Ciao from Rome. We arrived on Saturday afternoon after an uneventful flight through Amsterdam. On first impression Rome is a beautiful city. The architechture is stunning and the sun washed piazzas are incredibly romantic and inviting. We have enjoyed wandering about the tangled streets past tiny sidewalk eateries, imposing and decorative churches and throngs of people hanging around, eating, drinking, smoking, and talking.
On day one we started at the very beginning with the Colosseum and the Forum/Palatine Hill. I was apprehensive about visiting the Colosseum due to the massive amount of tourists that crowd in there every day (about 30,000). It's true that the crowds were oppressive, however we were not daunted by the usual busloads of tourists and slow shuffling families with video cameras aglow nor by the hour plus queue to get inside. We pressed on. We joined a tour and got inside a little faster and were given a brief oral history of the Colosseum and then we explored on our own. It was pretty impressive to think of all that had transpired there - especially if one enjoys gore and violence. Which i do.
After the Colosseum we went on a stroll though the ruins of the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. One must use one's imagination to envision what it must have been like in the days of togas and Tiberius, but it was fascinating to see the remains of temples and whatnot.
Following a tasty lunch of pasta and wine, we walked through various piazzas and to the imposing Pantheon and through the delightful Piazza Navona where we browsed through the stalls of artists selling their wares. Most of the artsist were quite adequate, though mostly similar to each other. We did find however one man selling these truly unique abstracts and collages made of paint and Italian news papers. I found one that roughly approximated an Italian skyline and bought it. And (quel surprise) Betty Lou bought a colorful painting of a street. One additional highlight was the Trevi Fountain which was more beautiful than i imagined. Sometimes the really familiar sights are lackluster in reality (i'm thinking of you, Champs Elysees) but this was not one of those times.
We hit a few notable cafes including the Caffe Tazza D'Oro and the Caffe Sant Eustachio where i had one of the best espressos of my life. We then had a couple of cockatils of the Campo de Fiori while listening to some jazz buskers and watching the sky darken.
Today we tackled the Vatican. We walked there and into Saint Peter's Basilica, which was really was beautiful and impressive. The crowds were not too bad when we arrived so we decided to buy tickets for the Vatican Museum so we could see the Sistine Chapel. The queue to get into the museum was not at all bad, although the crowds inside were very unpleasant. Like closely flocked sheep we were forced to shuffle down lengthy corridors before reaching the Chapel. The comingling of halitosis and body odors of the sweaty crowd only added to the experience. That said, i must say that the Sistine Chapel itself was worth the prelude. Yes, it was crowded inside, but the paintings themselves really were breathtaking and moving and we enjoyed sitting there in silence for some time taking it all in.
After the Vatican we walked up to the Spanish Steps and around that area and back to our hotel for a brief nap.
Now we are out again for more exploring and may find time for a glass of wine or a gelato before bed.
Betty-Lou is sitting here at my side, correcting my typos, and she wants to tell you that she LOVED when a gorgeous Italian man said 'Ciao, Bella!' to her.
Now that we have found an Internet Cafe, i can safely say that we will write again tomorrow. We don't have anything scheduled for tomorrow so we will just see where our whims take us.
d & b