SEPTEMBER 16-30, 2019

SEPTEMBER 16, 2019
We left the house this morning at 5:45am.  Carol and I had gotten up, showered, loaded the car including the Beaux and all of his stuff and headed to the Birmingham Airport, 79 miles away.  Can you believe there is a lot of traffic on the I-59 at this time?  
I am so grateful to Carol for doing this.  She is having a 2nd back procedure done on Wednesday, September 18.  It is a balloon cement procedure that will stabilize her L4/L5 discs and facilitate her acute compression fracture in the L5 disc to heal.  She is in real pain until the operation but still packed up and rode with me to the airport, dropped me off and drove through the morning traffic to her sister’s house in Hueytown.  We have been married for 51 years and 2 days and she has done the impossible all of these years.  I hated to leave her but everything was set on the trip so I left her in the good hands of her sister, Joan, and her niece, Marybeth, who is an outstanding nurse.  
It’s a long day to Rome.  I had a layover of about 7 hours in Atlanta.  Corey and Blanca Phillips arrived about 3:30pm in Atlanta and it didn’t take long for us to get on the plane and begin our 9 1/2 hour flight to Rome.  We are 2 1/2 hours into that flight now.  
We will be in Florence from 9/16 to our morning departure for Rome on 9/23.  We will return from Rome on Monday, 9/30.
We will tour Florence for two full days.  I love that city.  It is just beautiful.  Easy to walk. The river most of the time flows gently through the town.  Every street has a story.  Some important and some not.  I love the Duomo and the area where it is.  We will spend an extra day exploring Florence on our own.  In addition we will scour the countryside and visit Pisa, Lucca, Siena and several mountain top towns in Tuscany.  We don’t drink so we will miss the wine but we do eat and the food is marvelous.  
I’m setting up for our October 2020 Rome Tour and for anyone that wishes I can set them up to tour Florence on their on or with a guide and also some time in Tuscany.  I can recommend the things they would enjoy the most especially the food.  One great thing is that you walk so much you don’t gain weight!
Next stop will be Rome where we will stay at the Hotel Lancelot.  This little hotel is amazing.  I’ve been staying here every trip to Rome over the last 20 years and the owners and staff have become good friends, indeed much like family.  We love staying there and it will be our home base on the October 2020 Rome tour.  We will teach all the folks how to use the bus system, subways, taxis and Uber.  Carla Zaia, our guide is exceptionally good at art and art history and we will immerse ourselves in the key museums, Vatican, Forum, and amazing churches.  All of this in preparation for our October 2020 tour.  
While we are in Rome we take our dinners at the Lancelot.  Pharis the son of Mrs. Khan and now with his sister an owner in the hotel prepares gourmet meals each night.  After a 20,000 step day it is delightful to sit at table and dine on one of Pharis’ superb meals.  It is always a highlight.  
Well you have the outline of what we will be up to over the next two weeks.  I sure wish you were with us but for sure plan to come with us October  17-24, 2020.  
On the Atlantic off the cost of Halifax, about 200 miles north west of our position winging our way to Rome.  I love to follow the flight tracker.  I also need to take a nap.  More tomorrow after our first day touring from the airport to Florence via Orvieto where we will have our first pizza and our 3rd or 4th espresso.  
I’ve attached a poem written earlier in the day.  I’ve read Romans today and felt compelled to write about sin.  
We think highly of ourselves
Hiding our views from God
Denying the horror of our sin
Arguing “I’m just like him or her”
“I’m not as bad as them”
Thinking this will make it okay with our Father?
We think He is weak when it comes to us
Just do a few good things and the sin will go away
Help each one of us see Father
The evil we carry
Buried deep in our heart, impossible to root out
Revealed in the blink of an eye
If our interest is blocked
Our sin burden overwhelms us 
It is unbearable and drives us to drink and drug 
And many other unmentionable activities that we call play
We sin at every chance, thumbing our nose at God
The worst is when the sin stain is fresh
We look at God and cry
“It wasn’t me
I’m never like that at all”
O dear soul-stop your whining
Do not sin
Run to Jesus
There is forgiveness and restoration with Him
Only Jesus can solve our sin problem
He will give us a new heart
Christ will guide our feet so that we walk in His ways
And He will remember our sin “no more”
Clay Corvin 
September 16, 2019
Atlanta – Waiting on the plane to Rome, Italy
SEPTEMBER 17, 2019
IT was a crazy, hectic day today.  The airport in Rome is so full of people.  No signs.  Just go.  Amazingly the luggage was there when we got there to pick it up off the carousel.  Walked out and there was Giuseppe waiting on us.  
The ride from Rome to Orvieto was about 1 1/2 hours.  We talked about Lazio-the Latin Province of Rome, Umbria that is still very rural and rugged and then of course Tuscany.  Rome (Lazio) is the Province of the Umbrella Pine (Stone Pine) and when you cross the line from Umbria into Tuscany you are immediately impressed by the Italian Cypress trees of Tuscany.
Our apartment is on Via dell’Agnolo 73.  Loud, main thoroughfare just near Santa Croce.  No air but the price was right.  It does have an elevator and we are on the 4th floor.  Thank the Lord.  We have a supermarket just around the corner and a pharmacy nearby.  Tomorrow we will walk the city and visit at least 2 of the major museums in Florence-the Uffizi Galleries and Academia.  
September 18-Wednesday
Gosh It seems as though we’ve been here a long time and it’s not even 24 hours yet.  The weather will be hot today but looks like a cooling trend beginning tomorrow.  We will meet Giuseppe in about an hour and begin an in depth tour of Florence.  We had a great time with Giuseppe yesterday driving from the airport via Orvieto and Michelangelo Square to our apartment.  
Very loud from the traffic but seems bearable especially when I think of location, size, very large apartment with two very large bedrooms.  
I am grateful for this journey.  I’m thinking that these journeys are nearing a conclusion for me but my prayer is that in some small way I’m creating a world attitude at NOBTS.  It is so critical for our folks to have a world view.  Israel, Italy, Greece, Turkey and Egypt are so valuable for each one of our students to see.  
Carol’s procedure is today.  I’m praying for her right now.  She can’t drive for a week and will be with her sister in Hueytown.  Thank goodness for Joan, Jim and Marybeth.  They are a blessing for us.  Hopefully they will come with us on the October 17-24, 2020 Rome trip.  
Florence is a beautiful city.  About 400,000 population (53% female) vs. Rome’s population of about 2.8 million.  There is a certain beauty of Florence that seems to express itself all over the city from the Villas to the apartment buildings.  Lovely.  Just lovely.  
Our touring today involved an historical tour of Florence identifying the various parts of the city center and when they were built.  Most of the central city is built over Roman Ruins including many buildings that once were 200-300 feet towers but then later required to be lowered to not exceed 90 feet.  The best indication of the buildings age relates to whether it is built totally of stone, stone with plaster, and several other indicators including the type of windows whether the building is mathematical or built for beauty.  I must confess the the description of what was 1100’s, 1300’s, 1500’s and 1800’s escapes me now.  A lot of information.  What is memorable is that over the centuries the buildings added stuff on the outside, changed the windows and often were more spread out to a larger building.  One I’m thinking of was the Medici/Riccardi Palace built in the Renaissance and later expanded by the Riccardis.
Additionally, we toured the Uffizi Gallery.  1,586 paintings.  We looked at the key painters from the Medieval to thru the Renaissance and NeoClassical period.  This is the Medici family collection and is stunning for its depth and breadth of artists.  Giotto is certainly one of my favorites but then quickly so many others are superb.  They do have the Byzantine painters which have no depth but were used by the church from about 300-1100 or 1200 to tell the Biblical stories to an illiterate population.  
We walked all of the inner city.  We began at the coffee shop next to Santa Croce and and in a big circle, crisscrossing the inner city made our way to and thru the multitude of churches, villas, palaces, courtyards and other important structures including government buildings in Pizza Repubblica.  14,000 steps.  It would have been 20plus thousand in Rome!
I took too many pictures and will put a few together for you.  
Every trip I take it seems there is a myriad of aches and pains to deal with.  This trip is no exception.  I must say that the journey to where ever is so demanding and it takes me a day or two to get over the trip coming.  This trip is no different.  I was exhausted last night.  During the night I got several calls that woke me up but it wasn’t a problem as I went immediately back to sleep.  This morning not thinking when I got up, Google popped up with a preparation of all of the previous days pictures and they suggested people to send the link to and I did waking several folks at 2 central and 3 eastern am.  Sorry.  One must always be thinking.  
I am increasingly careful when I walk.  Lots of stones are loose and uneven and if you aren’t careful you wind up on the ground.  I’ve had two different trainers at the UofAlabama SRC.  They have worked hard on me developing my balance and core strength.  It has worked.  I feel a lot more confident in doing 14,000 and more steps in a day.  My knee at times is acting up and my shoulder is still anti-happy but other than that so far I’m fine.  
I love doing these trips.  It brings the biographies, Bible, and other books that we have read over our lifetime to life.  Especially the Bible.  It is so interesting to see the hand of God working in a people group even when the leadership of the church and society are evil.  It truly is the Lord’s world and it encourages me to know that He is coming back.  It would be hard for me to imagine living life without the activity of the Lord in my heart and path each day.  I would be in great trouble without the Lord.  Thank you Lord!
They just took Carol back for her procedure.  I will let you know when I hear.  
Thursday – September 19, 2019
Rainy, overcast day but we leave the apartment at 8:15 am with San Gimignano in our eyes.  Paola navigated the city to pick up the two folks from Michigan going with us and we were on our way on the Roman Road-Via Cassia out of Florence.  
San Gimignano is a small hill town in the province of Siena, Tuscany, north-central Italy.  It has retained its medieval style and all buildings have to retain basically the style they originally had.  The town originally had 72 towers and currently has 14.  Driving up a dirt back-road into town with a stop at a scenic look up it appeared like a mini New York City.  What a skyline.  I remember in March of 2008 Carol and I came here in the snow (it never snows in the Elsa Valley) and the entire skyline was pure white with snow.  Even without the snow it is magnificent.  
San Gimignano is beloved because of its skyline of medieval towers. Though a unique sight today, pointy skylines were the norm in Tuscany in the Middle Ages, when feuding noble families ran the hill towns (think Montagues and Capulets). Each family had its own private army that would periodically battle things out from the protection of its respective family towers. While some were built as a refuge against attackers, others were empty, chimney-like structures built only to boost noble egos.
In the 14th century, San Gimignano, like other hill towns, fell under Florence’s control. The Florentines usually asserted their power over the local nobles by ordering them to lop off their towers. But for whatever reason, some of San Gimignano’s original skyline was allowed to remain intact. Today, 14 of its original 72 towers still stand.
Rick Steves, Italy
We entered San Gimignano on Via San Giovani and made our first stop at the cheese store where we tasted local cheeses.  Excellent.  Then a little further up the street we went in a Tower House now owned by the Italian group that conserves ancient properties.  
We continued up Via San Giovani to the Central Cistern and listened as Paola explained about the region, its activities and the building codes.  This city is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
We visited the Duomo here, the old city hall and had coffee overlooking the festival taking place in several of the piazzas.  We walked across the city on Via San Matteo and out the San Matteo gate.  We met Paola at the gate and circumnavigated the city to a nearby farm house/winery where we had a marvelous meal without wine.  Evidently enough folks come that don’t drink they have a without wine price.  The meal was $30. Per person and excellent.  Much more than you could possible eat and served outside in the garden.  It was exactly what you would think of dining in Italy outside.  Great.  
Our travel time to Siena across Tuscany was about 40 minutes.  Oh my talk about traffic and little streets.  Paola drove us through the city.  We began at the Basilica of San Domenico which houses several of St. Catherine’s relics: thumb and shrunken head.  It was a different time.  It is a magnificent Basilica, ancient from the 1200’s and in the 1400’s got its Gothic look of today.  It is huge.  They had a Polish mass going on there during out visit and it was very nice.  
Let me say that for some of you that know me well, yes I did have frequent need of a bathroom but also drank a lot of espresso to use the coffee shop/bar facilities and it would not embarrass you to do the same thing so come ahead with us on the Oct 16 to 24, 2020 Rome tour.  Check your options soon because we are already half full.  
Ok back to Siena.  Paola drove thru narrow, pedestrian filled streets excellently all the way across town to the Duomo.  We talked about the contrada as we traveled.  There are 17 Contrade, which comprise the Contrada of Siena.  The Contrade is a governing unit within the city.  They compete each year in July and August with a horse race in the Campo called the Palio.  Back to that in a minute.  
We arrived shortly at Duomo square to visit the Duomo di Siena.  It is one of my favorite medieval churches in Italy.  The Duomo di Siena has a Michelangelo Statute, a statute of John the Baptist by Donatello and magnificent mosaic floors and a Carrara marble pulpit sculpted in 1265.  The exterior facade is Gothic.  The interior is alternating black and white stone.  
Our last stop was the Campo.  You’ve gotten pictures of the Campo.  My favorite in Siena.  I’m not sure I’m interested in the horse race (next to last James Bond movie).  But I do love the outdoor joy expressed by all the people walking, dining, sitting and just generally having a good time.  I’ve eaten at several of the restaurants and have enjoyed them immensely.  
We drove back to Florence and arrived at our apartment about 6pm.  Whew it was another non-stop day but only 9,000 steps so I had get out and walk 1,500 more.  
I know this may seem like a long letter but there was so much more that went on during the day.  Paola and Giuseppe are an education in Tuscany.  They do an amazing job.  We are so grateful for them.  I will make sure to put their names, phone numbers, etc. in one of these newsletters.  
I’ve been thinking about Psalm 86:5-6 last night in the night watch, in my heart, in my mind and all day today.  The Lord is precious, powerful, and praiseworthy.  Thank you Lord for listening to me and making complex confusing things simple.  
I find my life in troubled times to be very confusing
The options we face, the potential disgrace
Can weigh upon our hearts and minds 
More than even we realize 
It is a deep seated fear that we won’t measure up
That we aren’t what others think we are
Even if they think less of us than we do
In Psalm 86 I found a line the Lord continues to highlight
“Gladden the soul of your servant, for to you O Lord, do I lift up my soul
For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love 
To all who call upon You.” 86:5-6
I want my soul to be unburdened, gladden my heart O Lord
Help me to be the person you meant me to be
Let me help others more, and care less of what others think
I want an honesty between us Father, short accounts on sin
Long accounts on prayer, spending time with You 
Doing more listening than talking-You know who I am
I want to know more about who You are!
I desperately need your presence and council
I get sick without Your abiding, deep, merciful love
I know you hear me, I know you love me
Create in me a clean heart and a resourceful mind
Help me to study, to encourage, to help, to strengthen all I meet
People count Lord, they count with you
I pledge to make everyone I meet count, people count
Clay Corvin 
A brand new day.  Thank the Lord for breath and life.  Spent about 30 minutes earlier reading the WSJ, Peggy Noonan and a couple of articles about Israel.  The world really is in a mess.  But as I read the Old Testament (I’m in Isaiah right now) and the New Testament the world was in a mess then.  In fact without Jesus Christ the world is always in a mess.  A friend of mine is very open with his struggles, not with his faith, he is saved-he struggles with faith life.  How do I live out what the Bible says I can?  That is the struggle.  I think that Jesus isn’t talking about whistling in the dark-He is talking about our learning to be on the right side of issues and being courageous.  Am I willing to die for what I believe?  That to me seems to be the real issue.  If I will die for my faith then I should quickly be willing to live my faith.  Love the lost, care for the hurting, be misunderstood when offering a helping hand, be spat upon, bend the knee, pray for government leaders even when it is like swallowing milk of magnesia, sit quietly before the Lord, help the helpless, care for the orphan (and I think that includes the innocent being aborted-it doesn’t matter what the world thinks.  I want to think the way the Lord thinks.  The world is lost and desperately needs help.  Lord I believe.  Help my unbelief.  
As I begin today I am way beyond a travelogue so forgive me and I will get off my soapbox.  Thank you for reading these reports with me.  I hope they have encouraged you in your future travels.  They help me make sense of what I’m doing and I don’t write to remember years from now – I write them so I can remember all we’ve done right now.  (The dullest pencil is sharper than the sharpest mind)
Our touring today will begin in Pisa.  But it’s about an hour and 1/2 to get there.  Our drive is eventful.  Great deal of traffic so Giuseppe takes a backroad that goes by one of his favorite coffee shops-Caffe Scardigli-and it just fit for us to make our first stop coffee.  We dodged traffic all the way to Pisa and Giuseppe shared the birth as a Roman community of Pisa and then their development from Roman times until today.  Pisa was one of the four maritime republics of Italy and at one time rivaled Venice for Mediterranean power, maintaining control of the Tyrrhenian Sea, ousting the Genoese from Sardinia, conquering Sicily, Carthage in North Africa and Corsica.  When they conquered the Saracens in Palermo they took their gold back to Pisa and built the Pisa del Duomo.  In 1077 Pope Gregory VII  recognized the new “Laws and Customs of the Sea” instituted by the Pisans.
Their history is lengthy and the city of Pisa is a walking city.  We walked through the university area, the port, across the city and back, and oh yeah went by the Leaning Tower of Pisa twice as we parked within a block of the complex.  
We had lunch at the Vineria di Piazza in Piazza delle Vettovagile.  A really good local place, out of the way, we were the only tourists there.  Giuseppe says that generally folks come to the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Duomo and leave with very few visiting the ancient city.  We ran into no crowds after the Leaning Tower.  We also got to see them setting up for and Italian TV Soap Opera shoot.  Interesting.  
We also went to the Arno and walked back through the central city to the car and packed up and headed to the ancient Roman city of Lucca.  There is so much interesting information about the fighting between Piza and everyone else and except for a few months early on they never conquered Lucca.  The people of Piza are kind and friendly and Giuseppe greeted many friends as we walked the city.
Lucca is a grand medieval town surrounded by a wall that circles the city in 2 miles.  The top of the wall is wide enough to drive two cars abreast.  In the afternoon we saw folks riding bikes and walking the wall.  Giuseppe says it is their park.  
We visited the four important Piazzas in Lucca: 1/Amphitheater Piazza where the buildings are built into what was originally the Roman Amphitheater.  Several locations as you walk around the back of the Piazza still have the original marble.
2/Piazza San Michele where the Romanesque church is located 3/Piazza Napoleone which is the center of the city’s political activities and 4/St. Martin Cathedral which is the seat of power of the Archbishop of Lucca.  Construction was begun in 1063.  It is in a secluded section of the old city center of Lucca.  
I know that I’ve simplified both of our cities today.  Pisa was once a significant ruler not the world scene.  They controlled vast wealth.  Likewise Lucca was a longtime power in Italy and stood their ground as an independent republic until the unification of Italy in the 1800’s.
Riding with Giuseppe is delightful.  He has information about beautiful villas that we went to see going to Pisa and coming back from Pisa.  On the way into Florence we went thru his hometown of Campi Bisenzio.  
We talked about the industry of each city.  I was surprise to find out the Lucca is the cigar maker for Italy.  
We have spent a lot of time talking about the Medici family and their control of this entire area including Pisa when they came to power.  I think their family had 4 popes: Pope Leo X (1513-1521), Pope Clement VII (1523-1534), Pope Leo XI (April 1605 -one month) and Pope Pius IV (1559-1565).  That’s a lot of popes at a time of great difficulty for the Catholic Church.  
Psalm 64:10. The godly will rejoice in the Lord and find shelter in Him.  And those who do what is right will praise Him.  
A workman like day, visiting two of the thirty Medici villas in Tuscany.  These two were just north of Florence about five miles.  
Our first stop was for coffee at another of Giuseppe’s favorite coffee shops-Caffe Neri which is near our first visit- Medici Villa Castello which is in the hills to the north overlooking Florence.  They have extensive Italian gardens which are geometrical and beautifully laid out.  We left there and proceeded up the hill to visit the Medici Villa della Petraia.  
It is an impressive country residence built on a panoramic terrace in the outskirts of Florence and just up the hill from Villa Castello. From here you have an incredible view of Florence.  
We now drove from the hills above Florence into the Apennines on the road to Bologna but only as far as Scarperia, the chief city of the Mugello Province.
Scarperia is a beautiful city which was once a key fortress protecting the pass through the Apennines for the City of Florence.  They have been a knife making center since its early years and was important to Florentines for its mountain beauty and nearness to the city (about 20 miles.)
We had lunch at Ristorante Rustico at the entrance to the fortress area, recently city hall of Scarperia.  The city is medieval and has some excellent edifices.  I liked the central church across from the fortress and the monastery next door.  
So much beauty in the mountains and when we were coming back to the city we stopped at an overlook and was totally stunned by the beauty of Florence in the valley ahead of us.  A wonderfully uncontested ride thru the foothills of the Apennines and of course the outstanding Medici Villas.  
We will finish in Florence tomorrow and take the train to Rome on Monday checking in at the Lancelot Hotel about 1pm.  I plan to relax on Monday for sure and take it easy on Tuesday, visiting the central 
We are walking from the Santa Croce area across the Arno River to the Pitti Palace today.  
Our devotional this Sunday morning was in Isaiah.  41:4, 8-10
Who has done such mighty deeds,summoning each new generation from the beginning of time?  It is I, the Lord, the First and the Last.  I alone am He.”
8 “But as for you, Israel my servant, Jacob my chosen one, descended from Abraham my friend, 9 I have called you back from the ends of the earth, saying ‘You are my servant.’  For I have chosen you and will not throw you away.  10. Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.  Don’t be discouraged for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you.  I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.  
FEAR- I would have to say that in our modern society, fear more than anything else characterizes the spirit of the age.  People are afraid for their jobs, for their children, for their homes, for their activities, for the future-name it and people are scared about it.  Again and again I’ve heard people say “ well I’m just going to do this since I don’t have long to live anyway.”  Isaiah presents a loving and committed Lord who is reaching out into the future, currently where Isaiah is and across the centuries to us saying to us that when we bind ourselves to Him, He binds himself to us.  In the Abrahamic Covenant, God promises myriad children to Abraham, In Christ He promises to us that we will become His children.  
PERSONAL-God is personal.  He is here.  He is with us.  We have value and worth because we belong to Him.  Our lives have meaning in Jesus Christ.  They have meaning in the things that the Lord calls each one of us to do.  His work, His praise, His presence.  All of this is of value because it comes from a Victorious Lord.  Our victory is not in what we WILL do it is in what God HAS done in Jesus Christ.  We belong to Him.  Yes I know He is speaking about Israel here in Isaiah, but He is speaking of us in Christ.  We belong to the Lord.
ENCOURAGED- We are but a breath, yet the Lord is thinking of me.  We are here and gone in the blink of and eye yet the Lord is concerned about my life and what I will do with it.  Service to our fellow man is our calling.  To be the right arm of the victorious Lord is our calling.  To be fearless is our calling.  Jesus is Lord-we don’t make HIm Lord-the victorious Lord has called us to Himself and we are usable and useful in His battle plan.  
Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so.  Praise the Lord.  
PITTI PALACE- It was about 3,750 steps from our apartment.  The rain threatened every step of the way and at times would sputter a bit but we stayed dry.  
The Palazzo Pitti, in English the Pitti Palace, is a very large Renaissance Palace located on the south bank of the Arno River, a short distance from the Ponte Vecchio.   
The Palace originally belonged to a Florentine Banker, Luca Pitti, that fell on hard times and then bought by the Medici family in 1549.  Both wings were added onto the Palace by the Medici’s.  They amassed a very large number of paintings from all over Europe, jewels, porcelain, carpets, massive amounts of furniture, they collected everything and when they died out they left everything to Florence if they would make it a museum.  They did.  We went through the painting gallery and were simply overwhelmed.  They have paintings from every corner of Europe during their time and it is just overwhelming.  I loved the Uffizi and have been through it several times.  It’s organized and chronological but the Pitti Palace’s art collection is just massive. The Palace is 32,000 square meters.  That’s big.  There was so much we couldn’t get to but I did love what we saw and towards the end our guide, Laura, asked one of the Palace guides if we could join him on his tour through the Gand Ducal kitchen?  He said sure.  This area had been renovated and wasn’t open to the public yet but we got to to see it.
Lunch was at the Baccalunch on Via del Leone.  They make every dish with salted Cod fish and the meal was excellent.  Very good!
The rain came hard during out lunch time but quieted down by the time we finished.  
We began our journey towards our side of the Arno and made several stops on the way.  
Our first stop was the beautiful Cappella Brancacci, a small chapel within the Santa Maria del Carmine Church.  It is considered a miracle that the Brancacci and Corsini Chapels survived the intense fire that destroyed everything else in less than 4 hours. The Church belongs to the Carmelite order.  Inside the chapel are two layers of frescoes commissioned in 1424 by Felice Brancacci, a wealthy Florentine merchant and statesman. The frescoes illustrate the life of St. Peter, who can be identified by his orange gown.
The frescoes were designed by Masolino da Panicale, who began painting them with his pupil Masaccio. In 1428 Masaccio took over from Masolino and, unfortunately, died later that same year, aged only 27! The remaining parts were completed by Filippino Lippi only much later in the 1480s.
The frescoes have an intense radiance, making it possible to see very clearly the shifts in emphasis between Masolino’s work and that of Masaccio (contrast the serenity of Masolino’s Temptation of Adam and Eve with the excruciating agony of Masaccio’s Expulsion of Adam and Eve from Paradise).
Our second stop was to see the lost crucifix that Michelangelo crafted when he was only 17.  He was a guest at the convent of Santa Maria del Santo Spirito where he could make anatomical studies of the corpses coming from the convent hospital.  In exchange he is said to have sculpted the wooden crucifix for their high altar but it was lost not long after that and was considered to be a part of Michelangelo’s work that maybe was just a fiction.  No one had ever seen it although Michelangelo had notes on it.  The wood sculpture possibly finished in 1492l re-emerged in 1962; in 2001 new investigations appeared to confirm the attribution to Michelangelo.
Well the day has gone by very fast.  The rain was returning so we caught a cab in front of the Pitti Palace and went back across the Arno to the Basilica Santa Croce.  This is the richest medieval church in Florence, which features frescoes by Giotto, a chapel by Brunelleschi and one of the finest of all early Renaissance tombs.  Over 200 important people from Italy are buried in the church, in the floor and it is a massive edifice.  
We completed our day of touring and walked the three blocks back to our apartment.  Time to pack, sleep and head to Roma!!!!!
Praying for you today.  Carol says she is doing better.  Praying for her.  
Remember our October 16-24, 2020 Rome Pilgrimage.  
Thank you
MONDAY – 9/24/19
Traveling by train in Italy is quite an experience. They only give the track number after the train arrives. Then you do a dance of getting to your car and seat. Everyone getting off is coming into the station. We were going to the train. Next to us was a local train that was also letting folks get off and go to the Station. Lots of all with luggage jamming the walk. Ah the joys of travel. 
Our friend Paola picked us up at the apartment and carried us to the central station. Santa Marie Novella. The last time we were in Florence we stayed at a hotel recommended by Rick Steves and it was about 200 steps from SMN. Our apartment this trip was all the way across town. It only took us 10 minutes to get to the station. 
Once on the train you have to put your luggage up. Then relax for the 1  1/2 hour trip to Rome.
There is always a lot going on when you travel from one city to the next. 
We loved our time in Florence but tended to burn the candle at both ends. In other words we are worn out. 
We got to the Lancelot and checked in and went directly to lunch at Naumachia one of our favorite restaurants. I went back to the Lancelot after lunch and took a nap. I woke up about 3pm and read and relaxed. Great day. Dinner at 7:30pm here at the Lancelot report to follow. 
I did walk down to the Colosseum and take some pictures.  That was the extent of my touring on Monday.  I was energized by the little rest Monday.  
Our evening meal at the Lancelot was really excellent.  Faris does an outstanding job with the food at the Lancelot and half-board includes breakfast and dinner.  The meals at night are so good and the days so demanding that it is a real blessing to be able to walk downstairs at 7:30 pm and have a great meal.  
Lots of little things to do in the evening and I did all of them.  Very restful night.
Isaiah 43:24b-25. The Lord comments that we have burdened him with our sins-(plural) and wearied him with our iniquities (immoral or grossly unfair behavior) saying in effect that we have sinned upon sin-we choose to sin, and then incorporate that sinful behavior into a lifestyle.  That is a hardened sinner it seems to me.  Truthfully before Jesus that was certainly what each one of us were-dead in our trespasses and sin.  
The Lord goes on to say that he is the one who blots out our transgressions for His own sake AND he would remember our sins no more.  Remember this is Isaiah.  For all of those that point at the Old Testament and say as some are saying today that it is irrelevant the OT was the only Bible that Jesus had.  The New Testament is the story of the God of the OT coming alive into our world, suffering as we do and yet without sin, and going to the Cross paying the price for my, for your cleansing-giving us a new heart and breaking the chains of sin that have bound us.  When we ask Jesus to forgive us of our sin He is faithful and just to forgive and give us new life.  The Lord will not remember our sins anymore.  We are now in His family.  THE FAMILY OF GOD.  
◦ TUESDAY – 9/24/19
◦ Beautiful morning.  We left directly after breakfast.  Today we would visit Central Rome.  We walked up to Via Labicana across from San Clemente and caught the 87 bus to Campo di Fiore.  
◦ Campo di Fiore is a rectangular square south of Piazza Navona in Rome.  The translation literally means “field of flowers.”  It is the oldest market in Rome.  Since 1869 the square is filled each day except Sunday with fruit, vegetable, meat, poultry and fresh fish stalls.  The market is a true feast for the eyes.  
◦ Several hundred steps north is Piazza Navona.  
◦ Piazza Navona is a square in Rome built on the site of the Stadium of Domitian built in the 1st century AD.  Bernini was the architect who built the Piazza.  The Piazza was commissioned by Innocent X (1644-1655).  Bernini built the Piazza in Baroque Roman Architecture.  In the center is the Four Rivers Fountain (Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi-1651) which is topped by the obelisk of Domitian brought in pieces from the Circus of Maxentius.  The Piazza has two other fountains, at the southern end is the Fontana del Moro with a basin and four Tritons sculpted by Giacomo della Porta (1575) to which in 1673 Bernini added a statue of a Moor wrestling with a dolphin.  At the northern end is the Fountain of Neptune (1574) also created by Porta and the statute of Neptune was added in 1878 to create a balance with La Fontana del Moro.  
◦ When you see all the restaurants and artists in Piazza Navona you will see why it is so enjoyed.  It is a delightful place to visit in Rome.  One of my favorite piazzas.  
◦ We stopped in at the French Cathedral just east across from Piazza Navona. 
◦ The Church of St. Louis of the French at Piazza di S. Luigi de’ Francesi.  This is a Roman Catholic Church built in 1518 and dedicated to St. Louis IX, King of France.  This is a Baroque art in style and is famous for housing 3 Caravaggio masterpieces: Martyrdom of St. Matthew, the Calling of St. Matthew and St. Matthew and the Angel.
◦ This is a well appointed church that lauds all things French.  The paintings by Caravaggio are in the Contarelli Chapel of the Church.  
◦ We are headed to the Pantheon but we have to stop at Sant’ Eustachio Il Caffe.  They have an amazing cappuccino that one of our party imbibed but I was waiting for my stop after the Pantheon. 
◦ The Pantheon is a former Roman Temple that is today a church.  It was completed by the Emperor Hadrian and dedicated about 126 AD.  The Pantheon’s dome is still 2,000 years later the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome.  It was dedicated as a Christian Church in the 7th Century to St. Mary and the Martyrs.
◦ A quick stop for coffee at Tazza D’Oro.  I love the taste of their espresso.  Superb.  
◦ At this point we have walked about 6,500 steps.  
◦ We angled north and east from the Pantheon and walked across town to Via Corso and then 8 blocks up Via Corso to Piazza del Popolo-THE PEOPLE’S SQUARE.  The Piazza is within the northern gate in the Aurelian Walls and was once the Porta Flaminia of Ancient Rome.  It is the starting point for Via Flaminia the most important route to the north.  Before the age of railroads it was the travelers first view of Rome.  It was also a place for public executions and the last took place in 1826.  We went there to see the 2 Caravaggio’s (Crucifixion of St. Peter and Conversion on the way to Damascus) in the titular church-Santa Maria del Popolo which is a minor basilica in Rome run by the Augustinian order.  There are also works bu Raphael, Bernini, Alharemi, Pinturicchio, Bregno and Bramante.  That by itself would make this a significant museum.  I will slip back by there today.  
◦ Lunch was our focus next and we walked towards the Piazza di Spagna.  We discovered Osteria Margutta, around since 1965, on a side street (Via Margutta.). It is in the Margutta which is an arts district of Rome from the 60’s and housed many thespians over the centuries.  
◦ Piazza di Spagna- Spanish Steps were just a few blocks south of our lunch stop.  The Spanish Steps are on the Plaza de Espana.  The staircase was inaugurated by Pope Benedict XII during the 1725 Jubilee.  It was built to connect the Bourbon Spanish Embassy to the Church of Trinity dei Monti.  Additionally it was an attempt to urbanize the Pincian hill and connect the city with the church.  It has 135 steps.  It is a location that almost everyone who comes to Rome visits. 
◦ We have one more stop to this exhausting day-Fontana di Trevi-Trevi Fountain-which is about 10 blocks south of the Spanish Steps.  It is the largest Baroque fountain in the city and one of the most famous fountains in the world.  The legend is that if you throw a coin over your shoulder into the fountain you will always return again to Rome.  As a result of that legend they recover many thousands of coins from the fountain.  
◦ Corey and Blanca went looking for a new church plant we want to connect with on our October 16, 2020 Rome trip.  Hopefully we will be able to do some church work for a half-day while in Rome.  I walked over to the Via Corso and caught the 85 bus back to the San Clemente stop near our hotel.  
◦ Carla Zaia, our guide in Rome came by for dinner in the evening at the Lancelot.  They served an amazing Sardinian Lasagna ( a creation of Faris’) and pork medallions with a very light cheese cake and raspberry sauce for desert.  They substituted a sautéed white fish for the pork medallions for me.  Another superb meal.  A long day that included 13,000 steps.  Whew.  
◦ Blessings on your day.  
WEDNESDAY – 9/25/19
We had a very lazy start today.  I went up to San Giovanni in Laterno and the Sacred Steps.  It’s about 2,000 steps from the Lancelot.  
St John Lateran: The Cathedral of the Most Holy Savior and of Saints John the Baptist and the Evangelist in the Lateran– also known as the Papal Archbasilica of Saint John in Lateran, Saint John Lateran, or the Lateran Basilica – is the cathedral church of the Diocese of Rome in the city of Rome and serves as the seat of the Roman Pontiff.  Archbasilica of Saint John Lateran.  UNESCO World Heritage Site
Historic Centre of Rome, and highest ranking of the four papal major basilicas, holding the unique title of “archbasilica”. It is the oldest public church in the city of Rome, and the oldest basilica of the Western world.  The archbasilica is sited in the City of Rome. It is outside Vatican City, which is approximately 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) to its northwest, although the archbasilica and its adjoining edifices have extraterritorial status from Italy as one of the properties of the Holy See, pursuant to the Lateran Treaty of 1929.
The Lateran Church is huge and extremely well decorated-Statutes, mosaics, murals.    It is important to the Catholic World and important to see as the oldest public church facility in the world.  
Scala Sancta
The Scala Sancta: Holy Stairs, are a set of 28 white marble steps that are Roman Catholic relics located in an edifice on extraterritorial property of the Holy See in Rome, Italy and is connected to the Archbasilica of Saint John in Laterano.  Replica stairs flank the original staircase, which may only be climbed on one’s knees.  The chapel at the top of the stairs used to be the private chapel of the Pope.  According to Roman Catholic tradition, the Holy Stairs are the steps leading up to the praetorium of Pontius Pilate in Jerusalem on which Jesus Christ stepped on his way to trial during his Passion. The Stairs reputedly were brought to Rome by Saint Helena in the fourth century. For centuries, the Scala Sancta has attracted Christian pilgrims who wish to honour the Passion of Jesus Christ.  Since the early 1700s, the Holy Stairs have been encased in wood for protection, but have been briefly exposed in 2019 following restoration work.  These are the stairs that Martin Luther climbed and with “the just shall live by faith” ringing in his ears left the stairs and established Lutheranism.  (That’s the short version.)
Borghese Museum was our next stop and we took a cab to get there since it is all the way across town. Marvelous museum with important paintings and statutes. Always enjoy going thru. 
I’m in need of slowing down today so I’ve headed back to the hotel. 
Simple Musings
Isaiah 45:19 I publicly proclaim bold promises. I do not whisper obscurities in some dark corner. I would not have told the people of Israel [*] to seek me if I could not be found.
Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.
Again for those that deny the Old Testament here we have another of hundreds of passages that were first expressed in the Old Testament and then further expressed in the New Testament. 
All of us have the same access to the Father. It is in Jesus Christ. It’s not the works we do that give us access-it is a relationship with Christ and faith that Jesus has done what he said he would do-save us. 
The Father wants us to find (connect with) him and he willingly comes to us in faith. 
Lord I believe. Help my unbelief. 
The truth is the day to day relationship is all about our dealing with ourself and not pointing a finger at others. The biggest stumbling block in my life is me. 
Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and love thy brother/sister as thyself.  Simple. Little children get it. We need to get it better. 
The Lord has brought many friends into my life that have modeled this for me. 
Lord thank you for precious friends and friendships. 
THURSDAY – 9/26/19
Villa d’Este in Tivoli and Hadrian’s Villa in Villa Adriana
You know the story – The days are long and the years are short!  Today seemed long when it started but it sure ended quickly.  
We took the subway Line A from Manzonia (about 8 blocks from our hotel) all the way to the end at Battistini to meet Carla.  She picked us up at the exit of the subway and she drove us on the Ring Road around the city to where we turned off to Tivoli.  Villa Adriana (the small town where Hadrian’s Villa is located) is the first stop on the road to Tivoli.
Hadrian’s Villa is a large Roman archaeological complex that is today a UNESCO World Heritage site.  Hadrian constructed this as his retreat from Rome but in actuality when he wasn’t traveling generally stayed here.  It is a huge complex and is one of the most visited archaeological site in Italy.  The site is about 200 acres (nearly 9million SBF.). Rome is about 20 miles away.  Toward the end of his life Hadrian made this his official residence.  After Hadrian’s death the villa was occasionally used by his various successors.  In the 4th century the villa fell into disuse and most of the marble and statutes were taken away.  Some of the statutes and much of the marble wound up at Cardinal Ippolito II d’Este Villa up the hill in Tivoli.  
TIVOLI is a town and commune in Lazio, central Italy, about 20 miles east-northeast of Rome.  It is located where the falls of the Aniene river where it issues from the Sabine hills.  The town was established in 338 BC and covers about 27 square miles.  It’s population is about 57,000.  In Etruscan times Tibur, a Sabine city was the seat of the Tiburtine Sibyl, a tenth sibyl added to the nine Greek sibyls.  Tivoli’s quarries produce travertine, a white calcium carbonate rock used in building most Roman monuments.  The water power of the falls supplies some of the electricity that lights Rome.  The slopes of the hills are covered with olive trees, vineyards and gardens.  Paper is their most important industry.  
Villa d’Este is located in the center of the town of Tivoli.  It is a 16th Century Villa famous for its terraced hillside Italian Renaissance garden and its stunning water fountains including a water organ.  It has 51 fountains, 250 gushes of water, 60 pools of water, 265 waterfalls and 100 water tanks.  It’s a garden that one must see.  The site is a UNESCO World Heritage site.  The Villa was commissioned by Cardinal Ippolito II d’Este, the Duke of Ferrara and grandson of Pope Alexander VI.  In 1549 he was appointed as the Governor of Tivoli and with this authority was able to use the materials from Hadrian’s Villa to build his own Villa.  The history of this Villa is very interesting.  
This was an all day trip that occupied our attention.  We were thankful for the 78 degree weather.  It was a beautiful day.  
Carla drove us straight to the Lancelot in the heart of Rome.  She had an easy time getting into the city and a difficult time getting out.  
We had dinner on the terrace of the Lancelot.  As usual Faris had put together another superb, outstanding meal.  One of the folks at our table said the dessert was the best he has had on their two week trip across the Mediterranean.  
Simple Musings
Isaiah 45:19 I publicly proclaim bold promises. I do not whisper obscurities in some dark corner. I would not have told the people of Israel [*] to seek me if I could not be found.
Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.
Again for those that deny the Old Testament here we have another of hundreds of passages that were first expressed in the Old Testament and then further expressed in the New Testament. 
All of us have the same access to the Father. It is in Jesus Christ. It’s not the works we do that give us access-it is a relationship with Christ and faith that Jesus has done what he said he would do-save us. 
The Father wants us to find (connect with) him and he willingly comes to us in faith. 
Lord I believe. Help my unbelief. 
The truth is the day to day relationship is all about our dealing with ourself and not pointing a finger at others. The biggest stumbling block in my life is me. 
Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and love thy brother/sister as thyself.  Simple. Little children get it. We need to get it better. 
The Lord has brought many friends into my life that have modeled this for me. 
Lord thank you for precious friends and friendships. 
Help me to get it!  Help me to model it!  Help me Lord.  
Carol’s pain has returned and she said she was in the serious pain cycle again.  Please pray for her.  She goes to the doctor on Tuesday next and I will go with her.  We hope to figure out a way to deal with the pain.  Lord heal her.  
The Barberini family were originally a family of minor nobility from the Tuscan town of Barberino Val d’Elsa, who made their money as wool and textile merchants. Their influence peaked with the election of Cardinal Maffeo Barberini to the papal throne in 1623, as Pope Urban VIII. The Barberini are to Rome, what the Medici are to Florence.
I was by Piazza Barberini yesterday and had been thinking about this and we talked about it today as we began our touring in and around modern Rome.  
We caught the subway (metro) at Manzoni and met Carla at EUR-Magliana metro stop.  EUR is a residential and business district in Rome, Italy, located south of the city centre. The area was originally chosen in the 1930s as the site for the 1942 World’s Fair which Mussolini planned to open to celebrate twenty years of Fascism the letters EUR standing for Esposizione Universale Roma. The project was originally called E42 after the year in which the exhibition was planned to be held. EUR was also designed to direct the expansion of the city towards the south-west and the sea, and to be a new city centre for Rome. The planned exhibition never took place due to World War II and the area has continued to develop as an upscale, wealthy part of the city of Rome.  We traversed this area identifying the buildings, and lakes and pools built for the 1960 Olympics.  Carla pointed out some especially beautiful apartment buildings and some businesses.  It is a luxury area and very beautiful. 
One particular building we took pictures of was the Square Colosseum, the Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana, also known simply as the Colosseo Quadrato (Square Colosseum), is a building in the EUR district in Rome.  The building was designed in 1937 to host the Mostra della Civiltà Romana during the 1942 World Fair by Italian architects Giovanni Guerrini, Ernesto Bruno La Padula and Mario Romano.  The building is an example of Italian Rationalism and of Fascist Architecture.  Stunning building.  Difficult past that has taken a long time for the people of Rome to accept.  
Okay.  That ends our modern day portion of the tour and now back in history we go.  
We went by The Papal Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls.  It is one of Rome’s four ancient, papal, basilicas along with the basilicas of Saint John Lateran, Saint Peter’s and Saint Mary Major.  Basilica of Saint Paul was founded on the burial ground of St. Paul and is near where St. Paul was martyred in 67 AD.  Christians first built a shrine here and then in 324 AD built a small church which was later demolished in 386 AD and a larger beautiful basilica was completed in 395 AD.  
We drove around to the Three Fountains not far from Saint Paul’s Basilica.  The Three Fountains is where St. Paul was martyred.   (Latin: St. Paul at Aqua Salviae). The Church of Saint Paul at the Three Fountains was one of Rome’s earliest churches.  It is the site of the beheading of St. Paul.  Tradition tells us that because Paul was a Roman Citizen He was beheaded instead of crucified.  The story passed down was that his head bounced three times on the ground, and at each spot a spring appeared.  There are three churches here and to me it was a bit confusing because the three fountains are in the center church and the other two churches have other responsibilities.  Charlemagne in 800 AD gave the medieval church and the site to the Cistercians and they have operated the abbey and the three churches since then.    There is a great deal of detail related to this site.  I found it to be a very special site for prayer and contemplation.  If this isn’t the exact site for Paul’s beheading, like the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem, the event is nearby.  I love this location and the three churches.  They request that everyone be quiet which further enhances the ambiance of the site.  It is special.  I would encourage you to make sure you visit here when you come to Rome.  
We drove from The Three Fountains Church to Cemetery A
Cimitero Acattolico: Rome’s non-Catholic cemetery is a quiet refuge set beyond a busy intersection. Between the imposing pyramid of Cestius and the striking gravestones surrounded by greenery, it is a cemetery you are likely to want to spend a lot of time in. The most famous graves belong to the English writers Keats and Shelley.  The grounds are maintained immaculately and it is a very shaded and comfortable place to sit and think and watch the traffic enter Rome by the Pyramid.  
We were near where we would have lunch on the Via Monte Testaccio at the Flavio Al Velavevodetto.  This restaurant is located on the slopes of Monte di Testaccio in Rome, a hill made of ancient terra-cotta shards that were discarded when items were shipped to the warehouses then in this area and the packaging, terra-cotta, was discarded.  Monte Testaccio is a hill made from discarded Roman pottery from the time of the Roman Empire (27 BC to 476 AD).  (Roman Kingdom 753 BC to 509 BC and Roman Republic 509 BC to 27 BC).
We finished lunch and walked the area past some of the ancient warehouses that have become very Bohemian residences (some dumps!).  The area is shaded and abuts the Cemetery A.  
Carla drove us up the Janiculum Hill (not one of the seven hills of Rome) to Piazza Garibaldi.  There is an equestrian Monument to Giuseppe Garibaldi, who was a key Italian general in the uniting of Italy in 1861 under Victor Emmanuel II, of the House of Savoy, a realm that included Piedmont.  There is a wonderful view of the central city of Rome from here and of course General Garibaldi’s horse is turned with its rear to the Vatican.  
Carla drove us down the hill to Piazza del Popolo where we would go to the Church of Santa Maria del Popolo.  It said on-line that it was open on Friday from 7:30am to 7pm.  It was closed.  It was about 3pm.  We walked around from Piazza del Popolo to Flaminia Marta stop and caught a very crowded subway car down to the Manzoni stop and walked up out of the station.  It was sunshiny hot and Blanca suggested we catch the bus.  We caught the #3 trolley instead and rode it to San Clemente where we got off, walked up the hill to the Lancelot and I proceeded to my room, 66, and took a one hour nap.  
Dinner was at 7:30pm.  We ate in the courtyard again and it was perfect.  Faris had prepared another spectacular meal including an ice cream w/fruit salad and some type of jam.  I didn’t have dessert, just a little fruit. 
The day is done.  it’s 10:25pm.  Off to bed shortly.  Two more days of exploring and planning and we return home.  It will be like a dream.  A very quick dream.  
Many blessings.  
Carol said she is feeling a little better today but we will have to see how all of this works out, if this current procedure dealt with her pain long term and what we may have to do next?  
From Rome
I caused His death, Jesus died for me
My hard headed, evil ways, caused the Lord to plan the Cross
It was the only way He could deal with my sin
The way of the Cross, burdened Him
He knew my pain, deep and wide
He knew my stubborn discontent, He felt it before I was born
He knew my need in my mother’s womb at 16
There was nothing unknown about me
Although in my mind I seemed so wise and decisive
I was only impudent, blind and stupid
A committed sinner willing to do anything to please myself
Jesus died for me, He did it with premeditation
Living a life of purity
Learning to bend His knee in service 
The King of Glory shouldered my burden of sin
He carried it for 33 years
Imagine my pain when I’m inconvenienced 3 minutes
Jesus died for me, He did it with determination
He worked with His family until he was 30
They didn’t know who He was
Our king was simply their brother
His life a joy, He rejoiced in obeying His Father
Then for 3 years He labored with 12 and one of them a devil
His time came and He went to the Cross
Cruelly beaten and bloodied
Beaten to the edge of His life
He needed help to carry His cross
He spoke no words as He suffered
He quietly spoke
Forgive them for they know not what they do
Jesus died for me
Three days and by the Power of God He rose from the grave
He shared His love with me
He offered His life to me
I said yes, please Lord Help me, I am poor and needy
He forgave my sin
He gave me life, He saved me from my sin and broke the chains that bound me
Jesus lives for me, Seated at the right hand of the Father
Jesus lives in me, The Holy Spirit empowering me to live
Now I live my life in Christ, Jesus saves me
Clay Corvin, Rome, Italy
September 27, 2019
SATURDAY -9/28/19
Cool morning. Possibility of rain (It didn’t rain).  Rick Steve’s folks are here for breakfast late, I think this is their free day. When I finished breakfast I went outside to the front courtyard and sat and listened to the sounds of Rome. 
We walked down to the Circus Maximus on the UN-FAO Building and met Carla.  Today we would go to Castel Gandolfo (Pope’s summer residence) and visit the Gardens of the Castel Gandolfo and then visit the Pope’s private areas in the Palace recently opened by Pope Francis.  So that is the key focus for our day which of course will include and nice restaurant for lunch and a couple of other small towns in the area.  
We drove south down the Ancient Appian Way.  It was a wonder of its time when it was built in 312 BC.  It was the Roman Super Highway.  It eventually stretched from Rome to Brindisi (about 400 miles) from where Roman ships sailed to Greece and Egypt.  We Passed two major Christian catacombs (underground cemeteries)from ancient times: San Callisto, and San Sebastiano.  There are others.  We turned west before the Appian Way park began.  
We continued on our way to Castel Gandolfo passing by Ciampino Airport, Rome’s other airport and continued across country up into the hills about 15 miles south of Rome.  
Castel Gandolfo is a beautiful village overlooking Lake Albano, and is the location of the Pope’s summer residence.  The Vatican Museum controls all of the visits to Castel Gandolfo.  The little town of Castel Gandolfo is clustered around the Papal Palace and the extraordinary Barberini Gardens.  This area is a cluster of several historic small towns and is dominated by majestic and beautiful Villas.  It is a refreshing experience and while we rode with Carla driving, it is easy to reach this little island of tranquility by train from Rome.  
The Barberini Garden tour takes an hour.  It is excellent.  The Gardens are beautiful.  After the Garden tour we went and had a coffee (of course) and then went back and toured the Palace.  It’s all about the popes since Maffeo Barberini (Urban VIII : 1623-1644).  It was interesting up to a point but I enjoyed it.  
We had lunch at Ristorante Bucci, sitting on the edge of the lake with a superb view from our terrace table.  The food was excellent.  We had pasta and I had a salad and egg plant.  After the meal we walked around and eventually had another coffee.  
Carla wanted to show us the little town of Nemi, another of the small towns in the Alban Hills south of Rome.  It overlooks Lake Nemi, a volcanic crater lake.  The town’s name derives from Holy Wood.  In ancient times there was no town here, but this was the site of one of the most famous Roman cults and temples.  The Temple of Diana Nemorensis.  This small town is on the ridge above the small volcanic crater lake.  It is very picturesque.  
We got back to the Lancelot Hotel about 4:45pm.  Another great day in Italy.  
Tomorrow we will do various things criss-crossing the city and visit with Carla for lunch.  We have had a really great time putting stuff together for next October.  I think I’m going to add on one of our free days a bus that will take us to Paul’s Basilica Outside the Walls, Three Fountains and the Catacombs (maybe San Domitilla).  That will be a really good touring day.  
Thank you for going with us on our Pilgrimage.  When we touch and see our early Christian history it equips us to stand the world’s attacks against Christianity.  We grow.  We develop a better understanding of where we come from.  
Thank you
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