Sunday, June 17, 2007

Vatican City on Mr B's Birthday

Continuing Friday
After a long journey Mr B and Mr CJ returned to join us for lunch after successfully negotiating their way round the Clinic only to find that the rabies section was closed until Monday! I have been studiously watching Mr B for signs of frothing at the mouth or howling at the moon but so far he seems as sane as possible!

At lunch yesterday CJ and I ordered cafe freddo (iced coffee). It was a hot day and it sounded refreshing. Of course we expected tall glasses of coffee with icecream, but alas no, this is Italy. They were tall glasses certainly but only a quarter full of black sweet cold espresso. It was surprisingly pleasant but we ordered aqua minerale naturale (plain water) immediately afterwards! The paninis that we all ordered were delicious although the service was slow!

After lunch the boys decided they needed a siesta after all the morning's trauma so CJ and I went for a successful shopping trip. Travelling light for me has meant I am a little short of the very necessary light weight tops and 3/4 pants. Both of us managed to buy lovely sandals today and a couple of tops and I did find a pair of 3/4 pants so it was most satisfying. Again we did lots of walking but it was fun popping into shops along the way. Much later after showers and a change of clothes we met up with the boys and went to a very popular pizza place for dinner. The street is lined with tables but they were full so instead we sat inside on a long table and from here had a great view of the enormous ovens and the incredible production line of pizza making on marble benches. It was an art force in itself - fascinating to watch!

After dinner our passagiata took us to the night market place by the Tiber - far different from the daytime and a hive of activity. There were crowds of people and lots of different stores with fascinating little knick knacks, jewellery, food and clothes. It was another late night after midnight again. Our days here are very full. We wake before 7am to the church bells, usually out for a run at 8am and we are never in bed before midnight.

Mr B's Birthday at Vatican City - Saturday
I wondered about naming this post Bootcamp at Vatican City. Further explanation of this comment is coming!

This morning Mr B stayed in bed instead of running with us - a little sleep-in was allowed today. I met up with CJ and we ran down to Circus Maximus for our run. It was another hot day and rivers of perspiration were running down my face within the first few minutes. It was a great experience to run in that venue surrounded by Roman ruins and running where the Roman chariots used to race. It was exciting and fun. We ran different directions back and forth along the tracks - hot, but fantastic.

Distance: almost 9km
Time taken: 52mins
Average pace: approx 5:54

After a shower and a cappuccino with the CJs at their local bar we walked by the river bank to Vatican City. There we spent some time in a winding but fast moving queue to enter the Vatican Museum where we joined an English speaking tour run by a fast-talking American from Ohio. He was excellent and we were supplied with head sets so that we could easily hear his explanations. The first part of his tour was free and very informative. Everything was pretty mind boggling and we were very glad we decided to have it all explained. The next part of his tour was fairly costly but we felt it would be well worth it. Now he did warn us that the Sistine Chapel was due to close at 1.30pm and would not re-open until Monday. If we joined his tour he would try to ensure we got through before the gates closed - we had ten minutes! Now we had no idea how far away we were and off we set. This is where the Bootcamp name came to mind. It was hot and we were flying. We did have to keep him in sight and in order to do so we had to basically break into a trot. The boys were slower than us and just made it through the doors before they were closed behind them. It was a close call and everyone on that tour was very very red-faced. However, believe me it was well worth it. We had about an hour and a half with our guide and he explained everything about the amazing ceiling and Michelangelo's story before we entered the Chapel. When we finally stepped in the door there was a united gasp of awe. Wow, it was absolutely fabulous - quite impossible to describe. The light on the ceiling and the walls and the detailed frescoes were awe inspiring - all the stories in each picture and the gorgeous walls. Again - totally fabulous. We left there with the guide, probably the last people inside before they closed the doors after us and exited our visit through the tombs where previous Popes are entombed. It was so amazing, the whole visit was amazing. We were hot and exhausted and very hungry. We walked through the Vatican city heading back through the crowded streets and finally found lunch at a pretty ordinary venue at about 4pm!! We then headed back towards our apartment stopping on the way at the Cafe della Arancia which Mr B had spotted yesterday, where we enjoyed long tall glasses of freshly squeezed orange juice with bowls of ice to add to each drink - very delicious and refreshing. It was a fantastic day.

Tonight we are heading off to a restaurant of Mr B's choice, just below our apartment. It has been highly recommended so we are looking forward to our evening celebrations. Tomorrow we will not run as we hope to visit the Sunday market before collecting the hire cars and heading for the Amalfi Coast. Tonight we will enjoy some more of the great Italian vino which is dangerously easy to drink!! I am hoping too that I will find a pastry or cake shop which sells a birthday cake. We need to sing Happy Birthday to Mr B!!

Rome has been a fabulous experience. We have enjoyed living La Dolce Vita - early mornings or late evenings leaning out of our high shuttered windows to watch the happenings below us. It is always fascinating in the mornings watching those solid doors opening to reveal hidden surprises behind each one. Sometimes it is a grocery shop, a boutique or a greengrocer. Sometimes it is a bar, a tobaccanist or a newagent. During siesta the doors are shut and the streets are quiet and it looks as though the doors hide apartments but when the street becomes alive we are surprised by what those doors reveal. The bars are where we enjoy our coffee or pastries and there are many delightful restaurants. Then there is the "amore" and those Italians know all about "amore"! And the motorbikes and vespas everywhere and the crazy drivers. It is always an art just to cross the road and always a huge surprise when someone stops to let us cross! The language is beautiful, so romantic, and it frustrates me that I had such trouble with my Italian lessons. I want to know more, to be more a part of this beautiful country and these fascinating people. Yes, I have enjoyed our short stay in Rome - exhausting but wonderful.


  1. I think you've captured the Rome experience beautifully. Makes me want to leap on a plane and go there immediately.. enjoy the next phase on the coast.

  2. I'm enjoying this Strewth.

    Buon compleanno to Mr B!

    Those damn church bells! I'll think of you waking up to them as I wake up to an Action bus.

    Keep sweating. Looks like we're in for a cold one at PH tonight.

  3. you two are so girly! sandals... you're too cute.

    i'd love to run in rome. imagine... running circus maximus. granted, i'm more dodgy expo minimus at this stage, but i can dream.

    you sound like you're have a great time. i'll want to see a photo of cj and strewth in their new shoes.