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Travels with Anna Mary

Part III

Anna Mary’s adventures
during her 1956 European tour continue as she sees more of Rome and tastes fine cuisine.

After breakfast, our guide Tina, took us to the Vatican Museum. We went quickly through some of the rooms where collections of paintings, old things from catacombs, etc. are kept. She told us about some of the important paintings. I have seen prints of many, many of the paintings, but I was completely unprepared for the quantity of color and design in some of the rooms. Every inch of wall and ceiling is covered with design! The ceilings are vaulted and this naturally breaks it into sections. Each section is devoted to one idea (or painting), but all the parts are connected with abstract borders and lesser groups of paintings. The paintings are really frescoes since they were put into the plaster while it was still wet. I was surprised at the beauty of the colors—their richness and clear quality. We spent much of our time in the Sistine Chapel where Michelangelo’s paintings of the “Creation of Man” and the “Last Judgment” are.

After we had seen the Sistine Chapel, we went to four rooms of Raphael’s paintings. The colors were beautiful, but the subjects sometimes gruesome. There were mobs of people there too, with all different languages being spoken.

We went to the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. Some of the other places we saw were the Arches of Tito and Constantine, the Palatine Hill and the Basilica of Mary Maggiore. This church was quite different from St. Peter’s but still of the same period. I remember the ceiling was carved with 22k gold in a rich, abstract design. We also visited the small church which had Michelangelo’s Moses—a large statue that we could touch on the knee and receive a blessing.

By the way, the food is really wonderful. I was concerned before I left home about being able to get what I could eat, but I have no worries now. If the food during the rest of the trip turns out to be half as good, I will be OK. Aside from breakfast, we have four-course meals. Lunch usually starts with something like real spaghetti, cheese rarebit, or noodles with sauce. Then comes veal stew, or cold cuts, or roast beef with potatoes and another vegetable. After this, cheese, then maybe ice cream and/or fruit. Dinner is similar to lunch except there is usually soup to begin with and meat is hot always (steak, roast, etc.) and a richer dessert and fruit. The fruits are delicious! We’ve had French figs, transparent plums larger than ours, the best small, sweet pears, oranges, and luscious peaches!

The table service is quite different from ours. We have been lucky about water. We have it on the table at meal time, but I am told this is unusual. Hard rolls and butter are on the table, and then the first course is served. All food, except soups, are brought to the table on huge trays, and the waiters use a large spoon and fork in one hand to serve each person his portion.

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