We have successfully done Venice and the highlight was the bird watching in St. Mark's square and the gondola ride. Europe is so different from when Diane and I were here 25 years ago and even though it is supposed to be off season it is still quite busy.
We took the Eurostar from Venice to Rome and arrived at an absolutely unbelievable apartment 2 blocks from the Coliseum. You can see the view from the terrace of the apartment in the accompanying picture; it is just over Cathy's shoulder. The fellow who owns the apartment (Pietro) shows us all around the first night and we leave the kids at home to unwind. The Italians stroll from about 6-8PM and then have an apertif and then dinner. It is really quite a relaxing way of life.
Imagine how trhilled I am to have great access to laundry!!! The weather is great and it is quick to get the laundry dried out on the terrace. John and I have the upstairs of the aprtment and it has a King bed (Pietro spent 20 years in Boston) and a little sitting room as well as a nice bathroom and of course the terrace which is great for wine at night and tea in the morning.
The wine is amazing here and we drink Puglian and Sicilian wine. It is about 5-7 dollars for a great wine. We even score some reall mozzarella the first night as well as some sausage from the north of Italy.
The first day we cover off the Vatican and stand in a 45 minute lineup to get into the museum(this is where the Sistine chapel is) During this line we encounter the only real rain of the entire trip (other than the little storm we had while driving to Vimy) Anna was very interested in everything in the Museum and we studied the ceiling of the chapel at length.
We have been using the Rick Steve's book and he tells us to slip out the group only exit which we do and fine ourselves right at the entrance to St Peter's. This is very important as we skipped the 45 minute line to get in!!
St. Peter's truly is the most amazing church on earth. You can't believe the enormity of it but get an idea as there are markings on the floor to show it compared to other churches like Notre Dame.
The Pieta was as spectacular as ever. It is the statue that Michelangelo did when he was only 24 years old of Mary holding the corpse of Jesus draped over her lap. He studied cadavers for a long time to get the musculature correct. In about 1978 some madman hacked at it with a hammer so it is now behind bullet proof glass.
The next day we wwent to the Coliseum and the Forum. they actually closed the Coliseum as there was a huge anti-government demonstration that day. We strolled the ancient roads that the Romans used to use to enter Rome in about 40 BC (Julius Caeser). We bought a book that has these little overlap plastic pages so that you can look at the ruin and then the overlap to see what it wasin ancient times. It is really almost too much for any of us to take in.
That night we stop by the Trevi Fountain (packed with people) and the Spanish Steps (also packed) and head home to our fabulous sanctuary. We actually have a home cooked meal, the first since Margit's place.
We head out to the train the next day and off to the Cinque Terre.