Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Le Guistianana to Rome June 16

                                                                          Current Day.                         Trip to Date

Distance Walked-  miles.                                        12.8                                    464.9            

Gross climb- feet.                                                    490                                   35,276

Song of the Day:   Graceland, by Paul Simon

I am following the river 
Down the highway 
Through the cradle of the civil war 
I'm going to Graceland 
In Memphis Tennessee 
I'm going to Graceland 
Poor boys and pilgrims with families 
And we are going to Graceland 
But I've reason to believe 
We both will be received 
In Graceland 

Graceland: America's cultural Vatican....

We arrived in Rome late Monday morning and managed to find our way to the Pilgrim's office at the Vatican.  We were then issued our Testimonium for completing a minimum of the last 150 kilometers of the Via Francigena.  We have walked more than 750 kilometers of the via Francigena so far and have perhaps another 300 kilometers that we will walk over the next few weeks.  Here is a photo of the certificate I received.  Linda has one as well.

The Vatican is very, very busy with tour groups.  While the Vatican has always been popular for tourists, it would seem as though the new Pope has generated a lot enthusiasm for the Catholic church.  All the stores are selling lots of souvenirs with Pope Francis.  

Shortly after we received our Testimonium, the skies opened up and it began pouring down rain.  Perhaps a celebration ceremony from the Roman any case, the lost poncho from Saturday is coming back to haunt me!  We bought a cheap ass poncho that hawkers were selling on the street.  Basically a low quality garbage bag, which the were selling by the 100's for $8 each.  Of course, it leaked.  We will need to find a better solution for the Alps. 

On Monday, we toured St Peters basilica.  We have been here several times before, but it's staggering every time we see it.  One new thing since the last time we were here is the tomb of Pope John Paul II.  We also came upon the famous Swiss guard who protect the Vatican.  If you were some street thug in Oakland, would you be afraid of a policeman wearing a uniform like this?!

Here is a late afternoon shot of St Prter's square after all the crowds had left.  This is more or less from where the Pope speaks.  It is certainly an impressive place.

On Monday, we stayed at a hotel near the Vatican.  On Tuesday we will move to a hotel right next to the Pantheon in Rome for Tuesday and Wed evening nights.   The forecast is for continued shower activity over the next several days.

On Monday evening, we ended up having dinner at a restaurant where there was an opera singer entertaining the guests, most of whom were a large tourist group from Denmark.  We had a good meal and great entertainment.

For the next two days, we will be touring around Rome and hopefully getting lots of good rest for the next segment of our journey.  On Thursday, I will post a quick summary of touring Rome (here's a hint: nice hotel,  lots of people, beautiful sites and it rained a lot!).  We fly to Geneva Thursday morning at 8:30, so will be leaving our hotel very early on Thursday.

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