Friday, June 20, 2008

Italy - Day 9

The final walking-tour day of Rome began with a visit to the Basilica di San Pietro in Vincoli, inside of which lives Michelangelo's sculpture of Moses, as well as (of course) a magnificent ceiling painting and other wall ornamentation.

A mere 200 metres away from the church we arrived at the Colisseum, where we were met by Alberto (our tour guide from several days ago). We equipped ourselves with some schnazzy little walkie talkie receivers (to hear his every word) and set out on the adventure.

The tour was fairly quick, the monolithic nature of the building awe-some, and soon we were on our way to the Forum, where Alberto led us around for over an hour, pointing out the historic sights... My memory couldn't take it all, there was so much all in one small place!

After Aberto left us Mrs. Vitt continued the guided tour, revealing yet more undiscovered places in and around the forum before breaking for lunch.

Following food, we came to the Museo Nazionale Romano, another nearby museum featuring an entire floor of amazingly amazing (and by that I mean large and almost entirely complete) mosaics, as well as two floors of various busts and statues, including the famous Discobolo statue.

After a short bus ride, our next stop was the Trevi fountain, where the students were given a brief period of free time to shop, grab gelato, and, of course, throw a coin over their left shoulder into the fountain (doing so is said to bring the coin-thrower good luck in returning to Rome some day; the coins in the fountain are collected monthly and donated to charity). During the free time Mrs. Vitt also acquired a nice looking, red street-Prada purse, over which she remained giddy for the entire rest of the evening.

Our Italian adventure's final landmark visit was the Spanish Steps, where, upon arrival, we were immediately accosted by no fewer than four street vendors selling postcards, roses, noise makers, bubble blowers, and many other random things. After a brief period of time at the steps, our weary travelers returned to the hotel to freshen up and change before our fancy dinner (yes, at least one boy actually wore a suit!).

Dinner was delicious, and emotional. First, the food: risotto, followed by salmon and potatoes... Absolutely wonderful (at least, most of the adults seemed to think so, and I saw more than a few empty plates amongst the kids, too).

During the dinner, we took time to applaud for and thank both Sergio and Michelle for all their hard work in making everything come together so smoothly; To Michelle the group all contributed to buy her a pair of nice earings she had been eyeing a few days ago at the shell store-she definitely got a little teary eyed.

Sergio received a bag of Minnesota trinkets, including a mug with loon picture, several postcards, and a packet of mix for wild rice soup. He took a few moments to offer his thanks to the group, as well, and said he'd truly enjoyed his time spent with us over the last week and a half. The kids all loved him, I think we'll all miss him very much.

At the end of dinner we were entertained by some very skilled opera singers, who performed several classic Italian songs for us while we clapped and took pictures. Following the performance, the group enjoyed our last gelato excursion of this trip and then came back to the hotel to begin the arduous task of packing. Wake up is 6:00 tomorrow, we'll leave for the airport by private coach at 7:15. Our flight is schedule to depart Rome at 10:20.

This will likely be the last update I send to this list, I hope you feel you were able to get at least a small glimpse of what our journey has been like. Thanks for reading!

Quotes of the Day:

"Hey look, that big round thing" - Mari, as we approached the Colisseum

"Now I am full of cholestoral and happy." - Sergio, after eating sushi and gelato

"If you think your country is strange you should come to our country!" - Jenny Finch, after Sergio's goodbye speech

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