We had a wonderful time in Rome. This ancient city makes you take a look at everything around. The architecture, the windows and even the streets have a story and history to tell. You realize what a small part you have in the greater universe. I insisted on visiting The Vatican again with a Skip The Line Pass. Although this helped avoid the outside lines, the masses of humanity inside was hard to contend with. People were everywhere, there really was no space nor time to contemplate in the Sistine Chapel. We were basically herded in and eventually moved along like cattle. Looking up at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, it is incomprehensible to me that one man could paint that masterpiece in just four years. I wonder what mark, if any I might leave on this world when I am gone. Later in the week we met a couple who visited the Vatican the day after we did, to their surprise, the pope said mass in Saint Peter’s Square and they even had video of him in the Pope Mobile. Timing is everything.
There is no bad food in Rome. Prices were very reasonable and food quality ranged from very good to spectacular. I really loved the pace of meals in Italy. There is no rush. We are typically eating a long, late lunch and then a nap ( a completely underated activity) followed by lots and lots of walking and a late dinner around nine. Lingering at meals is encouraged. In the restaurants there are no televisions, often you join a table with others and conversation is the entertainment. It seems as if there are modest little eateries in every direction. Italians were friendly and welcoming to Americans. One of our favorites was a family run restaurant restaurant named Trattoria da Alfredo e Ada. The menu was recited by the waitress of what was freshly prepared for that evening. The food was so fresh and delicious we both were pleasantly surprised when the bill, including drinks and cookies to dunk in red wine came to twenty four euros.
We left Rome for Florence, a smaller city with some of the greatest works of art in the world, great shopping and more wonderful food to try. At the train station an older gentleman saw we were a bit confused and offered to show us where to meet the train. He beckoned us to follow him to the numbered platform, although he spoke no English he gestured for us to wait for the train there. Then he promptly demanded we pay him for the “service”. Greg have him three euros but he wanted more. I just told firmly told him “no” and he left us alone to search for some more lost travelers he could scam some money from.
The high speed train to Florence was comfortable, quick and a pleasant experience compared to the hassle of getting to Italy from the US. We are now in a larger apartment right in the center of Florence. It has rained on and off but has not really stopped us from exploring the city. I admire the Italians, they love eating out in their sidewalk cafes, and are not dissuaded by weather. The outdoor cafes are crowed at ten o’clock even in inclement weather. We were without raincoats and getting drenched in the downpour. Some guys were selling cheap umbrellas on the street. Greg told the first guy, we didn’t want any but, as the rain continued and his natural GPS was fading I insisted on buying one from the next street merchant. Originally the guy wanted ten euros for the umbrella but we bargained him down to four. We left with a semi functioning umbrella, walking the streets of Florence.
For the past few days we have meandered the crowded streets of Florence exploring the neighborhoods and piazzas. It is International Fashion Week here in Florence. Everywhere we look. there are beautiful models, wearing high fashion clothing and impossible high heels wandering around everywhere except the restaurants.
We visited The Duomo, The Uffizi, and The Accademia Gallery. Greg is not really a big museum guy, years ago when he was in Paris for business he visited The Arc d’ Triumph, The Louve and the Eifel Tower in half a day. I’m pretty sure he was wearing roller blades. Since he is just the greatest husband ever we did the Grand Tour of Florence. Tomorrow we leave Florence for the coast of Cinque Terre.