We were gone for 21 days but one was traveling to Rome and 9 of those were at sea so this won't be as bad as it sounds. Here we go!
Our first night we met Richard, the seminarian that is friends with our Pastor. He showed us Rome from the university rooftop, had us join him for Vespers (evening prayers) and then walked us across the Tiber River to a small neighborhood restaurant where we had wonderful food and wine. The dinner was finished with limencello, compliments of the owner. We had hoped to get into the city before dark but didn't make it. However, this is the only shot we have of St. Peter's after dark, the rest we took during the day from other vantage points.
The next day we traveled by bus to Orvieto. Our first stop was to ride the funicular to the city high up. We visited the castle that overlooked the valley and proceeded to St. Patrick's Well. This was a circular stairway and only a few of us ventured down to the bottom and back up. I think it was about 500 steps in all. I was huffing and puffing a bit by the time I got done, but I did it! We then visited the Dom (Cathedral) which was beautifully decorated inside and out. There was no docent so it was up to us to use the brochure to appreciate the artwork and such.
After a nice lunch we went to the caves that have been under property for hundreds of years. People dug their own spaces to use as work areas to make olive oil, escape from invasions and to raise pigeons for food and bartering. Only two of the thousands are open to the public. The views from some of the openings where the pigeons flew in and out provided some nice shots.
The next day didn't turn out well. It was cool and rainy for starters. But there is nothing anyone can do about that. We originally had the afternoon scheduled at the Vatican but learned we were going in the morning because it was the 500th anniversary of the opening of the Sistine Chapel and the Pope was saying Mass so it was closing at 1 pm. I don't know about you but I doubt that snuck up on anyone!
Instead of the "Front of the Line" 33 euro tickets, our tour guide stood in line alone and purchased 33 General Admission tickets for 15 euros each. I figured she saved herself around $400 or so. However, the guards would not let us go to the front of the line with her because she did not have the proper tickets and documentation so we ended up in a 1.5 hour line in the rain along with everyone else buying General Admission tickets. Talk about not being a Happy Camper! We paid for and requested Front of the Line tickets as part of our tour and I was madder than a wet hen.
We had lunch after our Vatican fiasco at a restaurant that was fine but it was not the one listed on our itinerary. I've moved groups around and leading by the seat of your pants is no way to do it. By the time we got to Trevi Fountain I was ready to push a certain someone in the fountain and was not at all interested in throwing a coin to be sure I returned! I had promised my friend I would throw a coin for her so I had Ted do it.
It was getting late into the afternoon so our bus headed back to the hotel. After a lot of posturing over the days events, we all decided we would not go to Tivoli outside Rome on our last day. There was way too much in the city to see and we intended to see it. Thursday was a bit better but not without its challenges.