An Italian-American living la dolce vita in the Deep South

An Italian-American living la dolce vita in the Deep South

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

2015 Girls' Trip to Italy: Walking Shoes, Michelangelo, Dinner under the Stars (recap, Day 4)

We are just a couple of weeks away from announcing our next trip to Italy, and in the midst of planning itineraries, researching hotels, and deciding on dates, I realized that I never blogged about our first trip (2015 Girls’ Trip to Italy).

Until now. So, for these next few days I will blog about our wonderful trip to Rome and the Amalfi Coast (the sights, the food, the adventures) in the hopes that memories will surface and excitement will build for our next trip …

Day 4 ... walking shoes, Michelangelo, dinner under the stars
If you ever want to test a pair of shoes to determine comfort, support, and style ... just fly to Rome and walk around all day. Between the cobblestone streets, marble floors, stone staircases, and gravel pavements you need good GREAT walking shoes.
Because let me tell you, today we walked.
giant roman walking sandal, Vatican musuem

The day began with a tour of the Vatican Museums, which actually encompass 54 museums, including 1400 rooms, chapels, and galleries. To put things in perspective: if you spend a minute looking at each painting in the Vatican Museums, it would take you 4 years to see them all.
The Vatican Museums

courtyard, Vatican museums

We didn't have 4 years, but our fiesty tour guide, Francesca, made the most of the several hours we were allotted. The highlight was The Sistine Chapel, or Cappella Sistina, which serves as the pope's private chapel and is where new popes are elected. Michelangelo was 33 years old when he painted the ceiling, and when he was 60 years old he returned to paint The Last Judgment on the wall behind the altar. The Sistine Chapel is absolutely stunning, and every time it moves me to tears.
Francesca, our fiesty Vatican tour guide

Michelangelo's ceiling, Sistine Chapel

God creating Adam

After the museums we had a guided tour of St. Peter's Basilica. It always surprises visitors that one of the first things you see when you enter the Basilica, right there on the right, is Michelangelo's Pietà. (During one of our information sessions before leaving on our trip, I did a small presentation on the Pietà to prepare us to enter into the experience of viewing this exquisite work of art. You can read it here.)
Michelangelo was just 23 years old when he sculpted the Pietà

this photo of my sister and me is one of my favorites

St. Peter's is huge, and when you enter the Basilica the golden window you see ay the far end is two football fields away. It is striking to note that the 7-foot tall letters encircling the dome's base are the words Jesus spoke to Peter in Matthew 16:18, "Tu es Petrus ... You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my church, and to you I will give the kingdom of heaven." Interestingly, every single Bible quote from Jesus to Peter is written out in those same 7-foot letters that continue around the entire church.
"You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church."

St. Peter

Baldacchino, the bronze canopy over the main altar

confession anyone?

Interesting fact: As you're standing in St. Peter's Basilica, look at the art all around. Can you estimate the number of paintings that are in the Basilica?

The answer: Only one. The rest are mosaics with tiles so tiny that even at a few feet away it looks like a painting. There is ONE, small painting of a Madonna and Child just past the tomb of Pope John XXIII.

Following a hectic lunch at a Vatican cafeteria/gift shop, we headed to the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. At another one of our information sessions before the trip, I shared some interesting facts about the Colosseum such as ... 1/ It only took 8 years to build this 80,000 seat arena  2/ there are 32 trap doors underneath the floor of the stadium   3/ it has 76 entrances and exits  4/ the exits were known as vomitorium, and they were so efficient that the entire stadium could be evacuated (spit out) in a matter of minutes (this is where we get the word vomit)  5/ the floor of the Colosseum was wooden and covered with sand; the word for sand is l'arena (which is where we get the word arena)

the colosseum

learning a lot of history

bunco pals

exploring the roman forum

a little drizzle and out comes the cute umbrella

After a day of walking, we were ready to relax during dinner at Da Meo Patacca, and what could be better that a meal under the stars with roaming minstrels? The food, the music, the company, the laughter, the nighttime sky, and our cute lamplighter ...  it was magical.
the roaming minstrels

charming in every way

the waiters were good sports about all the photos we took

bring in the vino!

dining al fresco

enjoying la dolce vita

sweet trio

the lamplighter

Quote of the day: "My favorite thing was the ... oh, what was it called ... you know, the place with all the ruins and the arches?" said Laura B., referring to the Colosseum when she was asked what was her favorite part of the day.
Stay tuned for Day 5 tomorrow when we say Arrivederci ! to Rome and Ciao! to Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast. Less art and history, and more sunshine and limoncello.

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