Rachel is from Ireland. She has a PhD. in archeology. After years in academia, she came to Rome in search of the "sweet life". As Dark Rome's guide for our earlybird tour of the Vatican this morning, she was a 5- foot pixie, both braniac and smart ass.
As visitors to the independent country of the Catholic church, we spent 3 hours immersed in the history that shaped Christianity. I know, I know....we went for the art.
Rachel enthralled us with the inside stories of Michelangelo, Raphael and Bernini; all men whose vision and ego transformed Rome. The largest church house in the world, St. Peter's Basilica is jaw-droppingly opulent and the touching Pieta made me think of Mom. She so loved the drama of this famous sculpture.
Ron summed up the Vatican (Sistine Chapel, art museums and St. Peter's Basilica) as man's attempt to glorify himself in the name of God. It is most certainly excess run amok, but the beauty stands apart from the bombast that surrounds it
Note: Yesterday was Cliche Tourist Day. We sought out Ciao Roma, one of several hop-on hop-off buses for two reasons; 1) to see all the major sites of interest and decide which ones to revisit later or skip; and 2) we were too jet-lagged to do anything but sit on our butts like zombies.
Adjusting to the eight hour time change is a transformation of body and spirit. You can feel yourself shedding the skin of your worries and the life you have left temporarily behind. It is so liberating and heady on the other side, but the physical process makes a hangover pale in comparison.
Rachel gave us recommendations for restaurants in Trastevere. Originally a Jewish settlement across the Tiber river, it is where we found the Rome we had hoped lay somewhere beyond the tourist traps. Alleys lined with cafes and patios feature the real Italian dining we had heard so much about. Street musicians, fountains, and vendor carts and shops add to the charm. And the wine....
A young man in the square played guitar music that gave me chills. I bought his CD immediately and a scarf that will keep me warm with memories next winter.
Today, Ron and I became adventurers once again; exploring this beautiful place, speaking the language of romance and delighting in the people we meet along the way. We are rekindling all that seemed lost during the last year. We opened our hearts and a young, vivacious redhead gave us her gift of dolce vita....our journey is sweeter because of her.
Thank you Rachel...