Wednesday, May 30. Alora (that’s about the third word I know in Italian– it means “so” and begins a lot of sentences around here), for the second day in a row I got to tick off another item on my bucket list: the Sistine Chapel. This was perhaps even more impressive than the Coliseum, and that is saying a lot. The day began with me catching up with myself, staying in my room until 10:00 AM, when Monica came calling. We hopped on a subway train and found our way to the Vatican. Because we did not get tickets beforehand, for it required that telling them exactly the date and time we would be there, we had to wait in a really long, slow moving line for about 45 minutes or more to get into the Vatican Museum. But it was really worth the wait. First we found ourselves in Egypt, then Babylonia and Assyria—it just occurred to me I think they skipped Greece—then to the Roman Empire and the Holy Roman Empire. Somewhere along the way they crucified Jesus, the church became established about 300 years later, the Vatican started to be built and it became the empire it still is today. Such opulence, such decadence, such richness, but stunning in its beauty. And with their long, wide arms they accumulated some of the best art known to humankind. This could have been the best museum I have ever been to. And adorning practically all the walls and the ceilings are fresco after fresco—each room and each hallway stunning to behold. Then we came to la crème de la crème, a long hallway filled with golden beauty from floor-to-ceiling; so we thought we were in the Sistine Chapel. But I closely scoured the ceiling and could not find the famous Michelangelo fresco painting of God about to give life to Adam with a touch. Turns out, we were not in the Sistine Chapel after all; that was to come a little further along and was even more amazing. The fact that Michelangelo spent four years pretty much on his back painting this ceiling is one of the truly great masterpieces of art ever. We had managed to miss the Rafael room, so we went back to see it and it did not disappoint. The only difficult thing in this museum was the crowds. People were packed in like sardines all walking slowly along, and if anyone stopped to take a picture, it was bump, bump, bump, and if someone with a backpack happened to turn around, you could practically get knocked over. But that did not detract from what an incredible place it was. After that, Monica and I were really beat, so we sat down at an outdoor restaurant and had some gelato, then got rejuvenated enough to walk into Vatican City square, which was also very impressive. After that we were truly burnt, so Monica decided it would be best to take a taxi back to the guesthouse. After about an hour we went out to Mamma Angela’s Trattoria, where I had by the best pasta I have had since coming to Italy; something like Cisco E Pepe (but I may have that wrong). Monica took me over to the train station so we could figure out how I can take the train to the airport early in the morning tomorrow, and we got my ticket. Then it was time to say good night and goodbye to Monica, after a spectacular trip of combined work and pleasure. I thank her so much. Now on to Israel.