Thursday, August 1, 2013

Rome, Italy

Glimpse of Saint Peter's Basilica from our hotel
My wife and I have arrived back safe and sound from Italy. Once back, we jumped into camp meeting here at KMBC and Mount Carmel. I've been busy with getting services edited for airplay at the radio station ... Anyhow, I've uploaded a few pictures of Rome. It was so wonderful to meet Ruth in Rome. When she arrived, she surprised me by coming up from behind. Somehow she slipped out without going through security and without her luggage. A quick run back through security, and we were off to our train to our hotel. Again, praise the Lord for a few people who spoke enough English to help us with train tickets and transfer. In typical Italian style, our train did not arrive in the expected terminal. Another couple directed us to correct terminal as the train was just coming in. In the end we made to our hotel just down from Saint Peter's Basilica and crashed till late morning as neither of us had slept much in last forty-eight hours.

I won't recount each day's adventures, but will share a few observations. ... Although it was amazing to see the architecture and history of Rome - American Italian food is much better than Roman Italian food - and cheaper too. I actually came back hungry for some "real Italian" ;) The pizza was good, but rather odd combinations for what we were used to, but good nonetheless. It seems there were better food options in Naples than in Rome. The gelato (form of ice cream) was really good. We (Ruth) are hoping to figure out how to make it ourselves at some point. Again, the magnificence of the ancient Romans and Italians was impressive, but modern Italians ... well, were not very accommodating. Most of the shop keepers were either Asians or Indians - as one shop keeper told us, Italians only work when they need money and they won't work for him since he's not 'Italian.' This confirmed our impression. From the bus tour to walking through museums, Italians were not the most efficient - a stark contrast after visiting Finland.

All in all, we were able to hit most of the sites. The only ones I can think we missed were the Spanish Steps and the Scala Sancta - the steps Jesus may have walked on while appearing before Pontius Pilate. After my time in Israel, I doubt these are right steps since I think Jesus was tried near Herod's Palace and not the Antonia Fortress. The Colosseum was impressive, but rather bitter knowing that so many were brutally murdered here - especially Christians. The Colosseum was begun around 72 AD and dedicated in 80 AD. During the first 100 days, roughly 15,000 animals and people were slaughtered. ... Do you know why they filled the bottom of the arena with sand? To soak up all the blood. ... On our fourth day in Rome, we visited Saint Peter's Basilica and the Vatican Museum. The Basilica was quite impressive with its exceedingly high ceilings, but what surprised Ruth and I the most were the dead popes on display. Caught us a bit by surprise - we were walking around admiring the architecture and artwork when we noticed a group praying near what we thought was a statue in a box, but upon getting a bit closer ... it was the body of Pope John XIII! I'd heard the saying that one has to cover up to look at lots of naked people when visiting the Vatican. I wasn't expecting it to be quite so true. So much for modest at holy sites, right? It was a bit shocking in comparing Israel and Rome. From art, architecture, and culture, and people these are separate worlds. I see why that Herod had such a fascination with building grand and elaborate buildings. With his love for the western culture, Herod brought much of the Roman way of life to Israel including some her grandeur. ... On our last day we visited the Catacombs of Sebaste. According to a few early traditions, this was the burial place of Peter of Paul. I had no idea the catacombs were so massive. Although were were only allowed in a small section, the catacombs stretch for miles going four stories underground.

Colonnade around St. Peter's Basilica 

Colonnade with St. Peter's in the background

St. Peter's Basilica - as we are so close, we pass through here every day
on our way across the river to the historic center

Lot's of salesmen with hats & purses

Crossing the Tiber or (Trevere in Italian) River

Looking back toward the Castel Sant'Angelo

The Tiber River

Lots if churches ... around every corner ...

What do you think it's supposed to be?

Ancient Roman Remains

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Inside the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Overlooking the city of Rome

Remains found from the battle of Waterloo

Overlooking the Historic Park

Don't be fooled - he's got a steel pole under his arm :)

In the Historic Center

Arch of Severus

Temple to Saturn

Arch of Severus

My pretty lady :)

Walked in this church a couple days later

Arch of Titus

Titus' army carrying away the plunder from Jerusalem

Arch of Titus with the Colosseum in the background

The Colosseum - we'll be back to go inside :) 

A Park today, but in ancient Rome, they would have chariot races here

More Temples - throw a stone and you'll probably hit a temple or a church

Walking back over the Tiber River

Kiwi-Lemon Slushy!

Took a wrong turn coming back, but found an beautiful park with an great
overlook of the city

Little Cars ... and with a bar code?

The Tiber River at Night

A beautiful walk along the Tiber

Beautiful Architecture 

Again, passing the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on our way to the

The National Museum is on the right

Cool Courtyards ... 

Again overlooking the Arch of Severus 

The Arch of Constantine 

Early Church Symbol

Jewish Symbols 

Inside the Colosseum 

Outlook from the Colosseum 

It's cool to see, but a very tragic place with so much death and brutality to
both man and beast. 

While trying to find the entrance to the national museum we ran into a
small art gallery. 

In the National Museum

Under the National Museum looking at tomb stones ... 

Elaborate Ceilings ... 

Busts of bunches of people ;)

Here's where you can get your drinking water ... flowing constantly ... 

Karaoke on the Street

Doesn't look too healthy to me .... 

Our hotel on the left side of the chapel

Walking though the park around the Castel Sant'Angelo

Looking toward Saint Peter's Basilica 

The old statue of Michael the Archangel atop the castle

Looking out toward the Tiber from Castel Sant'Angelo

Cafe atop the Castel Sant'Angelo

These once held the treasures of the Vatican

The Modern statue of Michael the Archangel

The Castle fortress was originally the tomb of Emperor

Lemon Gelato and Strawberry Crepe 

Fountain outside Saint Peter's Basilica 

Colonnade around the Basilica 

Kayaking down the Tiber River - that looks like fun :)

Wherever you can fit a building ... make the most of it!

Everything is smaller in Rome ... Even the mini vans

Children's School along the Tiber

I love the pigeons / sea gulls on the heads of the angels. 

Cafe near our hotel

Can you see the Vatican Guard? 

Getting ready to enter Peter's Basilica (entrance to the right)

Incredibly high ceilings! 

A lot about the popes ... 

Even a few of their bodies on display! Here is Pope John XXIII (1958-1963)

Pope Innocent XI (1676-1689)

Incredible detail everywhere ... 

Pope Pius X (1903-1914)

Yep, seen McDonald's in every country so far!

Tapestry in the Vatican Museum ... (the museum has a really poor layout!)

Abraham preparing to sacrifice Isaac

Christian Sarcophagus depicting various biblical scenes 

Courtyard outside by the Vatican Museum 

Overlooking the Vatican Gardens

When you see a clothed stature, take a picture ... they are
far a few between!

What do you think? Mine could fit right between those other two ... :)

Sennacherib Army

Seen this kind of stuff recently ;) ... pottery from first century Israel

Egyptian gods and pharaoh's 

Room of animal statures

This is Nero's Bird Bath - He wanted to show of his wealth, so he built
the largest birdbath out of the most valuable stone of the day ... just of the
birds ... 

Sarcophagus for one of Nero's daughters

Diana or Artemas of the Ephesians 

I think this is the most elaborate ceiling yet!

Incredible detail with a multitude of paintings

Another of the Vatican Courtyards - this one a parking lot ... 

Now that's famous one! - Plato and Aristotle 

Before one gets to the Sistine Chapel, you have to pass
through the modern art collection - what other way
would you stop to see them?

Sistine Chapel ("No Photo!!" ... oops)

Whoa! That's a staircase! 

McDonald's Cafe :)

Bus Tour through Rome ... 

Lutheran Church

Again, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier


Listening to the commentary on what we're seeing ... or rather what we were
supposed to have seen a ways back ;)

The Mouth of Truth

Will she lose her fingers?? 

Church of Santa Maria - home of the Mouth of Truth

Italian Pizza ... honestly, our American version is so much better!

Columns on the Pantheon 

Now that's a big door

Column of Marcus Aurelius

Meals on Wheels ;) 

Trevi Fountain

Throwing in a coin a the Trevi Fountain ... oops! I think you hit that lady
behind you!! jk ;)

The Catholic Church we attended Sunday Morning -
Not many options for English Services

The Pantheon 

Don't drink from the water now ;)

Ruth getting some water for walk back to the hotel

It's the ING Online Bank ... at least the Italian one. 

Terminal Station

Walking to the Catacombs

The Chapel and Catacombs of St. Sebaste 

The first of four floors of the catacombs - we're only
allowed in the top floor as the bodies are still on the lower
floors (and will be left as such out of respect)

Earlier chapel to Saint Sebaste

Wealthier pagan catacombs - later used by Christians.
Presumably a member of the family became a
Christian and allowed it to be used by others. 

The one on the left is where they believe Peter
and Paul's bodies were kept. 

Inscriptions / Prayers to Peter and Paul dating around second to
 fourth centuries. 

Chapel of Saint Sebaste. The Chapel here used to be the 

Statue of Saint Sabaste

Last sculpture by Borghese, left unfinished

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