Wow, we have been here in Rome since Thursday afternoon. Brief summary:
Emirates is the fanciest airline we have traveled. After two lengthy legs and one short one, we landed in Leonardo da Vinci airport, aka Fiumicino in Rome. We were in the middle of a huge crowd going through customs, but wouldn't you know, we were the very last three to finally make it through the line. By dint of a modern miracle, we managed to catch the train we needed to town. The bus story is funny but will have to wait for another time.
Our Italian is hardly rusty--it hasn't had time to rust. But we are learning a few words each day. The people are friendly and abundant. After being in a town of 170,000 folks, this place seems mobbed. If we hadn't known this was low season, we would never have guessed.
So far we have been pretty active: checking out the sights and the gelato spots. We have seen the Colosseum, the Forum, the Palatine Hill, Circus Maxximus, the Bocca da Verita (Mouth of Truth), Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain (and thrown in our coins to assure a return trip), Pantheon, Vatican Museums and St Peter's Basilica. Truly, all other churches pale in comparison to this incredible work of dedicated art and love.
Sunday we were able to worship in St Maria de Trastevere and it was amazing. Besides being a museum piece church, it was packed with people of all ages. What a blessing to hear, see and share in worship even though our understanding was limited.
This morning (Monday) Bell and I took a bus trip on the Appian Way, stopping for a visit of the San Callixto Catacombs. Very cold and humid underground: a poignant reminder of the difficult lives and deaths of early Christians and their willingness to sacrifice their convenience, comfort and lives for their faith. I was particularly moved by the story of a martyred slave, Cecelia.
This evening we are packing for the trip tomorrow for Naples. We've been warned by all and sundry that we must watch out for pickpockets. Your prayers are appreciated. We have been safe and comfortable here in Rome, staying in Testaccio which is a working class neighborhood. Our street name is Via Amerigo Vespucci.
I particularly enjoy being in a residential area (as opposed to a hotel)where I can run out for milk in the morning. See the neighbors walking their dogs. Dusk is also a lovely time to sit in the park, eat gelato and watch the folks with their canines. Italians love their dogs. Our apt. complex has a huge guard cat with whom we have made fast friends. He sends his greetings. One resident has two mini-daschunds, darling.
As time permits, I'll probably flash back to these Rome days, but we did want you to get a feel for what a whirlwind we have been in. We are blessed, we sense it on all sides. Pray that we will be a blessing to those we touch.
Flavors already tried: coffee, straciatella (choc chip), pistachio, zabiaone (eggnog), hazelnut, chocolate--deep and dark, more to come.
Bell says "Life is difficult in different ways in different areas, but life is good and God is great." She has learned quite a bit these days and I personally am proud of her willingness to take on responsibility and initiative.