Drove to Rome from Panzano this morning. We only got lost twice leaving Tuscany and once driving into Rome. We were both surprised to arrive at our Hotel, the Intercontinental De La Ville, with little difficulty once we were in Rome. Of course, the directions were totally inaccurate, but approximated reality enough to make it possible to find our way. Fortunately, the sun was out and it was warm. We were able to walk around our hotel, down the Spanish Steps and attempt to figure out how to get Betsy’s phone working. Then we took a bus tour of the historic part of the city. A spectacular place! It felt like stepping back into our High School and college history books. The air cooled and rain started as we made our way back to the hotel. We were tired and cold and decided to stay in the hotel tonight. Tomorrow we go off with our guide to see the city with better guidance.

This morning we were picked up at 9 am after a good and “reasonable” breakfast at the hotel. Great egg white omelet and acceptable cereal for me. Giovanni Musella arrived dressed nattily in suit and tie, looking just as the recently retired military man he was. Having worked as an interpreter for the Italian military, his English was impeccable and his disposition put us immediately at ease. He brought us up to the Borghese Park overlooking the city which allowed us to have a better sense of the layout of Rome. The picture shows the view from here looking across the Piazza del Popolo across Rome and the Tiber River to the Vatican with St. Peter’s Cathedral in the distance.

He took us to see the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola with its remarkable frescoed vaulted ceiling appearing as if in 3 dimensions and then on to see the Forum and into the ancient prison of Rome. After several other stops, we went on to see the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel. No pictures were allowed in the chapel, but here’s a photo from the Hall of Maps. We stopped for lunch at a bar on the via Condotti. Had great salads. Then returned to the room so I could try to sleep off a bad cold. Tonight we go to dinner at Tulio’s, a restaurant we were advised to visit by nearly everybody. More tomorrow. Sunday, May 9. Early pick up by Giovanni and off to the Vatican to see St. Peter's cathedral. The crowds were starting to gather for the Pope's appearance at noon. The entire setting is a bit awe inspiring. It would be difficult to convey it all in a picture, but St. Peter's square with surrounding arches of Bernini's columns and the facade of the cathedral and Michaelangelo's dome in the background is truly enough to take your breath away. This picture doesn't do it justice, but try to imagine this enormous space doubled since I'm only showing one side.