The Road to Rome

A great flood washed through Florence in 1966 taking the famous Ponte Vecchio, since rebuilt, with it.

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We survived our own flood yesterday after the pump that sits at the base of our toilet stopped working. Getting a plumber on a Sunday afternoon was very expensive, so we agreed with our landlady to wait until Monday.

We had planned on returning to Rome today to visit the Vatican. Since John has been to Rome a few times, he graciously agreed to hang out at the apartment all day waiting on the plumber while I set out for Rome alone.

The first leg on the road to Rome was getting to the Santa Maria Novella train station to catch the 8:38 a.m. express train to Roma Termini. It’s a 1.5 mile obstacle course from our apartment to the train station along cobblestone sidewalks no wider than me and streets that can’t claim much more width. I am now adept at dodging people, motorcycles, cars, bicycles and dog poo the owner failed to scoop up or missed — all vying for the space I inhabit. I’ve learned to stop and press my back against a building at the sound of an approaching bus lest its side mirror, positioned parallel with my head, decides to take the space occupied by my head.

I wait in line at the ticket machines to buy my tickets to and from Rome and happily board the train for the hour plus ride. Once in Rome, I stand in line to buy a day pass on the metro.

Once off the metro and headed toward the Vatican I navigate the gauntlet of vendors hawking cheap souvenirs and tour guides. I decide to take a guide up on an offer just 5 euros over the regular price. It ends up being well worth it as Maria, originally from Los Angeles, is an excellent guide.

The moment I step foot in the Vatican Museum, I realize my road to Rome ends amid priceless art collected or commissioned over the centuries by a myriad of popes. It is truly a magnificent museum.

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I particularly liked the roman bath tubs on display. Nero bathed in this gigantic tub after he fiddled and built his golden house amid the ashes of Rome.

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This amazing bronze statue of Hercules dates to the first century.

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Of course the centerpiece is The Sistine Chapel, painted under duress by Michelangelo. It is breathtaking. The effort involved to create such beauty  makes you want to weep. You can’t photograph The Great One’s ceiling, but no worries. The frescoes throughout the museum you can photograph are incredible.

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Not to mention tapestries with 3-D effects. Christ emerges from the tomb on this one and his eyes follow you a la Mona Lisa.

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My guided tour ended at St. Peter’s Basilica.

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Vast doesn’t even begin to describe the enormity of this cathedral.

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Every Wednesday in warm weather, the pope walks out these doors….

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to address the public gathered here in the piazza in front of the Basilica.

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Thousands of people, each traveling their own individual road to Rome, congregate here  for reasons as personal as the life journey that led them to this place.

As for me, my road always leads me back to those I love. They are my beacons. So I said “Arrivederci, Roma” and headed home to John.

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