Another early morning breakfast with our tour mates who have become fast friends. We all met in the lobby with our bags, as we would ride the bus to the Colosseum and Forum and would head directly to the Tuscan hills after our tour.
Sarah and Amanda led the few blocks to our bus (as the bus could not get down the narrow cobblestone streets near our hotel). From there it was a quick ride to the Colosseum where we met Francesca, our local guide.
While all our local guides were outstanding, I have to give special mention to Francesca.
She's probably given this tour hundreds of times to thousands of people, but her passion and knowledge were so intoxicating it was as if we were the first people to hear it.
She spoke of the immense brutality that took place at the Colosseum and how it saddened her to imagine it. As great and mighty as this place is, hundreds of thousands of people were killed in the name of entertainment within its walls. She gave us not just facts and dates, but challenged us to consider what it might have been like to be there during these times. The place was so familiar, yet so foreign, and Francesca really made us all think about its history in a very humbling and human way.
Francesa's tour of the Forum was no less captivating. And after taking it all in, we headed back to the bus for our ride to the Tuscan hills. It was our 3rd day together and we'd already lost (and found) a few tour members along the way. Sarah was right, she DID have to keep her eyes on us! As the bus departed Rome, Amanda told us the story of Romulus and Remus. We then had a bit of time to rest before stopping at the AutoGrill for lunch. And let me just say, this was not like any rest stop I've ever been to. Windowed cases lined with any kind of panini you could imagine, chefs standing by to cook up delicious pasta dishes, and glorious Italian pastries for days. Mangia!
Another reason to LOVE the Rick Steves tour experience is the excellent local guides pooled together to help the tour members fully explore all that each destination has to offer.
Take advantage of bus time! Rick Steves keeps the tours packed with much goodness and LOTS of activity. I think we walked between 8 and 10 miles per day (good thing with all the amazing food we were eating)! The tour bus was full sized, and with only 26 tour members we had plenty of room to spread out. We took advantage of this time to listen to Rick Steves Europe podcasts we had previously downloaded. We read up on our next location in our guide book. And yes, there were naps. The bus ride never felt very long and Sarah & Amanda did a great job of telling stories, playing games, and passing out tasty local treats! They also let us know when it was ok to leave backpacks etc on the bus, or if we needed to take everything with us. They really do think of it all!
Arrivederci Roma! I leave a piece of my heart here....until we meet again!
Day 3 Photo Highlights