needs to be dealt with. Indeed, these people are content with simply basking in the magnificence of masterpieces. I, however, am afraid that all the creative brilliance might leave me feeling museumed out.
You can get museumed out (or churched out, as the case may be) when you've seen so much beauty that you stop appreciating it. It's only natural; when faced with the extraordinary for several consecutive days, it ceases to seem special. I believe some have a greater capacity to be inspired by genius, but we all have a limit. You know you may have reached yours when you are secretly overjoyed that the church you planned to visit is closed for renovation, or when sitting in the hotel room watching Alf in Italian seems more appealing than the local gallery.
I am very excited about this trip to Italy and I love the people with whom I am travelling. Because I don't want to spoil it for all of us, I've developed a three-pronged strategy for combating the symptoms of getting museumed out:
1. Relive my SAT prep days by scouring the thesaurus for synonyms for the word 'beautiful.' When gazing at yet another culturally significant work of art or architecture I need not fall back on the word 'cool' to express my sentiments. I'll throw out 'isn't that resplendent?' to keep it fresh.
2. Set a cap on the number of churches and/or museums I can see in a single day. If I happen to walk by a church, fountain or important looking sculpture, after I have met my quota, I will simply have to walk the other way or cover my eyes and have Mickey lead me to an art-free zone. Even if my friends want to see another museum after I have reached my cap, I will hold my ground and decline. If this means I must spend the afternoon shopping and eating gelato, I am prepared to do that in the name of not getting museumed out.
3. Remember the lesson learned from the Louvre and read up (or listen up) on the art prior to viewing it to enhance my appreciation and enjoyment. If I had even more free time, I would read a novel, set in modern times or historical fiction, about the places we are about to visit. Nothing gets me more psyched up about travelling than reading a great story set in your destination. I started John Berendt's City of Falling Angels in Preparation for my trip to Venice, but to be honest, watching ABC's The Bachelor: Rome got me pumped about this trip.
At the end of two weeks in Italy, I'll let you know how these strategies held up.