Dear Family & Friends,
Our next stop was Rome… One day and Rome, what to see? Is it possible to see Rome in a day? Hardly.. a month would be a good start, and a life time to see it all!
We took a compressed tour of Rome. The usual stops, a few minutes at the Coliseum, the Parthanon, a few fountains, and then to the Vatican City.
Our first stop was the Coliseum.. Some sites are just sites.. I have seen so many photos of the Coliseum I knew exactly what it looked liked. I expected it to be big and it was. So basically there was no new surprises or enlightenments so on we went..
After a few more stops of the predictable fountains and churches we arrived at the Vatican City where we had a couple of hours, still not nearly enough… I am not a religious person but certainly from a historical and artistic point of view I thought it might be worth seeing. All I can say was it is STUNNING!! One of the sites along our trip that far exceeded my expectations..
A greater collection of artwork would be impossible to find. IF the Vatican City was destroyed tomorrow there is not a nation on earth with a enough wealth to build anything like it again. It is certainly one of the greatest mankind treasures of all time..
First we went to the Vatican museum. Hall after hall of fabulous art work,,, paintings, statues, frescos, and tapestries…
Since most of it was donated or collected over time there was really no rime or reason to it all. Just room after room of amazing artwork.
From there we went to the Sistine Chapel. This is the private chapel of the Pope. What most people know is the ceiling fresco painted by Michael Angelo. This is the one that features God reaching down to touch Adam. What surprised me was I excepted it to be much bigger and cover the whole sealing. In reality it is only one panel of many illustrating the bible on the ceiling. It is just the one that gets the most attention. The panels tell the story of religion from Judaism and how it evolves into Christianity.. What was funny is the biblical characters such as Moses painted in a scene in Medieval Europe talking to Knights.. I am pretty sure that never happened……
They require you to be very quiet and no photos so you will have to take my word for it.
From there we walked down the Pope’s private hall way and stairs… I guess nothing is that private if you pay your entry fee..
Finally we went into St.Peter’s Basilica, this is the world’s largest church. To give you an idea of the scale it is measured in acres, not square feet!
The sheer size and beauty takes your breath away. Here I was able to take lots of photos that are in my blog… There is area after area with various chapels and displays with the most unimaginable artwork. Your look around and every wall has scenes that are framed and look like oil paintings but they are ultra fine mosaics! There is no paint used anywhere.
The statues have beautiful flowing robes all carved from Marble that look like real flowing cloth..
Around the ceiling there are latin words carved into the marble. At some points the ceiling is 300 ft.+ high but you can easily read the words because the lettering is 7 feet high.
The other thing that struck me was what perfect condition it is in. The chapel looks like it was built yesterday even though if has been around for centuries and millions of people walk through it every year…
As an interesting side note over 150 popes are buried in the floor.. I thought you needed to know that.
At the entrance to the chapel there are huge beautifully decorated doors. One is called the Jubilee door. It is only opened every 25 years for the Jubilee Celebration (don’t ask me what that is, I don’t know) but they are so adamant about it only being used every 25 years that they cement up the back side so the door cannot be opened and then every 25 years they chisel out the cement, use the door, and cement it up again.. That is dedication…
I have posted lots of photos of the inside of the Basilica on my blog but it is hard to do it justice. It is so big you cannot get back far enough to see it all..
We then walked outside to St. Peters Square.. We saw the balcony where the Pope addresses the public, we saw the chimney where the black smoke signals a new Pope, and we saw the Pope’s palace… As a sign of the new Pope’s modesty is he refuses to live in the palace and lives in a single room in the Vatican hotel on the grounds of the Vatican City. Amazing a really moral man as the Pope. Good show Cardinals, you picked a good man.
Overall the Vatican City is quite an amazing and beautiful place. Quite inspiring if not a bit overwhelming in the amount of wealth stored there..
After a productive day we headed back to the ship and sailed off to our next adventure…
The following day we woke up and headed into Florence.. I had been there last year on my motorcycle trip but due to timing never got to see much of it. Bonnie had been there 35+ years ago and had fallen in love with the city then.
We decided not to take a tour but just go the the old part of the city and walk around. I could immediately see why Bonnie loves Florence so much. The old part of town had little or no cars, the grander of the old buildings is magnificent, and the shopping terrific. After a day of site seeing and shopping our home will definitely have a new flavor of Florence to it… :)
In the center of town there is a beautiful church square and there was a large open air market with all sorts of foods and arts and crafts for sale. We walked around a while and noticed a lot of young people with American accents. So we asked them what they were doing there and they said they were attending the local University there. What a wonderful experience! I asked one young woman what she was studying and she said economics, I said what a coincidence, we were studying economics too with a specialization in purchasing.. Small world.
One thing I have learned about traveling is to never eat near tourist attractions.. The food tends to be average at best. We asked a local who directed us down an alley to a remote cafe but it was booked solid for lunch (with all Italians, a good sign) so he directed us to another hidden cafe. When we got to the address it appeared to be just a coffee bar but luckily we looked in the back and there was a narrow hall way that went in the back to a cafe. Again hidden, small, and full of Italians. It was the best Italian food we had the whole trip! So my motto is when traveling get lost and find great food..
So after Florence we sailed one more night and woke up in Toulon, France. A small seaside town. Will do a bit of exploring there and then sail one more night to Barcelona, Spain. There the cruise is done but not the adventure. We get off and spend four days in Barcelona exploring a whole new city and country and then off for a fews days in my favorite city in the world, LONDON!! There is only so much art and culture one can take. Bonnie says I have behaved well so we will do some car and motorcycle activities and visit some of our oldest, dearest friends.
Next report will be after a few days in Barcelona…
Again go to by blog for lots of photos…
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