I know I said I would write several blogs about the European trip. I have not done so. I realized that as much as I would like to share about my trips, these blogs stray from my real purpose in writing. I guess I’m just not really a travel blogger. Not that these stories aren’t of interest, they just seem to bog me down. On the other hand, because I promised to do so, I shall complete my analysis of the trip because I promised. It will take two or three post to complete, so here we go.
One of the big surprises for me was the vast number of tourists in Italy. Having recently coming off of Covid restrictions, I suppose everyone got their tickets to fly to Rome! Every major tourist area was packed with people.
Every time I think about writing about visiting the Vatican Museum, I get stuck. We walked two miles to the museum. We had paid for a museum tour, or so we thought. What we actually paid for was the tour guide to take a group of us in front of the line into the museum. The line to get into the museum snaked around for several blocks. Once we were in the museum, we were on our own.
I thought that being at a museum owned and run by the Roman Catholic Church, I would learn about their history over time. It was an art museum. Although there were religious works in the museum, it appeared that most of the museum was about Egyptian, Greek, and Roman antiquities. It took almost three hours to walk through this place. The wealth of these objects and works of art was overwhelming to me. I cannot understand why a church would collect art or antiquities for display. I am trying my best not to judge. It’s hard when it comes to this museum. As a Christian, the mission of the church is to reach all corners of the world to share God’s love and saving grace through Jesus Christ. Having all this very expensive art work that is not used for proclaiming their message, just boggles my mind. I am glad I went though. I am not sure I would want to visit the museum a second time.
I found the Sistine Chapel surprising. I expected to walk into a cathedral type building, and see it set up like how I have seen interiors of Catholic churches. It was just a big, not huge, open room with hundreds of people standing in it looking at the ceiling, because the ceiling is what makes it famous. So, I walked in, pointed my camera/phone to the ceiling and started snapping photos, when I got stopped and told that photos were not allowed. They were allowed in all the other areas of the museum. Why not in the Sistine Chapel? Because Fuji film had help pay for the restoration of the paintings, and only they are allowed to take the photos. I get that was nice of Fuji, but how much more commercial can one get? When I got back to our airbnb, I discovered I did get the shot I wanted—the one of God reaching out to Adam! Yay for me!
Colosseum & The Forum
Another thing that was interesting was how different tour guides tell history. As we toured the Colosseum, the tour guide told us it was rumored that Christians were persecuted at the Colosseum. On our tour to Pompeii, the tour guide told us that Christians were persecuted at the Colosseum. I felt like the first guide was trying to lighten the facts of history. We have to stop changing history to meet our personal preferences. History is what it is—just tell it like it is.
I was amazed at the massive size of the Colosseum and the Forum. It is amazing to see these ruins right in the middle of the city.
We took an early morning tour to Pompeii. We had to walk several blocks from our Airbnb to the location of the tour bus. It was still dark and the streets were empty. It was a bit disconcerting walking in a downtown area in the dark. There was no traffic, and I just kept imagining people jumping out of the alleys at us. No, that didn’t happen, and we safely arrived at our destination. I did insist, when walking back at the end of the day, again at night, that we take a route that would put us walking through the touristy area where I felt safe in the crowds.
Our tour took us first to a small town of Positano, Salerno. The views were beautiful on the highway, and then we got to the moutain road and the views of the sea below were breathtaking. We got to a point where the bus stopped on this narrow road. We had to get out and get into vans that could handle the hairpin turns to take us up the mountain. We arrived in time for lunch before heading back to our way to see the ruins at Pompeii.
Pompeii was a community sitting on the Mediterranean that was destroyed by a volcano from Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. When the volcano hit, it froze everything in place. The area was covered in hot ash, but the shapes of people remained where they literally disintegrated, leaving an empty shell where they fell. Not only that. So much ash fell, that it added to the land and the city is now about 5 miles from the Mediterranean Sea. Historians for years could not figure out how this volcano allowed theses places to stay in tact. Where was the lava and fire? It wasn’t until Mount St. Helens erupted in 1980 in the United States that the historians realized it was the same type of volcano.
Archeologists filled the empty shell with plaster, and the form of this woman was discovered. They were able to tell that the volcano happened around their mid-day meal, as some of these shapes showed people preparing food.
The Catacombs of Domitilla was an active cemetery from the first century until the 5th century. It included more than 26,000 tombs with almost 150,000 burials over 10 miles of underground tunnels. We only walked through a small portion of the catacombs. Of course, the areas where we walked no longer have bodies laying in these open tombs. There is also a Catholic Church as one goes underground to enter the catacombs. Many of the tombs were marked with etchings of Christian symbols. The tombs were discovered in the late 1500’s. Two of the rooms completed restoration in 2017. In 2009, the Society of the Divine Word, or known as the Divine Word Missionaries (an order of priests and brothers) are now responsible for the care of this historic burial ground.
After all this touring we went on an amazing cruise across the Atlantic Ocean back to the United States. I promise in a few days, I will post that blog also. I will share the good, the bad, and the ugly of our cruise and excursions. Stay Tuned!
You got some amazing photos of your amazing trip. It’s a shame that photos aren’t allowed in the Sistine Chapel. Do they make packets of photos available in a gift area somewhere? I image such photos would be better than any that I would take, but it is fun to be able to take your own. You did get an excellent one of God and Adam. I know some Roman Catholics who are disillusioned by the collection of artwork in the Vatican. People have wondered out loud about how many poor people could be cared for if those valuable artifacts were sold. Very interesting blog. I enjoyed reading it.
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Why of course they have photos for sale! I bought postcard photos from the bone church and from the interior of the catacombs. They just don’t seem as personal to me when I don’t take the photos. The photos you saw of the interior of the catacombs were scanned from the postcards.
Lisa and I are going to Italy in March! We are going to start in Venice for a few days (I have to work at a winery near there for a couple of days) and then go down to Rome for a few days on the high-speed train. We plan to tour the Colosseum, the Vatican, and the Catacombs. I’m super excited! We were hoping Janine could come as well but being a teacher, she is unable to get off for the time we will be in Italy. 😦 Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the tours you took.
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What a wonderful trip you have planned. I am sure Janine is disappointed that she has to work that week. If you have a chance, Pompeii is worth the trip, and of course, Trivi Fountain and the Pantheon are free and so worth seeing. I cannot wait to hear about it after you return!
I really enjoy your blogs. I will probably not get to Rome. It’s not in the plans now. I have a friend who went to Paris last fall. She has shared so much of her trip with me–the wonderful food and wine, lots of smokers, lots of steps, etc. She bought a new raincoat at a truck stop. She said it was a fancy truck stop with a bakery and clothes. She and her husband did a week by themselves and then a week on a tour. She loved the tour, but it wore her out. She said they saw a lot, but couldn’t remember everything they saw. Their pictures on their phones helped them remember where they had been. Thanks for sharing your travels!!
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Great photos and blog Andrea. I thought it funny about you getting caught taking pictures in the Sistine Chapel I did the same thing at Graceland I thought I was going to be thrown in jail . Lol. Love the etching of the fish representing the followers of Christ.
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Thank you. So, who owns Graceland that photos cannot be taken?
The Presley Family . They have guards all over .
Thank you, Carolyn. Going through the photos definitely helps the memory. Of course, after I published, I realized I left out the Victory Monument, which was huge. I thought I had it in the first post. I am looking forward to sharing about the cruise.