Sunday, June 28, 2009

Day Nine: When in Rome....

We woke up early, and went with our group to the Vatican. Someone mentioned when following such a busy schedule, and seeing so many things, sometimes the only thing to do is to choose 'one' of each series of sites to see. One church you want to spend a lot of time at, one museum etc, etc, etc. This is all to say...we did go to the Vatican, we went into St. Paul's Basilica, but we did not see the Sistine Chapel, or any more of Vatican City. I do plan to go someday, maybe with someone Catholic so I can see it through their eyes? We chose to walk around St. Paul's which is GORGEOUS. At one point I could hear psalms being sung, and I looked down at this golden seal in the floor, and below a service was being held. We also saw the balcony the Pope waves from on Sunday, and seats were being set up for services.

After the tour, we headed on to do some shopping, and walk across the Angels, and Demon's bridge.

We also got to have a leisurely pizza lunch, and gelatos. We met up with the rest of the group after their tour, and headed on to the Forum, and Colosseum. We had a local guide throughout the day, and a little treasure called 'Whisper Headsets.' She had a 'Britney Spear's' head-microphone, and we each had small battery packs, and ear plugs so as we walked in a large group, through crowded areas, we could hear all the details of what we were seeing broadcast in our ears by our guide. If you haven't had the good fortune to see Italy, I have to say, again-it's SO hot! Luckily, I brought a bottle of water, and there are fountains with 'safe' water in a lot of locations where you can refill your water bottles, but even at that....smarter people brought umbrellas to hide from the sun, and they sold frozen bottles of water for struggling tourist. By the end of our walking tour, that included a lot of the group-both young and old. We started our tour walking through the Forum, where government, business, and faith matters took place centuries ago in Rome. WE saw the seven hills, various Arches, old Government Buildings, and Temples, and the place Caesar was cremated.

Next, we made our way across the uneven cobblestones to the Colosseum. It was interesting to see there were even 'numbers' above each gate entry for the tournament ticket holders who attended the shows here. You can see into the hallways that ran below the wooden floors, and there is graffiti scratched all over the walls, both old....and new.

Outside the Colosseum men dressed as Roman Soldiers milled trying to get you to take a picture, and if you take them up on the offer, they will pester you until they get a Euro or two. (My friend warned me about this in advance, it's not really my style, but I thought I'd pass along the advice.) It was so hot, we chose to head back to the hotel to cool off for a bit before going out again. We walked up and down the streets near our hotel, and entered a local shopping market (I love to see grocery stores in other places, whether it be Amory, Mississippi (did I ever tell you about that, Nicole?), or Rome, Italy). We got (another) gelato...yes, they really are THAT good, and great for cooling off, and then we found a pizza place. I learned that Pepperoni Pizza is actually peppers, and if you want the 'American' version of Pepperoni, ask for Salami. Lots of people also told me if you want the best food, go where the locals go, which is NOT next to the big attractions. Restaurants by big sites don't really care if you return, but if you go to the back streets etc, you have to have a reason for making the effort to go to these places. This pizza was worth the effort. They have the BEST brick oven pizza in Italy. My favorite food came from Italy.