Category Archives: Rome

Final Days

Well, we are safely back in Orlando, extremely sad and already pining for the streets of Rome and the hills of Tuscany. Although the trip is officially over, we hold in our hearts all the wonderful experiences of the last two weeks, and we are already planning our Italy 2013 vacation. (Coming soon to a blog near you!)

Since we were a little busy and overcome the last few days, we didn’t post anything, not even photos. But here’s a recap of our last couple days in Rome.

On Tuesday, we joined a 10:30 tour of the Vatican Museum, which was less than great because we booked it through the Vatican. Private, third-party tours are much better, but we didn’t want to leave much to chance on this trip, so we reserved it ahead of time through the official channels. We experienced the awe and beauty of St. Peter’s church, after which we ate pizza and gelato, and relaxed in a small park near Vatican City. From there, we walked to Castel Sant’Angelo, something I missed the last time I went to Rome, and were treated to a spectacular view of the city from the top of the fortress. Finally, we went home to regroup and took a bus to dinner near the Pantheon.

On Wednesday, we had no official plans, so we slept in and didn’t leave our apartment until 11:00. Like locals, we hopped on a bus to Campo dei Fiori, where we wandered the stalls of colorful dried foods and ripe-to-bursting fresh fruits and vegetables. After a little late-morning gelato, we took another bus to Piazza del Popolo, a beautiful piazza at the foot of the Villa Borghese, which is the Central Park of Rome. We ate a long and delicious lunch of pizza and salad in a nearby restaurant, then climbed the stairs to Villa Borghese, where we napped and relaxed on the grass for an hour or two. Longing to see more of the park, we rented a two-person bicycle/cart at the rate of E10 per hour. It looked a lot like this:

Laura and I agree it was probably the best E10 we spent in Italy, because it was just so delightful. After our romp in the park, we stopped in at a couple of churches, then ate dinner near Piazza Navona.

Yesterday (Thursday) was a ridiculously long day of travel. We left our apartment at 8:00 am Rome time (about 2:00 am EST) to get to the airport for a 11:00 flight. We finally arrived in Orlando at 8:05 pm EST, so we were traveling for about 18 hours. Whew! We stayed awake through most of it and crashed last night, and today I think we are both feeling like we’re pretty much readjusted to Orlando time.

Photos will be coming soon of our last flurry of activity!

La Giornata delle Chiese (The Day of Churches)

Because churches are closed to visitors on Sundays, today was the first opportunity we had to see all of the beauty and art that glorifies the name of Jesus and the saints. After sleeping late, we stopped at a local market to buy cheese, proscuitto, bread and beer, then took our picnic to the Spanish Steps. We then toured the greatest churches of Rome:

  • Santa Maria Maggiore
  • Santa Pietro in Vincoli
  • Santa Maria della Vittoria
  • Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri
  • Santa Maria in Trastevere

All of these churches have something spectacular to offer, a single piece or group of works representing a great artist, but they are also beautifully decorated and constructed. Each one has its own atmosphere, just as each restaurant you eat at and each store you shop in has its own special milieu. But these churches don’t have brands, they have personalities, qualities that have developed over time, been shaped and directed by many different hands and spheres of influence.

Even Laura, who I’m sure thought she would burn out on churches pretty quickly, seemed ever eager to see what the next church held. She seemed so inspired that she started taking long exposure photos! We will be posting those shortly (I hope).

Santa Maria dei Piccioni dei Stalattiti e Stalagmiti

Deep in the recesses of what used to be the emperors’ palace in Rome is an empty room which perhaps used to be some sort of chapel. The sun never hits it directly; it only receives diffuse light from the doorway, which is now blocked by an imposing iron gate that has long since rusted. The room is nondescript, more a cave than a domestic area, but in the center of the wall opposite the doorway is a niche, a recess once filled with sculpture and ornate decorations carved from stone. Now, though, the niche is heavily layered with stalactites and stalagmites, because a small channel of water has found its way from above and dripped in nearly the same way for hundreds of years.

When Laura and I peer in through the bars of the iron gate, we see the only signs that the recess was once carved with ornamentation: Two stone pedestals or shelves about two-thirds of the way up. Resting on these pedestals are two pigeons, one on either side of the niche, watching us with their unnaturally red eyes. We decide that this impromptu chapel of nature needs a name, and we christen it the chapel of Saint Mary of the Pigeons of Stalactites and Stalagmites.

Filling in the Gaps

If you have been following our travels, you may have noticed that A) we’ve been posting about Florence even though we already arrived in Rome, and B) our time in Chiusi is unaccounted for. Naturally, I want to craft stories about our trip rather than just tell about it, but this takes time. Also, we are busy! So, we are working on filling in the gaps.

For those readers not so interested in the details, here’s a run-down of our two days in Rome thus far:


  • Arrive at 2:00 p.m.
  • Best pizza we’ve had in Italy so far
  • Three hour walking tour (self-guided) covering miles of road and thousands of years of history
  • Colosseum at night (see previous posts for photos)


  • Breakfast at home (salami, eggs, bread, bananas = delicious!)
  • Roman forum
  • Palatine Hill (no Eugene, Sara)
  • Capitoline Hill and museum
  • Circus Maximus
  • First Metro ride
  • Colosseum underground and upper-level guided tour

And that’s it! Just a few things here and there. Also, check the Flickr photos, because we’ve uploaded some from Chiusi and lots from Florence that we haven’t really posted about.