We were up early again, ready for another tiring day - this time in Rome. We ate breakfast in the room and we all gathered and were off the ship where we were met by the drivers of the company we had hired to show us around Rome. We needed two vans and the Hilkewiches went in one and David and Dawn and ourselves in the other. We had a van similar to the Mercedes we had rented in Scotland, but with left hand steering rather than right hand. Both drivers were very pleasant, informative and knowledgeable. We drove in to Rome quite quickly as it is the beginning of a holiday time. We passed the Pyramid tomb of Gaius Cestus and the Circus Maximus then stopped to view the Colosseum. We drove further where got out and spent an hour going through the building. They say that everything is bigger in Texas - well everything is even bigger in Rome! The Colosseum, true to its name is colossal. It is a huge structure and we were reminded of Hitler's abortive attempt to recreate it in Nurnberg which we saw last year.
We then went past the Circus Maximus from a different angle and stopped at the Capitol Hill to view the forum. We drove round to see the Victor Emmanuel II memorial. We were disappointed we did not get out to see it and photograph it properly, but I think that was the only disappointment of the day. We went on to the Pantheon a building first erected in 27 BC But the present building dates to a reconstruction in 120 AD. It seems incredible that it could have lasted this long in such good shape. Its main feature is the oculus, an almost thirty foot circular hole in the dome which allows in light (among other things) and is the building's only source of light. The building's dimensions are so precise a 43 foot diameter sphere would sit directly under the dome.
We next headed for the Trevi Fountain which we discovered through back streets in a much more obscure location that its fame would appear to warrant. It is an impressive piece sculptures and engineering. From there we headed to the Spanish Steps, reputed to be the widest staircase in Europe. Next door is a home where the poet Keats lived for a while.
We then headed towards the Vatican, stopping for lunch at a sandwich shop where we again enjoyed excellent fare. After lunch we went into the Vatican State and met our guide, Laura, who spent the afternoon educating us on the various art forms included in the Vatican Museum. It is a vast collection which could be described as the "Vatican's attic" as the collection is eclectic and not in a particularly logical or chronological order. We saw the Sistine Chapel with its brilliant and meaningful wall and ceiling paintings. From there we entered St. Peters. Although it is impressive in size, it does not feel overwhelming, but is somewhat dark and gloomy, far from the welcoming atmosphere of more modern evangelical Churches. While logically, it is larger than, say, York Minster, it did not feel so. The Minster is lightt and gives the feeling of spaciousness, St. Peters is dark, as well as being crowded with people, so feels much smaller than it acually is.
We left the Church and entered St Peter's Square where we were able to see St Peters from the exterior, as well as most of the other Vatican Buildings. We said good bye to our guide and met the drivers who brought us back to the ship. David and Dawn had arranged to eat in the main dining room. The rest of us got ready quickly and had a short visit with the concierge and proceeded to the buffet for dinner. Darcy and the children went back to their cabin to watch a movie and Christine, Fiona and I had a stroll on deck before returning to the cabins to get ready for bed and work on the photos, but my eyes are not staying open on their own and will need to close soon.
Tomorrow we reach Ajaccio in Corsica.