Saturday, October 01, 2011

Mediterranean Cruise - Day 7: Civitevecchia/Rome

{These posts are taken from emails that I sent to the girls everyday during our trip.}

Good morning girls!

We had a long day yesterday so I'm writing you on Friday morning instead.  It is 10:30am here on the Mediterranean Sea and you are sound asleep - 3:30am for you!  Daddy and I just woke up!  We've been so busy this week and got up pretty early yesterday so we were tired!

Yesterday we ported in the city of Civitevecchia.  Our tour guide told us it is pronounced Chee-vee-tee-veck-ya.  We arranged for a private tour guide with 2 other couples that we met here - it was expensive, but it was definitely a great way to do as much of Rome in a day as we possibly could.  Our tour guide, Salvatore, picked us up in a minivan at 8 am and drove us the 90 minutes into the city of Rome.  On the way there he told us many interesting things about the country of Italy, the areas we were driving through and about Rome.  Rome is interesting because it is modern city (modern = like today), but the city has been here for thousands of years and has buildings and walls that are thousands of years old.  There is a lot of history in Rome.

The first thing we did in Rome was stop at the Colliseum.  Only the guys wanted to go inside, so while they toured the inside, the women walked around outside and we ended up seeing the filming of some scenes from an Italian movie.  Apparently the people we were watching in the scenes were very, very famous Italian actors, but we had no idea who they were!  The Colliseum is a huge brick structure/arena where the ancient Roman people had big fights.  On the floor of the arena there would be gruesome fights between people - with chariots and spears and animals.  Usually the fight would result in the death of one of the participants.  And all of this happened while the Roman people sat on the side and watched it like they were watching a baseball game.  There is a movie about it, called Gladiator.  It was horrific!  That stuff happened before and after Jesus was alive.  

From the colliseum, our guide drove us past a place called Circus Maximus, which many people saw in the movie, Ben Hur.  Right now this is just a grassy field in the middle of the city, but in ancient times (before and after Jesus), the Circus Maximus is where the Romans held chariot races.  From there we went to a Palazzo that was designed by Michaelangelo.  And then to the Pantheon.  The Pantheon is a HUGE domed church (by the way, there are 300 churches in Rome - every time you turn around you see another church).  There was a lot of artwork in the Pantheon.  Daddy liked the Pantheon, I preferred to sit outside by the fountain and watch people!  And from there we went to the Trevi Fountain.  This is, apparently, a very famous fountain and the Roman people think it is ugly, while the rest of the world thinks it is beautiful!  It is HUGE!  And I think that the entire world was there looking at it - it was SO crowded!

Then our guide brought us to one of his favorite restaurants for lunch.  It was an experience!  The owners kept bringing us food and we hadn't ordered anything!  We had so much food and it was all sooooo good!  Right after we started eating dessert an argument broke out in the next room - some American's were there and found that someone had taken their wallet and taken all of the money out of it (1300 euros which would be over $2000) and left the wallet on the ground.  The people they were accusing were gypsies and they were fighting back.  It was loud and the owners were upset that it was happening.  We believe they were probably right, but they would never be able to prove it.  Just a good lesson to not have that much money on you and to not leave your stuff on the ground!  Our lunch, though, was amazing!  And then the owners brought out a whole bottle of limoncello for our group - it is a sweet/sour liquor that is made here in Italy with fresh lemons.  And it is good!  

After lunch we went to the Vatican.  The Vatican is a separate state inside of Rome and has its own government.  This is where the governing of the Catholic church takes place.  The pope lives in the vatican and it is a very special place for catholics.  We went through all of the Vatican museums and finally the Sistene Chapel.  The ceiling of the sistene chapel was painted by Michaelangelo.  There are many, many different religious / roman political scenes painted on the ceiling and he did it all by hand.  It was beautiful.  We were unable to look at it for long because it took so long to get into it and we were running late for our guide.  And it was incredibly crowded.  The sistene chapel is one of the most famous places in the world.  And finally, we stopped at St. Peter's Basillica, which is a huge church on St. Peter's square in the Vatican.  It was incredible and beautiful and by far the highlight of my day.  

So we did a lot in Rome in one day.  Almost everything that anyone would want to see, we saw yesterday.  We went quickly, so we want to return to Rome someday and take our time!  We are so lucky!!!  Hopefully we can take each of you to rome someday - it is an amazing city!


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