Italy 9: April 26, 2007 -- Final day in Rome. Notes from both Bob and Sally

Bob Corbett's note:

Folks, it is the end of the third day in Rome. Today was too busy, not in time, rather in the event. We went to the Vatican and St. Peter's, but for the first time in some 6-7 visits to Rome for me, it was unpleasant. The line to get into St. Peter's was 1/2 way round the St. Peter's Square, and then there was a metal detector test and such. So utterly different from my earlier days of just wandering into St. Peter's alone with no fuss, walking right into the door.

While the Pieta still sends shivers of magnificence down my spine, and the whole building is so overwhelming, other things are so different. Thousands in at a time, the Sistine Chapel not available to seeing, even through the glass windows as in the past. The stairs to the upper regions are no longer available. Damn, it was most disappointing.

But not Rome herself. Sally and I will be leaving tomorrow morning, early on a train to Assisi, just a couple hours away, and we will have a sense we loved Rome and saw her on our terms.

We just finished a third phenomenal meal at the same restaurant, the very first one I've truly loved in Rome.

Today I have little to say of our travels, just some reflections after ten days on travel itself.

Travel is a very idiosyncratic thing and what works for one won't for another. Vive la difference!!!! I have a list of my favorite cities. It used to be just by numerical number, number 1 was Vienna, number 2 was Paris and so on. But, a couple years ago I refined it by category, for example

and so on.

And Rome lived up to it's reputation for me.

But I realize few of those things matter to me in the end. I don't travel for the SIGHTS. I travel for the experience. I like to be

I don't even bother with most "famous" sites. Hell, I've seen them in movies and books and don't need it.

Now, on the other hand, yesterday was exciting. As we left the Forum, at the top a group of communist party organizations were having a huge demonstration - I have no idea about WHAT. But, that was interesting. All these intense and committed young folks having a political demonstration about SOMETHING, that I liked.

And near the Spanish Steps we got lost in one of the most wonderful and complex maze of streets all of which were a walking mall and no cars, not even motorcycles. Wonderful.

Next we move on to Assisi. While I'm a rather hard-nosed atheist myself, St. Francis is one of my great heroes of the life of economic simplicity about which I've written a good deal on my web page. He is one of my great models and I've been to Assisi MANY times, loving that tiny, tiny town far beyond its 'worth' to most tourist. I love to walk from the city across the mountain to the Hermitage and imagine myself back 900 years and there in Francis's time.

We will also visit Sienna (new choice, we change our planned itinerary almost daily) and then Florence and Venice.

The one thing I never waver about is this. I LOVE to travel, but seem to like Europe better than other places. Sally and I are already playing with an idea for a 6 week trip next spring in which we simply do interesting TINY towns that few tourist frequent in Portugal, Spain and France, and then to follow that the nest year with a similar trip to Holland, Germany and Austria. Perhaps we will have had our fill of the 'NAME' cities of famed travel and are ready for the more relaxed travel of the tiny places, like the awesome Terrasini, Sicily which we just left a few days ago.

No doubt we will change out plans a dozen times between now and next spring! That I like as well. Often the planning itself is incredibly fun.

Tonight is a big night for me and I want to be home in the hotel in another hour. The semi-final of the European championship in soccer will be played and Manchester United MY TEAM will plan Milan. In this city it would be fun to sit in a bar to watch it. Man U eliminated Roma a couple weeks ago in the quarter finals. Roma is a great defensive team and the games are home and home, that is two games, each one with a home game, most goals cumulative wins. Away goals (goals you score in the opponent's field) are weighted, so that if the cumulative score is a tie, the whoever has the most away goals wins, otherwise one moves to overtime.

A few weeks ago in Rome, Man U scored an incredible upset of 2-1 against the great defense of Rome IN ROME, thus having a 1 goal home advantage goal. When Roma came to Manchester a couple weeks later, Man U won 7-1, one of the most lopsided victories in the history of European soccer.

Tonight, Man U will play Milan, but here in Roma there will be a bitter revenge spirit against Man U and I may have to go out to a tavern to have some FUN!!! And be careful I don't go too far and get my brains kicked in!!!!!

I've been waiting for this game for weeks now....

Okay, off to figure out what to do about tonight.....


Sally's note

Hi Everybody,

We donít actually leave Rome until tomorrow morning, but we have done all we planned to do here in Rome. This stop (internet cafe) is the last stop on our way home this evening.

We didnít rush this morning but somehow showered and were out on the bus by 9:00 AM or so this morning. On our way to Vatican City.

The bus let us off around the corner a bit but not far from the entrance, or one of them. We joined several hundred others in a line through the security booths and into St. Peters. It is very hard to describe as it is so large and so beautiful.

At one point we were able to get to the front of the crowd and see through the glass wall the Michelangelo's Pieta. Its so impressive and so amazingly beautiful!!

We also stopped (and rested on a pew) at the site of one of the popes who was mummified. There were signs all around but neither Bob nor I could recall exactly which Pope that was.

It was a fascinating experience and Iím so happy that we did it, though after our day yesterday I was also happy that Bob and I had done all of the sightseeing that we planned to do. And am not at all unhappy that we didnít do our 4 miles today. Kidded Bob that I was more than happy to go back to our room and he could go walking to get his 4 miles. Funny, he must have felt the same way, because all he is looking forward to is tonightís Manchester United soccer game!!

We did walk around Vatican City a bit outside the walls of St. Peterís and stopped at a little cafe for a drink. Me orange juice for a bit of energy, Bob a beer for the same... :)

Then we caught another bus and did some bus sightseeing which was very nice and relaxing. Ended up in very nice suburb (?) of Rome where there were lots of high-end apartment buildings with lots of trees and shrubs.

We couldnít help noticing that it had gotten cloudy and some of the clouds were looking dark, and neither of us had our rain jackets with us. But as you probably figured, though we did change buses, and walked to our little restaurant for dinner in the rain... neither of us melted.. :)

Its chilly out now, well... one of us thinks so. And after dinner we came straight here.. me first as sitting at our outside table was getting a bit chilly for my short sleeved shirt.... and Bob next. We have PCs right next to each other.

Itís just past 4:30 PM and we will likely go back to the hotel after we finish here. Bob thinks the soccer game will be on at 7:00 PM and that will (hopefully) give me some time not only to pack for our trip to Assisi tomorrow morning, but time to write some postcards. I got some this morning at one of the little shops in Vatican City.

As I said, Bob and I are happy to have had such great adventures (and weather too) in Rome, but are talking and planning our next adventure. We will take as early a train as possible for Assisi tomorrow, and may be there two days before taking a train to Sienna. I know, its another change in our schedule. Have you ever seen such travelers? Bob is still mulling over our route to Vienna from here, donít be surprised if there are more changes in our original itinerary.

Love from Roma !!

Sally Ryan Sharamitaro




Bob Corbett