Sunday morning, the 18th began with mass at the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore which was just down the street from the inn we were staying in.
It was gorgeous. Especially the mosaics lining the church that have been there since just before the fall of Rome. The service was in a mix of Latin and Italian. It was beautiful, but sitting there in that service made me so thankful for men like John Wycliffe, Martin Luther, and Pope Paul VI who fought for an English Bible and for church services/mass to be in the vernacular of the people. I think it is so cool to experience worship in other languages, but none sits as closely to my heart as praising my Creator in my own language. 🙂
We grabbed a quick bite at Cottini (pic at the top left – my favorite sandwich bread of the trip! SO good!) then walked to the metro to head back to Vatican City. Along the way I snapped some shots of Rome. The pretty apartments that reminded me of the houses from Full House, the graffitied “no enter” sign (is that not hilarious?!), old doors, and one of Romes many public fountains. Rome’s water was deeee-lish!
We arrived at Vatican City just in time to hear Pope Francis begin addressing the crowd. He finished by reciting the Angelus and blessing those present. Christopher and I are not Catholic, but so far I like this particular Pope. As a man who has SO much influence in the World, I especially love his passion for the poor and the awareness he brings to their plight.
After the Angelus, we hopped on the metro and went back to the Colosseum one last time. We walked around and took pictures and then just sat and stared at it. We saw it multiple times a day while in Rome and we never got tired of it. It is just so cool. By the way, like the clash of “old and new” in the photo with the traffic light with the Colosseum behind it? I liked that one. 🙂 And the photo on the bottom right is of the Via Sacra (Rome’s ancient main road) right by the Colosseum. It was so cool to see it all one last time.
Us headed to the train station to leave our sweet Rome. Seeing SPQR for the last time. 😦 By the way, that’s the one bag that we were living out of this entire trip. Be impressed, be very impressed (we certainly were, haha!). Most exciting for Christopher was that we found him sweet tea in the Rome train station. He was so excited, haha!
Italian country side as we rode by on the train. 🙂 My thoughts from the journal as we left my sweet Rome: “On the train to Venice now. We just left Rome and I miss it already! Oh Bella Roma, I just loved you! The history on every corner, the friendly people, the delicious gelato, the romantic city you are, and the way you point to God on every street corner. I hope I see you again someday!”
We arrived in Venice just as the sun was setting which turned out to be perfect. We listened to Rick Steve’s audio tour guide of the Grand Canal as we were ferried along. It was so cool to hear about all the famous places we were passing as we went. And the sites were fascinating.
Parts of the Grand Canal were still gorgeous in their prestige, but many were falling apart from years of disrepair and flooding. The actual population of Venice is dwindling quickly and many businesses have been taken over by people who have come in to capitalize on this touristy destination. In some ways the entire city of Venice is nearly like a museum already. But do you see how the buildings seem to nearly float on water? Venice is lovely. And again, like everything we saw on this trip that we’ve known about our whole lives… it was surreal to float down that Grand Canal.
Venice may be lovely, but our hotel Locanda Al Leon was less than lovely, ha! To be totally truthful, it wasn’t that bad. Just a bit outdated. It was clean, but the carpet looked like it had seen better days (like when it was installed a couple of decades ago). The good news was that we had chosen to stay right off of St Mark’s Square which was the ideal location for us since we were only in Venice for a day. 🙂
After checking into our hotel we went out in search of something delicious to eat! We found Birreria Pedavena and were not disappointed! The spaghetti bolognese and seafood pasta were both delicious and the waiters were really kind and helpful with our questions. 🙂
St Mark’s Church and Square at night. There is a sweet romantic atmosphere here late at night with music, lights, and dancing. We definitely enjoyed this. 🙂 Tomorrow I will share the rest of our 24 hours in Venice!