We arrived in Roma (Rome), Italy around 11:30am their time. The time difference between Michigan and Italy is six hours. At this point we had been awake over thirty hours and were pleased when we arrived at the hotel to learn that our room was ready. Our first task was to catch a few winks and then get up to take a tour of the city by bus.
We were fortunate to acquire the front seat on the bus as there were no handicapped persons aboard. What we didn't expect was that the bus made no stops along the way. Thus, the photos you will see of the city tour are taken "on the fly" as we drove through the city.
Our hotel was located about 5 - 6 miles outside of the city of Rome. At first we were disappointed that we couldn't have stayed in a hotel within the city but after spending a day we came to realize we didn't miss anything. Our hotel was in a much safer location.
As you can see, the spring flowers were in bloom at our hotel. From here we will get on the bus and take a peek at the city highlights.
The dome of the Vatican can be seen from almost every spot in the city. What astounded us was the heavy traffic that never let up with a mix of motorcycles that weaved their way through the mix of cars, buses and trucks with little regard to the traffic lights.
Motorcycles were everywhere as you can see with this area that is parked full of bikes.
Fountains of all sorts sprang up in the most unexpected places.
What we found to be a bit disturbing is how the Italians throw their heritage away. Notice the ancient ruins that act as a wall for a "new" structure that is built alongside of it. The Italians brag that they are using all the materials available to them in a most efficient manner. Sadly, the standalone structures that we expected to see as memorials of the past are becoming common building of the present.
This is a city hall of sorts. The statue artwork on the building is beautiful.
At one time these building were covered with white marble. During the past couple of hundred years the marble has been removed and used to clad new "religious" structures.
In the photo with the red and silver colored bus notice the shape of the trees. They aren't trimmed to that shape. It is a natural shape for an umbrella pine that grows primarily in Italy and parts of adjoining Greece.
The above is a part of the coliseum that still stands. You might recall the chariot race in the movie Ben Hur. This is where it might have occurred.
Our one and only stop was at Trebie Fountain. We had to walk about five blocks down crowded streets and sidewalks to get to it. This was high on Lynn's list as a site to see. The history of the fountain is that the artist was mad at the Pope but was forced to carve the statues around the fountain. The artist retaliated by carving each horse and person so that they would never look toward the Vatican. Lynn wanted to get a photo of the fountain with the Vatican behind it.
When we arrived at the fountain we learned that a building had been built behind it to house shops and the like. What a disappointment.
Notice the crowds. This is a mall for pickpockets. The next day, when we were visiting aboard ship, we learned that a woman was holding her purse tightly to her chest with both arms watching her family taking pictures at the fountain. The pickpocket slit the bottom of the purse open with a sharp instrument and emptied the contents without her even knowing it had happened until she began to leave.
The line to enter the Vatican for a tour stretched for over three blocks and the security checks closely resembled that of an airport.
Our entrance into the Vatican began with a walking tour of the interior courtyard.
The bronze globe was interesting. We don't know how often it is polished. The long wall that you can see in the photo is the corridor we will follow to enter the Basilica located at the dome.
It's hard to believe that the paintings were painted hundreds of years ago. The cleaning of the ceilings and wall is nearly complete. Prior to the installation of electric lighting, the halls were lighted by candles and burning torches. Through the years the smoke had formed a film covering all of the surfaces. The painstaking task of cleaning the paintings and walls revealed a depth of colors that were a surprise to the artists who cleaned them.
Notice the dark stripe that cuts through the plastered/painted insert. In the middle of the stripe you can see a crack that had formed in the ceiling some years ago. So as to not damage any of the plaster the area along the crack was left uncleaned. You can see the difference in the color of the plaster. Imagine how dull the colored painting were.
The ceiling panels depict the events that are biblical events recorded to have happened from creation to the 'then present.' We had always envisions massive painted ceilings. As you can see, there is a mixture of smaller paintings that range in size of 2' square to about 5' square.
It seemed to take forever to walk through the maze of corridors but it only took a little bit over an hour. One was free to stop and sit on benches that were available if they wished. However, we were on a tour and had to keep up with the crowd to keep within time constraints.
We entered the Basilica through the bronze clad doors. Although we had seen television presentations within the Basilica during past Christmas holidays, we amazed at the enormity of the interior.
The dome is lighted with natural light by windows near the base.
The high alter is only used by the pope. It is made of bronze. The foundations for the alter extend over thirty feet into the ground. During the excavation for the foundations over three levels of gravesites were penetrated.
There are a number of large paintings within the Basilica. Imagine our surprise when our guide told us that they are not paintings. They are works of art made of 1/8" square pieces of ceramic tile.
The Sistine Chapel
After walking through the Basilica our tour led us to the Sistien Chapel. We were allowed to take photos of the paintings outside of the chapel but forbidden to take any while within.
Although it was said to be forbidden to take photos in the chapel a number of people took some. Each time their flash would go off a guard would stare at them. Lynn couldn't help but take one photo of a part of the ceiling. He had always envisioned Michelangelo's painting of God touching the finger of Adam as covering a huge ceiling. As you can see in the photo above, it is about a 8' x 12' painting surrounded by other paintings.
Vatican Exterior Courtyard
The above is the courtyard where people who 'have an audience with the pope' go to once each week. The leftmost window is the window from where he blesses the crowd below.
The above are photos of the statues atop the walls. You can see them in the photo below. We noticed that there were two clocks, one at each end of the facade. Incidentally, neither were of the right time nor were they synchronized for time. But they were nice looking and very ornate.
Following our morning tour of the Vatican we boarded our bus that transported us to our floating home -- the Star Princess. It took a little more than an hour to travel the twenty miles, largely due to the slow traffic within the city of Rome.
We were impressed with how modern the port station was. We were more impressed at how quickly we were ushered aboard as we had attained Platinum status as a result of having over five cruises with Princess.
We walked around the ship for a while. A building used for passenger services is shown in the photo above. Notice the stone walls separating the Mediterranean Sea from the harbor that protect the seawall. The stone are manmade. As you can see in the adjacent photo, the water won't move them much once they get interlocked.
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