Saturday, October 8, 2011

All Roads Lead to Rome

Our final destination in Italy (and also where we had first arrived in the country before traveling on to Venice) - the majestic city of Rome. Our eurail train took us to the Roma Termini on Sept. 16, where we met up with our son, Lance, for a few more days together. After a confusing time making some phone calls in the noisy train station to fix a problem with both our credit card and one of our cell phones, we took the Metro (subway) to the northwest area of the city for our lodging. Luigi, host of our rental apartment, gave us a helpful map of Rome, and explained how to use the Metro, buses, and trains for our next few days in Rome.

The next day we took off to view some of the sights of the Vatican, and instead of using public transportation, we chose to walk the 30-40 minute route from our apartment. It was a busy tourist day, and after standing in line for awhile, we toured the ornate and impressive Basilica of St. Peter, a central attraction in the Vatican - designed by the great architects of the Renaissance and Baroque periods.

We loved walking the streets of Rome, to and from the Vatican, and everywhere in the tourist areas we saw little food stands selling sandwiches, cold drinks, and ice-cream. And all through Italy we saw many fresh fruit stands, filled with luscious fruits of many kinds.

We stopped to eat supper at a little sidewalk cafe not far from the Vatican. One of the most amazing things about Italy was the food - we loved sharing the good food together, and the great times of connection as a couple, and also together with Lance. Times we will never forget - enjoying the sights and sounds of Italy, and the sweet times of sharing together.

The next day Gary and I left by bus to see the Colosseum and surrounding area, while Lance stayed at the apartment to prepare for the next leg of his travels in Europe (and as he had already toured the Colosseum before Gary and I arrived in Rome). We followed instructions from several sources, and paid for a tour of the Colosseum, the Pantheon, and the Roman Forum. It was quite soboring to walk through the Colosseum, built between 70 and 80 AD, an echo of times long ago when gladiator contests and wild-animal fights were done for sport.

Our Italian tour guide shared a lot of history with us as he led us through the Roman Forum and the Palatine hill.

Our memorable time together with Lance came to a close the next morning, as he needed to continue on with his travels. We got up very early with him and traveled to the airport together where he flew on to his next destination city - Istanbul. We were up so early that the very long, steep escalator leading down into the subway (from the street near our apartment) was nearly empty of people. But by the time we reached the main Roma Termini, the crowds were forming. The second photo below shows the usual crowds navigating the subway system - we learned to make our way around in Italy on the public transportation system -  through subways, and train stations, on buses,  even with our luggage in tow.

All the public transportation (and also other things from our time in Italy) brought back a lot of childhood memories for me, as I had spent most of my childhood years in the land of Japan where we traveled on trains and buses everywhere, even to and from school. I had been so blessed to be able to return to Japan after five of our six children had been born, for a six-week visit as a family - an amazing time of sharing the sights and memories of my childhood with our family. Lance had not yet been born, so he missed out on that family trip. But this trip to Italy turned out to be a blessing in more ways than we even imagined - a time for Gary and I to travel and experience a foreign country, a part of Europe, with our youngest son.

We will never forget the times spent with Lance in Italy. It felt magical walking the streets of Venice, Florence, and Rome together, sharing long conversations over the delicious Italian food - more memories than we can hardly contain. We do not know how to adequately thank Lance for suggesting to us, and inviting us, to travel to Europe to meet up with him in his travels. And for all the ways he made the time so special for us, wanting us to have the best possible 40th Anniversary Trip. It was surely a trip of a life-time for us that we will treasure for years to come.

(One more post about our trip coming up, covering our last full day in Rome before we left for home.)

(Sharing photos of our unforgettable 40th Anniversary Trip to Italy from September 5-21. Click on the links below for photos posted so far ... )

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