Monday, June 27, 2005

When in Rome...

Well, you know the rest. Actually, I think the original phrase was "sweat like a pig", but it was probably changed to be more civil.

Michelle got on the wrong plane (well, she wasn't on MY plane), so we arrived at different times. Our hotel was very nice, and run by a musician so there were stereos in every room and a huge CD collection to choose from. On the first evening we just walked around neighborhood a bit and had a nice relaxing dinner.

Day 2 consisted of touring ancient ruins. We started off by going to the Colosseum. It suffered an earthquake in the 14th century and so it is partially destroyed, but you can still walk around the inside and get a feel for what it must have been like with 50,000 people in it and gladiators fighting in the arena. Right next to the Colosseum is the Roman Forum. This is a huge area where people used to gather, and I think there was administrative buildings as well. Only various pillars and partial buildings are left standing. From here we drank lots of ice water and walked over to the Trevi Fountain, which is a gorgeous fountain. It is right in the middle of a square, and Michelle was brave enough to stick her toes in even as the Polizia were bashing in the heads of anybody who did that. At night we went to an outdoor Piano concert in the park, where I was more busy keeping Michelle awake than watching the concert (Michelle wants me to point out that during the parts she was awake for she was keeping me awake too). Jet lag is hell.

On day 3 we did lots of good Catholic things. First, we waited in THE LONGEST LINE EVER to go into the Vatican Museum. This museum averages 20,000 people a day, so you can imagine what the line looked like. Lots of cool statues and paintings in the Vatican, and we also got to see the amazing Sistine Chapel. Michaelangelo spent 5 years painting the ceiling, and then 20 years later came back to paint the wall behind the Altar. You can not even begin to imagine how complex and ornate the painting on the ceiling is... it is amazing that it was done by one person. We had lunch at the Vatican and then walked over to St. Peter's Basilica. This is the main church for the entire Catholic faith, because St. Peter (i.e. the "rock of the church") is buried inside. We joined up with an American that was giving a free tour, and he explained a lot about the church and the art inside. The Basilica is 98 stories tall, almost as tall as the World Trade Center Towers (which were 110 stories).

On Day 4 we just walked back to St. Peter's Square and hung out there for a bit before getting on the train for Florence. In the center of St. Peter's Square is a giant Obelisk that was created in Egypt 13 centuries before Christ, and later moved to Rome. Lining the ellptical-shaped "square" are statues of every minor saint (the ones that only performed 1 or 2 miracles), and the two foci of the ellipse are massive fountains.

We have pictures of just about everything that we saw (actually, we have about 5 pictures of everything that we saw), but we haven't had access to a high speed internet connection yet so we can't post them online. We will do that as soon as possible.


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