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Yarmouth Port, Massachusetts, United States

Friday, June 11, 2010

Cruising the Eastern Mediterranean Part III

Off the ship and bussed to Florence, heart of Tuscany,
Which we both had explored in previous visits.
Time for only a half-day expedition led us to the Medici Chapel
To see Michaelangelo's sculptures commissioned by the Grand Dukes.

Then to Rome to have a Chinese dinner near the hotel.
Next day, a long walking tour on a hot day
All over the Colisseum and up through the Forum
To visualize the citizens of the mighty empire at work and play.

Modern Rome is obviously a city in trouble.
Traffic chokes the streets; cars park double and on sidewalks.
Graffiti defaces all the fine old buildings.
Commerce and residence are mixed indiscriminately.

Athens is worse, with little distinctive architecture.
Both cities are capitals of their respective countries.
Grand plans for civic improvement
Are jeopardized by perilous debt in each.

By contrast, we were pleasantly surprised at the
Beauty and order of Izmir in Turkey.
Well laid-out boulevards pass between rows of
Handsome apartment buildings in residential areas.

A dinner out at a little cellar trattoria in Rome,
Followed by an illumination tour and a visit to the fabled
Trevi fountain, where we each threw a coin
Over the left shoulder to assure a return to Rome.

So that two American college students will meet on a
Tour to Italy in 2035, he a geeky blond English major, she
An art student who reminds her family of her wild great aunt,
Barbara; both will wonder what drew them together.

At St. Peter's Basilica and the Sistine Chapel, amidst all the
Renaissance art and churchly opulence, one wonders how
The authorities would react to the presence of an itinerant
Preacher who proclaims: "Blessed are the humble in spirit."

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