Confession time… it’s been three weeks since we got home from Europe, and I still haven’t finished posts about our last two cities! Truth is, once we got home and jumped into house projects, namely the final push to complete the bathroom before going back to work in two weeks(!), I got sidetracked. But by now I have so many other house things to share, and I have this issue with posting things out of order… it’s a problem. Anyway, here goes with our last stop in Italy – Roma!
Highlights of Rome? Definitely being blessed by Pope Francis! He’s a pretty cool dude.
We planned our trip to Rome so that we’d be able to attend the Wednesday Papal Audience. Admission to anything led by the Pope is free, but Tony had to go down to the US Bishops’ Visitors Office to pick up our tickets. Each Wednesday that the Pope is in town there are 30,000 seats for ticket holders to the event. Estimates put an additional 70,000 visitors standing around the perimeter of St. Peter’s Square (which is round, by the way). It was a rainy morning while we waited and chatted with our neighbors from Oregon, a family of adult siblings visiting significant family locations. We could tell when a spurt of rain was coming because the umbrellas on the opposite side of the square would start to open up, and it was like this wave of movement and noise as 30,000 umbrellas opened up in quick succession.
Another highlight of Vatican City was our tour of St. Peter’s Basilica, mostly due to our awesome tour guide. Picture a retired, British Librarian. Do you see the glasses perched on her nose? The high gray bun? If so, you are picturing Penny, who’s been giving free tours of this massive church for over 30 years! For two and a half hours she led us through this incredible building, pointing out famous works of art, paintings (which are actually all tile mosaics so they do not fade), and especially the incredible feats of architecture the building houses: the first of which is simply the incredible size of the building. Michelangelo and his architect friends wanted this church to be gigantic, but they didn’t want visitors to feel swallowed up when they came in, so they made everything inside really, really big so individual people wouldn’t seem so small. Seems wierd, right? It is. When we first walked in Penny had us look at a stained glass dove window on the opposite end of the nave. It was pretty far away, but she had us guess how big it was. We each guessed around 2 feet or so. Penny said it was actually 6 feet across! There were cherub statues larger than me, and up near the ceiling level Apostle Paul held a quill pen that was 9 feet long! The effect was to make the building seem smaller than it really is, and it was pretty amazing. Apparently I was so transfixed that I neglected to take any photos though! This one is from the web.
Apparently the only thing that saved this structure from being further ravaged for its limestone bricks (3/5 of the outer structure is missing) was being named a church in the 1500s! The Colosseum has not fallen down through time. It’s been taken down… some of it to build St. Peter’s!
We had a nice time in Roma, but it was probably our least favorite city, outside modern Pompeii of course. One almost feels guilty about that assessment, because Rome is really cool! And I definitely enjoyed gelato twice a day! It was time to leave Italy though, so we flew from there to Ireland for our final adventure.