Monday June 25, 1990

Because of all the World Cup Soccer matches in Italy, Danny and I split off from Alan and Marc because they tried to get tickets for a big soccer match in Bologna, and we wanted to continue south towards Rome, Capri and the Greek Islands. It was a bummer splitting off, but we had amazing memories and by this point in the journey we felt confident to “leave the nest” so to speak. We were on our own, but Danny loves to talk and chat and get to know people which makes things super easy when asking for help and directions.

After Alan and Marc left for Bologna, Danny and I worked our way South towards Rome. The train to Rome from Florence was brief, but pleasant. The country side was pretty, many farms along the ride.

When we arrived in Rome, it was nuts! We traveled during the summer of the 1990 World Cup Soccer matches and Rome was a hotbed of insane fans. There was a match in Rome when we arrived and people were scrambling in all directions, and we were being tossed to and fro with our giant backpacks.

Yes, the strangest thing happened, a man from the tourist information office saw our confusion and went out of his way to call a hotel for us. When we asked him why, he simply said it was his job. He save us a so much time and trouble – especially because it was 6:30 and there was almost no way we would have found a place to sleep if we were looking on our own. On our way to the hotel, we can see that this city was ANCIENT. It was so dirty and decrepit. Prices for hotel rooms were outrageous because of the World Cup, but the tourist officer secured us a place for $25/night – one of the cheapest around. We ended up watching the soccer game and got a good night’s sleep (well needed).

HDR photo by Klause Hermann

The next day, we went to the Vatican Cathedral where the Pope lives. It is also the final resting place the THE St. Peter, the very first Pope who died in 74 A.D. That’s almost 2,000 years ago. Saint Peter’s Basilica (image to left) is a Late Renaissance church located within the Vatican City. Saint Peter’s Basilica has the largest interior of any Christian church in the world. It’s regarded as one of the holiest Catholic sites. It has been described as “holding a unique position in the Christian world” and “the greatest of all churches of Christendom”.

Without a doubt, the Vatican is absolutely the MOST SPECTACULAR ARCHITECTURAL TRIUMPH in the world.

It is sooooooooo HUGE!!! I can’t even begin to describe what I saw, it was so staggering. The ceilings were about 200 feet high and every inch of the ceiling was designed in classic Renaissance style – gold everywhere. Small windows inside the towering domes allowed light to stream through, spreading the light in rays looking “heavenly” indeed.

Michelangelo, Raphael, Bernini and many of the great Renaissance artists contributed to the art by painting incredible rooms and sculptures that filled the marble-lined halls of the Vatican. The Sistine Chapel was magnificent, The ceiling, and especially The Last Judgment painted from 1535–1541, is widely believed to be Michelangelo’s crowning achievement in painting. His technique was so fascinating. The entire Vatican has to be seen to be believed. The sheer magnitude of the space and artistic brilliance overwhelms you.

After almost 4 hours in the Vatican City, Danny and I caught a smelly, densely-packed, old and rickety bus to the Roman Colosseum. What a site! We were able to walk inside and see where the Romans threw their people to the lions. What a violent society!

HDR photo by Trey Ratcliff, Stuck In Customs

Then we saw the Piaza Benezia, a giant, white-marbled stairway leading to the great pillared Colosseum that had gigantic Roman sculptures on top. Then it was on to the Pantheon. It was a bit of a disappointment, dirty and unimpressive. Overall, Rome was not the ideal vacation destination, except for the ancient city and the Vatican, I’m not sure I’d really go back.

HDR photo by Trey Ratcliff, Stuck In Customs