Italy '97
Rome and Vatican City

While in Rome, we stayed in the Pension Alimandi down the steps from the entrance to the Vatican Museums. During the few days that we were in Rome, we spent more time around the Vatican than anywhere else. The Vatican gardens can be seen during the visit to the museums and provide some of the best photo opportunities in Rome. Vatican Gardens
Brenda in St. Peter's Other great photo opportunities can be found in St. Peter's itself. From this photo, it appears that Brenda has been selected by God himself to lead some kind of mission similar to that taken on by Joan of Arc.

Inside St. Peter's it is impossible to adjust your eyes and mind to the vast size of everything. The whole building is so large that it's difficult to comprehend the hugeness of all the pieces.

I have always wanted to climb to the top of the dome and see the view of the city, but on each of our visits the queue has been so long that I have convinced myself that I'd rather not wait.

The Vatican Museum complex is the world's largest, and you could take much of your Roman holiday in trying to see everything inside. It's best to prepare yourself well before ever going in. Know in advance what highlights you want to see and try to stick to your plan. Otherwise, you can easily become "museumed-out" before you've seen what you came to see. One of the most interesting parts for us was seeing the "censorship" of the church. There was one period of time when the Church decided it would be best to have fig leaves covering the private parts of all the nudes. As the scupture has aged, the plaster additions are obvious. Vatican Museum
The Pope But the highlight of our trip came on Palm Sunday. We decided to walk around to St. Peter's to see if we could see the Pope across the vast ocean of humanity gathered for his sermon. Instead, we were "picked out of the crowd" by one of the nuns and taken into an area of select seating. We were able to see the Pope as he boarded his Humvee for the ride through the crowd, and he actually passed only about six feet from us.
Brenda decided that she liked Rome so much this time that she absolutely had to get to the Trevi Fountain in order to toss in the coins to guarantee a return. I don't know what it is about me and the Trevi, but I have a horrible time trying to locate it. I can find it easily enough on the map, but I wander up and down several nearby streets before I eventually get to it. The Trevi Fountain
Ruins in the Forum Both of us enjoyed the time that we were able to spend among the ruins at the Forum on this trip. Although we were caught in a small afternoon shower, it was not enough to really interfere with our sightseeing. We were able to huddle under one of the little trees until it passed and then move on. If you decide to visit the Forum, be sure to have a good guidebook with you; otherwise it's impossible to locate anything.
Everything about Rome was better on this trip than it had been ten years before. Even the Tiber looked more like a river than the muddy stream we had remembered. We saw so much more, and we enjoyed everything we were able to see. Perhaps it's because we were so much better prepared this time than we had been before. During the years of travel, the greatest lesson we have learned is that our enjoyment on a trip is multiplied by the amount of time we spend preparing. Bridge on the Tiber

Florence, Siena, Pisa, and Milan
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