There were some old travel guides on the bookshelf when we moved into our apartment. We’ve been to Rome a dozen times and had a vague idea that this city has more to offer the tourist than most other cities. Besides Saint Peter’s Basilica and several top notch fine arts museums, there are 2700 years of history on view in the center of the city. This includes the Coliseum, Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, Baths of Caracala, columns, numerous other ruins of ancient Rome, and dozens of churches with interesting art, architecture, and history. All of it is within easy reach from our apartment. And Rome is a pleasant city with all its piazzas, fountains, monuments, and charm.
During our first weeks in Rome, we created a short list of the most important sights. We haven’t seen all the items on our short list, yet, this time in Rome. On our calendar, we enter the locations we visit each day. We’re in the process of supplementing the short list with the many other sights we have seen.
We rented a two bedroom two bathroom apartment so that we could host family and friends during our year in Rome. So far, we have had two families stay with us. Several others have planned their visits and purchased their tickets. In a way, this has been our tour guide training.
It helps us to return to the main sights several times. Each time, we notice additional details. We were headed to the church of San Luigi dei Francesi for the fourth visit. We were actually taking a nun we met at an early weekday mass at Saint Peter’s. We were surprised that she had been working through the summer and had not seen much of Rome. As we were walking along talking about the magnificent paintings by Caravaggio in that church, Bette mentioned that Christ’s gesture in The Call of Matthew was the same as Adam’s gesture in Michelangelo’s painting on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. I had seen the painting many times and had read so much about it but that comparison of Christ’s gesture and Adam’s gesture had never registered. I was excited to see the painting again. It is such a magnificent painting that I will probably be excited to see each time.
Before setting out each day, it is helpful to review the guidebooks and online references. Many times, we take a print-out with us to read as we are visiting the sights. We usually read all the descriptive signs during our tour. Many museums and other attractions have signs in Italian and English. When we were visiting the Museum of Roman Civilization in early May, we were surprised when staff told us that the museum would soon close for the day. It was very interesting reading. We had progressed just over halfway through the museum. We have been back twice with our visitors and have studied the second half of the museum. There’s still a part in the middle…