During the entire time I was in Italy this past trip, I didn't really leave Florence as many times as I thought I would. I really was just so captured by the energy of the Renaissance city this time, the people I met, and stayed busy with what I was studying, that the time flew by without my previously-planned mini trips.
Besides a couple trips up the hill outside Florence to visit a friend in the village of Fiesole, I just made it to Rome a couple times. The first was for a spontaneous day trip with my yoga teacher to participate in a workshop being offered by a well-known Ashtanga teacher in Rome. So after catching the super early morning train, and arriving in Rome just in time to rush to the class, the afternoon was free to roam and see a few sites before the return train to Florence.
We met up with my friend Arlene for lunch and (of course) gelato, then headed to the Vatican. It was actually a lovely time to go as the Sunday mass was in session. Because St. Peter's is so enormous, people were still walking everywhere, and just a small area at the front was filled with those actually attending mass. I stood for a while just taking in the etherial choir voices and watching the sunlight stream in through the dome and window openings. One milky beam was actually illuminating the choir area, as if it was a spotlight. For a few minutes I closed my eyes, just took it in, and forgot where I was.
Next was a walk through my favorite areas of the center...past Piazza Navona and through the Pantheon square (even taking a quick stop to look inside). This structure, everytime, is my favorite in Rome. Then after squeezing through the always-packed Fountain of Trevi and a few more cobblestone alleyways, we were back among the ancient ruins of the Forum and Colosseum...and finally the Termini once again for the return train.
I know I've said this before, but Rome never ceases to fill me with a sense of awe each and every time I visit. This time was no exception. And I still had one more day in the Eternal City before heading back to the States...