Today we had our earliest morning yet because we had a lot of ground to cover. We boarded the bus just before 8am, headed for Assisi. As we arrived, the sun came out, finally! What an incredible little medieval city – best known for St. Francis and St. Clare. Sadly, we only had enough time to visit the Basilica of San Francesco d’Assisi, which also houses the tomb of St. Francis. Because tomorrow is Sunday, we need to get to the Vatican today, so after a tour of the Basilica, and a quick bite for lunch, we hopped back on the bus and headed for Rome.
As we drove into Rome, the sun was out in full blast. We met up with a local guide for our tour of the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica. She was an incredible guide, and explained the history and art within the walls of these two great buildings with immense depth and clarity. The kids seemed awed by the stunning frescos and sculptures. The walls were covered with paintings by Botticelli and other great Renaissance artists, while Michelangelo’s work covered the ceiling. We also saw one of his Pietas in St. Peter’s. Our guide walked us through each building, and also allowed us time to wander freely. I took a moment to rub the feet of the statue of St. Peter, which were worn smooth from the many people who had done so before me. We also learned that the Vatican is actually the country, and NOT the buildings we were in – in fact, it is the smallest country in the world. Amazing to think we visited the two smallest countries in the world during this trip!
As we walked out into St. Peter’s Square, we took in the setting sun over the Basilica. As Jesus led everyone toward downtown, Sara and I broke from the pack to stand on the two circular stones that provide the only vantage points for viewing the three rows of columns as just one. We caught up with the group as they walked through the streets of Rome, the sun now quickly setting over the river.
During a quick stop for snacks and shopping, we got to see the Trevi Fountain. Built by Leon Battista Alberti in the 15th century, it is the largest Baroque fountain in Rome. Eventually, we hopped back on the bus to head for the hotel and dinner. On the way, we drove by the Forum and the Colosseum!
We were astounded with the rooms in the hotel – by far the best we have stayed in, each room is a suite! Dinner was, once again, a fabulous meal of pasta and chicken. You’d think we’d get sick of it, but the food is just that good! Tomorrow we have our last day exploring Europe before coming home.