From airports, to security, to airports, to more security, our first day in the Italy trip was quite the blur. After a bump in the road getting all of our passports and confirmations set straight in Norfolk, we took the short flight to Atlanta, where “deicing” is apparently quite the process-a two hours-on-the-runway kind of process. 9 hours and five episodes of “How to Get Away With Murder” later we landed in the busy airport of Rome-finally! Among the numerous surprises were: indoor pigeons (a true terror); coffee vending machines; and, later, an accordion playing gyspie woman on a metro.
Next stop: the convent! Our enthusiasm took a slight hit from the miles of uphill walking across cobblestone and stairs, but the sights were amazing! On the way, the Vatican wall casually barred us from an entire different country. Insane Italian drivers ignoring all sidewalks, pedestrians, cars, and essentially all things not asphalt were a sight to see as well. This entire confusing path to our saving grace at the convent was led by Emmaline, who handled the chaos pretty well and led all 16 of our group to the Casa D’Accoglienza Tabor.
Finally, the main event of the day: St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museum. Our “friend” Rick Steves narrated detailed journeys through breathtaking sights you normally only see in the movies. The golden ceilings, Sistine Chapel, and (pretty much) everything in St. Peter’s were of a caliber we had never seen before. They definitely left a lasting impact; NA’s archway has never seemed tinier. The constant traveling to all of the sights was wrapped up with dinner at another local convent, with a four course meal of lasagna, bread, salad, fruit, etc . We eventually finished the colossal meal and struggled home to thankfully crash on our beds. The next day’s attractions: the Colosseum and the underground view of a Roman villa!