The day we docked in Barcelona ended our transatlantic cruise but it also began the next leg of our tour, a five-day cruise in the Mediterranean to Rome and Naples. We left port as dusk started to fall and spent the next two days slowly cruising the blue-green waters of the Mediterranean to our next port of call, Rome.
I read The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire and Plutarch’s Lives when I was a young woman and was so excited to that I would be walking in St. Peter’s Square visiting Vatican City and the ruins of ancient Rome that existed over 12 centuries ago.
We had a 90-minute ride from the pier at Civitavecchia to Rome. Our bus guide was very knowledgeable and gave a very informative talk about the historical and architectural sights we were going to see during our tour.
Once we arrived in Rome we were introduced to our step-up guide, Vincenzo. Vincenzo was a wonder. His English was perfect, his personality was lively and the knowledge that he imparted about the history of Rome during the day was both deep and interesting.
We spent a few minutes while waiting for our time to enter Vatican City in a souvenir shop filled with all matter of things that pertained to the Vatican. Before we knew it, it was time to enter and the first thing that hit us was the crowd. There were people everywhere. I have never been in a crowd that large and frankly, I found it a bit intimidating.
The architecture of the buildings was beautiful and amazing. I loved the people on top of all the structures. My eyes opened wide and my breath became still for a moment as we entered St. Peter’s Basilica. No matter where your eye fell there was beauty.
As we walked, Vincenzo pointed out the beautiful chapels along the sides of the church, the beautifully sculpted Bernini Pulpit, La Pieta statue, the mosaics, and so much more. The Bernini Pulpit that stands 395 feet above the basilica floor. The tomb of St. Peter is below the altar.
We spent some time lingering over the beautiful visage of Michelangelo’s “La Pieta” The Pieta is a famous piece of art that depicts the body of Jesus on the lap of his mother Mary after the Crucifixion.
This was actually a return visit for Randy. Randy lived in Italy when he was a teenager. When he was 13 his parents took him to see Rome and the Vatican. They stayed in a nearby convent that rented rooms to travelers.
“I remember seeing a lot of things during our visit including the Coliseum, the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, the Catacombs, the Basilica at Vatican City, the Sistine Chapel and the Apian Way with all of its beautiful Italian Cyprus trees,” Randy recalled.
“But most of all,” Randy said, “I remember an audience with Pope Pius the 12th”.
“He spoke to us individually in English and I had the opportunity to kiss his rings,” Randy continued.
Randy went on to say that he really had not given it much thought until he learned that Pope Pius had died and was being considered for canonization. On our visit to the basilica Randy saw a statue of the pope.
After leaving the Basilica we walked a great deal and stopped periodically to admire several structures on our way to the Trevi Fountain. Unfortunately, the fountain was under repair and covered in scaffolding.
The streets were crowded with tourists. We walked down narrow streets with many small sidewalk cafes along the walls of the buildings. While we were there we noticed a man dressed in a Roman soldier’s costume chatting with tourist and posing for pictures. This was obviously a hit with the tourist as many stopped and took pictures with the costumed soldier.
Our next stop was lunch at the Massimo D’Azeglio hotel where we enjoyed a three-course meal of pasta, roasted pork, roasted potatoes, peas and carrots and the most delicious ice cream dessert. Each table also had two bottles of water and a bottle of white wine. The entire meal was delicious.
We then got back on the bus for a ride to the Coliseum and the Roman Forum. The Coliseum was larger in life than I had imagined. Every gladiator movie I had ever seen suddenly passed through my mind like a video. As we walked through the ruins, I thought about Marcus Aurelius, Julius Caesar and other Roman notables of the time. As we walked and listened as Vincenzo filled our heads with tiny bits of information life in ancient Roman times, structures like the Temple of Vesta, archaic burial grounds, Temple of Romulus, Palatine Hill, Constantine’s Arch and so much more. It was a walk and talk that I thoroughly enjoyed.
It had been a very long but very satisfying day. We arrived back at the ship just in time to freshen up a bit and get to dinner. We did not have a show this evening so just stopped at the Globe and Atlas for a after dinner drink and retire for the evening.
Tomorrow we will have a relaxing day at sea.