Aug 8, 1961 - Europe 1961    No Comments

Rome, Day 1

It looks as if we’ve had nothing but troubles with these travel agents. In Paris – the hotel reservations; to Avignon – no Pullman; in Cannes – the tour we missed wasn’t cancelled – the courier absolutely no help at the airport; and now this morning, the tour we were ready to take at 9 o’clock passed us up & after several buses, we arrived at the Vatican at something like 10:30 to see a line of thousands.

Harry and I left the tour & went to St. Peter’s which we toured by ourselves, for over an hour. It was thoroughly enjoyable – really uplifting – saw the Pieta by Michelangelo – it was lovely. Went on a wild goose chase around the Vatican to try to see the Sistine Chapel but the crowd was still thick & we were advised against it. Went by bus to Piazza de Popolo, walked to Spanish Plaza. By then we were so hot & tired, we caught a cab to the hotel. Incidentally, we were told later the Vatican was overly crowded today due to being closed on Sunday & a funeral Monday for a Cardinal.

Lunched and set out on afternoon tour which was not too interesting. Church of St. Mary Maggiore (Major), St. John of the Lateran, the Catacombs, Appian Way & past a number of other points of interest.

Harry wanted to look again at some wine presses he happened to see yesterday. We found them and with the Berlitz & much gesticulation, learned that we could buy one in Milano & have it shipped – but not from here.

Drinks at the hotel with A & J and supper at Borghese Palace at a restaurant Casina ValadierEvery Hollywood movie from 'Three Coins in the Fountain' to the 'Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone' had a scene set here: a splendid pavilion set in the Villa Borghese park and designed by the great neoclassical architect Giuseppe Valadier. Fronted by an Empire-elegant portico and home to grand salons that once welcomed King Farouk of Egypt, Richard Strauss, Gandhi, and Mussolini. Ate a good meal on a balcony overlooking the city – the park all around very lovely.

Went on another wild goose chase in a cab – first to Basilica Ulpia, which was closed, then across town towards Belvedere della Rome. But it was too far & looked as if it would have taken all night so we returned to Doney’s for a nightcap.

 

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