As we awoke this morning it was an overcast day with rain clouds that would threaten us with rain for most of the remainder of the day. The temperature was in the low 70's for the entire of the day. It is getting cooler the farther north that we travel; the heat of the desert is now a distant memory. Dark rain clouds have been threatening to rain on us thru our last two ports, but the White Lady has kept most of the rain away
. This morning, we arose early to prepare for the day. We had decided to take the hour long train ride into Rome and spend the day in the Eternal City that sits on Seven Hills. We left the ship early even before the free shuttle was running, so instead of waiting, we walked the twenty minutes thru to the port entrance and to the train station. We were able to purchase a special all day ticket that would provide train transportation along with metro transportation once we were inside of the city of Rome. For just 9 Euros, we would cover all of our transportation needs for the day. Within the first hour we had traveled thru the Italian countryside and had arrived at our first stop of the day; Saint Peter's Basilica. A quick 5 minute walk took us to the Columns that form the entrance to Saint Peter's Basilica Square. It is a very large square that is large for Roman standards. This is the entrance to Saint Peters Basilica and the entrance to the Vatican. It is an impressive sight in a city filled with impressive sights. The Vatican is possibly the biggest tourist attraction in the world. It had a long and crowded queue that lead into the front of the Basilica and into the most famous church in the world. This is the home of the Pope of the Catholic Church. Inside of the church is one of the most awe inspiring churches that we have ever been inside. It is one large cavern of a room that contains art works of the Italian Masters that were the inspiration for the Italian Renaissance. To try and describe the inside of the church would never be adequate and flowery descriptions would pale in contrast to what you see when you enter the church
. We quickly walked around the church looking at just the highlights. That took us over an hour. It deserved more time, but we only have part of a single day to cover the entire city of Rome.
Outside of the square, we located a city bus that would take us to the center of Rome and near the Piazza Venezia. The bus quickly moved out and crossed the river into the old section of the city of Rome. Rome is a crowded city that is stuffed full of famous building, statues and other works of public art. Rome is like the house that has been owned by a collector of everything over tens of years, but lives in a house too small for the collection. Public art and historical buildings are placed everywhere in every nook and cranny of the city that will hold the object without any regard for proper presentation of the object. The streets of Rome are narrow and crowded with small automobiles and motorbikes that have efficient and frequently used horns. All of Rome is old and crowded. We have now seen many examples of graffiti that appears throughout the city. Although not as dirty as Mumbai, India, the city of Rome is not a clean city. It is a well-worn city that shows the heavy use of centuries. New stores are cut and stuffed into the old buildings that form the nucleus of the city of Rome.
At the Piazza Venezia, we disembarked the bus
. Transportation in Rome is hectic and crowded. Rome like other Italian cities has narrow streets and narrow sidewalks that bring motorist and pedestrians close the buildings lining the streets. Thought not tall skyscrapers, they are four or five stories tall and their proximity to the streets makes for a feeling of being closed in and unable to see what is just ahead on the street. We got off the bus and walked for the rest of the day. By the day's end we were fully aware that Rome is a city that sits on seven hills. The hills along with uneven sidewalks and bumpy streets crowded with vehicles made walking in Rome more strenuous than other cities.
We stopped at a Tourist Information Kiosk just before the Piazza Venezia. With a map of Rome, we felt better prepared to walk around the city, even though the map was in Italian not English. After viewing the Piazza Venezia, we selected the Pantheon as our next stop on our personalized tour. It is a special building for us as it is the original Rotunda design that was utilized in San Jose's City Hall. Although not a glass-stayed rotunda, it is a rotunda that was the original inspiration the Berlin Parliament Building that in turn was the inspiration for the San Jose City Hall Rotunda. The Pantheon shows it age on the outside but inside it is a cathedral that could well be an art museum. We spend some time here absorbing the architecture of the building
. But time requires us to keep moving so we can see just the highlights of Rome. So we were soon off; pass the Rome Opera and thru more narrow streets to the Trevi Fountain. The Trevi Fountain is a large public art fountain sandwiched into a small plaza that is completely over run with tourists. This is the fountain of the legend of throwing coins into the water so that the thrower will return to the City of Rome. As thousands of tourists were doing this day, we also threw a coin into the fountain. We didn't want to tempt a legend, because someday we may return again.
From here we continued our journey to our next destination of the Coliseum. On our way to the Coliseum, we walked up yet another hill to the Presidential Palace. With the flags flying we knew that the President was in the residence. It is a very large building that is again cramped in a small opening in the city. As we left the Presidential Palace, we are able to walk down hill for part of the way. At the bottom of the hill are the ruins of the ancient city of Rome. Looking past the ruins we can see our destination; the Coliseum. So we turned and head directly toward our destination. But our cruisers training caused an interruption to our walk as we passed a series of restaurants by the Coliseum. We decided to stop and have a pizza and beer. It was a good time to stop as we were starting to tire and it had been a long time since we ate breakfast on the White Lady
. The stop helped quicken our steps as we completed the final part of our journey to the Coliseum. The crowds of Rome have been with us for the entire day; they would ebb and flow in size as we came close to and farther away from city landmarks. They were again with us at the Coliseum. Here we sat by the Coliseum and looked at the Arch of Constantine thru which many of the prisoners of Ancient Rome passed on their way into Ancient Rome. Instead of thinking about the prisoners and slaves of that bygone era; we instead of thought of that day almost 37 years ago when we sat in this location then walked thru the now fenced Archway and around the now fenced Coliseum. It brought back many warm and happy thoughts of our first visit to Europe.
But we had one more main attraction to see on our journey thru Rome. We wanted to return to the St. Peter in Chains Basilica which was located near the Coliseum. It would be a walk up a tall steep hill and then a climb up a steeper set of steps that would finally bring us to the Basilica. It was a strenuous walk that we felt more as we had been walking continuously for about five hours. We reached the church and then. We found that the church was closed for a long lunch period and would not reopen for almost an hour. But in an hour we would be on the train heading back to the port of Civitavecchia. So like we had experienced during our first visit to Italy, we left a sight without being able to enter or wait for a later time when it would again open
. The decision not to wait was aided by the fact that we had visited the church 37 years before on our first trip to Rome. We began our walk to the main train station in Rome and yes, the station was uphill from where we were. Back to the station and out to the farthest train tracks we walked. We were rewarded for our final walk as the train was waiting on the tracks. Waiting to take us back on that hour long journey, back to Civitavecchia and to the White Lady, was our train. The ride back was a welcomed period of time to just sit and rest from this long day of waking and visiting the highlights of Rome. Yes, it would have been better to have taken several days to visit Rome, but for us this was not an option as we will be in France on tomorrow and visiting our next port of Cannes.
Hunt for Harriet Results:
Again Harriet was spotted by Linda, Brenda and Chrystal. Today she again is hidden in plain sight just outside the Parthenon in Rome, Italy.
********************************Where is Harriet? Hunt Shelby on April 22, 2009 She's standing in front of the pillar to the left of a lady in a hot pink or red jacket shes wearing a black jacket with a white stripe across it ;)
After the Egyptian Civilization; after the Greek Civilization; the Roman Empire became the dominate civilization of man. For over 300 years, Rome controlled the known world. So it was fitting that after Athens, we sailed to Italy and today we docked at Civitavecchia, a deep sea port that is the main port for Rome. We had just one day to visit a city that not only was the capitol of the Roman Empire, but is currently the head of the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church is technically not a part of Italy as it is the smallest independent government on the earth.