|St. Peter's Square|
So as you know the four of us set out to see the fabled land of Italia in the midst of last July. The fact that we enjoyed it so much tells me that it is better to take such trips when the stars align somewhat. Trips may not happen at all if we wait for full alignment. No company stocks went down even though we both had much pressing issues at work. Might as well enjoy. After being royally swindled by a mobile plan vendor right at the airport, it was a relief to be met with relatives who had reached the hotel the previous day. Suddenly it felt like we were home. Vodafone is what worked the best for cellphone usage based on the many users we had in our 10 strong family group. We stayed at Orange Hotel in Rome almost right across the street from St. Peters's Basilica. The girl at the front desk was a gem and the free umbrellas offered in anticipation of flash rains that happen in the midst of sweltering heat, cinched the deal for me. I'd stay there again in a heartbeat. Rooms though small were very clean and updated. But we can see such hotels anywhere, what about the history that waits to be admired there? As Roald Dahl would say, just plain marvelous! Truth be told the initial impression on landing in Rome was not that great. Nothing to write home about with the airport and the drive to the hotel. But once we started the tour all bets were off. Just plain a.m.a.z.i.n.g.
|See the maroon flag down the 2nd window, top right? |
That white spec in the window? Yup, you have seen the Pope!
|Inside St. Peter's Basilica|
It is said that Michelangelo loved to sculpt more than he liked to paint, but his most lucrative commissions all were for paintings. This is why he ended up painting people as if they were sculptures. Stone's book talk about how he visited cemeteries at night and dug up tombs to study the human body and paid to get dead bodies for the same purpose. This iconoclast deserves every praise that he is getting. He was also the final architect of St.Peter's Basilica in his old age. The end result of what we see now especially the dome was his vision. He was fortunate to live long enough to leave such grand foot prints on history. Another name that came up while visiting Vatican was that of Bernini. You will know why when you see the pure magnificence of St.Peters Square. Really a 'semicircular' marvel where one can meet to see the Pope if he is free and in Rome to make his little Sunday window appearances at noon.
Being steeped in history does not mean we forgot to eat. Enter Gelatos! Gelatarias are sprinkled into the soul of Italy's famous cities and the kids thanked them wholeheartedly for that. Euro being almost time and half of a dollar, we randomized meals between cheap and somewhat upscale places. The most memorable of all roman meals was at a little roadside pasta shop on one of Rome's cobbled alleys. Homemade pasta at its best and cheapest. Each of us got to order a pasta of our preferred flavor and it was all polished off in a jiffy!
Top it off with Gelato from a gelataria on the way and you are all set for a night of peaceful sleep. I am not forgetting the outrageously priced €7,00 (~$12) gelato per person. Wish we had looked up the reviews before settling down to the shocking sitting fee for the tiny bowls of gelato we each had. Rain was a nuisance but having encountered blistering heat the first day, they were a welcome relief and made the day much more manageable. The walking can be almost handled by 10 year olds and above as we witnessed. My girl and boy were patience personified with all the walks and tours we went through. I am sure occasional injections of gelato had something to do with it:-) I'll stop here for now and will come back later with our Florence leg. I leave you with the bust of Raphael found next to his tomb in the Pantheon.
Note: Most photos are courtsey Hcousin with a good eye for pics and a real camera she lugged around which got us super trip pictures. Some are from H's S3 and my good old iphone4 which seems to be finally giving up the ghost. Hello iphone6?