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March 31, 2006 - Friday - We fly out of Tripoli to Rome in the afternoon and check into our deluxe hotel, the Grand Palazzo Carpegna. Our bus that meets us at the airport is also deluxe: a Mercedes with lots of room (since several of our group left us in Tripoli to return home directly). The hotel rooms in the Grand Palazzo Carpegna are tiny, but very well appointed. In retrospect, this turns out to be the best accommodation we have in the two week trip.

Before dinner a few of us gather in the hotel lounge and have a couple of drinks over stories of our Libyan adventure.  These drinks are somewhat of an event, considering we have just traveled a week in a dry country. The strongest drink you could order in Libya was an espresso!

Coastal area, Trapani, Sicily
enroute from Tripoli to Rome

Mount Etna, Sicily
enroute from Tripoli to Rome

Grand Palazzo Carpegna hotel, Rome

New Smart sports car parked at the Grand Palazzo Carpegna hotel, Rome

Our bus picks us up at 8pm this evening, and we proceed to Castel Gondolfo for a tour of the Vatican Observatory.

Joe eating pizza in RomeApril 1, 2006 - Saturday - We had a very nice buffet breakfast this morning before being picked up by our bus and taken to Vatican City. Our guide met us there , and then we proceeded to St. Peter's Basilica. After Vatican City, we boarded our bus in an underground parking lot, and then our driver and tour guide took us on a whirlwind tour of the central part of Rome. This was absolutely useless in my opinion, but at least it took less than an hour. Once we were dropped off, our guide gave us a short walking tour of the centre of Rome, which was more interesting and useful. The best part was after our guide left us at the Trevi Fountain. Our group split up to walk the city of Rome. Three others and myself formed a group and the first thing we did was find a restaurant and have some lunch. I had pizza, which was very good. After lunch, we walked the immediate area.

Ponte Vittorio Emanuele II as seen from Ponte Amedeo as we cross the Tiber River

Roman aquaduct, Rome

View of the Domus Augustana or the Domus Flavia across the Circus Maximus, Rome

Roman Colosseum, Rome

Roman Colosseum, Rome

The National Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II, Rome

Two statues and the grand staircase, west side of the National Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II

The Pantheon, Rome

aka Basilica di Santa Maria ad Martyres

The Pantheon, Rome

A shaft of light from the hole in the Pantheon dome, Rome

Inside the Pantheon, inlaid marble floors & marble columns, Rome

Trevi Fountain, Rome

Roman ruins in Rome

Traiano Column & Forum, Rome

Traiano Forum, Rome

Basilica Santi Cosma Damiano

Entrance, Basilica Santi Cosma Damiano

The Sanctuary, Basilica Santi Cosma Damiano

Fresco, vaulted ceiling, Basilica Santi Cosma Damiano

The big apsis in front, with the mosaics behind: the parousia of Christ, between the saints, Basilica Santi Cosma Damiano

Three chapels, pews in sanctuary, 2 confessionals, pulpit, Basilica Santi Cosma Damiano

Roman Forum


Roman Forum, Rome

Arch of Titus, Roman Forum

Arch of Septimus Severus, Basilica Julia and Column of Phocas to right, Roman Forum

Arch of Septimus Severus, Basilica Julia and Column of Phocas, Temple of Saturn, Roman Forum


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