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Published: September 15th 2007
Hi! We have made it to Tuscany!!! I am sitting in the common area of a 13th century convent near the town of Montepulciano Italy - amazing - but more on that later. First to finish the Rome review. The city of Rome has a very relaxed and free feel to it, which surprised me being such a large city in a word it is fantastic. When walking through the streets of Rome, everytime you turned a corner there was another amazing ancient historical site. Homes and buildings have been built over top of ancient ruins and are used as foundations. It is sometimes hard to comprehend how old the building or art is that you are looking at. Point - the Pantheon is more than 1900 years old and is still standing even the large doors are original although restored. The ruins of old Rome are vast and they are still uncovering artifacts and sites. Although we were there for 5 nights, we could have stayed longer. It really does not seem enough time to fully view and appreciate all there is to see. Food continues to be great!! We have tried several different pizzas and gelato! Even though the
guidebooks had strongly warned about pick pockets and such - we have had no run ins of any kind. In fact the only pick pocket was when Wayne tried to get Stan's wallet!!!! We also did a one day tour to Pompeii. Again, this was overwhelming in the vast size and the how completely the large commercial city structures were preserved. You can still see paint colours on the walls, tiled floors and many murals. I am going to add more pics but they really don't do justice to what we have seen. Tomorrow we are going to explore the area around Sant' Antonio which is where we are staying. Sant' Antonio itself is a spectacular spot - the internet pictures do not do it justice. We had a nice dinner at 'home' tonight looking forward to more exploring tomorrow. Below find two more updates from Stan. Take care, M.
TUESDAY, THE 11th of September:
As indicated in the previous blog, we chose the Vatican as the prime activity for Tuesday. We took the subway from the Spanish Steps to the Vatican. A huge, huge, bloody huge line-up faced us!!! We walked to the start of the line-up >>
interrogated by a would-be guide every 15 meters, to encourage us to pay “extra” to get into the Vatican Museum ahead of everyone else!! Did not Martin Luther protest (as in Protestant) about similar activity some several hundred years ago??? We move along, successfully ignoring the appeal to go to the head of the line, steadfast in our principled position that it would be immoral to render money to “moveup” >> and finally arrive in the centre of St Peter’s Square >> a huge Square immediately in front of the Basilica. Not just sure if Michele will be attaching pix to this blog >> but if she has, there will be ample pix of St Peters. After some indecision, some discussion, Wayne and I move toward a “Christian” Kiosk >> and after about 01 second of indecision, we pay $75.00 a couple (nothing comes cheap in Italy) to tour the Vatican Museum >> incidentally, that fee entitles US, (thank god we have both dropped our official status as members of the Protestant sect JJJ) to move to “the head of the line”!! With the benefit of hind site, I believe that each of us would agree that the museum was
Mouth of Truth
Wayne and I survived!!!
time well spent and we did see many many artefacts!! The ceiling paintings, the tapestries, and the hundreds of sculptures lined our ever ending path toward the Sistine Chapel.
Little family story here; remember Gramps had been to Rome i/c the Vatican >> some 52 years earlier. One must acknowledge, that is a long time ago!! As we moved along the museum route, I incorrectly identified a wonderfully painted section as the Sistine Chapel >> even as I type I believe it was more inspiring than the actual Chapel. HOWEVER; it was not the Sistine Chapel >> my memory had failed me!!! WE did eventually arrive at the Chapel but no pix were permitted. It is now getting well past lunch time >>> although we are beginning to adjust to the rhythm of life in Rome where one lunches late and dines much later >> like one begins dinner no earlier than 20:00 and ends about 22:00. So, leaving the Vatican Museum, we find a suitable place to lunch >> again a café on the sidewalk >> and following lunch we meet our Tour Guide for our 15:30 guided tour through St Peters. St. Peters is the largest Church in
Christendom (not sure if it is the largest in the world >> i.e. other religions may have a larger place of worship. Everything in the Church is huge; everything in the Church has a story, and of course everything has special significance to some people, and no significance to others. CASE IN POINT: As the thousands, and I am not exaggerating one bit, thousands of tourists pass by one particular spot (in the basilica) a group of folk are praying for the soul of the last Pope >> apparently intended to accelerate his elevation to saint hood!! Hmmmmmm!!!
I have to say that the Vatican is home to some of the finest paintings, finest artefacts in the world. It was “where it was at” for the most creative writers, musicians, painters, sculptures (sp) artist in general OF THAT PERIOD. The works of these artists are everywhere and the Church has served as a place of safe keeping during an extended period.
OH, just remembered when I had to reflect as to how we got back to our apt. on Tuesday night. When Wayne and I made that “instant decision” to purchase the tickets for the Vatican Museum, as a bonus
we were provided an Open Air Bus Tour around Ancient Rome >> which included an audio description. Unfortunately, as the monies were going to the Pope, and this was a Christian Tour, the complete emphasis was on the many noteworthy churches of Rome with total disregard for the many historical aspects of interest. Have to admit that this was our mistake >> not theirs. Notwithstanding this shortcoming, we did learn a good deal as to the location of the historical items of interest. (and the next day, Wed. we began our exploration)
Why that story about the Open Air Bus? We now jump on the Open Air Bus and take it as far as our Apt., the Spanish Steps.
HOWEVER; a story to tell. ON the walk from the Bus Drop off spot, Wayne syped a hat shop >> that is correct, your vision is not fooling you. He went in and purchased a white men’s phedora ~~ a la roaring 20s!!! The person selling told him “it is the best” that money can buy!! ($180.00 in fact). The name brand is “Borsalino”. If Michele catches this, she just may include the pix of Wayne leaving the store immediately following
Pantheon from the inside
It's hard to capture the size!
We get off and take the short walk to our apt. Wayne and I walk to the grocery store and purchase some goodies for dinner. Wayne made spaghetti; Lois made soup; I partook of both >> along with the wine!!! Another great day!!! Tomorrow will be Wednesday, the 12th of Sep.
I am doing this “catch up” on Friday, Sep 14th as Lois and I have a day of well deserved rest in the apt. Wayne and Michel are “out and about”!!
Gramps; Dad; Stan on 2007 09 14 12:03 local; 6:03 your time.
The Wednesday Report ~~ coming to you from Rome, Italy!!
Another weather perfect day as continue our exploration of Rome, with emphasis on “all things old”, as they call this part of Rome, the Ancient City. Remember the Open Air (Christian) Bus tour which was a part of our admission to the Vatican Museum >> we picked up where we left off on this round the town tour. That point was the top of the Spanish Steps >> not far from our apt. >> not far equates to a 7 minute walk. In order to maximize the benefit of our tour we
elect to do a complete circle, a complete tour in order to identify those places we could do justice to on this particular day.
Thus, after a 2 and one half hour circuit we decided on the Coliseum, the huge amphitheatre where gladiators fought with animals and other sorts!!! At one time they used to tell the story of how Christians were thrown to the lions in this very coliseum >> however; the story has now been “adjusted” to omit this reference. Adjacent to the Coliseum are a number of Arches >> the Arch of Constantine being perhaps the best known. While here in 1956/56 with Howard Hillier, I had my pix taken beneath this arch. ON this trip Wayne and I had our pix taken under the very same arch!! This entire area of Rome is “out of this world” >> so much has been done to expose and protect the buildings and way of life of those earlier times >> circa 2,000 hears ago. (Again, we have a zillion pix >> and that is only how many Wayne and Michele took lol); I also took a bunch. Story; we lunched right beside the Coliseum >> the waiter was
quite helpful and Wayne gave him a reasonable (perhaps generous >> don’t really know) However; after we tipped, and just prior to leaving, he brought us over a DVD and a colourful display book of this very area >> Roman Forum. Perhaps some of you will get to have a boo at it. You select the particular building of interest AS IT APPEARS NOW; you then place an overlay on top and voila >>> you see an absolute 1st class pix of how that very building looked when it was being used!!! The DVD does a similar thing.
After just an amazing look into the past, a pix that each of us enjoyed immensely, we began to make our way home. We had planned to visit one of the many Piazzas, Piazza Navono, on our way. WE did just that by using some of our about to run out time on the Christian Bus Line. Piazza Navona was different >> Piazza Navona was artsie and expensive. Wayne and Michele purchased some black and white prints and we all had a look, just a look at the more refined and expensive paintings offered for sale by the vendors >> vendors numbering
in the dozens. We elected not to purchase dinner in this Piazzo. Lois and I paid a trip to the local grocery store >> Wayne and Michele had plans to meet with her cousin. However; this did not work out >> so they dined in a local 5 star restaurant called Laurel in the World >> dining on ravioli stuffed with ricotta cheese and spinach in a fresh tomato basil sauce. 2nd course, chicken with peppers, while Wayne had peppercorn steak with gnocchi and a fresh light tomato sauce. Lois and I had veal cutlet and wine >> very very good.
Bed has to be somewhere in this equation >> Oh yes, Wayne and I travelled to the American Express (earlier that day) and purchased our excursion to Naples and Pompeii for Thursday’s activity. That will be our next episode.
Stan, Gramps, Dad and so on: 2007 09 14 18:53 12:53 your time.
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