October 8–10, 2019
After our direct flight from Charlotte, we landed at the Rome airport, where I discovered that American had cleverly broken a leg off my suitcase. That made it fun navigating around on cobblestone streets as we traveled from town to town. We got on the train for Termini station in Rome. Oddly, the name has nothing to with its being the main terminal, but relates to the nearby thermal baths. It is the main hub for the metro, the street cars, and the city buses, as well as inter-city trains.
We rode a taxi to the hotel, though it was not far from the train station. It was also near the opera house. This was the view from our window:
We went out walking around, and I discovered that the manhole covers have the ancient Roman insignia.
The National Museum of Rome is near Termini, so we began our sightseeing there that afternoon. This is Augustus.
We went to bed early Tuesday night because we were tired and because it would help us get used to the time zone. On Wednesday we woke up in time to eat the hotel breakfast, and then got cleaned up for the day, leaving us plenty of time to visit some famous landmarks before our scheduled tour of the Coliseum with a private guide that afternoon. We took the metro over to the Spanish Steps. I tried to talk Torrey into going up on his knees, but he didn't seem too concerned about Purgatory. In fact, I didn't see anyone going up on their knees. (I realize people go up the Holy Steps at St. John Lateran on their knees.) John Keats died of tuberculosis at age 25 in the orange building on the right.
View from the top
I told a classics prof that I would be going to Rome and asked for suggestions. He said just to get Rick Steves's guidebook and do what it says.
The church at the top is Trinità dei Monti.
We then wended our way to the Trevi Fountain. It is so surrounded by tourists that it is hard to get a good look, much less a good photo.
On the way back to the hotel, we came to place with a fountain on each corner depicting biblical characters, starting with Adam and Eve.
Near our hotel was the Episcopal church. Torrey went there to a service on Sunday before we left for Florence and said it was great. It is a church of the American denomination. There is also an Anglican church somewhere in Rome. Besides services, they also have concerts of opera arias. Torrey and I thought of going, but didn't get around to it. Ladies we met on the ship told us they had been to the concerts, and they were great.
We got back to the hotel in plenty of time to meet our guide for the Coliseum tour. She took us by taxi and pointed out things along the way. When we arrived we saw the hill where there had been a massive temple of Venus. The columns are from the temple.
Near the Coliseum entrance is a replica of a bronze statue of the Canaanite god Moloch as part of an exhibit on Carthage.
In the center you can see the excavations down below stage level, where the gladiators, animals, Christians, etc. awaited their appearances.
The cross marks the spot where the emperor sat. The supports for his box are on either side.
The emperor's view was just ahead of this.
Our guided tour was supposed to include the Forum, but we spent so long at the Coliseum that we could no longer get inside.
She took us down the street by it, and we were able to see a bit of it through the fence.
Early the next morning, we had a private guide to tour the Vatican. When we told her of our interest in paintings, she decided to start with that part of the museum. We had it to ourselves. Still, we did not spend a lot of time there so we could see more before the crowds filled the place up.
Sixtus the Fourth establishes a library: a "restoration" on canvas of a fresco:
I don't know how or why we got on such a Caravaggio kick. This is the one in the Vatican Museum.
The School of Athens by Raphael, depicting philosophers
Frescoes on other walls in the room represent theology and literature. This is one of four magnificent rooms painted by Raphael
and completed by his students after his death.
Fire in the Borgo
From there we visited the Sistine Chapel, where photos are forbidden.
The Holy Doors to St. Peter's Basilica are opened by the Pope in years of Jubilee. Otherwise they remain sealed shut.
View from the portico of St. Peter's
The nave looks more immense in person than a photo here could suggest.
Even with the crowds, it is not hard to get a good view of Michelangelo's Pietà.