Topsfield Fair 2008

Rome and Vatican City

Ancient Rome - 27 September 2004
The Roman Forums and the Coliseum are big, filled with unexplained ruins. A guide might have helped, but we decided just to observe and absorb it all.

Several web sites helped us identify specific ruins after the fact. Check out this panoramic composite of the Roman Forum of 6 photos with labels.
Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel - 28 September 2004
We visited the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel. We arrived early and hooked up with a guide, which brought us to the front of the line. It made it even harder to keep track of everybody and after the map room, Pam lost the group for a while. So much art, statues and golden ceilings.

In the Sistine Chapel, the rule is no talking. Our group went to the far corner where our guide murmured his descriptions. When the noise of the crowd swelled, the guardians yelled loudly "Silence" and the noise receded to a low murmur only to slowly swell again.
St. Peter's Basilica and Square - 28 September 2004
After the Vatican Museum, we arrived at the huge St. Peter's Basilica where we were dwarfed by the towering arches and statues so that we felt like the size of ants. Its dark interior with filtered light is a calm quiet place despite the crowds. Docents kept it that way, correcting anyone who tried to sit on a column pedestal. Then we emerged into St. Peter's Square, which is a square area, between arms of Vatican offices, opening onto a huge elliptical piazza surrounded by rows of columns.
Fountains and monuments of Rome - 26-28 September 2004
Rome is famous for its fountains. Almost every piazza has one and the water is sparklingly clear. Some fountains have their own customs - you'll return to Rome if you throw a coin over your left shoulder into the Trevi Fountain and it must be good luck to take a drink from the fountain at the Spanish Steps - we saw people posing there and sipping. We threw the coin but didn't take the drink.
Streets and neighborhoods of Rome - 26-28 September 2004
Tourists and residents alike stroll among the many fountains and piazzas. Rome is expensive and full of tourists, but it has a lot to see.
Sites in the book Angels and Demons - 26-28 September 2004
David had just read the book Angels and Demons by Dan Brown so we made a point of visiting several of the places that are prominent in the story - the Pantheon, Santa Maria del Popolo, Piazza Navona, and Santa Maria della Vittoria, and St. Peter's Square.
Our hotel - 26-28 September 2004
We stayed at the comfortable and charming Hotel Locarno, which was a great location near Piazza del Popolo. We also enjoyed the Buca di Ripetta restaurant nearby.
Cinque Terre, Liguria
Staying in Corniglia - 2-4 October 2004
We had a delightful apartment in the smallest seaside village in Cinque Terre. Perched on top of the cliffs, it had beautiful views all around with the light changing at every moment. No cars, just views of the Mediterranean, dramatic highlands, fresh air, and relaxed and friendly locals and tourists.

Hiking to Manarola - 3 October 2004
The hiking in October was delightful -- breezily warm with a beatiful village destination a couple of hours away. We're slow hikers between bird-seeking and photography, so we had a late lunch when we arrived in Manarola. Then we took the easy seaside trail home to Corniglia.

Hiking to Vernazza and Riomaggiore by Boat - 4 October 2004
The trail to Vernazza was steeper and hugged the ocean cliffs dramatically. The views were incredible and the water below us was crystal blue. We were glad to arrive at a little lunch spot where we ordered pasta with walnut sauce. Then after wading in the clear water of the harbor, we took the boat back along the coast to Riomaggiore, which is picture-perfect as you approach by sea.