Today we woke up refreshed and ready for breakfast on the rooftop terrace with the sun shining. Another beautiful day with not a cloud in the sky. 27 degrees with a slight breeze. We gathered in the lobby at 8:30 am with the other tourists to catch a bus for the Classic Rome tour.
We met up with our lovely and patient guide Paula. This was a 3 hour guided walk through the streets of Rome. Being early in the morning of a Sunday, the locals were still sleeping after partying last night. The cobblestones had been washed and we felt cool in the shade as we passed cafés and vendors. The smell of roasted chestnuts and expresso permeate our nostrils.
Paula told us that the cobblestones are 300 years old and made from volcanic rock. They have a subway / Metro but it takes years to make progress for an expansion as Rome is built on ruins. Toronto isn’t the only city to have transit issues. It is not difficult to picture what life was like years ago with all the stone walls, fountains, and incredible architecture.
We visited the Trevi Fountain, however, it is being restored but we still threw coins into it. They say if you throw coins you will return to Roma. It is massive and the water is pumped via gravity. I would love to return and see it restored and in action. I’m sure it is impressive. Next, we went to the Pantheon which used to be a pagan place of celebration that now holds Catholic services. It was built by Raphael who was on par with Michelangelo but who died in his late 30s. Michelangelo lived to be 81. You can only imagine what Raphael could have achieved if he had lived longer. He is actually entombed in the chapel. The dome is open to the sky and was used as
a sundial. It was the largest open dome of its time. Water that comes in is drained through the floor. The doors to the opening are closed for mass and they weigh 7 tons. They are so perfectly balanced they can be closed with one hand. Mr. Doors (dad) you can appreciate the craftsmanship! The many monolith pillars weigh 80 tons and were carried from Egypt to Rome. You can still see the rope marks on the pillars that were used to raise the pillars. Incredible!!
Continuing our walk we visited the Piazza Navona with all the restaurants surrounding the cobblestone square which is really a very large rectangle. The middle of the piazza is a rather incredible fountain with an obelisk, and I’m right by the King Neptune fountain. I am sitting on a marble bench updating the blog while listening to some beautiful guitarists. Locals and tourists are wandering and taking shelter from the sun in shady sections. I’m so romanced by this place. The ladies and I cabbed it over here from the hotel. The cabbie had these amazing blue eyes and had quite the smile. Did I say I was romanced? Lol
Off we teetered to the bus who was taking us to Vatican City. I checked the Vatican City website before we left Canada and Pope Francis was to be travelling to another part of Europe. What a surprise it was that he was going to be there. We didn’t have an audience with the the Pope but we certainly were in the audience with the Pope. It was probably one of the most special moments of my life. It brought tears to my eyes. I was blessed by the Pope. Me and the throng of thousands. He spoke for 10 minutes about peace in the world and how he wanted us to pray for him for the strength to continue his campaign of peace. In honour of the event, I purchased a gold peace medallion which can only be bought at that store and it has been blessed by Pope Francis. My brother Kevin teases me when I say I’m blessed, well bro, now it’s official!!! We also bought and mailed postcards at the Vatican post office. The stamps are beautiful.
The gals said we would meet at the top of the hour back at the obelisk.I have 20 minutes left to drink in this atmosphere. Looking forward to seeing the piazza at night.