Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Roma Holiday, Part II

02/17, Friday
It's a warm and sunny day in Rome. Aren't we lucky ?

Abd El Kalik Yhia, our Egyptian host, serves a simple breakfast in his kitchen. He is a retired artist (his eyes have failed him), but he still does some bas reliefs. Kalik won an international competition with 50 other artists to design a set of lire coins for the Italian republic of San Marino. His theme for the coins is Terre Mari Ciel (Earth Sea Sky).

Our first destination is St Peter's Basilica. But, at the Metro, we board the wrong train, getting off at Coleseo, the Coliseum, stop. Why not explore ancient Rome here, including the Forum and the Palatine Hill.

It is such a vast area, Palatine, but we invest a couple of very interesting hours using an audio guide. I listened to the audio twice to be sure I heard correctly: there is positive proof that humans lived here 100,000 years ago.

Its really quite a sensation walking through ruins and many very recognizable sites...Temple of Jupiter, house of the Vestal Virgins, Gate of Titus...places we recall from our visit in 1992. This time it is more understandable and fascinating. Just the utter vastness is mind boggling.

The Forum was really the center of life, including all political gatherings. There are more tourists in this area than we have seen in quite a while. Don't think we would like to be here in the summer. There were many well done illustrations in the Coliseum, which helped our understanding. So our metro mistake turned into a great find.

Then it was on to St. Peter's. Nothing could beat our first arrival here many years ago. We had been given tickets for the underground tour of the Basilica and at the end of the tour we exited a small door right at the base of the altar with the sun coming through the starburst window. Quite inspiring.

This time we encountered a long line outside in the piazza due to the addition of security scanners, but it did move quickly. It did seem sad that it was like an airport with all the security. Plus we didn't realize they were preparing for tomorrow's induction of 22 cardinals into the elite group (the Consistory) that picks the next Pope. It certainly is the most opulent and impressive church in the world.

Over 70,000 people can be inside and the atrium is larger than most churches. Just one marvelous sculpture, mosaic or niche after another. Lots of people but everyone was respectful. A beautiful choir was practicing, which added to the over all feeling. Seeing the Pieta, which Michaelangio crafted when he was only 24, is spectacular even if it is now behind bullet proof glass. What is happening to us ?

A walk to the Metro, the train back to Chiusi, a ride from Sergio back home, and our adventure in Rome was over. Don't believe it will be our last !

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