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June 18th 2014
Published: June 6th 2017
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Geo: 42.0912, 11.7968

Today we ported in Civitavecchia which is the port of Rome. We had a little later start since we were meeting our guide at 8:00.

We had arranged for a private driver to take us around Rome today. His name was Claudio and he was from Rome. He took us to his car and we started on what was supposed to be a 45 minute drive to Rome. We made it to the outskirts of town in no time but encountered a traffic jam (that later we found out had been caused by an overturned car). That delayed us about 45 minutes.

We made a stop at some ruins before heading to the Knights of Malta church where we saw an amazing view through the keyhole of the church. It was a great way to start our day. The next stop was just next door at San Sabina Basilica which was built in 422 AD.

One of our stops was the Coliseum. What an incredible structure. We learned that it took 5000 people only 5 years to build the Coliseum. It was originally a structure for water sports because it was built on a swamp. But, some time in its history, a basement level was added which is where they began hunting animal, allowing animals to deal with convicted criminals and watching gladiators fight the animals. After the fall of the Roman Empire, people started looting the structure for building materials for their homes and other buidings.

We spent the rest of the early day visiting all the sites of Rome. Capitol Hill, the "Wedding Cake", the Parthenon, Trevi Fountain, the prison cells of Peter and Paul, the Forum, many squares as well as out of the way fountains and neighborhoods that our driver loves that were all near his home in central Rome (including his barber).

He took us to lunch spot called, in english “The Roof” which is actually in the basement. We had caprese salad, pizza and pasta. It was a great restaurant in a tucked away part of town. We loved it. The waiter called Kelsie “blondie” and it made her giggle…she said that was one of her highlights of the day.

It started to rain while we were eating lunch but we were headed to the Vatican Museum for the rest of day so we weren't too concerned. We met Angela, our private guide for the museum, just across the street and she took us inside, through security and then had us wait while she picked up our tickets.

Because it was raining, rather than going outside into the courtyard, we spent a little time inside talking about the symbolism of the paintings on the Sistine Chapel ceiling and walls. We talked about the restoration project and how surprised they were, after cleaning the murals, that the colors were so bright. One section was left uncleaned so we could see the difference and it was remarkable.

After talking about the chapel, we started walking through the museum. I had never seen so many people in one place (including WDW on a hot summer day). The items in the museum were incredible as was the building itself. The map room was really cool as it had murals of all of Italy as it exists today but not as it existed at the time of the painting. Italy was only unified as a country in the mid-1800s but the maps in the museum show the unified Italy.

We then entered the Sistine Chapel. Talking and photography are not allowed in the chapel so we spent quite a bit of time just looking at the paintings. Three panels on the ceiling, painted by Michelangelo, show scenes from the life of Noah and the remaining center ceiling panels show the creation of the world. The rest of the barrel shaped ceiling area show different important people and events in the history of Christianity and also of Judaism. The two opposing walls show scenes from the life of Christ on one side and the life of Moses on the other. The front wall depicts the return of Christ and judgment day.

After spending time in the Sistine Chapel, we walked out of the Vatican Museum and next door to St. Peter's Basilica. This is a beautiful church where the remains of St. Peter are buried. The famous stature of Mary holding the crucified Christ is in the chapel. The church is very beautiful and filled with religious symbolism both inside and out.

We then met Claudio who had one more thing to show us before heading back to the ship. He took us to a street that is wide at one end and more narrow on the other. At the end of the street you can see the dome of St. Peter's Basilica. As you drive down the street toward the church, it seems to get larger and larger as though you are blowing up a balloon. However, the minute you get to the wider part of the street, it is like the air is let out of the balloon and the dome seems to instantly shrink. It was a great visual trick and was a fun way to end the day in Rome.

Our drive back to the ship was uneventful, we made it without any traffic issues and boarded in just enough time to freshen up a little and get to dinner. All on board was at 6:30 but it seems that there had been some traffic snarl that impacted the buses and at 6:30 there were still some 700 people out on shore excursions.

We ate dinner in Animators and it was the Master Chef series. Then our usual walk and some down time before we went to the Walt Disney Theater to see Maleficent in 3D.

Then, it was bedtime so we could be up and ready for an 8:15 shore excursion.

Ric: Shrimp, Caprese Salad, Beef Tenderloin and Sticky Toffee Date Pudding
Nikki: Fruit, Caprese Salad, Beef Tenderloin and Sticky Toffee Date Pudding
Regan: Fruit, Soup, Beef Tenderloin and Cheesecake
Kelsie: Fruit, Caprese Salad, Chicken and Sundae


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