Italy with the Family Day 15: Return to Roma

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July 8th 2014
Published: July 10th 2014
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Last night, Mark and I had carefully filled out the breakfast in our room slip and Mark put it outside the door. Then he remembered he hadn’t marked the time. We decided that we would ask for 7:00 to 7:30 since every other day, the breakfast has arrived at the very beginning of the half-hour. Meet-up time was 7:30; we figured breakfast would be delivered by 7:01 and we’d be in great shape. 7:00 comes; no call. 7:10; no call. 7:15; no call. We bailed and went to the Sky Ocean café, grabbed a coffee (for Mark) and tea (for me) and a sweet roll and off we went. We were a few minutes late but still not the last to arrive. Tami and Michael were late this morning but we still got off the ship in a timely manner.

The Steinberg family buses and drivers were waiting for us and we quickly loaded and headed out of Citavecchia (the port of Rome) and into Rome itself. Our driver, Titziano (like the painter) was a very personable young man who spoke excellent English. He was very interested in languages and history and talked a lot about those two topics. He was very impressed with Andrew’s knowledge of history. When we asked him the itinerary, he said Vatican first and then Colosseum. He said, “The Colosseum is not the real name of the building. Anyone know what it is?” Mark and Andrew both said, “The Flavian Ampitheater.” Titziano said, “Two years, I have never gotten the right answer until today.” Point for the Elgerts! He talked about the countryside and the history of Rome on our way into the city which is about a 60 kilometer trip. It takes a bit over an hour with traffic. We got to the Vatican in plenty of time to meet our guide, Frederica.

All four of the Elgerts were a bit like, “Um, so we are doing exactly the same thing we did last time we were here…” but that actually turned out to be a wonderful coincidence. Our last guide, Novella, was wonderful and quirky and in a short period of time, showed us a lot. Frederica showed us much less but explained more of what we were seeing so we felt like we got an overview (“Plenty of time, no rush, move along please,” with Novella) and a more in-depth look at less with Frederica. Frederica took us out to the Vatican garden to a place where there are plaques with guides to the Sistine Chapel and explained what we would see on the ceiling and on the Last Judgement wall. She explained a lot about how Michelangelo came to paint the ceiling (turns out the Architect of St. Peters at the time was jealous of the attention this upstart sculptor from Florence of all places was getting so asked him to paint the ceiling in hopes that he would fail. He did not. Point for Michelangelo!) We also learned that all of the figures on the Last Judgment were painted naked. No one was allowed in the chapel while he was painting so by the time it was revealed, too late to protest. Michelangelo was the architect of St. Peters by this time and the Pope asked him why the naked figures. Michelangelo said, “What evidence do you have that clothes will be required in eternity?” The Pope had no answer so the figures stayed naked. After Michelangelo died, the Pope had clothing and drapes painted on all of the figures which is how most of them appear today. During the restoration in the 1980s, they attempted to remove the clothing layer but found that there was not fresh plaster and paint applied—the clothing and drapes were just painted over the original figures. They did not want to damage the original painting so left the clothing in place. Such wonderful details!

We walked through a gallery of ancient statues and then through the tapestry and map galleries, which we had visited before, and then into the Capella Sistine. There were many people and many more announcements to be quiet and keep moving than we had to hear the last time. It was wonderful to have the Pristine Sistine experience. The entire group was just blown away by the Sistine Chapel. Liz had been to Rome over Christmas but did not visit the Vatican and most of the rest of the group had either never seen it before or it had been a long, long time. Tami was really blown away since she had started college as an art major and this is one of the masterpieces of the world. We gathered together (on time—yay!) and headed out of the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museum. Next stop was St. Peters which was just as lovely as it had been the time before. This time we learned that 60,000 people could stand up at once in St. Peters. When it was constructed between 1400 and 1600, there were about 50,000 people in Rome. The message was there is room for everyone in St. Peters and in the church. Frederica also told us that St. Peters was built during the papacies of 13 different popes and that there is still an idiom in Italian that when something takes a long time to finish, the phrase is, “What are you doing? Building the Vatican?”

Frederica deposited us with our drivers and they took us to a square that we had walked through with Andrew and Erika last week. Luca (the other driver) said this was a good place for lunch and for shopping or whatever we wanted to do. Lunch, we all decided! We went to a place we had seen all over Rome called Okia Mozzarella Bar. We ordered a variety of pizzas (Marks and mine had roasted olives and artichoke hearts—and yes, I shared one with Julie since artichokes are her favorite) and got back to the bus just a few minutes late. Oh, and lunch for all 9 at our table was less than lunch for 5 yesterday. Just a point of reference.)

We got back to the bus and Titziano (who was young and a very cute Roman, by the way) said we were headed towards the Trevi Fountain and then off to the Colosseum. We stopped at the Trevi Fountain for 15 minutes (I think we were only there for 10) and found one pond of water we could toss a coin into. We all took our pictures tossing the coins over our shoulders. Turns out we were supposed to use our right hand and toss the coin over our left shoulder. Apparently none of us are returning to Rome. But since that was a toddler swimming pool of water and not the real Trevi Fountain, we decided it didn’t really matter.

Next stop was the Colosseum. Titziano said there is not real drop off point so when he slows the bus, hop off. Wow—that sounds fun! He did find a stopping point and we scrambled out quickly and then met up with the rest of the group who had been told to wait for Luca who would take us in. Luca arrived and gave half of us tickets and told us to go to the back and the other half in the front went with him. When we got to the Already Have Tickets gate, he took his half through and the rest of us flashed our tickets. We got to the group entry ticket line, he bought us real tickets and collected the fakes he had distributed. Italians—always an angle! After we entered the Colosseum, we found a lift to take us up to the top floor and took a walk around the top of the structure. So beautiful and the engineering is just jaw dropping. We had 50 minutes total so were very aware of time. We met up at the exit at about 4:08, which was 2 minutes before we were to be at the top of the steps. Our group was Mom, Mark, Andrew, Erika, Tami, Michael and me. Just as we were leaving, there was a gift shop and Tami said she was going to stop in. The rest of us continued out towards the exit. We could see Luca waiting just up a hill to see when we would all arrive. 4:10 came—no Tami. 4:12—no Tami. 4:15—no Tami. Luca is watching, everyone is saying, “Where’s Tami?” “She went to the gift shop.” At 4:16, Michael went down to find her. He stepped around the gate to get in and the next thing we know, a security guard is rushing up to him, waving his arms. Michael says something and then the guard grabs him and Michael, wisely, decides to fight back. Michael is 6’1” tall and the guard is about 5’8” so that part was comical. Thinking our brother was going to spend the night in a Roman jail, not so much. We all start yelling, “Michael, stop it!” Even the guys (and one girl) dressed as Roman soldiers stopped their tourist-hustling to watch. Steve and Wil headed down there to try and calm things down. Steve said later that by the time they arrived, cooler heads had descended, and they walked Michael out of one gate and into another and he found Tami. And no one went to jail. Bonus.

We signaled the drivers, trying to motion to Luca that we would move down a bit because there was no room for him to pull up. He motioned back, “STAY PUT!” We stayed put and as soon as he got to where we were, he motioned us to move down. Whatever. Our van of 8 became a van of 7 as Wil opted to ride back to the ship with the Not His Dad And Tami group (smart man) but that allowed me to move to the middle seat where I had a bit more room. Andrew, Mark and Titziano talked Roman history (again, Titziano said to Andrew, “You really know history. Is unusual to find someone who knows so much history.”) and we made it back to the port in about an hour. It was really a great day, full of history and memories. I said to Mom, “How thrilled are you to see these things with your grandchildren?” She said beyond words.

We brought a package that we had been carrying for Mom up to their suite when we got back on board and watched the sea get rougher and rougher. They are on the port side of the ship which faced open sea on this day. We sat and chatted with them for a while and then returned to our cabin to watch the sail away, get in our swimsuits and head to the pool.

We swam for a bit and then sat in the hot tub for a bit longer. Met a very nice couple from Scottsdale, Arizona and chatted with them about the day. They had also done a private tour, almost the opposite of our as they started at the Colosseum and ended at the Vatican. They were traveling with some friends who are heading to Florence when we disembark. We were giving them some Florence tips (including a plug for Florence for Foodies) when their friends showed up so we were able to do our advertisement first hand.

Meanwhile, Wil had gone to get his laptop from the closet where he had left it and it was gone. The word spread quickly—Wil’s laptop is missing. Wil’s laptop has been stolen. I said to Mark, “I promise you, it hasn’t been stolen. No one is going to risk their job for a laptop that’s worth $800 on the street.” No, it’s been stolen. They looked everywhere. The cabin stewards look everywhere. It’s gone, stolen. I kept thinking, “It’s not stolen. Promise you.” Working with IT, we have missing laptops all the time that suddenly, magically show up when they are taken off the network. I saw Wil talking to a cabin steward and the steward was saying, “This never happens.” Regardless, it was missing.

We went back to the cabin and got ready for dinner. Liz gave me a precious necklace with a figure of a metal doll-woman on it (hard to describe—I’ll have to take a picture) and I dressed so that I could wear that necklace. So much fun! We were the first ones at dinner—well, Andrew and Erika beat us but just barely. We sat down and I bought my son a gin and tonic (which the Italians call Gin Fizz.) I promised Erika a drink at the frozen bar the next day as she never knows what to order if she doesn’t have a menu. Liz, Katie, Brian and Selah joined us. Matthew and Wil were waiting in their cabin for security to show up and take a full report about the stolen laptop. Just after 9:00, Wil and Matt show up; Wil is beaming. He said, “I have never been so happy to be wrong!” The laptop was indeed in the closet but had slipped into an area which was hard to see. Security found it—no stolen laptop! Yay!!

After dinner we retired to our cabin to get ready for the best day of all tomorrow—a day at sea! Might even get this blog updated!


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