Yesterday we slept until almost noon and then wandered out to find some lunch. We headed up, up, up the Spanish Steps, pausing at each landing to check out the views and look up guidebook info on the web. We had lunch at a trattoria at the top of the climb, sitting outside so we could enjoy the food and the lively scene, both in the restaurant and on the tiny piazza next to it. After lunch we walked along up the street admiring and photographing the views of Rome until finally we realized that we were approaching the Borghese gardens. So we decided to see this park and we spent about an hour and a half there. The boys had a great time riding go-carts while the adults made a memorable visit to the bathrooms. (Since this is a happy blog I'll say no more about that except that visiting the ladies room made such an impression on me and Jean that we took photos of it just to memorialize the experience!)
After some down time at the apartment we walked to the Trevi Fountain which was surrounded by throngs of admiring tourists. We happily joined them, throwing our coins and taking our requisite pictures. It was a great night to be out and we were all happy to be with each other in this beautiful place.
This morning we were up early for our private tour of the Vatican Museum (including the Sistine Chapel) and St. Peter's, "private" meaning that we had our own guide, not that we had the place to ourselves. This is one of the top sites in Rome and it was very crowded. We were glad to have a guide who made it all manageable. She knew her way around, zipping us through ticket and security lines and finding quiet spots where we could sit and listen to her explain what we were seeing, or were about to see. The three adults in our group were amazed at the great pieces of sculpture, mosaics, tapestries and paintings that we saw, and the two boys were at the least well behaved and sometimes even quite interested.
Despite the crowds there was an occasional opportunity to be alone with your thoughts. Jean couldn't help thinking about the physical stress endured by Michelangelo as he painted the ceiling images. Ben was struck by the physical immensity of the buildings and the complex.
I was struck by a sense of familiarity, remembering how I had studied many of the pieces way back when I was an art history major in college. I don't get to many art museums now days, but when I do I sometimes come face to face with an old friend, like today when I saw Michelangelo's "Pieta" in St. Peter's, and I'm filled with both the happiness of recognition and a longing to be friends again.
We returned home to find the wifi working but with a warning that downloading images is blocked. So we'll see if the photos I've included get transmitted when I hit the "publish" button in a minute.