Our 2007 UK and Europe Trip
Bed and Blessings
18 Aug 2007
After a 5 hour train trip from La Spezia we arrived at our Rome accommodation found in the book “Bed and Blessings” run by the Pallottine Sisters. Our activities in Rome would be at a more sedate pace after the hectic activities of Cinque Terre. We are staying a stones throw from St Peters Basilica and we hear the clock very clearly at quarter hour intervals all through the night. We have revisited the Basilica and also the Sacre Grotte Vaticane where many of the popes are buried. When we came to the resting place of John Paul II there were many people there praying and leaving gifts of flowers and messages of hope. It was a very moving experience. There are still a lot of postcards and other religious memorabilia in Rome for John Paul.
We also visited the Castel Sant Angelo with its stunning views over the Tiber River and Rome. This is a very dramatic circular building with huge stone bulwarks and started life in 130 AD as a Mausoleum for Emperor Hadrian and remained Rome’s principal fortress for over a 1000 years. The apartments of two previous popes were well worth looking at.
On our list of “must sees” was the Gallery and Museum Borghese. While relatively small (200 maximum visitors at any one time), the overall quality of exhibits was outstanding. Booking to visit is essential and two hours allocated for your visit. Works on show are by Bernini, Canava, Raphael, Caravaggio and many more. Bernini was a noted architect and sculpture in Rome around 1625. The quality of his sculptures is easy to see when compared with other works. His creation of “David” is considered one of his best but for mine “Apollo and Daphne” was awe inspiring. A true master piece and the best sculpture I have ever seen. Unfortunately no photos are allowed here.
An interesting point on Bernini is that he had done much work for Pope Urban VIII who was from the wealth Barberini Family and the family’s crest was 3 bees. Opoe Urban instructed Bernini to include representations of the bees on all of the Pope’s work. We saw bees in numerous places on the altar and canopy at St Peters, Vatican Museum walls and tapestries, in fact all over the place.
Although we have previously visited the Vatican Museum with a tour guide in a 2002 in a “mile a minute dash”, we decided to quietly and leisurely revisit aided by an audio guide. Four and a half hours later we were kicked out of the Sistine Chapel as they were closing up. We had seen much more and were pleased to have revisited and found other areas that we had not seen previously. The collection is still being added to and we went through several rooms with paintings and sculptures as recent as the late 1980s.
Rome is very hot and humid at the moment and sight seeing is a very sticky experience but you can pace yourself quite nicely with the occasional break for gelati. We are getting a little sick of pasta, pizza and bruchettas. A good BBQ would go down well.