In the Eternal City

Wednesday, our first full day in Rome. Met Jim briefly for breakfast. Jim sent us off to visit the Colosseum and Roman Forum as he has class. Had a great tour guide for the Colosseum and Forum and only six people in our tour. The history and stories the guide told us was well worth the price. Colosseum was built in 8 years, no government regulations, the Republicans must have been running things. Cost of entry for the Romans to attend was 0. The Democrats must have gotten in.We had lunch then went to see the statue of Moses as suggested by our apartment landlord. The place was closed minutes before we got there – bummer. We used the subway to get back to our apartment. Found that visiting Hanoi prepared me for traffic in Rome. The difference is that the vehicles are bigger. The same principal for crossing a street applies. Fix your eye on your destination, don’t make eye contact with drivers and trust in God’s mercy.

On Thursday we visited the Vatican. Again we had a great tour. There were only five people on the tour and we had a fabulous guide. We were able to scoot around the great masses of people. The Sistine Chapel is indeed a world treasure.When I was getting ready for the trip I jokingly said that we would spend Easter with the Pope. It looks like we may. During the tour Tina asked about getting seats for the Easter service at the Vatican. There will be thousands here. The guide said that would not be likely but you can ask the Swiss Guards on the way out. So, Tina did and was given three passes for seats. Wow, that’s my wife, I brag.

We also visited St Peters, spectacular.After lunch we went to San Luigi dei Francesi and I had the great treat to see Caravaggio’s St Mathews series. The Calling St Mathew, The Inspiration of St Mathew and The Martyrdom of St Mathew. I am always humbled when I see a Caravaggio. To see three significant paintings in the corner of the small church where they were originally commissioned and hung is truly amazing, a special memory that will stay with me and be one of the highlights of this trip.Afterwards we went to the Pantheon and came back to our apartment for a long nap. Jim had to finish a paper and call about his internship for the summer. Jim has proved to be a great and informed guide for our visit to Rome.We are certainly blessed to have built in travel guides to Rome and Vietnam.

Made a short trip to Tivoli. I believe this was the site of Hadrian’s Villa. The Villa d’Este, which is on the site of the old Roman Villa is the most spectacular set of gardens and fountains that I have ever seen. This alone is worth a trip to Italy.

And we were able to go to the Easter service at the Vatican. We were able to get close seats because we were on site early. You cannot get any more”High Church” than this.

The Pope passed within a few feet of us when he traveled around the crowd in hi “Popemobile”.

Lots of security.

Jim took us for a picnic lunch in the Villa Borghese Park. This is a typically Roman thing to do on an Easter afternoon.

We then made short stops at the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps.

Big crowds.

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