Friday, July 3rd, Rome
Pictures are HERE.
We had to meet at 6:50 am for our tour (yes, that is am as in morning). We were blue 5, and Morgan did pretty well getting there on crutches and to the bus. We had about an hour drive over the Rome, and we left a little late so we arrived around 8:30. We did make a pit stop at a little gas station where we went to the Restroom and Morgan got some M&M’s. She was happy. Morgan sat next to Papa, Mark and Grams sat together, and Mike and I sat together. I was amazed during the drive at how much it looked like Tennessee. The rolling green hills were so nice. Of course, the trees were a little different and there were palm trees here which you don’t see in Tennessee, but it still reminded me of home.
When we got into Rome, the first thing that struck me was the graffiti. It was everywhere – on cars, walls, doors, anything you could imagine. It was sad as there were many old beautiful buildings that were disgraced.
We first drove around a bit and saw the where Caesar lived, where Mussolini gave his speeches, the wedding cake building, the old senate where Caesar worked, and many churches and other buildings. We then got out of the bus and walked for a LONGGGGGG way to see the same things in more detail. We had to carry Morgan most of this way, and this took about 3 or so hours. It was hot too, so you can imagine how fun it was to walk and carry Morgan while trying to listen to a difficult to understand guide (we didn’t care for this guide as much but the one who came with us from the port was incredible to us – Luigi). Despite the difficult circumstances, the sights were simply amazing. It is truly like seeing the history books open right in front of you. I thought we would get to go inside the Coliseum, but you only could see the outside. We started with the Trivedi Fountain. They say if you throw a coin into it that you will come back to Rome. We also saw where Michangelo lived even though the building has been torn down. We saw where he was originally buried until he was moved. Such a rich and amazing history. The guide also said that 70% of the workers in Rome are government workers. I wonder how that compares to Washington DC. I will have to look it up.
After the exhausting but fabulous morning, we went to eat lunch at Ristorant da Arturo. We had this salad that I didn’t eat (it had tuna fish on it and I don’t like tuna fish) and then we had amazing, melt in your mouth, lasagna. It was sooooo good. We decided that the fresh pasta makes all the difference. We also had some local wine and some tiramisu for dessert. Even Grams liked the tiramisu and she doesn’t usually like it. We got Morgan some butter noodles, and she was happy. When I first asked the waiter who didn’t speak much English, he brought out a bowl of butter. It was kind of funny. Next, he brought pasta with tomato sauce. Finally, he understood that we wanted plain noodles for butter. :)
After lunch, we went to the Vatican. We started with the museum, and ended in the Sistine Chapel. Thankfully, Luigi said we could get a wheelchair for Morgan, and we were SOOOOOO excited. She didn’t even complain, so that was a bonus. Our guide explained what we could see in the museum, and she explained the panels in the Sistine Chapel. Morgan and I had to do some elevators and ramps, but we kept up for a while. The statuses from the Roman times are amazing, and there were pictures made out of cloth that looked like paintings but they were not. Also, many of the ceilings had flat paint, but it was made to look like carvings and were 3D. We giggled a bit that they removed all of the genitals off the men and put fig leafs in their place. How would you like to have THAT job?
At some point, Grams was pushing. Luigi said that we needed to go to the elevator. So, Grams took Morgan and they went. Next thing you know, we have to take a “detour” because it is crowded (according to a guard), and we wander for at least 30 minutes through many rooms with pictures, statues, and who knows what else because our guide had us practically running through the rooms. It was very difficult to keep up with her. We finally ended up in the Sistine Chapel. I have seen pictures of it, but they don’t do it justice. It is simply incredible. Of course, some man was hired to paint clothing on the naked bodies after Michaelangelo died. They called him the Underwear Artist. We learned that the left and right sides were painted by someone else, and the Judgment Day painting poked fun at the Cardinal by giving him donkey ears and having a snake bit his genitals in the picture. I guess that is what you did back them when you didn’t have a blog to air your opinions. :) It was also pretty cool to see his self portrait in the skin in the Judgment Day painting. Mike wanted to know how much the people get paid to "shh" people in the Sistine Chapel (you can't talk in there).
After the Sistine Chapel, we walked all the way around the Vatican Walls (our guide kept telling us that it is its own private country) to get St. Peter’s Bastion. Unfortunately, Morgan was on her last leg (no pun intended), and Grams and Papa waited with her since they had seen it before. I am not even going to try to explain how amazing this is, but I will say that I was truly shocked at how large it is and at how incredible all the status, paintings, and the tomb of St. Peter are. THEN, a mass started while we were there. It was really neat to hear it even though it was all in Latin and I had NO idea what they were saying. :)
We saw where the Pope’s office is (corner of gray building in the pictures – the light was on and Morgan wanted to know what “work” he would do”? We saw where the smoke is used to indicate if the pope has been elected or if he hasn’t.
To end the tour, we of course stopped in a gift shop for gifts and for restrooms. We got some drinks, and Mike and I got a couple of books. Then, we went toward the bus and headed to the ship. When we got back, we went to dinner in the Lido restaurant. They were having all Italian night for dinner, and I had cheese tortellini and sugar free chocolate ice cream (with some chocolate sauce on it that did have sugar in it). It was really good.
We sat on the deck for a bit chatting, and then we went to bed after a long day of touring. :) I cannot believe that the cruise is almost over. :(