Final Report of our travels. We disembarked the ship at a port outside of Rome and were driven to the Galleria Borghese in Rome. If you have never visited this museum you should put it on your list of things to do before you die. It was a Borghese family villa, now a museum that requires a reservation well in advance to enter as they limited the number of people and limit how long one can stay inside to two hours. The attraction is the incredible sculptures by Bernini and the bright beautiful fresco’s and paintings on display. I’ve not seen anything like this outside of the Vatican. It is a small building and you are allowed to get very close to the paintings as well as the sculptures. Gian Lorenzo Bernini was a genius. His sculpture of Pluto and Proserpina is so realistic they appear to be alive. He has indented the skin under the fingers of Pluto in such a way that it looks like actual flesh. His work is so realistic you could see the figures suddently coming to life out of the marble. His David is masterful. The paintings and fresco’s so well preserved and well done that they look like they were just finished by the artist.
After going around the museum several times to look at everything more then once, we drove to the Spanish steps in down town Rome and while Lita shopped I sat by the fountain in the square. It was Saturday and the square was absolutely full of people walking, sitting, talking and milling around. A man dressed like a Roman soldier walked around hoping to be photographed for a price, but smoking a cigarette. Only in Italy would you see that! A policeman blows his whistle at family planning to sit down on the steps and eat their gelato. He tells them it is forbidden to eat gelato on the steps. Another man who is sitting next to me and has no connection with the family begins to argue with the policeman in Italian. Another man on the other side of me joins in and they dispute the ruling, but after awhile the policeman simply walks away but everyone seems to be in good humor. A traffic policeman blows his whistle by a double parked car. When no one emerges to move it , he begins to write a ticket. Then the owner appears and they argue. Another by stander decides to join in and all three are gesturing and arguing. The policeman is unmoved and writes the ticket walking away.
From the square we went to a nearby outdoor restaurant recommended by our driver and had the best pasta, wine and food I’ve had on the whole trip. Wonderful lunch with the only problem being an American woman who talks on her cell phone even after her food is delivered and while eating it.
Our driver, Lorenzo lived in New York for several years with his uncle before deciding the weather of Rome was much better and returned home. He speaks very good English, is bright and is well informed about Italian history. He drove us around the major attractions of Rome while talking to us about the sights of Rome. Afterwords, he drove us to our hotel La Posta Vecchia, a 45 minute ride outside of Rome and right on the sea. We have our favorite suite, the John Paul Getty suite. This was his bedroom at what was his vacation home. It is small 28 room hotel with beautiful landscaping and views. The next day Lorenzo drove us a short distance to the village where the castle is located Tom Cruise was married in. It is a 500 year old structure near a large lake. We went on a guided tour – all given in Italian which limited our understanding of what was being described. The place is rather dark, cold and with faded fresco’s and paintings. Not very impressive inside and it looks like it is in need of matenance. However, the view from the top towards the very large lake below was worth the effort. The tour and narration lasted an hour and was about 45 minutes too long for me. Afterwords we drove around the entire lake which is surrounded by small farms, little villages and interesting agriculture areas. We ate lunch outside at a small villiage trattoria. The food was really excellent and the local wine very good. We had such a good time talking with Lorenzo about Italy that we didn’t have time for any more touring so we returned to the hotel to sit in the sun along the water and read.
The next day we went to the airport for our flight to London and then home. Checking in and getting through customs was not difficult in Rome. It was a pleasant flight to London Heathrow where security made things difficult. You are allowed only one carry on so there were delays while people tried to figure out what to do with an extra bag they were not allowed to take. Then we stood for an hour before we could even enter the security area and that was after taking a long bus ride to get to this point. The crowd became large and people who had close connections were unhappy about standing for an hour. We then were allowed to move ahead to a long line circled across the room and then turned and went back and so on until 45 minutes later we finally arrived at the Xray machine. In the meantime, we noticed an abandoned bag on the floor near the machine and I was apprehensive some boy scout would tell the security people about it which would shut the entire airport down. When Lita cleared security she saw a woman who was very upset and asked her the problem. It was she was missing a bag. So thanks to Lita bag and passenger were reunited before there was a total lock up of the place.
Finally we got to the British Airlines lounge where we sat waiting for our flight to leave. Sitting there was the British actor Peter O’Toole who had been nominated for an Oscar for his role in the movie Venus. He looked as old and tired sitting there as he had playing the role of an elderly actor in the film. Later I watched the movie on the flight home and he is an extraordinary actor. It was a 9 hour flight that arrived 7:00 pm Seattle time, but some twenty hours after we got up that morning. We had left sunny Italy and arrived in a rainy Seattle, but we were happy to see the rain. By the time we got to Gig Harbor the sun was out.
Thinking about this trip, I’ve decided I would not go back to Egypt although I am very glad I saw the pyramids. I would not go to where we were in Turkey again. I like some Greek Islands but not all of them are created equal. I would Skip Athens having already spent time there. Big cities are not my favorite. As to Italy, the ship didn’t stop at the best locations in Sicily and I would have skipped most. As excellent as the service and food was on the Seabourn, I’m not built for cruising that long. It lasted too long for me. Instead, I could go back to Italy any time and stay on shore. When we got home, the dogs and cats were happy to have us home and we were happy to be home.