Italy

We started our journey to Rome by catching a local train from Monaco to Ventimiglia.  The train was packed with students on their way to the university in Menton so it was a pretty noisy and boisterous ride.  At Ventimiglia we had to change from a French train an Italian train.  This train then took us along the Mediterranean first to Genoa and then north to Milan.  All the way through to Genoa we had lots of seacoast views with the mountains meeting the seas.  Then we traveled through the mountains and saw lots of villages with colorful homes scattered along the mountains.  Finally, we got up on the plains leading to Milan and seeming every town had a Renaissance tower peeking above the rooftops.

We had a travelers’ lunch in Milan and then caught our final train of the day..to Rome.   This was a red Trenitalia high speed train that took us through the heart of Tuscany and finally into Rome Termini Station.  A short, but Six-Flags-wild, taxi ride and there it was; Hotel Oceania, our home for the next eight days. From the outset, we were pretty sure this would be a different experience from our normal Marriotts.  First, there was the tiny elevator…room for two with luggage:

 

Then there was the courtyard:

 

This is the view we have when sitting out to drink our wine on the hotel terrace. Actually, it is very cool as we got to hear someone practicing singing the scales.  Very Roman!!!!  We love this place!

 

Our primary objective for our first full day was the Vatican City.  We caught the Metro to a stop about ten minutes away from our destintation.  About five minutes into the walk we were caught in a torrential downpour.  Luckily, we had umbrellas and ponches so we weathered the rain quite well….and the ladies got to watch a Swiss Guard do his guarding in the rain.

Our first stop after the rain was the Vatican Museum…luckily, we have purchased tickets online otherwise we would have had to stand in a mile long line. The pic above shows a small section of the line alongside the wall of the Vatican City.

 

The museum was incredible..beyond description and at the same time very tiring on our poor feet and backs.  Will post an ablum with the pictures…but unfortunately, they didn’t allow pictures of the Sistene Chappel so you’ll have to read about it. Trust me, no pictures can compare with the reality.  The picture below is not the Sistene Chappel, but just one of the beautiful ceilings in the museum.

Next was St. Peter’s.  OMG…no words can describe this place.  First up is Michelangelo’s Pieta…it brings tears to your eyes.  Then spectacle after spectacle….art and architecture beyond compare.  We happened to some people slipping down alongside a statue of St. Peter.  We decided to follow them and found ourselves in the crypt below the main floor.  There we got to see St. Peter’s tomb along with the internments of many many of the popes…so lucky we got to go down there.  (Will post the St. Peter’s pictures on an album as well.)  The picture below is of the main dome of St. Peter’s.

 

Of course we had to find a cache in this country, the second smallest in the world (after Monaco).  This turned out to be more difficult than expected…but after much climging and sweating (not just me) we managed to find the cache.  Whew!  Glad that one is done…now, we just have to find one in Italy.

 

We’re having fun in the cafes and restaurants here…except when my “roast pork” turned out to be pig knuckles.  At least the wine was good!(and the pig knuckles were delicious!)

 

Rome is turning out to be an experience unlike any other…but of course, what else would you expect from the Eternal City?

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