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Published: April 11th 2005
It's been a bustling, bang-up couple of days, and now I admit I'm just plain tired. We're in the London Stansted airport waiting for a 2:20PM flight to Shannon (it's 9:15AM now). And I'm EXHAUSTED. We went to Pompeii for the day yesterday (Sunday) and didn't get back to our hostel in Rome until 2AM. That wouldn't be so bad except that this morning we boarded a bus for the Rome Ciampino airport at 4:30AM. No sleep for us, except for maybe a 30-minute nap and any broken periods of sleep on the Rome-London plane!
So, a re-cap of what's happened since our first day in Florence:
Saturday morning, of course, we were in Florence. We slept in in our comfy beds at Hostel Pio X (just a brief walk from the city centre), which was tucked away but grande and marblized and fairly quiet. We wandered around Florence after buying some delicious croissants for breakfast. We spent most of the time looking around at some of the markets and shops downtown, and also checked out the inside of the Duomo. Then, we caught an afternoon train to Rome (later than we'd intended since I/we misread our tickets) and
arrived in just enough time to view St. Peter's Basilica and the Piazza San Pietro. We took the Metro there after getting to Rome at about 5PM, and we toured the building while listening to the mass being conducted. The building was beautiful, with gilded ceilings and marble everywhere-- it was quite an impressive sight! I was glad we got to go. Unfortunately, the Sistine Chapel was closed, but that just gives me a good excuse to go back to Rome! Candles were still being lit for the Pope in the Piazza, and the chairs from the ceremony were still set up through the square. It was quite fascinating to be there.
Yesterday (Sunday), after staying the night in the lovely Friendship Hostel, we attended Mass at S. Maria Maggiore (St. Mary Major) church near the main train station. It, too, was very beautiful, and it was good to spend our Sunday morning in God's house, and it was fun to hear all the prayers and homily and such in Italian. Quite different from what I'm used to!
After mass, we caught the 11:45 train to Napoli (Naples) and then took a connecting train to Pompeii, getting to
the latter town a little after 2PM. After a little wandering, we finally found a gate to the ancient ruins of Pompeii (covered by ash from the volcano Vesuvius in 79AD and uncovered by archaeologists beginning in the 1700's, wonderfully preserved). I must say, Pompeii was amazing. Unfortunately, it rained almost the whole day, but I would still say our adventures there were succesful! We just kind of wandered around with our free map because none of us wanted to fork over the dough for a guidebook, but it ended up working out okay. So many of the buildings were so well intact, it was crazy-- they were full of frescoes, mosaics, Latin graffiti (written before 79AD), clay pots, statues, columns, atria-- it was exceedingly fascinating. In some cases, whole buildings were intact, so well preserved it seemed like we were walking onto movie sets or something, replicas of that earlier period. I was like a kid in a candy store-- I was finally in Pompeii after so many years of hearing all about it!
When my friends finally enticed me away from the ruins, we got a couple pizzas at a local pizzeria (again) and ate them at
Fresco at Pompeii, Italy
the train station. Then, we had our last round of gelattos and waited for the train. Then, of course, there was the great train fiasco where we missed our connecting train to Rome, ended up on another train to Rome that took us to a station further out from the main one... once at that train station, we tried to take the metro, but it was closed, and the connecting regular train to the main station was delayed by 3 hours... well, we eventually ended up taking a cab to the main station, but, like I said earlier, by that time it was late. So, the trip back to Rome was kind of frustrating, but that's what traveling's all about!
So, a fun trip to London and Rome, and now I'm heading home again. It's nice to be back in an English-speaking country (though I did learn some Italian while there: Buonjiorno (hello), grazie (thank you), and prego (you're welcome, or some form thereof)... heck, I'm almost fluent!), but I hope to go back to both cities someday!
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