Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Rome - Day 1

Last weekend was a long one in Italy (Monday was the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, a holiday in catholic Italy), so we decided to take advantage and spend some time in Rome. Unfortunately, most of Italy seemed to be on the road this weekend as well, so when we tried to buy train tickets on Friday, the fast trains were already sold out. Therefore, we had to take the local train on Saturday morning, which took four hours instead of the one and a half non-stop with the Eurostar.
Nevertheless, after getting into Rome and checking into our hotel, we were ready for some sightseeing, for which we took the bus across town to St. Peter’s basilica. On the square in front, the Christmas tree was being raised, and after waiting in the security line for a while, we went into the cathedral. What’s most impressive about the church is surely the size – apart from a Michelangelo statue, there’s not too much in terms of art inside.
Afterwards, Kristen waited for me while I climbed up to the dome for some spectacular views of the city. After weeks of rain, it had stopped and the city looked great in the late afternoon winter light.
From there, we walked into the city. On a bridge across the Tiber, we watched swarms of songbirds flying around, making patterns in the sky. It was incredible how many birds there were and how in unison their flying patterns were.

Finally, we wandered through the streets to the Piazza Navona, where we unexpectedly found a Christmas market between the three baroque fountains of the piazza. Nearby, the Pantheon was closed for a Saturday evening mass, so we went back to the hotel for a while before heading out again for an excellent pasta dinner (Kristen had gnocchi with a gorgonzola and pear sauce, I had maccheroni all’amatriciana).

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