Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Monday, June 8th, after Tarquinia. The approach to Rome was serene with Villas perched on rolling hills and some industry here and there and then bam! We were plunged into a whirlpool of confusion. Which road to get of off the autostrada, oops, looks like we didn't make a good choice! We're stuck in traffic at 6pm and the map is absolutely no help nor are the road signs. Everyone knows where they're going except us which must be similar to how mom feels every day when she wakes up, like she's been planted in some strange land without the brain cells or problem-solving skills to figure it out. But, we don't have Alzheimer's so surely we can figure out what to do. Keep driving is about the best answer until we end up somewhere. The "newer Rome" didn't excite us enough to turn into one of the many hotels. As usual we ended up exactly where we mean to to be, this time in the heart of Ancient Roma, tho, it took almost an hour before that happened.

We circled one block chock full of hotels until we were dizzy, no parking, and ended up blocks away where a few spaces were available. Of course the walk was uphill and being that I was completely out of breath all I could do was point down an alley. Three star hotel looks good enough to me. Yes, they had a room for two nights and parking is available in front, most of it requires feeding a machine. Collecting the car wasn't easy, one-way streets, congested traffic, and what was the name of the alley? We parked the car on the opposite side of the hotel and the manager said, "You're lucky, you found a space that is free." We didn't move the car again until we left Roma.

The upper two photos are: the view out of the hotel room, not the best, but the room was quiet being that it was off the main streets. Notice the satellite dishes and roof-top gardens, that is when you click on the photos to enlarge. The upper right photo is the restaurant we ate at; the only disappointing meal on the trip.

June 9, Tuesday. Hotel Colosseum was, yep, not too far from the Colosseum where we had decided to get on a tour bus. (The remaining 4 photos above are in route to the Colosseum and buildings near it. We found the sign for the tour bus pick-up and waited and waited and then I thought, Hm, shouldn't there be people lined up, shouldn't there be someone taking money, shouldn't there be? I took the brochure from R. and started to find answers. Seems we were at the vacation pick-up spot, not the daily one that is way over on the other side of the Colosseum! Long walk and of course we got there in time to see the tour bus pull away. Next one is in an hour! But, wait, there is another tour bus company that goes to the same places. Seats galore!

Suddenly it was imperative that we go to Vatican City even though we'd discussed staying on the bus for it's entire route rather than get off at various stops; the purchase of a day pass allows one to get on and off. Did I mention that Rome had blown me away the night before? After dinner we walked quite awhile, I love balmy evenings when people are out until very late. The night life in large cities would be the only reason I'd consider living in one, nope, not a good enough reason. Near the restaurant there were ruins, churches, old building,s and statues all lit up and if fatigue hadn't overpowered us we probably wouldn't have walked back uphill to the hotel at 11pm

Vatican City! (Last week I re-read Dale Brown's "Angels and Demons" mostly because it was set in Vatican City and Rome and because I couldn't remember the story! One of the main characters, Vittoria responded to the question, "Do you believe in God?" "Science tells me God must exist. My mind tells me I will never understand God. And my heart tells me I am not meant to." That about sums it up for me.) I never have expectations when I go somewhere, that way I'm not disappointed so I wasn't expecting the emotions I felt as we approached St. Peters and stood in the square surrounded by Bernini's columns. Awe? No, more powerful than that. The line to go through security wasn't too long and once through that we got audio tours and ended up in the line for the grottoes. Rather than write a history lesson go here to read more about St. Peters.

Photos: left, taken from the steps of St. Peters looking out on the square and beyond. The dome. Middle left, the Pope's High Alter. Swiss guard guarding the entrance to the Pope's lair, and if we'd known that one can approach a guard to get tickets to Wednesday morning seating when the Pope speaks, well, it would have been a nice memento. Bottom left, a pope in the grotto. Columns in the square.

Inside St. Peter's is vast, spine tingling, the art!, jaw dropping, the art!, dripping with history, too dark for photography, and did I mention the art? We spent more time there than we imagined we would in what seemed like acres of splendor! When we stumbled back outside we discovered that it was drizzling. Food sounded good and up the street we found a pizzeria with very few tables available. A waitress picked up someones back-pack from a chair, separated two tables and plopped menus on the table. "sit!" Okay! I don't think I would have been pleased to return to my table and find my back-pack on the ground, the gal who was sitting there took it in stride. "Hi." when we returned the "hi" I think that the three of us were thrilled that the waitress had commanded we sit there. Diane was from Sarasota, FL, traveling alone, about 40'ish and after 14 days in Italy was going home the next day. She'd been to Venice so we shared experiences, Tuscany, we were still hopeful about having that experience, Cinque Terr, we'd done that, and Portofino. The pizza wasn't great, but the wine and company was outstanding.

The sky had cleared up and we were off to the Sistine Chapel. (to be continued)

This quote is perfect for Roma! Traveling is almost like talking with men of other centuries." -- René Descartes

1 comment:

queenopearls said...

Awesome! Love it... at the end of your post a woman from my "home town" of Sarasota!
Love your description of St. Peter's.
One more mental tour for me, thank you!