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O Solo A Roma - Day 8 - The Last Day - Arrivederci Roma


View O Solo Roma July 2016 on littlesam1's travel map.

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The colors of Rome are starting to fade behind me.

The vacation alone in Rome had been a wonderful experience. Although I missed Mark's company and regretted him not being there I will always be grateful he insisted I go. The lost maps, the evasive piazza's, the con artist, and my friend Aldo who owned the restaurant are all apart of the experience that was slowly fading into the past on my last day in Rome. But I still had big plans for the last day. I saved The Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museum for my last day. And it was the perfect way to finish the adventure.

From my research and also from friends who have visited Rome, I was told it would be difficult to get tickets to see The Sistine Chapel. I was told there were long lines and crowds. I was advised to book in advance before arriving in Rome. So I booked a tour through Viator for a tour of the Vatican Museum. And I was dreading it. I hate guided tours where you are lead around like a large group of lemmings behind a disinterested guide rattling on and on about every little nook and cranny sharing the most boring minute details. I would much rather just tour the museum on my own and read the signs and descriptions on the items that catch my interest. My tour that I booked in advance promised me I could "skip the lines" and avoid the crowds. Of course those tours are their own little mini crowds so I really don't know what you are skipping. I paid $35 over the internet for my reservation. I was booked for late afternoon. My last day in Rome was going to be spent with the thing I dislike most about traveling. Group tours.

I got up that morning and decided to walk down to the Vatican Museum entrance to see where I was supposed to meet my guide later that day. I didn't want to arrive and go to the wrong place and miss my tour. The web page where I booked the tour warned if you are late you will be left behind. It was only a couple of blocks from my hotel so it would not take me long. When I arrived there was no line at the entrance. The ticket office was open. There were people there buying tickets and going directly inside the museum. The entrance price was $17. Guess what? I decided to not worry about the losing the $35 reservation fee I had paid in advance. I just walked up to the ticketing area, not having to "skip any lines", bought my ticket, and was on my way to a morning tour of the museum and then my chance to see the Sistine Chapel. It was somewhat crowded inside and there were many tour groups who chose to skip the nonexistent lines. I passed by most of them as their guides droned on and on and then some self important person would take time to ask asinine questions. Oh I was glad I was not with them.

Everything inside the museum was beautiful. Even the stair case was a work of art.

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And by the stair case, for those of us who were not in a group following a droning guide to warn us, there was a sign letting us know not to fall on the stairs. How convenient.

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Could have been me....the guided tours.

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I passed the slow moving guided tours and continued my journey. The walls, the ceilings, every part of the museum was beautiful and a piece of art in itself.

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And then finally I arrived. Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel. I had been wanting to see this ever since taking an 8th grade art class trip to see Charlton Heston paint the ceiling in the movie The Agony and The Ecstasy. I even wrote an entire blog about the experience of seeing the ceiling three years ago right after I got home.

Mark, who I wished was there, had told me he was not overwhelmed with the Sistine Chapel when he saw it was a teenager after his high school graduation. He warned me that it was just a crowded box shaped room with Michelangelo's God touching Man way up over head. As I entered the crowded box shaped chapel I was wondering what my experience would be. It was crowded. People were pushing to get inside. And I was only allowed a short time to take in the experience as the guards tried to keep the crowd moving.

And there it was. I was directly under it in the middle of the chapel and it was breath taking. All I wanted was one quick photograph, without flash of course. There were signs saying no photographs. But people all around me were sneaking out their cell phones and small camera's to get a quick photo. And I was not leaving without taking one also. I cautiously took my camera out of the camera bag. I lifted the camera just over my head for the photo and someone taps me on my shoulder. It was a security guard and he said no photos. I looked around and many others taking photos were being ignored. So I waited and when he turned his back I took the photo. And of course he caught me. He tapped me again and said firmly. Put the camera away...NOW.

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Just behind me was Michelangelo's final judgement and I really wanted a photo of that also. I snapped it quickly and then saw the guard looking at me from across the room. I showed him from a distance I was putting my camera away and then quickly made my exit.

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I don't know what I would have done if I had gotten into serious trouble with the guard. How would I explain long distance to Mark that I had been thrown out of the Vatican Museum because I didn't take my guided tour and I needed extra cash for a fine. Luckily that did not happen.

Leaving the museum the view of St. Peter's was beautiful and much different from observing it from front in St. Peter's Square.

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I left The Vatican and the crowds and the guards behind and had to chuckle to myself because I do tend to get into trouble when I am alone. It was extremely hot on this day and I need to take a break and cool down. There was a really nice little cafe just across the street from the museum entrance. I stopped in for something to cool to drink and then noticed they had watermelon on the menu. What a perfect way to relax and cool off and also take a silly selfie.

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So there I am with a quartered slice of watermelon, a mirror behind me, and my cell phone. I probably should have used that cell phone in the Sistine Chapel. I probably would not have been noticed at all.

I went back to my hotel to shower and get a change of clothes as it had been very hot and I was a bit sweaty. I put away my little white hat I had bought to wear in Rome and broke out my Baltimore Oriole's baseball cap. I was slowly preparing to return home. I went to lunch in the neighborhood and to my surprise I found a craft beer. I had not seen any craft beers the entire time I had been in Rome. So I was excited to get something other than a Peroni.

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My last lunch in Rome was a bit melancholy. I still had a dinner coming up later in the evening but something about lunch set me back a little. I started thinking about how much Mark and I had looked forward to this trip. And I felt awful that his father was ill and also that Mark had to stay home. I looked over at the empty chair sitting in front of me and took a photo. This was Mark's chair. And I ordered him a glass of wine and sent him a silent toast and a thanks.

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And then suddenly this typical tourist couple walked past me. I am sure they were part of one of the "skip the line" tour from the Sistine Chapel. And I just got the sillies. I had to giggle. So much for sentiment. Here is what I saw as they passed by me.

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I sure hope Jack didn't lose her.

I went out that evening for my last meal in Rome. I stayed in the neighborhood. I found a delightful little pizzeria named La Tavernella.

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One more glass of wine...

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...One more plate of pasta...

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...And one more Italian waiter.

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And the vacation was over. Arrivederici Roma!

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Posted by littlesam1 21:53 Archived in Italy Tagged italy rome michelangelo the_vatican the_vatican_museum Comments (4)

O Solo A Roma - Alone in Rome

My first two days alone exploring Rome


View O Solo Roma July 2016 on littlesam1's travel map.

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Just my cap on the bed. Alone at Hotel Relais dei Papi in Rome

I don't mind traveling alone. I've done it on many occasions. Mark and I had planned a trip to Rome. We were very excited about it. We have talked about it for years. I had never been to Rome. Mark had been in Rome when he was eighteen and traveled there with his sister when he graduated from high school. We really wanted to go together so he could show me all of the places he visited with his sister. His sister died very young in her forties. So there was a lot of nostalgia for him going back to Rome. Mark is Italian and he speaks Italian fluently. So I was also looking forward to watching him talk to the waiters and bartenders in Italian. We really had planned a very special and romantic vacation to Rome. But things don't always go as planned. Mark's parents were both elderly and having major health issues. Just a couple of weeks before our planned trip his father took very ill with pneumonia and was hospitalized. With only one child still living his parents needed him home so there is no way we could do the holiday together. Do to some complications with our travel insurance we were unable to cancel without losing a lot the money we had paid in advance. So we decided I would go alone to Rome and not lose the entire investment in the trip. I hated going without him and although not thrilled with losing the money on his part of the trip he was very supportive of me going. That brings me to this holiday in Rome I called The O Solo A Roma Trip.

Day One In Rome - Exploring the neighborhood

Rome had never been on one of my must see lists. I had not really thought much about Rome at all. I had lots of thoughts about Rome but they did not include visiting it. I had read many times online and in guide books that Rome is well know for petty theft and pick pockets. I had one friend who was in Rome for an extended period tell me how her husband was pick pocketed within an hour after arriving in Rome. She told me if you've never been pick pocketed then you've never been to Rome. I had also read it's always very crowded with tourists. There are lines for everything. So Rome was always on the back burner for me, someplace I would see someday but not today.

I was very conscious of being alone. With my history of bizarre accidents when I travel I was somewhat concerned what might happen to me if I had any problems and no one there with me. Suppose I tripped and injured myself, which I have done in the past. Suppose I do get pick pocketed and lose my credit cards? I would be alone with no one else near with money. So I was extremely cautious when I first arrived. Then I took a walk my first afternoon in Rome. Just a few blocks from my hotel I found Piazza del Popolo.

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And with that Rome had captured me. I forgot all about my concerns and doubts. Rome was beckoning me. And then I saw this restaurant in the Piazza and they had this excellent wine and pizza.

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At Trattoria Ciampini, First pizza in Rome and first of many glasses of wine for one

I returned to my room happy and full. I was ready to conquer Rome. And then I realized I had lost my credit card. My first day. The art, the piazza, the pizza, the wine. It all distracted me. I let down my guard. It all worked out though. It was my error not Romes. I immediately called my credit card company and notified them and then went on to my back up credit card the rest of the trip. Then before falling asleep I texted Mark to let him know about my first day adventures He asked me if I had gone to Trastevere, his favorite section of Rome. I had not. So he said make sure to get there tomorrow.

Day Two - My first full day in Rome. St, Peter's Square. Food and Selfie Sticks

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My second day in Rome I walked to St. Peters Square. It was only a few blocks from my hotel which was convenient for me. I was expecting massive crowds. I went early and it was not crowded at all. I had plenty of time and space for photos and selfies. You never quite get over that first glimpse of St. Peters Basilica.

Everywhere I looked there were sculptures. There were nuns. There were Swiss guards in colorful uniforms. It truly was awe inspiring

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Leaving St. Peter's Square it was time for some lunch. I found a small restaurant just across the river from Vatican City called Mela Stregata, Mela stranslates to apple and the pizzeria was decorated with a Disney Snow White Theme dealing with the evil queen and the apple. Not what I was expecting in Rome near the Vatican but interesting to say the least.

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So there I sat surrounded by Snow White's woods drinking wine and eating lasagna.

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The lasagna was very good. So I guess Snow White must have a little Italian in her ancestry. Leaving the restaurant I had a car stop next to curb and the driver called out to me. He asked for help locating something on his map. I had just been approached by my first scam artist in Rome. He offered me a leather coat from his store in Paris if I would be kind enough to help him locate a near by location on his map. Luckily for me this was the only scam artist I would see in Rome.

Castel Sant'Angelo was also nearby so this was my next stop. The views from the top of the castle were amazing.

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Castel Sant'Angelo

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Flemish sculptor Pieter Van Verschaffelt's bronze angel on top of Castel Sant'Angelo

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Viewing the River Tiber from the top of Castel Sant'Angelo

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Viewing Vittoriano from the top of Castel Saint'Angelo

There was a small cafe inside the Castel Sant'Angelo. And yes they did have wine.

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I did see some unusual things my second day in Rome. Nothing too shocking but still interesting.

I saw a bear begging for money near Castel Sant'Angelo

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I saw a man napping on a bench with a rubber duck on his stomach

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And I saw a blonde baby Jesus in a shop window.

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Because I was alone I made sure to take my selfie stick with me to make sure I could get photos of myself during the day I had a great deal of fun with it. I know they drive people crazy when you are in crowded tourist areas trying to use a selfie stick. But I am a tourist. And i was alone. So I ignored everyone who was offended. My first tries with the selfie stick came out a little awkward. Yes I know you are not supposed to see the stick in the photo. But I was just getting the hang of using it. I got better as the week progressed.

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I was still a little jet lagged from the time change so I had an early dinner before returning to my room for an early sleep. I had supper at Pizzeria San Marco. This was located very near my hotel. I had a delicious pasta with cheese and bacon and some wine of course. For dessert I had an excellent panacota with another shot of grappa. A pattern is forming here. Good food, good wine, and a shot of grappa to end my day.

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I ended my day back in my room. I took some time to text with Mark and tell him all about my day and what I had seen. He had lots of questions and was very excited for all I had seen. He asked me again did you go to Trastevere. I had not. He insisted that I make sure to go there. We had this same conversation every evening when we chatted. After talking to Mark I reviewed my thoughts on the day and I was glad to find that I had not lost any credit cards. I had avoided getting ripped off by the con artist with the leather coats. And then I looked at my camera bag and there was no selfie stick attached. I had lost it. My first full day in Rome and my selfie stick was gone.

Posted by littlesam1 08:20 Archived in Italy Tagged italy rome wine the_tiber grappa castel_sant'angelo selfie selfie_stick the_vatican Comments (8)

Memories from 8th Grade Art History to Rome in 2016

Enjoying Rome in 2016 with the eyes of an 8th grade student from 1965


View O Solo Roma July 2016 on littlesam1's travel map.

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Surrounded by art in The Vatican Museum - Rome 2016

My father could sketch a little. My cousin Junior, his nephew, was an artist who did beautiful water color landscapes. My brother's daughter Amanda draws beautiful portraits. My sister could draw a little. My ex wife drew very well. My daughter Katie is an excellent artist. The Sampson's had artistic genes. MY MOTHER COULD NOT DRAW. She had absolutely no talent at all for drawing. My Aunt Louise, my mother's sister, could not draw. My mother's mother, my beloved /grandmother had no artistic talent at all. The Roth's could not draw. My name may be Sampson but the lack of artistic ability is pure Roth. I can not draw anything. Even my stick men look like a five year old drew them.

My two nightmares in school were gym and art class. I could not catch a soft ball or throw a football. I was raised in a holiness church and I can you now I experienced sanctification praying to the Holy Spirit to keep that softball away from me in the outfield. Whoever said you can't pray in school never stood next to me in gym class. Had it rained every time I prayed for rain on gym day my home town would have been washed down the Chesapeake Bay many years ago. My junior high and high school gym teachers were good men. They never made fun of me or made me feel inadequate. Although I already felt that way they never encouraged it. I always was graded a B in gym class. Years later I talked with one of my gym teachers and asked him why he always gave me a B. Obviously I was not a B student. He told me "You always came to class. You wore your gym suit and you took a shower. And you never gave me a problem."

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My 8th grade octapus aka a camera on a tripod

My seventh grade art teacher was never so kind. She knew I had no artistic ability. She knew her assignments were way beyond anything I could do. And she never gave me a break. She assigned us paper mache animals. We had to use coat hangers, newspaper and wheat paste to create animals. I was in a panic. Other students were already molding the shapes of horses and dogs and even fish. I decided an octopus would be easy. I took four coat hangers and a ball of newspaper and formed my octopus. Of course an octopus has eight tentacles and mine only had four. But I knew I could never mange bending eight arms into place. My teacher never corrected me until I was finished and we had to present our projects to the class. When I presented mine she asked "What is that?" I said an octopus. She said it has four legs and looks like a camera on a tripod. I just wanted to crawl under the table and hide. Another time she assigned us to make mosaics. We had to draw a picture and color it with pieces of construction paper mosaic style. Once again I was in panic mode. I could never draw a picture much less color it with pieces of colored paper mosaic style. I ended up drawing a big head much like the heads on my stick figures. I gave it a large head of hair that flipped up on the ends. I was making That Girl which was a current hit TV series back in the those days. When she was grading the finished project once again I was asked "What is this?" I said "That Girl". She told me "That is not any girl I have ever seen." I have a feeling if my gym teacher had been there he would have understood exactly who it was and why I made it and would have graded me his usual B.

My eighth grade art teacher was the best. She knew not all of us were talented but she assigned projects we could at least try to work on with some success. She also taught us about art history. She taught us about the appreciation of art not just the creation of it. We were a small rural school. Going to Baltimore City was a big journey for most people in my home town. Mrs. Smith, the art teacher took us on a field trip to Baltimore to see The Agony and The Ecstasy, the movie about Michelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel. I was fascinated with the movie. I learned about the great artists of the period and got to see their masterpieces. And this little gay boy also got to see Charlton Heston in a toga through most of the movie. I was spellbound. So there I sat watching every stoke of his hand and every movement of Charlton Heston recreating this great Michelangelo's masterpiece. We were in the huge and beautiful Mayfair Theater in Baltimore. Everything about this experience spoke to the little boy from Havre de Grace, Maryland. Sadly now the Mayfair Theater sits in a shambles in the inner city of Baltimore. I have taken photos of it on several occasions still remembering the school field trip.

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I made my first visit to Rome in July 2016 fifty years after junior high school art class. The appreciation for classic art that I learned from Mrs. Smith has remained with me all of these years. When I travel. I want to experience the food and the art from the location I am visiting. So Rome as a dream come true. From the wine, to the pasta, to the Bernini angels I overdosed in Roman culture. The highlight was on my last day in Rome when I finally go to see the Sistine Chapel and Michelangelo's masterpiece. The room was crowded. People were standing shoulder to shoulder with no room to move. But I didn't mind the crowds. I was back at the Mayfair Theater and twelve years old again. I could see how Michelangelo created the scaffolding and climbed to the top of chapel exhausted to finish the finger tip of God touching Adam. There were signs posted saying no photography. But there were people snapping cell phone photos all around me. I didn't want a cell phone photo though. I wanted a real photo for this special moment. So I worked my way to the center of the room and lifted my camera up, with no flash, to take my photo.

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My photo from the Sistine Chapel - July 2016

I had my moment. Actually only a second. I was tapped on my shoulder by a security guard and was told no photos allowed. I explained I did not use a flash. He said very abruptly "Turn it off." When he left I turned quickly to sneak a photo of the back wall which had Michelangelo's The Last Judgment. As I snapped the photo the guard returned and said to me "Turn off NOW." So I did. And I departed the chapel after having a very special moment with the arts. I can't help but feel my seventh grade art teachers spirit was guiding that guard to me just to harass me once more. But my eight grade art teacher was there also standing next to me smiling.

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Michelangelo's Final Judgement in the Sistine Chapel

Posted by littlesam1 06:24 Archived in Italy Tagged art italy rome michelangelo sistine_chapel the_vatican the_final_judgement school_memories the_agony_and_the_ecstasy charleton_heston mayfair_theater_baltimore_maryl Comments (5)

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