Now, where were we? Oh yeah, in Florence. You need more pictures:
From Florence, we drove to Siena, where the medieval horse race, Palio, is held twice a year in this plaza:
There’s also a large remnant of the original city walls and castle. Rick and I took a short walk there during a break after we first arrived. They still use it, too. There’s a restaurant/nightclub there, and they also have concerts in the amphitheater. That’s where Rick is sitting.
Siena was one of the prettiest towns we visited. Here’s a view from the castle wall:
The next day we headed to Rome, with a lunch stop in Pienza. It’s also a pretty town, but all we saw was the main tourist street. That was impressive for the fact that it was part of the original road leading to Rome. I don’t know where those pictures are, but I don’t have anything good to show you.
So. Rome. It’s huge, of course, and here’s a drawback to taking a tour: I have no concept of the city itself. I never looked at a map to place myself or to figure out how to get from “here” to “there.” I just followed along, looked where they pointed, and generally tried to keep up.
“Overwhelmed” is a good word. There’s just so much!
We started in the Vatican. Yeah, I know. Me at the Vatican. No, there weren’t any lightening bolts. We wandered through the museum and were duly impressed. But the Sistine Chapel simply struck us silent. Pictures don’t do it justice, believe me. Being there, looking up at the ceiling and the walls… holy cow, those are truly gorgeous images. Utterly alive, colorful, and vibrant, even after 1500 years.
After the Vatican, we went to the Forum and Colosseum. We also walked through many streets to discover the famous fountains and squares that you see in so many movies. My favorite impression was of a walk down a busy, modern (albiet, old) street lined with sidewalk cafes and shops, then coming into a large square, where loomed above us a very old and stately building. It was like a time warp. The building was the Pantheon, built more than 2000 years ago as a temple to all the gods. It was absolutely beautiful.
Entering the Pantheon
I could show you a million pictures from Rome, but I’ll be merciful. Another post, another day!