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Italy: Day Four, Weds 3/28/18 (Rome)

We got up at 6:30, showered, and went downstairs for a quick breakfast. I had what I thought was two kinds of granola, but it turned out it was granola and Cocoa Puffs! And you know that I’m coo coo for Cocoa Puffs. Also cappuccino and orange juice. The breakfast room at the Hotel Emmaus isn’t as posh as the one at the Marconi in Milan, but hey, I don’t need posh all the time.

We noticed that morning that our tickets for the Vatican Museum were timed for 11:00 AM, and we had hoped to get in when they opened at 8:30. But we were in luck - - they didn’t pay any attention to the time on our tickets, they just let us in.

There was a sign at the entrance that said, “Sistine Chapel,” with an arrow pointing up the stairs. I assumed the Sistine Chapel would be up the stairs - - it was up the stairs, but also down about fifty more hallways, up and down ten more flights of stairs, really quite far away. But hey, we saw lots of great stuff on our way there. Like this marble object that Richard thought looked like Napoleon’s sarcophagus in Paris:

And these Egyptian statues that made me think of the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas:

This hallway reminded me of Versailles:

This painting of Salome made me think of both Norma Desmond and Karita Matilla:

We spent a little longer looking at the modern art. I especially loved the Matisse:

The guy hunching over, is it just me, or does his expression clearly say, “Get it off me!” And his skirt flying up like that, he just let out a monstrous fart.

But best of all is the Cupie Doll Jesus:

That creeped me out so bad, I’m now using it as the lock screen on my phone.

We weren’t able to take any pictures in the Sistine Chapel, but I’ll say that it was the most overpowering work of art I’ve seen in my life. It was worked on for over fifty years by at least seven different painters. I had heard about the Michelangelo ceiling, but didn’t know about the side frescos - - one wall features scenes from the life of Moses, with corresponding scenes from the life of Jesus on the opposite wall. Each pair of paintings had recurring motifs, it was really fascinating and engrossing.

The work of Michelangelo on the ceiling was on a much higher artistic level than the other painters. The colors were so vibrant and expressive, it was awe-inspiring. The whole chapel was astonishing.

We picked up some trinkets while we were there. Richard was amazed/appalled that these beautiful 18th century cabinets were being used to store rosaries, mouse pads, and refrigerator magnets:

We got a couple of beverages and sat out on the terrace for a while

Then we crossed the bridge, picked up the Hop On/Hop Off, and took it to the Trevi Fountain. Here’s one view of the fountain:

And here’s a more representative view:

It’s very beautiful, but such a disgusting sea of humanity. We didn’t stay long. We picked up a couple of gelatos on our way back to the bus stop. Richard had pistachio, salted caramel, and vanilla, I had cherry, dulce de leche, and chocolate. All six flavors were incredibly delicious.

We had a nice, leisurely walk back to the bus stop. A bus pulled up and the guy in charge said we couldn’t get on with our gelatos. We stood there as people were boarding (gobble gobble, chomp chomp). Richard finished his but I wasn’t quite done. The doors were about to close and you won’t believe what I did. I waited for the guy to turn his back and then carefully put the last bites of my cone in my bag.

RICHARD: What are you doing?

ME: We’re getting on the bus. Right now.

I felt like such a felon.

Womp womp - - we noticed that the Colosseum stops admitting people after 3:00 PM, and it was 3:15. We thought about going to Cinecitta, the movie studio in Rome where the Liz Taylor *Cleopatra* and so many other movies were filmed, but it was too far out of town, not really worth the effort. Richard had the brilliant idea to go to the Villa Borghese, a 17th century villa of an aristocratic Roman family. We got off the bus and took an Uber there.

We walked around the beautiful grounds, la la la, gradually making our way to the villa entrance. We walked up to the admissions desk and were told that they were sold out! Until MONDAY! Richard said, “How can a museum be sold out? Who ever heard of such a thing? Is it a Broadway show, or is it a museum?”

Our mood improved when we got in our next Uber, back to the hotel. Our driver was an incredibly cute and sweet guy named Simone who spoke about twelve words of English. He gave us his card and said we should call him the next time we need a ride. We asked if he could pick us up on Friday to go the train station, and he said for us to text him the next day to set it up. We ended up having some tsuris over misunderstandings and wrong numbers for our texts (one of which went to our English friend Simon, who is now living in Chicago), but everything turned out OK. You’ll see a picture of Simone in my post for Friday.

We had dinner at San Pietrini, a cute little place about three blocks from our hotel. Maurizio had recommended it. We arrived when they opened for dinner, at 6:30 PM, and found the entire staff standing on the sidewalk, smoking, blocking the entrance. Richard said, in his best “not my first time at the rodeo” tone of voice, “Um, are you open for dinner?” “Oh si, Signore! Piacere!”

Our server was a cute young woman named Stephania, she spoke pretty good English. We had the fried artichokes and zucchini blossoms for our first course, both Roman specialties. I wasn’t wild for the artichokes but loved the zucchini. Richard had saltimbocca for his entree, I can’t for the life of me remember what I had. Knowing me, some kind of pasta. This picture is so cute, with Stephania photo-bombing us in the mirror.

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