Ciao Rome

by - April 10, 2014

"Ciao Bella" is a really lovely way to be greeted.  I like my mom's italian cooking and American Pizza.  The dollar doesn't go very far in Europe.   I hope no one ever learns how to make the chocolate crescents this hotels has on the breakfast table.  I have almost walked my legs off.  Rome is an amazing place.  People are people no matter where you go.  They get up, they go to work.  They are sometimes in a hurry and sometimes not.  They are sometimes considerate and sometimes not.  "One pant leg at a time"...even the Romans.  The more different places I go, the more people seem the same, and the more I like them.

I have a well worn map of the city with some little x's and lines drawn by the various hotel staff and bus driver I've asked for directions.  The city is not very big, and within a few miles you can get to all of the main points of interest.  So my first morning in Rome I got up and walked to the Colosseum.  "Meet behind the newsstand across the street from the main entrance" were the instructions on my printed voucher of the Rome walking day tour.  Tom the young Australian, the family of 4 from Orange, TX, the dad, mum and 13 year old Ali-sahn from England all found our way there.  Our tour guide had dyed red hair and was very passionate about her job.  She was an excellent resource of many many many many details about everything about everywhere we went.  I decided I would google the story if I needed to, but I wanted to get some pictures to remember the sites.  So every once and a while I had to step away a bit.  Taking pictures is one of my favorite parts of site seeing.  She took us through the Colosseum, through some Roman ruins (where she told us Caesar Augustus was the first and greatest human to die and go to heaven to become a god. Ok.)   We went to the Pantheon where someone who cheated on his fiancee and died at 36 and she died a few weeks later ("so now they are together forever") is buried (there is more to the Pantheon story, but I will have to google it.)  We went by the Trevi fountain (breathtaking)  and some other really big buildings and statues.  (I'm not going to google tonight.)  We ended our hours and hours at the Piazza Navona.  Beautiful city square with artists and con artists selling old sunglasses and fake Pradas, but again, beautiful. Here are some of the pictures though and bits of my favorite parts of the story:

Inside the Colosseum. 

Our guide said a Pope had this cross erected to honor all of the Christians who lost their lives here, "which has now been proven to not be true.  Many Christians were killed, especially by Nero, but none here." There is a lot here in their honor and memory though.  I think she has been googling.

This building is ginormous.  I think it is where the Roman officials still meet to this day.  Somebody should.  It's silly big.  The American Soldiers from World War II nicknamed it "The Wedding Cake" and it stuck.  Our guide said Romans are kind of embarrassed about it. 

For perspective...22 humans can fit in the belly of that horse.  When they finished it they brought a big table and chairs into the belly and the sculptor and architect and their friends celebrated. 

The Pantheon.  

Inside the Pantheon.  It is still used as a church today.

Trevi Fountain.  One of my favorite stops.  It is amazing.

People around the Trevi Fountain.
Piazza Navona.  St. Agnes Church is here because this is the site where she was martyred. 

There is a lot of accordion music playing in the background in Rome.

I was exhausted after this tour.  I stopped for a piece of pizza and then walked back to my hotel.  I thought I was done for the night.  But after laying down for about 45 minutes I got up and began walking again.  There was a gift I wanted to get, and I wasn't sure if I would be around there today.  So I took some pictures along the way.  Old cities are beautiful to me.  
Where the Romans live.

These are super tall pine trees.  They look pretend to me.

A church on a street with huge statues of Jesus and all 12 of his disciples.

I don't even know what this is.  It is huge and awesome, but didn't even make the tour.  I just walked by it.

Carlo's Pizza Restaurant.

Then my walk took me right by the United States  Embassy.  I got a little homesick.  I took a few pictures.  An elderly Italian man stopped his walk and began talking to me.  "Aww I thought.  He is being sweet."   I let him talk for a minute and finally said I only speak English.  So, he said the few words in English to translate what he had been going on about in Italian..."I hate Americans and America.  You are all ignorant and stupid.  You think you know everything."   Uhhhh... I  was a little surprised by this. I asked "you stopped your walk to say this to me?"   He made some noise that sounded like "meh" and being really tough I said "please stop talking to me now, you probably need to keep walking."  I forgot all about "jerk store."  He made another goat sounding noise and went on his way.  Then I went in to Hard Rock Cafe Rome had a burger and fries , listened to .38 Special, The Bee Gees, Uncle Cracker and Aerosmith and remembered that America is not stupid. I hope he got a good night's sleep. 

Our Embassy.

There he goes.  Just mad all over, and felt good for him to say it to some some random American woman on the street corner.

I started this morning out casually and did the city bus tour from a double decker bus.  After that I went back to my favorite coffee spot.  A good cup of coffee for only 2 Euro.  That is a bargain.  My Vatican tour was set for 2:30.  I walked on the bus and met a couple from Las Vegas.  The group got larger so I didn't get to meet everyone, but it was nice to know there were at least a few of "us" on the bus.  They saw the Pope in his mobile this morning.  They estimate that over 30,000 people go see the Pope on Wednesday mornings when he delivers a short message.  I wish I had known about this earlier, I probably would have tried to go there.  I like Pope Frances.  But, I wasn't there until several hours after he had gone back inside.  Our tour took us through the Vatican Museum, the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica.

 She was walking near St. Maria Maggiore as I was getting on the bus to go to the Vatican.
 This is Ray.  He was our Vatican tour guide.  He kind of spits when he talks, but he was funny and a great guide.  He spoke several languages fluently and knew his business.  
 Inside St. Peter's Basilica. 
 Michaelangelo's The Pieta.  Mary holding Jesus.  
 They  say St. Peter is buried in this Basilica.  That is a statue of him to the right, and the marble grave marking his burial place beneath the church. 
 The Vatican with clouds rolling in again.  

No pictures are allowed in the Sistine Chapel.  The one place I most wanted to take pictures.  But they had picture police that would go around and ask you to see the last picture on your camera or your phone and make you delete it.  So I decided to not try it.  We stood in the chapel which is not very deep, but very high for about 20 minutes.  It is breathtaking.  The story of creation across the center of the ceiling including the scene of God touching Adam's finger giving him a soul after creating him.  Pictures of the prophets around the ceiling edges, Jeremiah, Daniel. Beautiful.  But, the wall that I couldn't take my eyes off of was the entire wall depicting The Last Judgement.  To the right of Christ are those who will join him in heaven, and to his left are those who did not believe him and will be separated from the Father for eternity.  Mary is at Christ's side in the painting and is looking away.  It is massive and amazing and as I listened to the song Psalm 27 by Warr Acres, my cousin's group, I cried. I think we've established I can tear up pretty easy.  But Jesus Christ is overwhelming to me. It's all for nothing if in the end we don't have a relationship with Him.  His love is so great for us.  He is patient, and he is the final say.  That moment in that chapel will stay with me forever.  As people walked by me on their way out I couldn't quit looking at Him, and at those depicted as being separated from Him.  Wherever He leads, I'll go.  Which in the morning will take me back to Sri Lanka.  Casey Merrifield will join me there to help train during a week long youth camp.  She graduated from Southwestern's counseling program, and is finishing up her Ph.D. from DBU.  After praying about who God would have go with me on this trip, he led me to her.  I'm really thankful she will meet me there.  Above all I know she loves The Lord and lives to serve Him.  Looking forward to our week with our friends in Sri Lanka. 

 Ciao Rome.

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