I have always enjoyed traveling, even if it meant sleeping in a tent when I was younger. I prefer hotels and cruise cabins now, but the motivation is the same...an adventure waiting to happen. Sometimes you will find me traveling with my husband and/or family. Sometimes I will travel alone, and sometimes I will travel with friends. I hope you find it entertaining to keep up to date with me as I explore the world around me. Warning...I like to take pictures of food so don't read if you're hungry. More adventures await...see ya soon...Amy.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

First Full Day in Rome

St Peters Basilica at the Vatican

the dome of St Peters Basilica

the ceilings of the Vatican are just as beautiful as the walls and all of the exhibits

the room of tapestries

just one of many tapestries hanging on the wall. Very intricate and beautiful work.

the room of maps

the room of maps

The Sistine Chapel

The Sistine Chapel undergoing renovation

one of many rooms of artifacts

oil lamps

room of the Papal "vehicles"

i thought it was interesting that the "vehicles" had a large chair installed in the back instead of the usual bench seat

the vehicle of Pope John Paul II's attempted assassination

the "Pope Mobile"

the “Sphere Within Sphere” created in 1990 by Italian sculptor Arnoldo Pomodoro and located in the Courtyard of the Pinecone

Pomodoro made several of these spheres with one that is located at the UN in NYC as a gift from Italy to the United Nations.

The Courtyard of the Pinecone

one of several sculpture rooms

I thought it was interesting that this sculpture had "dark eyes" instead of just plain stone eyes

The Three Graces

there was a room filled with carved marble animals

inlaid mosaic floors everywhere

in St. Peter's Basilica

the High Altar of St. Peter's Basilica with a 95 foot tall bronze canopy

Bernini's Cathedral Petri

Michelangelo's Pieta (1498-1499). It's the only piece Michelangelo ever signed.

There was a special service occurring while we were there for the Bishops of English speaking countries all over the world

Ponte Sant'Angelo aka the bridge of angels

a little touch of graffiti near our gelato stop

side streets of Rome
Fontana die Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers) built in 1651 and designed by Bernini

we laughed out loud at the guys "selling wares" from their big blankets. Apparently there was a lookout that would sound an alarm to let them know that the cops were around. They could gather up their blankets and run away really really fast!

stopped for a cappuccino and map consultation in the courtyard of the Pantheon

the Pantheon

late in the afternoon so the light was high up the wall

Santa Maria sopra Minerva is one of the major churches of the Roman Catholic Order of Preachers.  The Pulcino della Minerva, the famous elephant sculpture by Bernini and Ercole Ferrata becomes the base of one of Rome's eleven Egyptian obelisks.

The High Altar

Completed in 1521, Michelangelo's Cristo della Minerva also known as Christ the Redeemer, Christ Carrying the Cross or the Risen Christ

Beef with Peppercorn Sauce...divine

Toasting with Limoncello
Today has been an amazing day. We secured a taxi to take us to meet our guide for our tour of the Vatican. We had enough time to spare to sit down and have a cappuccino before we gathered into our groups. Thank goodness because it was pretty early in the morning. We were in a small group of 11 with Walks of Italy tours. Our guide was Luigi. He is a geologist by education, but is very knowledgeable of the Vatican, the Sistine Chapel, and the Rafael Rooms and led an excellent tour. We booked a tour because we didn't have a clue how to tour the Vatican or what was important to see. By booking with this company, we were able to secure a spot in the Sistine Chapel an hour before the throngs of people are allowed in. We shared our visit with only a fraction of the number of people that were there later in the morning. The ability to view Michelangelo's Masterpiece was so much more pleasant than to have seen it with thousands of people pressed against us. We also toured the Vatican Museum which is about 4 miles long and I believe we just about walked the whole thing. Luigi pointed out things that we shouldn't miss and I think one of his favorite rooms is the museum room of animal statues. He also seemed to like the rooms with the Roman artifacts. We toured the Raphael rooms and he explained the frescoes to us in detail. We stopped along our tour for a coffee and toilet stop but it was a quick one. Danny drank a fully leaded espresso because he was falling asleep while walking! We had to drink the coffee like the Italians…bottoms up! We passed back through the Sistine Chapel weaving through the masses of people to get to St. Peter's Basilica, the end of our tour. There was a special service occurring while we were there for the Bishops of English speaking countries all over the world. Luigi said it was very unusual to have a service in the main part of the Cathedral and for the lights to all be on. Usually the masses are conducted in the side chapel. Our feet were thoroughly worn out as we had been touring since 8 a.m. and it was about 12:30 p.m. We left the Cathedral to find something to eat and to sit down! We lingered a bit over lunch before walking again, this time toward the Pantheon. Along the way, we stopped in a couple of shops and ate some gelato at Gelateria del Teatro on Via die Coronari. I'm making a note of this stop because the gelato was some of the best that we have had and we've had a lot. I consistently eat chocolate (ciaccolato) and this was delicious! We walked through Piazza Navona stopping briefly to admire the enormous fountain (Fontana die Quattro Fiumi) built in 1651 and designed by Bernini.
We stopped to rest our weary feet again and get some refreshments. Our companions decided they were ready to head back toward the hotel and after enjoying a decaf cappuccino ourselves, Danny and I left them to see a few more sights. The Pantheon was in the square where we stopped for refreshments so we took a look inside. We were pleased to discover that the crowd outside did not represent the small number of people inside. The Pantheon is the best preserved of the ancient Roman temples (AD118-125). The artist Raphael (whose frescoed rooms we saw earlier in the Vatican) is buried there. Danny and I still had more that we wanted to see and despite the fact that we got a little turned around, we eventually arrived at our destination, the Santa Maria Sopra Minerva church which is the only Gothic church in Rome. Michelangelo's Christ stands to the side of the altar. It is a beautiful church with gothic arches and brilliant blue ceilings. After getting turned around AGAIN, we found our way to Trevi Fountain, designed by Nicolo Salvi in 1762. The superstition is that if you toss a coin over your left shoulder with your right hand, then you are guaranteed to return to Rome. Danny and I both tossed our coins just in case. We left the fountain to return to the hotel and rest before dinner. The Italians do not eat dinner until 9 p.m. or later and the tourists at 7 p.m. We have split the difference and have eaten at 8 p.m. almost every night. Tonight we ate at La Matriciana and most of us had a great meal. Sara Beth's steak was a little overcooked, but she asked for some of the delicious green pepper sauce that I had on my steak and revived her meal. Brian's meat had no seasoning on it, so he asked for pepper and got some ground up peperoncini. He had no idea how hot it was until he tried to eat his steak after applying it pretty liberally. Hot like fire it was! We ended our meal with a round of limoncello, an Italian lemon liqueur,  which I have wanted to try since we arrived in Italy. Think lemon cough syrup with a kick. Now that I've tried it, I can't say that I will want to drink it again but it was worth the experience. Tomorrow we will have our tasting tour of Trastevere in the late afternoon and a couple more sights to visit in the morning. We are all about the food on this trip and Italy hasn't disappointed!

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