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Rome, Monday October 18, 0730

This is our last morning in Rome, as today we head north to Piemonte (Piedmont)and the 4th largest city in Italy, Torino (Turin). If Rome is the birthplace of Slow Food (more on that in a bit), Torino is the heart of it. We are flying up there since it is significantly less expensive and faster to do so, than to take the train. From Torino we will train over to Asti, the home of Moscato d’Asti, Asti Spumante, and more!

Yesterday we hopped the subway over to Vatican City, along with about a billion other people, to hang out with the Pope. Seriously, he was there and giving mass, and canonizing saints, and then he was to give a general blessing to the people in the square. Our free tickets to the mass never came so we went for the blessing, but got in to see the last part of the Mass! Sandy was thrilled and while we were really far back, the big screens that they put up helped us to see. It was really fun to see all the people there, including nuns, priests and monks who were just regular tourists at the Vatican.

Just before it ended and the throngs of people were going to be leaving, we decided to get ahead of the crowd and head for the subway. We went over to Piazza del Popolo (the People’s Square), then down via del Corso to have some lunch. Sandy has completely given in to the fun of Rome and she had gelato for lunch! We moved on to the Spanish Steps (designed and funded by the French, in Italy, I don’t know why the are called that) and the ‘Bad Boat’ fountain, which is reputed to have the sweetest water in Rome, so of course we filled my water bottle. Tons of people there, too. We took a couple of back roads that were so charming, just to see the day to day life in that neighborhood, and when we found ourselves back out on the via del Corso we found ourselves at ground zero for Slow Food. The McDonalds company wanted to put one near the Spanish Steps, and the local community fought it hard. The Slow Food organization was essentially started to fight the spread of fast, non-food, and to remind us of how important it is to dine with loved ones on whole food, rather than gulp down poor nutrition on the run.

We kept walking and soon we were at the Trevi Fountain. I wish I could tell you that it was everything I imagined, so beautiful and romantic.. except that there were 5 trillion people there! The place was mobbed and I hated it. The fountain itself really is amazing and about 100 times bigger than I thought it would be! I couldn’t get over that part. We eventually found our way back to the subway and the apartment. It was not as long, nor arduous of a day as the day before was, but we were all very tired and the jet lag was hitting us. We rested up for a bit and then Mark and I decided to get a bus and go see this particular castle that is across the river, and is supposed to be especially beautiful at night. We waited a long time for a bus and when it came it was not the right one, and it was packed tight with people. So we waited for another and the same thing happened, it was not one of the 5 buses we hoped to catch and it was packed. It began to be pretty funny as other people crammed into the already full buses so we kept waiting to see what buses would come. We watched panicky tourists try to keep their place on the bus while others tried to exit, and one lady nearly knocked over a nun to get on the bus. There was no way I was getting on a bus that crowded when we didn’t know where it was headed so we waited. After about 30 minutes a less-crowded bus came along and we jumped on. It went the wrong way! We rode for awhile and got off to figure out how to get going the right direction. We could not figure it out and we had told Mark’s parents we would be back within 90 minutes. So we headed back. A group of 18 British kids and their chaperons all crowded on an already full bus with us. The kids were ages 9-12 or so and they were giggling the whole way, so the rest of the bus occupants were all laughing with them. It was quite the adventure for not seeing anything!

We got back just in time to go to dinner. Luckily it wasn’t far since we were all so tired and when we got there we nearly had the place to ourselves! It was all very delicious, though none of us could finish because we ordered too much (we managed to finish the wine, though!) Speaking of the wine… all the little places we go offer a 1/4 liter, 1/2 liter, or a full liter of house wine. The full liter usually runs from 9-13 euro! It is always good and so that is what we get. (Sandy gets the 1/4 liter of white wine and we help her finish because we are very helpful!)

This morning we got going early to get over to San Giovanni (St John’s), which is the ‘mother of all churches in the world’. It is not as big as St Peter’s, though it is certainly as impressive. The masses of tourists began arriving and were so noisy that it took away from the peace of this impressive space, which is filled with statues and ornate works to fill every inch. We have packed up and are now waiting for our car that will take us to the airport so we can fly to Torino.

What an amazing time we have already had! We have seen SO MUCH and yet there is so much more to see. We knew we could never get it all in a few days so we prioritized, hired a private tour guide for Saturday, and agreed to go with the flow as our moods, needs, and wants changed. We have had a wonderful time and we are excited to see a new area today. We will slow it down a bit and chill in Asti for a couple of days, and if you ever come to Roma, you must stay in our apartment. Andrea, the owner, is a fabulous host and this place is perfect in location, quiet and comfort.

You are all still sleeping as I finish this, it is nearly 2 am for you, and I can tell you that Monday is fantastic already!

Ciao for now!