ROME – 12:20 am, April 14th We are having the greatest time here in Rome! The city is treating us very well, no pickpocket attempts (yet), gorgeous weather, friendly people, a great hostel, it doesn’t get much better! Where did we leave off? Ah yes, in Nice.

We took another overnight train out of Nice headed for Rome. This turned out to be one of the surprisingly best nights we have had. The sleeper car was full so we had to reserve regular seats. We ended up with 3 other people, Americans, who where studying abroad in europe and where traveling around on their breaks. One of them was studying in England, outside of London, and the other two where studying in Southern France. It was great to talk to Americans our age (well, a little younger) and just “hang out” We talked about all the things people who miss home talk about: Mexican food, American TV, american restaurants….It was extremely refreshing and we got off the train in the morning ready to conquer Rome.

First we checked into our hostel, it was 7am so we couldn’t get into our room yet, but they let us take showers! We must have smelled like stinky backpackers. We got cleaned up and headed to the Colosseum. Breathtaking! We got inside and just stood in the same place for about 15 minutes and took it all in. Mel wished she had brought togas and crowns of leaves so we could be just like the ancient romans. After the Colosseum we had lunch at a cafe. We had salads and sandwiches, topped off with some great gelato ice cream. Then we took a walk through the Roman Forum, ruins of the ancient Roman town center. Lets just say, the ancient Romans loved marble. After the ruins we headed to the Borghese Gallery. This is a small little museum that used to be the mansion of a Cardinal who lived a couple hundred years ago. Cardinal Borghese was a strong supporter of the Renaissance and Baroque art movements at the time, and the museum is a display of his art collection. It was amazing to see some of these paintings and statues in their original settings, where they have been sitting for hundreds of years. After the gallery we went back to the hostle, relaxed and then went out to dinner. We ate at a good restaurant recommended by one of the owners of our hostel, it was great Italian food. We had bruschetta, lasagna, veal, dessert, and of course, wine. After dinner we went back to the hostel and called it a night.

Today we got up and headed for the Vatican. Today is Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter. We are both a little unsure about the religious significance of the day, but it meant the Pope was giving a huge 2 hour mass at the Vatican in Piazza San Pietro. So, we saw the pope. He is old. We couldn’t see him very well, but from what we could make out on the huge jumbotron screens, he’s not doing too well. It was a great experience, Jeff took tons of people watching pictures. We stayed for about 30 minutes and then headed for the Trevi Fountain. From there we strolled to the Pantheon, where we had lunch in the square facing the front of the Pantheon. This was the best. We sat there in the sun, ate authentic Italian pizza, drank good Italian red wine, took in the magnitude of the Pantheon and watched the tourists stream bye. After 3 hours there in the Piazza de la Rotonda we headed out, saw a few more churches, took a quick visit to the Piazza Navona and headed back to the hostel for a siesta. After an hour nap we headed out to Trastevere, more of a colorful, laid back, “artist’s hangout” area, this is Rome’s equivalent to Paris’ Latin Quarter. We walked around for a while, found a small restaurant that looked good, and had a nice dinner. The waiters in the restaurant didn’t speak english very well, but in contrast to Paris, this was not a difficulty, they had as much fun with it as us. After another wonderful dinner it was back here to the hostle and another happy end to another great day in Rome.

We are excited for tomorrow, we are taking a 5 hour guided walking tour of the Vatican Museum and San Pietro. This will be our first guided tour and we are looking forward to REALLY knowing the significance of some of the amazing things we will see. Now it’s time for a little more Limoncelo (liquore di limone) and off to bed. Hopefully Mel’s allergies will clear during the night! ACHOOO!

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