Yesterday was great. We woke up early (for once) around 7am. Took breakfast downstairs and off to the train station for the hour commute to Rome. We could not come here and not go to Vatican City. After a short subway ride, we returned to the streets to find the entrance to the Vatican Museums.
What a surprise. A combination of tourists and Italian nationals, but the line was VERY long. The entrance opens at 10am, but people start lining up around 8:30am. Despite being long, we only waited for 1½ hours to enter . As always, check out the photos cuz they tell the story better than I can. We spent about 1½ hours in the museum finishing with the Sistine Chapel. Despite fear of arrest, PJ even managed to take a couple of photos in the Chapel without the flash. This relegates him only to purgatory for a few years, not directly to hell.
After departing, we walked back to Piazza San Pietro for a few more outside photos before heaving for Piazza Navona. There is a national Italian lottery drawing on January 6th that pays five million euros. Lucia told me the lucky tickets come from here, so we found a place and bought one. Of course, that means I have to come back in January to pick up my prize. Oh well.
We headed back to the main shopping area (Via del Corso) to pick up some regali (means presents – Italian word of the day). Lots of people, tourist and otherwise. Turns out that the day after Christmas is also considered part of the holiday, but the day after is like in America. People are out shopping for bargains and returning unwanted gifts. What a surprise.
After success, we headed back to Piazza del Popolo to the train station for the hour ride home. The train was crowded at first, but as we left Rome center, there were more seats. PJ slept (what a surprise). I called Lucia to let her know when to expect us. Of course, she was waiting at the station with the car. Not necessary for us to walk (well, actually, as fat as we are it would have been a good idea.
When we returned, it was more sleep for PJ and internet updates for me. We have had very good fortune with the weather here and for travel. After, I went down to the kitchen to hang out with Zio Mario. Like us, he was feeling sad and asked us to stay longer. It was very nice because he asked me to sit with him by the fire, and we talked about everything and nothing. What it was like to be a kid in Italy during WW II. It was tough for Italians because they started out (well, what we would say) on the wrong side.
He talked about encounters with the Italian and German soldiers, and finally the relief from the Americans. He called it Fromaggio giallo, but that means yellow cheese, or as we call it, American Cheese. Made me want a grilled cheese and tomato soup, my favorite as a kid.
Soon it was time for dinner. Romano, Lucia, Rodolfo, Chiara, Zia e Zio plus the cousins, Argante and Sylvia. We had a blast. We talked a lot. Drank a lot of good wine. Romano has quite a collection. And simply enjoyed eachothers company with a little Italian and English. At one point, PJ remembered that we had the DVD from “If Walls Could Talk”. So, we subjected them to 30 minutes of purgatory watching me and PJ on TV. We laughed, but soon it was time to head to bed. Our last night in Rignano.
We slept well, and I woke early to start packing. It was not necessary because everything fit easily. We didn’t buy too much or bring too much. Zia Laura came over to say good-bye while we were having breakfast. Then, it was time to bring the bags down and go.
Oops, I forgot to mention that Vincenzo and Christina came by last night and brought a present for us. A beautiful hand painted Italian plate full of candy. Yea, for us. They also brought their photocard, so we could show you pictures from pizza dinner last Saturday. Two meters of pizza on the table for 12 of us. YUM! They are great friends, and we hope they can come to Maine soon.
Lucia drove us to the airport; was nice enough to see us through check-in and a final cigarette for PJ; then we said good-bye as I do for now. Ciao Italia!