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Day 12: August 8th 1999 (Rome, Italy).

Breakfast was the same as yesterday, then we were off to Rome.  We stopped on an overlook just above Florence with another fake David, this time a bronze one.  The view below was very nice.  For lunch, we stopped at our second AutoGrill stop.  This time there were at least 4 other buses at the place and it was therefore mobbed.  We had to eat quickly to catch our scheduled ride out of there.  I had baked pesto pasta and a salad.

We did not stop at Civita as the tour book plan calls for.  Unfortunately, it is so hot now that Don fears that the 40-minute hike in the sun would be a death march for most of us.  If we have time after Rome and the weather is cooler we may stop there then.

Once we reached Rome we split up into two hotels, one on the 3rd floor and another on the 4th floor of the same building.  The stairs up were brutally long.  However, all rooms had air conditioning.  I was roomed with Ian again.  I had hoped that I would eventually room with someone else, but the lack of other single men seems to rule that out.

Once we had freshened up, Don took us to St. Peters Basilica via the Rome metro system.  It was blazing hot, even in the subway train.  We entered Vatican City, the smallest country in the world and the center of European power for a long time.  Outside the Basilica was shrouded with scaffolding.  Some mean looking ushers stopped Don in the entrance to the church and told him to stop talking because a mass was in session.  Inside the enormous arched space, sunbeams from the windows in the dome streaked through the incensed smoky darkness.  Choir voices echoed everywhere.  I saw many impressive works of art including Michelangelo’s Pieta.  I rode the elevator to the roof and then climbed stairs to the top of the dome, leaning sideways to avoid the dome itself as it curved inwards.  The last spiral staircase was very cramped and only had a vertical rope for a railing.  However, once at the top the view opened up and I was given a beautiful panorama of Rome below.

We had dinner on top of a hotel across the street from the entrance to the Vatican museum.  But first Jean served us canned beers in a little “knights of the round table” bar on the bottom floor.  For dinner we had pasta and grilled vegetables as the sun set over Rome.  Ben was presented with a birthday cake, as it had been his birthday the day before.

We took minivans back to the hotel and retired for the night at 10:30.

 

     

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Last updated 11/12/2005 .  Email me at bob@besttravelbarcelona.com.

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