We arrived Saturday to a hot, sunny day in Rome. After waiting forever for our luggage, we navigated customs and made our way to the train station in the airport. We just missed the train while we were trying to figure out how to validate our tickets, but given the early hour we just hung out on the platform and tried to adjust for lack of sleep. Along with all the other tourists we hauled our luggage up the train steps and relaxed for the half hour trip to Rome Termini. Michael was bummed that he missed Sanchez's no-hitter for the Giants.
Once there, we realized we had arrived at the exact opposite end from where they sold the tickets for the Eurostar we needed to take Sunday (today). We schlepped our luggage with me sneezing (from cigarette smoke) and whining (yes I admit it) the whole way, only to arrive to a huge line and no where to sit. But Michael cleverly figured (or so we thought at the time) how to circumvent the lines and go to a machine. Mission accomplished we set up for the hotel in the heat of the day via a very meandering and un-necessarily lengthy pass on bricked streets. It wasn't a pretty picture. I'll confess to calling Michael bad names under my breath as I doubted his navigational abilities and dodged pedestrian-kiling busses.
We ultimately arrived at the Hotel Brittania, which of course necessitated carrying our luggage down a steep flight of stairs! Although our room wasn't ready they offered to store our bags and insisted on giving me some ice tea. I used the restroom to discover that my face was bright red (from both sun and exertion) so no doubt they feared an immnent stroke.
Somewhat renewed and freed of luggage we set off for some exploration. First stop, coffee and croissant. Next we went to a local church, Santa Maria degli Angeli, designed by Michaelango in the middle of the runis of the Roman baths of Diocletian. Very unusual for a Roman church it was light and airy. An organist was playing and the sound reverberated throughout - a most enjoyable experience. Michael noted that the floor was designed to mark the Zodiacs and the spring equinox which pinpoints the date of easter. Picture to follow once I figure out how to do it.
From the church, we went to the nearby Piazza Republic where I read my kindle in the shade at a ritzy hotel bar with non-existant service and Michael set off for the Museum de Ara Picis, which contains the temple to Pax Augustus. He then went to the Castle S. Angelo which contains Hadrian's masoleum topped with a fortress to protect the popes of the middle ages. A check box activity from a sightseeing perspective, but Michael tells me this Hadrian was an interesting guy.
In retrospect, he goes down as one of the best emporers, but during his reign, he had 3 strikes against him: 1) he was the first emporer not to engage in expansion 2) he was too enamored of greek culture and 3) he basically abandoned his wife for his gay lover and publicly pined for his lover years after his mysterious drowning in the Nile. Today we view him favorably as being the first emporer to understand the limits of the empire.
From there, Michael went to Plaza Navona, and is happy to report that Bernini's fountain of the four rivers is now restored with scaffolding removed. However, they are now tearing up adjoining area resulting in bad picture backgrounds. Michael went on to revisit the Pantheon which was glorious with the sun pouring through the oculus (a favorite) and we'll post some of his pictures once we figure that out.
Michael then gave in to the fatigue that had already claimed me, and a spreading of his poison ivy which resulted in much pain and suffering, and joined me at the hotel. He found a local pharmacy to give him some ointment, and we both took a short nap, prior to heading out to dinner at the unfashionably early hour of 8 pm.
Good dinner (gazpacho which made Michael happy and really fresh Mozzarella which made me happy), good wine, interrupted by a call from Michael's fellow Stanford diggers that the Italian trains were going on strike! This could explain the long line at the train station when we arrived.
But we determined there was nothing we could do that night and collapsed into our beds.