Roman Holiday (Italy Day Six thru Nine)Day Six in Italy, Scott and I decided to give my weary parents a break from driving us around sightseeing. It's not just that the parking in these old cities can be a nightmare, but these treacherous mountain switchback roads, crazy Italian drivers who will gladly risk a head on collision around a blind corner just to get ahead of you and a double line down the center of the road is merely a suggestion and not a law, makes driving very stressful. So we decided to take the train into Florence from Lucca to visit some of the sights we missed including the interior of the Palazzo Vecchio and more of Santa Croce as well as doing some shopping which gave me a chance to practice my phrase book Italian. We had a great day and it was good practice for our train ride down to Rome where we spent three days together exploring the city.
We stayed in a strictly no-frills hotel in a gritty neighborhood near the train station. But it was clean, comfortable and cool, each room coming with its own air conditioner--a rarity in Italy. Like many of the businesses in Italy, the hotel is family owned and operated. The older couple who runs it speaks no English, but we managed to communicate anyway. Luckily I can understand a bit of Italian and could express myself adequately enough to get by. For example when we walked in to check in, the husband yelled up the stairs to his wife who was cleaning rooms as to which one was ready. She yelled down to him and then he led us up the stairs to our room. The lady's tone changed immediately when she saw us, suddenly becoming the gracious hostess and then began apologizing in Italian and yelling at her husband when she saw we were two men because the beds were not "separato." I assured her it was "non problema" which gave her a chuckle and that was that. After we got settled in, we left with the tourist map the husband had given us with all major sights circled and the best routes to take penciled in and headed for the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. We even managed to toss three coins in the Trevi Fountain before sitting down to a late dinner.
On Wednesday, we decided to dedicate the entire day to seeing the Vatican. We also vowed to conquer the subway system after coming home with aching feet the night before. The system was easily navigable (only two lines) and we zipped up to the Vatican in no time. The Pope happened to be saying mass in Saint Peter's Square when we arrived, but don't worry, I dropped Dave's name to illPapi57, and we got right passed the guards. (By the way Dave, he still feels really bad about the lousy job he did covering your blog, he told me to make sure you knew that--again.) Anyway, we toured the Vatican museums which contain an inordinate number of naked male statues and paintings---WAY more than female ones--that's all I'm sayin'. And of course the tour culminates with Michelangelo's masterpiece, the Sistine Chapel. It's been cleaned since I saw it last and is truly more magnificent than ever. The figures appear to float in the air. It's truly inspirational. Later we toured St. Peter's Basilica in all its grandeur, marveling at Michelangerlo's dome and Pieta. We ended the day there with a gelato outside the Vatican gates and took the subway back to the hotel where we crashed before dinner.
Our third day in Rome there were still a few sights left to see before catching our 4:00 PM train back to Tuscany. Now masters of the Roman subway system, we made our way to the Pantheon, Spanish Steps and the Piazza Novana. We also made one more visit to the Forum so we could actually walk around in it. The first day we were there we arrived after 6 PM when
the sight closes. We snapped pictures, read the guidebook to fill us in on what we were seeing and then made a mad dash to pick up our bags at the hotel and catch our train. We cut it close though and had to run all the way to the very last track where our train was leaving from and collapsed for the ride home. All in all, we covered a lot of ground in Rome and I'm glad I was able to share it with Scott.
Below are pictures of the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, the Roman Forum, the Vatican Dome from the Tiber River, the interior of St. Pater's Basilica featuring Bernini's Baroque canopy beneath Michelangelo's dome and finally the Pantheon.
Labels: European Travel