Monday, September 10
The Rome whirlwind goes by with glitz and overload, especially when one goes to the Vatican. I know, it’s something you just have to do when in Rome, but frankly, this is the last time I’ll make a trip to the smallest country in the world. And referencing the title of this post, I think for me, the Vatican experience is the worst of Rome.
The Basilica is exquisite, overpowering, full of story and art, and though the Vatican Museum is also art-full, somehow my eyes glaze over, especially when I think about the link between political power and the Church’s co-dependent relationship with the richest families in Italian history. Stolen art from other countries, contests to see who has the most body parts of saints, and overwhelming statuary, tapestries, paintings . . . all of that would be enough, more than enough.
But squeezed into every section of the Vatican Museum are souvenir shops and counters, selling ridiculous amounts of books, plastic artifacts, gold crosses, rosaries. A veritable Vatican Coney Island. Heresy, I know, but I think I’ll be hard pressed to visit Rome again.
Rome is hot and sticky, teeming with tourists and Romans alike, wandering the streets as though there are no cars at all . . . and some of that is part of the charm of this dirty old city.
The Rome upside is that it is walkable, moreso than I had remembered, and just going back to the Spanish Steps, soaking my bare feet in that cold fountain pool,
inspiring several Italian women to take off their shoes before the politizia could shoo us off . . . now THAT was fun! The policewoman scowled at me and said, in Italian, that this was not a bath, and if I wanted a bath, I should go back to my hotel. I told her it was only my feet that were taking the bath, and that I was happy she hadn’t come along until about 30 minutes into the soak!
Our final Roman dinner, at the Fortunato just near the Pantheon, was an opportunity to have the best steak tartare I’ve ever eaten! Delicious food, yummy wine, all on a Roman terrace, with the dusk settling over the Pantheon over my right shoulder.
10.72 miles logged on the pedometer on Sunday, 7.11 miles on Monday. I’m training for the Camino de Santiago even when I’m in Italy.