Thursday, October 24, 2013

A Week in Rome Leaves One Weak - Our Last Post of this Adventure

A Week in Rome Leaves One Weak

Friday, October 18, 2013

Today was a quiet and uneventful day. We left Pompeii bright and early, gazed at Vesuvius one final time, and enjoyed a smooth trip all the way to the Rome Airport. We checked into our hotel (which turned out to be a lovely one bedroom apartment) and spent the balance of the day organizing our luggage and planning for our days in Rome.

I know it is said that you can do Rome in a day but that seems like an impossible dream at the moment. We have 5 full days in Rome and a list that of things we want to do that will far exceed that time.

We have tickets for the Vatican and Borghese Gallery. We have a plan about how to best see the Forum, Coliseum and the Palatine Hill. And we have a wonderful night walk across Rome all planned for one lovely evening.

Markets, piazzas, bus tours, churches and galleries all call our name. And so does exploring the neighbourhood in which we will be staying, Termini. How to fit it all in will be the puzzle of the next several days.

We will see what we will see. Our Rome adventure is about to begin!

Rome – More Than We Could Ever Have Expected

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Our bags are packed.
We’re ready to go,
Standing here beside our car,
All we have to do is drop it off …..

And then hop on the  nonstop train from Fumi to Rome. Simone’s Suite awaits our arrival and with any luck we will be able to explore the local market before noon.

The train provided a smooth and quiet ride. Simone’s directions to our new ‘home’ were excellent.  Our apartment is very close to Termini Station. Even pulling luggage, it was only a 10 – 15 minute walk

We immediately knew we were going to be very happy with what we had rented. The apartment is compact, efficient, clean, well equipped, and has a window and a door that open, allowing the fresh air in.

There is a Laundromat, a patisserie, a milk bar, a restaurant and a daily fruit and veg market right outside our door. An a supermarket just around the corner. Perfect!

Simone, our landlord, had mentioned that there was to be a labour demonstration later in the day near Termini Station. As we walked along the nearby streets, we began to notice things that caused us to wonder just how big this demonstration was going to be. Businesses that would normally be open on a Saturday were closed up tighter than a drum. Of particular note was the large Conad Supermarket that had all its shutters closed and fencing all around the building. We stopped for a bite to eat at a corner restaurant and were told we could have a drink but no food as they were closing for the day in about 15 minutes. Hmm … Then we began to see the large presence of police on every street we walked on. Police with machine guns at the ready. There was even a sniper on the top of a large government building. Police tape had been installed to limit access to certain areas and some roads were closed to traffic. We did begin to wonder whether our plans for the rest of the day made any sense at all, given that we were now beginning to understand the scope of what this demonstration was.

We found a delightful restaurant quite close to our apartment that was still open and filled with diners. Was that because it was the only establishment that was still open or was it because it was highly acclaimed for its food and service? Only one way to find out so we ventured in.

We immediately saw an option for lunch that we had not encountered anywhere else in Italy. This restaurant, Famiglia by name, had a very large selection of antipasto dishes and salads available as a buffet. Jim and I both decided this would be a good way to sample some foods that we had not yet tried, or perhaps that we did not even know existed. Jim, very artfully filled two plates with a wide range of tasty morsels and we taste tested every one. Some seafood, some vegetables, some meat, some rice, some pasta …. All very good. It was a great choice and we fully enjoyed our meal.

When we left the restaurant, the streets were eerily quiet. Even though it was the middle of the afternoon, siesta time, there was a quiet around us that was uncanny. We decided it would be prudent to head back to our apartment rather than exploring the neighbourhood more fully. What a good choice!

Before long, a parade was underway passing by the end of our street. An estimated 250,000 demonstrators were participating, chanting, waving flags, singing solidarity songs. We had a great view from the window at the front of our apartment. Needless to say, it took a very long time for the parade to pass by.  All the while, police were visible and a police helicopter kept close watch from the sky.

Fortunately we had picked up some bread, cheese, fruit and vegetables at local shops earlier so we were able to muster a tasty but small meal without leaving home.  We can explore tomorrow with a greater degree of confidence.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

And explore we did!!

We were out bright on early to ride on the Hop On Hop Off bus. We managed to get the front seats upstairs and rode around the entire route. We had our first glimpse of the Coliseum, St. Peter’s Basilica, thousands of people heading into the Vatican for the Pope’s Sunday morning blessing, the River Tiber. The commentated tour of Rome helped us get oriented to the city. There is so much packed into a small space. Where should we begin?

Our first impressions of Rome are that it is a clean, compact,  and accessible on foot. It is also busy with oh so many tourists (I cannot imagine what it would be like in the summer). We heard all sorts of languages being spoken. Rome is a cosmopolitan city, people from all over the world live here and there are restaurants to support many cultures.

After one full tour on the Hop On Hop Off bus, we travelled as far as Stop 3 on the next round. Stop 3 is the Paletine Hill and where we joined the line with all the other tourists who had been advised that this is the best place to enter a trio of high demand attractions (Paletine Hill, the Roman Forum, and the Coliseum). The line was shorter than lines we had seen at other places as we passed by on the bus. It gave us a head’s up about the need to stand patiently in lines in Rome. Jim and I will need to gird our loins for the lines.

It did not take long for us to reach the front of the line (40 minutes) and we purchased our 2 day pass which will enable us to enter all three attractions with no waiting. (Good advice, Jane!)

We were astounded by what awaited us on Paletine Hill. I have to admit we knew very little about this particular site. It is an enormous and diverse area that was originally a private residence for the Roman Emporer.  It was opulent and it was large. Some rooms were over 1000 square feet. High on a hill, the Palentine buildings overlooked the Forum and the Coliseum.  Incredible gardens, exquisitely designed, enhanced the landscaping. The aqueduct and cisterns ensured an ongoing supply of water. Even in the early days in Rome, engineers had developed a  well established water supply and distribution system.

Of course, the buildings were in ruins but the parts that remained standing gave great insight into size, quality of construction, value of design, balance of public and private spaces. We were more than a little awed by Paletine Hill’s scope.

We then followed advice of others and walked directly from Paletine Hill to the Roman Forum. Less seems to be known about what was actually in the Forum. The range of buildings, most still being excavated suggest that there were places of business, worship,  and gathering. What fascinated us is that such an enormous area of ruinous buildings has been left intact for so many years. Why has this are never been ‘bulldozed’ in the name of progress. This reflects a deeply held value about the culture and history in this country.

One temple in the Forum area included several pillars of marble imported from Egypt. At some point, there was an attempt made to dismantle the pillars, to take them down. But the effort failed due to the strength of construction and weight of the pillars. There is clear evidence through marks on the pillars about the efforts to remove this temple – yet there it stands.

We left the Forum and finally took our first break of the day. We stopped for coffee amid a street fair. The street was busy with families and people of all ages. Buskers, musicians and games for children and adults provided entertainment and created a lively, colourful atmosphere. This street fair served as a great diversion from the intense history lesson we had just had.

After a brief respite from touring, we headed to our next destination, was Piazza Campo Doglio positioned high above the Forum ( it was quite a walk up the long hill to the top). This piazza was designed by Michelangelo. There we were surrounded by three amazing buildings and larger than life sculptures created by the master, himself. It was awesome to see Michaelangelo’s sculptures on pedestals in the open air. Piazza Campo Doglio was graceful and beautiful.  With the Piazza high above the Forum, it provided wonderful views across Rome – St. Peter’s Dome, the Coliseum, the Tiber River, the inner city and the suburbs stretched out before our eyes. The café at the very top caught our attention (we can never resist another coffee) and we enjoyed a beverage while drinking in the views of Rome. Breathtaking!

We walked down and down and down the steps and returned to the Hop On Hop Off bus one more time and headed back to Termini. We stopped at a local restaurant for dinner and then we were in for the evening. We had been on the road by bus and on foot for 12 hours. It was time to relax!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Our morning started early as the market vendors for the Montebello Street market set up for the day. Clothing, fruit, vegetables, flowers,  purses, shoes and all manner of other goods were available right outside our door. We spent some time looking at food items we could not identify, in particular, puntarella, a leafy green vegetable we saw growing in southern Italy. It was abundant in the fields and we were curious how it was prepared. It turns out you can use it raw in salads or cooked as a companion for meat. We might have a chance to try it ourselves before we leave Rome later this week.

Once again, this morning we were out on the trail before 9 am. Back on the Hop On Hop Off bus but only as far as the Coliseum this time. Each time we travel on this bus we learn something new from the commentary and we see something new as we travel through Rome.  Today we saw enough interesting places to shop that we already have tomorrow planned. But I must not get ahead of myself …

Today we are visiting the Coliseum. It is an enormous structure with a similar amount of history. We arranged to have a guided tour. Our guide was an archeologist who had vast knowledge of the history of the Coliseum, insight into the current excavation projects and a few stories to tell as well. We were very happy with the pace and content of the tour and what we learned from her.

After we were finished at the Coliseum, we reboarded our favourite bus one more time. This time our destination was the Vatican. And we had several plans of how to spend our time while there.

First, we lined up at St. Peter’s Basilica. The line was very long but moved quickly and within 15 minutes we found ourselves going through the security check and then we were in. It was one of those ‘pinch me’ moments in life. Am I really at the Vatican? In St. Peter’s Basilica? Wow!!

We have all seen photos and TV coverage of events in the Basilica but nothing from those media prepared me for the size, the beauty, the opulence and the aura of the real thing! Such a treasury of faith, of art (Michelangelo’s only signed sculpture is there), of politics, of history and of personal stories. From the moment we entered to the moment we left, we were in awe!!!

From the Basilica, we walked along the Vatican wall to the Vatican Museum. We used Rick Stebe’s guide to help us navigate this enormous place. He has a tongue in cheek approach to viewing art in overwhelming circumstances. With his book to help us, we were able to find and enjoy sculptures and paintings by Michelangelo, Salvadore Dali, Rodin, Raphael and many more. What we were really doing was slowly but surely making our way toward the Sistine Chapel. And we were trying to preserve our energy to take in the breathtaking beauty we were about to witness.

Indeed, the Sistine Chapel was absolutely amazing!!! Michelangelo was a master in his design and paintings. What a treasure is held therein. We felt so privileged to be able to spend some time really looking at and studying the murals he created. We were also grateful to have found seats in the standing room only crowd to rest our tired tootsies before we headed on our way once again. Being in the Chapel and reflecting on all the times we have seen or waited for history to take place here … Another absolutely awesome experience for both of us.

We left the Chapel and realized that we had not eaten since breakfast. We knew of a highly recommended Pizza Restaurant close by. We headed there on foot. It was further than we expected and once again we were pretty tired by the time we arrived. And then we discovered …. It is a take-out place only.

Plan B …. We had passed a Chinese restaurant a couple of blocks earlier so we made a quick decision to go there instead. Yes, Chinese food in Italy! Actually it was pretty good, very similar to Chinese food we might get at home. We enjoyed the meal, rested our feet again and felt nourished. And, we decided to take a taxi home ….. it had been another long day!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

We had a slower start today. One of the benefits was that we actually prepared breakfast in our apartment rather than carrying a picnic with us to eat along the way. It felt good to do some cooking. Scrambled eggs, fresh bread from the bakery next door, a medley of rocket, sweet red pepper and fennel, and grilled tomatoes. Mmmm …. Did we ever enjoy this meal!!

And then, walking shoes on, we headed out the door to explore more of Rome. Today, the focus was on churches and other public buildings that housed significant works of art. Several friends as well as published sources had provided quite detailed information on where we could find sculptures, paintings and stained glass windows.

Elefanto (Bernini), Our first stop was at Chiesa di Santa Maria Sopra Minerva where, in the courtyard in front of the church stood the obelisk and sculpture by Bernini. It was called Elefanto and, not surprisingly, featured a beautifully carved, well proportioned elephant. Rising high above the elephant was an Egyptian obelisk, imported from Egypt many centuries ago.

Chiesa di Santa Maria Sopra Minerva is the only gothic style church in Rome. This is significant since other churches that had gothic characteristics have been renovated or modified to remove or cover them. Inside this same church, we were able to get close enough to touch Michelangelo’s sculpture, Christo Risorto (Christ Bearing the Cross), carved in 1520.  Imagine …. Close enough to touch. Simply sitting on its pedestal at the front of the sanctuary with no protective case or security system. Amazing!

We walked from there to the Pantheon. As we entered, both Jim and I realized that this structure and its interior were absolutely remarkable. It was nothing like we expected and nothing like anything we have seen in Rome to date. The Pantheon has been in continuous use for about 2000 years. Built in 27 BC, it has been through many incarnations. Hadrian made a major renovation to the building in 1120 AD. Much later (608 AD), the building was converted to a Christian church. This change likely is the primary reason that the Pantheon has been so well maintained and fallen into ruin like so many of the other historical sites in Rome. Raphael, considered one of the three great masters of the high renaissance, contributed significant paintings in the Vatican Palace. He  is buried in the Pantheon.

We paused for a light lunch after we exited the Pantheon. We chose a delightful outdoor café and enjoyed bruschetta (me) and tomato soup (Jim). From our table we could admire the Egyptian Obelisk built by Rameses II. It was subsequently removed from Egypt by the Romans about 2000 years ago. It was put up but later disappeared and was ultimately found under Chiesa di Santa Maria Sopra Minerva in 1374. It was then erected near the Pantheon. But its days of travel were not over because in 1711, the Pope decided to build a fountain in a piazza in front of the Pantheon and moved the obelisk to the middle of the fountain. It remains there today.

As we continued on our walking tour through old Rome, we came upon Sant'Eustachio Café in the Piazza with the same name. This café is considered by some to be the best cup of coffee in all of Rome. Of course we had to have some in spite of the fact that we had just finished lunch. Jim and I do not necessarily agree with the opinion of this café’s greatness but we did enjoy a break from walking on cobblestone. It was a place for great people watching.

The Piazza di Sant'Eustachio is a very lively place with several cafes to choose from and a great number of men in suits who work nearby. We were predicting that there must be some government offices in the area …but more about that later.

 A unique church was located in the Piazza di Sant’Eustachio and bore the same name. it had a rather unusual cross on its roof and a strange story to go with it. The cross on the top of the church was lodged between the antlers of a stag. According to legend, Placidus, a Roman general, was out hunting one day and saw a stag and had a vision of a crucifix lodged between the stag's antlers. He immediately became a Christian, had his family baptised and changed his name to Sant'Eustachio. And thus, the head of the stag sits high above the street with a cross between his antlers.

Our next stop was Chiesa di Sant'Ivo alla Sepienza which featured a very unusual spiraling steeple. It was quite beautiful and certainly distinguished itself from other nearby churches. Unfortunately the church was closed when we arrived so we were not able to visit the interior. Saint Ives is the Patron Saint of Jurists. I think it is no coincidence that this church is located extremely close to the Senate building.

Piazza Navona was next. What a lively place it was! Buskers and artists and street vendors and cafes and restaurants lined this large oval shaped plaza. And it was absolutely full of people just like us who were strolling around Rome on a gloriously warm autumn day.

In the middle of the piazza was a very large fountain, the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi, created by Bernini in 1651. It is a remarkable sculpture featuring human representations of four rivers from around the world. Each figure is designed to express feelings about the other rivers. Amazing how such a story can be told through the artist’s tools as he shapes the marble into characters.

Also in Piazza Navona was a very large church façade, Chiesa di Sant'Agnese in Agone. And yet, upon entry, it was surprisingly small but incredibly ornate. The paintings were exquisite, the marble carvings and pillars were spectacular in design and colour. And silence was maintained by the visitors. The space had a reverence to it that made the visit peaceful and very special.

We had missed a visit to a significant church earlier in the day so we retraced some of our steps so as not to miss out on seeing Chiesa di San Luigi dei Francesi. The interior was breathtaking – painted ceilings, ornate and guilded to add beauty, a dome with a magnificent pattern therein. We were very happy we had chosen to come back. But the primary reason we returned was to see one of Carvaggio’s most significant paintings. In fact, it is a series of three paintings, created in 1599-1600. The middle painting is the Inspiration of St. Matthew. It is flanked by two other Carvaggio’s - The Calling of St. Matthew and The Martyrdom of St. Matthew.  These were the works that defined Carvaggio as a significant artist and led to his fame. Once again, this art was on view for the public to enjoy.

At this point, we needed a change of pace and we found just that. We were on our way to the Leonardo da Vinci Museum. We had different purposes in mind, I must say. Jim was looking forward to exploring the exhibits. I was solely interested in the gift shop. I have not done any serious shopping for days and the time is running out. We were both very happy with our visit to this museum. Jim had time to enhance his knowledge of Da Vinci and I had a chance to make some purchases for our family that will make da Vinci and household word.

It was then that we headed for Campo de' Fiori, another wonderful piazza. By day, it attracts local residents to its substantial market. In the late afternoon, there is a transformation in the Campo when the market is all cleaned up and tables and umbrellas spill forth and transform the area into a mecca of choices for happy hour and for dinner. As dark descended on the piazza and the lights began to twinkle, the transformation was complete.

We were there for happy hour and enjoyed sipping a beer/wine and watching the various activities that were necessary to change the area from day time use to night time use.

When we had finished our drinks we continued on our way. Our day was not quite over yet. Nearby there is an area of Rome that has historically been occupied by the Jewish community. During World War II of course, this was not a happy place to be and a couple of thousand Jews were removed from their homes and never returned. Nonetheless, the area has thrived. The streets are filled with small workshops of various artisans (furniture makers, print makers, dressmakers, leather shops, philatelic shops, ceramics studios … and so on). It was fascinating to see the artists at work as we passed by their doors in the early evening.

I have to admit that by this time (7:30 pm), I was running out of steam so we returned to Campo Di Fiori for dinner. Chicken for me and rabbit for Jim. But we also ordered two vegetables that we had seen growing in the fields as we travelled through the countryside but had never tasted.

Puntarella is a leafy green vegetable that grows in great abundance in south Italy. It has a central thin core and many layers of leaves. It can be served cooked or raw but requires some preparation if it is not going to be cooked. On the menu tonight it was a raw vegetable, served a bit like a salad and seasoned with olive oil and sardines. It was a bit like celery …. It had a crunchy texture and was quite refreshing but really had no significant flavour.

Jim ordered chicory. It was cooked and looked a lot like spinach except stringier when it arrived at our table. We both sampled it and quite liked the flavour.

Over dinner, we discussed how we were going to see the last few places on our list as the day really had now passed us by. We decided to hire a taxi to take us to a couple of places that were described as very beautiful in the evenings. Happily, the taxi driver we connected with liked the idea and was very patient as he waited for us while we visited the illuminated Pantheon and Trevi Fountain. Trevi Fountain absolutely took our breath away! Such beauty and grandeur … and yes, we did toss our coins into the fountain. Hopefully we will be back one day.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Today was our last full day to explore Rome. After 6 weeks in Italy, it seems hard to believe that our time here is almost over. We still had quite a list of places we wanted to visit and things we wanted to do.

One of the major things on the ‘yet to do’ list was to go shopping. I have been so patient as we have travelled around by bus, taxi and on foot to see the wonderful sights of Rome. There has been virtually no time for shopping and there are a few things I would like to check out. Some are gifts for folks at home but, frankly, some items are just for me!!

For example, there is a Desigual store in Rome. In fact, there are two of them, both within walking distance of the apartment we are in. Today was the day!!

Jim had already been out in our own small community taking photos of the street market, the patisserie, the coffee bar, the gelato shop, the local restaurant and so much more.

And so we set off walking. Of course, there were stops for photos along the way. The streets of Rome offer so much life. Archeological digs that are around every corner, interesting people along the way, fountains, churches, architecture, doorways …. The list goes on.

Desigual is a brand that is not well promoted in Canada. The only way I know to access their products is to go online or to find a distributor in the US. But here in Rome, there are two entire stores of clothing, bags and scarves within easy walking distance. It did not take me very long to conquer the store! The bright colours and vibrant designs were so appealing. Yes …. I purchased more than one item and left the store swinging my Desigual bag happily on my arm.

We were walking down Via Nationale which is one of the main shopping districts in town. Many brand name stores are located there along with a large number of uniquely Italian shops with wonderful products. We were in the market for some leather goods, shoes, jewellery, glass … just about anything that caught our eye. We enjoyed the search … and ended up deciding not to purchase anything more. It was just fun to stroll and windowshop.

As we got closer to the “Old City”, we did venture into some typical tourists shops looking for something special for our little boys at home. We did find a couple of cute items to add to their pile. I think they will be happy.
At this point we had about 4 hours to fill before our ticket time at the Borghese Gallery. We decided that strolling the streets and laneways of Old Rome would be a good way to use that time. Again, what a treat it was to turn this corner or that without a specific destination or walking tour to follow. We were were just meandering.

We noticed that the crowd was growing larger as we headed down one street. We followed in the same direction as the hoards and found ourselves once again at the Trevi Fountain. It had been so beautiful last night under the soft lights of the evening. And with a manageable crowd. But today …. It was truly overwhelming for all the wrong reasons. It was hardly possible to move among all the people and it was certainly not possible to take the iconic photo of the Trevi Fountain without the tourists. We managed to find ourselves places to sit on the steps in front of the fountain and watched the crowd as they manoeuvred to be front and centre in front of the fountain to get that photo. And then …. So did we. I threw the coin and Jim took the photo. Except the first one did not turn out very well (someone walked in front of the camera) so we did it again. But this time I was not throwing a coin. I was faking it. After a few tries, we got it just right  but we will always know that it is a photo of me in front of Trevi Fountain pretending to throw a coin. I bet many others have the same photo but may or may not ‘fess up to it.

We wandered on a found a lovely little restaurant with outdoor seating where we paused for lunch. Jim had Tuscan soup and I have pasta with black pepper and sheep cheese. Both were delicious but what enjoyed along with those dishes was the artichoke salad. Neither of us can recall ever having raw artichoke before and it was fantastic! A salad to remember …. If only we could get high quality, fresh artichokes at home. We might just have to come back to Rome.

After lunch we wandered on and again encountered quite a crowd. What was the attraction this time? Well, it was the Spanish steps, another iconic location in Rome. But we wondered why. In fact, for us, this site was a supreme disappointment. Run down steps with no art or colour, filled with hundreds (maybe thousands) of people sitting on them. And where did they lead? Far up the hill to a church that was also amazingly run down. Hmmm …. What was the attraction?

We decided it was time to use public transit to get to our next destination. There was a Metro Station close at hand and we headed in that direction. It turns out that the Metro does not go in the direction that we needed and we were directed to use the elevator to go up to the next level to get a bus. We followed the directions given and ended up, where else?, at the top of the Spanish Steps. They did not look any more appealing from that vantage point and the crowds were, if anything, even larger.

We once again asked for directions and with the steep hills and narrow streets of Rome, we learned that the nearest bus stop was about a kilometer away … and quite uphill. So off we went in search of the elusive bus. Finally, we found the correct street and even a bus stop but the traffic was so horrendous that nary a vehicle was moving. Now what? Once again we sought advice, this time from a doorman at a very classy hotel. Perhaps he was biased in his response but he told us where the nearest taxi stand was and suggested we go there. He had no idea when or whether a bus would make it through the traffic and arrive at the stop.

Hot, tired, a bit frustrated, we took this man’s advice and found the taxi stand. Within minutes we were in a comfortable vehicle with a driver who knew where he was going. Very soon, we were at the beautiful park that surrounded the Borghese Gallery.

The heat of the day melted away as we entered the park. Tall, mature trees grew along the promenade and indeed throughout the park. Although it was just a short walk to the gallery, our mood had lightened by the time we arrived. First stop was the café where we both enjoyed a cappuccino and an ice cream bar. We were now ready for another venture into the world of art.

The Borghese Gallery is a former villa owned by the Borghese Family. Within that family were many members who were very high ranking persona in the Catholic Church, including Pope Paul V in 1605.  The villa was very large and beautifully designed, ideal for collecting and displaying art in all forms.

And that is exactly what the family did. There is some speculation that some of the funds for this massive collection may have come from the church coffers and the art preserved in the private home of the Borgheses. At this point, what is more important is the breadth of the collection and the amazing job of displaying and preserving all of it.

From the moment you proceed into the grand entry hall, you can tell that this is going to be the experience of a lifetime. Ancient mosaics installed on the floors (no walking there); marble sculptures by famous and infamous artists tastefully displayed in every room; paintings from the smallest to the largest, carefully arranged on the walls; frescoes on every ceiling; marble columns, floors, table tops and pedestals representing many different kinds of marble that come from all over the world.

Even for those of us who know very little about art, this was an amazing place to spend some time (2 hours maximum as that is all your ticket allows). We had a printed guide highlighting some particular works to examine and it was very useful to our novice eye. To try to take in every piece would have been both impossible and overwhelming in the attempt. Suffice it to say that we appreciated the work of Bernini (Two Babies Milking a Goat – age 11, Apollo and Daphne, and Bust of Pope Paul V); Carvaggio (Bacchus and David with Head of Goliath); Raphael (Deposition of Christ – 1507). We also paused to absorb the beauty or power of several other pieces as we passed through each room. The collection and the setting were both astounding.

Upon leaving the gallery, there was a taxi waiting at the gate. We hopped in and headed home. Our last full day in Rome, complete. We ate dinner in our comfortable apartment and relaxed by catching up on photos and this diary and generally turning our focus to travelling home.

We have thoroughly enjoyed our tour of Italy. But, we are also ready to go home. A perfect time to head to the airport.

Tomorrow, we fly!

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