Italy With Our Germans II: Roma

Roma with Our Germans

Michelangelo's Pieta in Saint Peter's Basilica.
He finished this when he was around twenty-five years old.
As usual--click to enlarge the photo--this one is worth it.
On Dec. 21st, Gene and I took the bus and two trains to the termini station closest to our hotel. We were very careful on the trains this time because were down to one credit card and one ATM card. Our first visit to Roma cost me my wallet. It was pick-pocketed out of my backpack.These guys make the Artful Dodger look like a rank amateur. Gene kept his wallet zipped on the inside pocket of his jacket. What we didn’t know was that the cab drivers would be as big a thieves as the pick-pockets. We had been to the hotel once to check it out before Jurgen booked and knew it was only a few blocks from the train terminal. We hailed a cab and saw he had a meter (something you have to look for in some parts of the world), we also had a map and Gene pointed out to the driver where we wanted to go. As we got in it was, 'Yeah, Yeah, Ok'; seconds later, when we started to roll, it was...Oh, but he was ‘new’. He made all kinds of wrong turns and stopped to ask all and sundry where the hotel was. Each conversation wracked up another two Euros on the meter. At one stop, I told Gene to pay him then and we would walk the rest of the way. We probably would have except that the week before Gene had done something to the muscles in his left leg and was only on day two of walking again after five days of being confined to the boat, hauling luggage around would have been too much. The driver says—no—no—I know—I know. His next stop is in front of a hotel and he runs in to get directions. Three Euros later, he comes out. End result—ten euros for a four euro ride. Gene gave him a tip!! He believed the guy was new and was frustrated about being lost!

I was pretty frustrated when we finally got into the hotel. Fortunately, the hotel and staff were first rate. No problems checking in and our room was gorgeous. I’m kicking myself now for not getting a photo. The walls were gold damask fabric and gold framed botanicals hung on the walls. The bathroom was small, but spotless. It was about noon so we went out for lunch and came back for a siesta. Ilka and Jurgen weren’t due in until about ten that night and I wanted to be up when they arrived. They arrived after 11:00 because they had to wait an hour for their luggage. We all went up to the rooftop restaurant/bar and reacquainted ourselves over a few bottles of nice red wine. We decided that in the morning, we would head for St. Peter’s Basilica. The plan was to walk and we warned Ilka and Jurgen that Gene was basically a gimp and we would be slow.
The walk to St. Peter’s from the hotel was a fairly long one and to be honest, I can’t even remember all that we saw along the way. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and it certainly can’t be seen in one. There is a masterpiece of some kind everywhere you look in Rome. We walked down the Spanish Steps to Bernini’s Barcaccia Fountain, then down a long avenue lined with shops bearing the top names of the fashion world; Versace, Bulgari, Channel, Gucci, etc. etc. etc.

The Spanish Steps
Bernini's Barcaccia Fountain
After what seemed like hours of pleasant wandering through granite streets, we walked into the arms of St. Peter’s Square.

The Square as seen from the Basilica.
Ilka and Jurgen in one portion of the square.
Sorry about the crazy angle, I must have been dizzy from sensory overload when I took this one of St. Peter's. Click it to enlarge and then look at how tiny the people entering the Basilica are; gives you an idea of how big this square is.
I wasn’t expecting the immensity or grandeur of the place. There is simply not enough room here to write about the Square or St. Peter’s Basilica. I will describe the Basilica in one word; overwhelming. What other word could I use to describe a place where Michelangelo’s Pieta is just a small part? Michelangelo was the definitive architect of the site and even he is only one part of the tremendous amount of history connected with the Basilica. I’m going to post a few photos and let you investigate the history yourselves. Jurgen is a great fan of Michelangelo and is captivated by the genius and passion that was his life. He has read quite a bit about him and recommends reading Irving Stone’s, The Agony and the Ecstasy: A Biographical Novel of Michelangelo.

Inside St. Peter's

One of hundreds of adorned buildings.

Gene, Ilka and Jugern outside the Tea Room of the rich and famous.
We’ve covered enough this post, I’ll post again tomorrow.

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