Sunday, September 11, 2011

Roma days 5 & 6

Hello from beautiful sunny (and hot) Roma.  We have had 2 days of sightseeing since I last posted.  It is hot and humid here and very little wind so I am really sweating off the pounds (ha-ha).  Maybe I just won’t gain so much from all the pasta.

Saturday morning we got up and ate at the hotel and taxied to the Vatican Museum.  The lines waiting for tickets to get in were around the block but we fortunately had advanced tickets so could go right in.  The Vatican museum is huge and difficult to navigate because almost every sign is in Italian and there were no English maps.  We have noticed that in Italy there is much less English on signs compared to France.  Anyway, it is the largest collection of western art in the world and is 4 miles long if you see everything (and we just about did).  Much ancient Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Etruiscan artifacts, plus masterworks by everybody famous before the 15th century.  It ends at the Sistine Chapel which, as advertised, is an amazing experience.  It was very full of tourists, but it was breathtaking.

After that we went into St. Peter’s Basilica which is the largest and most impressive place I have ever been in.  Michalengo’s Pieta is there, he designed the Dome (over 300 feet from the floor to top) the Basilica is over 2 football fields long, and every surface, every ceiling, wall, floor, doorway, is gorgeous inlaid marble, mosaic, gilt, sculptured, carved by artists.  Jerry said if he ever decided to take up religion he would become a Catholic so he could go to church there. (Not going to happen!).  Then walking out to St. Peter’s square was another experience.  It is HUGE.

We took the Rome Metro (which is not nearly as nice as the one in Paris) back to Termini station, and walked the 4 blocks to our hotel.  We showered, changed, and slept for an hour or so in the air conditioning and then set off to explore down by the Coliseum.  Melissa and Phil Hess had suggested a restaurant in that neighborhood so we walked down to that area to find it.  Not open at all.  We even came back later but it was still closed.  So after walking 10 blocks we decided to look around the Roman Forum and Palantine Hill ruins which were not open but you can see very well from up above.

By now it is about 7:30-8:00 and we needed to find a restaurant but Jerry does not do well when his plans fall through, so we walked back the 10 blocks to the corner right by the hotel.  We had a great meal: Roman Bruchetta, Shrimp Risotto, Fettuccini with mushrooms, and a good bottle of Chianti.  Yum!  After dinner we walked back to our nearby wine bar and met 2 women from Vienna and visited.  One had been an English translator, so her English was quite good and we had fun visiting about traveling and the USA and Vienna, etc.  We finished off another bottle of wine there, but it was a beautiful night to sit outside.  We came back to the hotel about midnight.

This morning we got going right after breakfast and walked down to the Coliseum (10 blocks) to tour it.  It was hot again, and very sunny so we wanted to start before the heat got to us…..didn’t happen.  The Coliseum is HUGE….It could seat 70,000 people (bigger than Kinnick stadium on the outside).  The ruins are 2,000 years old and much of it is still standing.  We bought a ticket with an English tour guide to skip the long entrance lines, but she ditched us right after we got inside.  Oh well, we like to look on our own anyway.  The entire morning was just overwhelming thinking of the scope of the building and it’s ancient past.

  When we finished there we walked back to change and cool down and then left again for the Borghese Gallery.  It is small for a museum but houses the finest works of Bernini and Ruben and all the biggies from the Renaissance.  Besides the art the Gallery building is beautiful.  It was the home of the famous Borghese family and is really over the top.  Those tickets were timed so we only had 2 hours to see the collection (plenty of time).  We taxied home and have been resting since.

Tomorrow we train to Siena in Tuscany for a laid back rest day.  We are looking forward to a smaller city as Rome is very “busy”. Must get ready to go out for dinner, it is almost 7:30 and we have yet to decide where to go.   More later.  Ciao!

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