And so we come to the final installment, I hope you’ve enjoyed your tour of Tuscany. Please remember to take your belongings with you when you exit the ride, and enjoy the rest of your life at the Conspiracy of Happiness.
Day 7 – It was sad to leave I Greppi di Silli today. It’s such a peaceful place. However, as they say…all roads lead to Rome. So we sallied forth and made a stop in Orvieto on the way. Orvieto is perched high atop ancient Etruscan caves…and I do mean high. I took some photos and I think I got most of Europe in the photograph. Plus, it was extremely windy in Orvieto. A great place to fly a kite in my opinion. Anyway, the cathedral (at the top of Orvieto) is probably the most ornate façade I’ve ever seen. After seeing the cathedral, we all split up. T. and I went off to tour the caves, but the tour time was too late. We stopped to get some lunch, I believe they were wild boar sandwiches…seriously, boar is like the THING in Italy. But, since we didn’t tour the caves, we wandered the streets of the city and came upon a public park which was really nice. We reconvened at the cathedral and loaded up to go to Rome.
Okay, the first thing about Rome is, don’t drive into it. Let the professionals take care of it. Rome’s citizens can turn any 2 lanes into 6 lanes at the blink of an eye and they’re not shy about turning any space, be it sidewalk, cross street or lane of traffic into a parking space. Also, as with all the signage in Italy, it’s confusing and, while visible, not really all that helpful. At one point, T. and I considered following a hot chick on a scooter to her destination regardless of where it led us. Still, we managed to get to our apartment, mere blocks from the Colosseum. I mean, dude, it’s possible that gladiators stayed in our apartment.
There were some grumblings about the apartment (one bathroom, musty smell, poor decor), but honestly, we just slept there. I came to see the sights of Rome, not the apartment. So it was fine for me. That said, I can sleep anywhere, except on an airplane.
Day 8 – We gathered at the Colosseum on a rainy morning to discuss our plan for the day. It was decided that we would utilize the hop on/hop off method of tour buses in order to see the things we wanted to focus on the next day. It sort of worked like that, except we really only hopped off once at the Vatican (where there is a Latin option on the ATM) and the rest of Rome was seen from a rainy bus window. Not to be deterred however, we did make our way to the Vatican Museum and I can check off another country on my list. The Vatican museum was packed. It was like a cattle call, and we were on this tour with a guy who was literally talking a mile a minute, although he was very knowledgeable of what were seeing. Still, with all the people it was hard to enjoy any of it. That said, our main goal was the Sistine Chapel. This was P.’s third trip to Italy and she still had not see the Sistine, so we were determined to make that happen. So, we got to the chapel at the end of the museum and there are signs saying to be quiet (it is a chapel after all) and no pictures (of any kind.) We walked in and it was like a high school reunion, chattering people taking flash photos of anything and everything. Five guards wading through the sea of humanity trying to stop both violations. Oh, and by the way, giant works of art on the ceiling and walls. But honestly, it was kind of small…and dark…and while it was impressive to be there and understand how it was created, it was hard to see anything in detail. Actually, it was hard to see anything. After several minutes of craning our necks to see the ceiling and mumbling in hushed tones, we left the chapel. May I recommend this website as an alternative to this process.
Now, more impressive than the Sistine Chapel and possibly anything else in Rome was St. Peter’s Basilica which is the largest church in Christian world. It’s like the size of the blimp hangar, or possibly two blimp hangars. There are marks on the church floor that show where other churches would fit inside it. I can’t even begin to explain how massive this church is and how opulent the papal monuments are inside. Even the pictures I have don’t begin to really show the scale. You just have to see it, and even then, you won’t believe it.
Of course, by this time, the rain had really set in and we got on the bus and just saw the rest of the tour from the bus window. Which was not all bad. By this point in the trip, we’d done a lot of walking and the time on the bus was nice. After we made the complete trip, we got back to the apartment and went out for dinner. Dinner was a riot because we sat around drinking beer and watching MTV Gold on Italian television. Nothing like singing 80s music with your family after a few beers. We stumbled home in the rain and slept off the day.
Day 9 – The rain really caught up to us today. However, given the outstanding weather we’d had, it was only fair. Again, we started out at the Colosseum and our viewing of the inside was interrupted on several occasions by a driving rainstorm. It was about 45 degress and the wind was blowing through the arches. Naturally I was wearing shorts and a thin jacket, so I was shivering by the time we were finished there. Still, it’s an awesome structure to behold and definitely worth your trip. We wandered the Forum during breaks in the weather. The Forum is just so incredible, to think that people lived there thousands of years ago. And, the birthplace of some of our political system at the Senate, which is still intact. But, you can only look at ruins for so long without some understanding of what they are so we headed on to see the rest of the sights.
Our travels took us to the Spanish Steps (huge staircase, but otherwise, what’s the point unless maybe you’ve seen movies with this particular attraction), the Trevi Fountain (which is an amazing sculpture/water feature, plus a coin toss guarantees a return trip to Rome), and the Pantheon (with a hole in the top of the dome that allows rain in, which drains through holes in the floor). I know that I just covered 3 major sites in a span of one sentence, but that’s about how quickly we saw them. C. and I were done by this point and we took the opportunity to head back to the apartment.
Unfortunately, our time in Italy was quickly drawing to a close. We packed up and in the morning took a wild ride to the airport. Seriously, our driver seemed like a meth addict in the witness protection program. He was fidgety and silent the entire time. He chewed off enough fingernails for 4 people. Too much espresso I guess.
That’s all folks. We’ll return to normal programming now. See you in the funny papers!