As we leave our amazing little hotel in Cortona, we can’t help but feel melancholy as we know that our Italy adventure only has a few more days. We board the bus and head to Rome with a wonderful stop in Orvieto. This jewel of a town gives you hospitality in a medieval setting. It’s Duomo (church) in the center is just beautiful, we are also given a tour of the Underground a series of cave from the Etruscan era. It was very interesting to see such intricate cave system under this amazing city. These miles of caves were used for refrigeration, wine and water wells. After our tour, we stopped and had a bite to eat and do some shopping, the ceramics here were lovely. I stopped in a little shop and after purchasing some gifts, the little old man smiles leaned over grabbed my face and kissed my cheek. I felt like family. We wandered through the maze of streets up and down the hills and enjoyed some gelato. Then we boarded the bus for Rome.
The hillside of Italy is simply stunning we arrived in the hustling streets of Rome and were taken to our hotel. A location that couldn’t be beat. I opened our window and look directly at the Pantheon. You could look down onto the Piazza. I watched the people wander, the vendor open their carts and the life in Rome go by. As the sun set, Bert and I wandered the street and ended up in Piazza Navona, we enjoyed a light dinner outside, while listening to a cellist. We drank prosecco and watched the people enjoy life in Italy. We strolled back, stopped and had a pastry before we headed back to the hotel. Tomorrow we visit the Vatican.
We awake to the sounds of the City, we walk across the Piazza for breakfast before we make our way with our group to the Vatican. We are dropped off in front of Vatican City and meet our incredible tour guide. She guided us through Saint Peters Basilica, the Vatican museum where we got to see the awesome Pieta. The opulence of it all is overwhelming. To understand the history, the decisions and magnificence of the treasures within these walls is remarkable, but the most exciting moment of our trip was about to happen, and we didn’t even know it. We were led into the Sistine Chapel; everyone is quiet as they gaze at the simply exquisite ceiling painted by Michelangelo. As we stand in the quiet surrounded by many people a priest comes out onto the Alter, he greets us all in his broken English and explains that he will be on the side of the alter for any blessings that someone may want. I look around and no one has moved. I look at Bert and we move towards the Alter. A policeman invites us up on the alter and the priest greets us. He spoke with us for a few minutes, gave us a marriage blessing and blessed our children and grandchildren. It was so surreal, as I turn around and walk off the alter, tears are flowing down my face. The people in our group ask us how we arranged that, and I said I didn’t. The priest just invited us up. Once everyone realized what was happening the live formed. It was such a wonderful moment it will be etched into my heart forever.
We left the Chapel and our tour ended, Bert and I decided to walk back to the hotel and as we excited Vatican City, we saw the Castle of Angels. We decided to go through this castle and we both agreed this is a not to be missed site. It was so interesting and is was were it is said Michael the Archangel appeared as a sign to the end of the Plague in 590, this along with many other stories of angel siting lead to it name. It was used by many Popes as a fortress. The artifacts within these walls are definitely worth seeing. We left the castle and walked across the bridge of angles on our way back to the hotel. We stopped in a piazza and ate a great pizza and had some wine. We returned to the hotel to get ready for our farewell dinner.
We met the group and walked through the Jewish quarter and over a bridge to a small Island, Tiberina, where we entered the private apartment of Chef Fabio Bongianni, he runs a cooking school and has a restaurant called That’s Amore near Trevi Fountain. As I walked through the door of this fabulous apartment, I felt warmth and hospitality everywhere. We were met by a wonderful lady named Monica, she poured us Prosecco and introduced us to Chef Paolo, trained by Chef Bongianni, he was the one making this magnificent meal. We enjoyed the evening and had a nice surprise when Chef Bongianni made an appearance. The evening was superb and is another extra special event offered by our host with Story Land and Sea. We returned to our hotel with slight sadness as tomorrow is our last day in Italy.