We rolled down to the Plaza San Pietro in front of the Vatican. The Vatican looks something like that terrible panorama I have stitched together at the top of this page. And if you want to look at my shoddy stitching skills up close and personal you can click here to see an enormous version of the thing (Warning 332 KB!). As it was Sunday morning the lines to get in were monstrous. We lollygagged around a bit and then began to walk. And walk and walk.I'm not sure all of the places we actually walked to except it included the grand road leading up to the Vatican, which we heard was all built by Mussolini prior to World War II. That makes sense looking at it, as it has that "big facade" but "semi-sterile" look that I associate with fascist architecture.
Along one side of the road there was hourly parking, God alone knows what time you would have to get to the Vatican to get that, but since we were (easily amused) by the puny size of Italian cars, we posed the puny POSSLQ next to one so that those who had never been to Italy could scoff at the Italians. The sun was beating down quite ferociously, and by the time the day was done I had a pretty dramatic sunburn on my face and the top of my head. I think I need to look into hair-transplant surgery.To protect my head!
I'ts not vanity. ;-)Continuing to walk down some semi-random streets, we eventually ended up in a warren of alleyways which reminded me a little of the alleyways in Korea. Much wider, of course, and a few less businesses per square meter (see, I'm adapting to this savage land already), but I guess alley-life is alley life, and I was not at all suprised to turn one corner and find the ubiquitous vegetable peddler set up on the corner where two alleys met.
Unlike Seoul, I have already seen a pretty wide variety of what I would characterize as street people, though like Seoul you also see a sprinkling of beggars who are trying to make a living by exposing their handicaps. Clubfoot seems to be a popular choice amongst the gypsies hereabouts. The other notable thing about the street-peddlers is that the ones who lay out blankets and sell semi-modern things (sunglassses, small tripods, Snap-on ClubFoot Kits for the begging trade) all seem to be African. The ones who are selling softer items (scarves, handkerchiefs) all seem to be Asian women with a sprinkling of possible gypsies thrown in.I have no idea what this means, I just note it.
We continued on until we came to a gigantic plaza. I couldn't get the picture I wanted because in my paranoia about pickpockets I had left my satchel of lenses at the flat, but this picture is of an enormous statue which certainly commeorates something noble or the other and was absolutely certainly constructed by some hack like Bernini or Michaelangelo. It is amazing how many brilliant pieces of art are just plunked out there in public. The Rennaisance was an amazing confluence of skilled artists and cheap labor. It made quite a great deal of beautiful public are possible, and while I am not one to (publicly) suggest we bring back indentured servitude, squalorous poverty, or even slavery, I am certain it would create much better vacation destinations down the line.More wandering around ensued and we ended up on the banks of the Tiber, a quite green river, and walked down it until we were back in our little neighborhood. Then it was lunch at a pretentious and very expensive little joint about a block away from the Vatican. While everything is surprisingly expensive in the little shops here (2 Euros for a liter of Coke) prices do drop as you move away from the big church. When we had lunch on the second day, just 3 blocks farther out, the food was better and the price was about half of the Vatican-side cafe.
After lunch, violently stuffed and all about to explode, we headed back to the flat. After a bit the POSSLQ got all antsy and she and I headed down to the plaza again. I took pictures and she wandered around staring at the architecture.I had a beer from a street vendor, and as the last rays of the afternoon sun continued to napalm my face, all was well in our little corner of Rome. We returned, yet again, to the flat, drank beer and tequila, and all fried that night as the temperature never dropped below 77 degrees in our rooms (Bax has a watch that tells time, speed, temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, level of grace with God, and severity of the Fitzgerald Contraction, among other measurables.)
We awoke cranky and unrested, but ready to face the Romulans one more time.