View from the top of our hotel (lousy hotel, one mini elevator [150lbs of suitcases up 7 stories], tiny rooms….but, hey, GREAT view from the roof!). We moved to be within walking distance from the forum, coliseum etc… We DO miss the convent and the nuns though. We were not able to leave the girls at the convent, so they have made the move across town with us.
Before our move from the convent we fittingly visited the Vatican for a whole day (starting at 0730). It was a full day of ostentatious wealth. Any doubts about Popes being Warlords and Kings were put to rest. We have, I think, finally done enough priceless art. Siena was on a wonderfully human scale, Florence’s wealth as represented by the Medici Family was truly mind boggling. Italy suffers from an embarrassment of riches. A new metro stop has been abandoned due to finding ancient ruins just below the surface. Maintaining and documenting all this history is proving to be extremely difficult for Italy. The lack of investment in the maintenance of Italy’s historic sites has been very evident. There is a focus on the big sites (Coliseum, Forum, Pantheon, Palatine Hill) and little to nothing to the less touristy sites (Ostia, Boboli Gardens and a hundred others). The Vatican is a separate country and obviously has the wealth to maintain the property beautifully. After visiting Morocco and Spain, it is striking the amount of dirt and graffiti we have seen here in Rome. Florence and Siena were different. Outside the Vatican area there is hardly a vertical surface here that is not covered by a spray paint “artist”. Think the Bronx in the 1970’s. A guide mentioned the economic downturn but I think it is more of a cultural mindset. Spainards are poorer and Moroccans are vastly poorer but they seem to care more about their neighborhoods then here in Rome. That said, it is the most uniquely historic city I have ever seen. Eating a Gelato last night we turned around and looked through a fence to what remained of a Gladiator training school near the coliseum. You could see a part of the oval practice ring and the small dormitory buildings that surrounded it. Way cool. There are moments like that all over Rome. Touching stones that were laid 2,000 years old and imagining the lives of the artisans who created such beauty was worth the price of the ticket.