I'm ready for bed about now, but I'll get this quick missive off to you all, before we catch our planes home in the morning.
Today, we took a couple of trains out to Ostia Antica, Rome's ancient port city. It was really cold and windy today. We had been enjoying beautiful, mild sunny days the whole trip, even when rain was predicted, so we were a bit thrown by the cold air today. Regardless, we had fun going through the ruins at Ostia trying to figure out the purposes of various buildings that did not have identification signs near them. I gave a tour of the highlights, of course, but the gang has had so much practice identifying ruins that they have become good at telling whether they are looking at a temple, basilica, forum, bath house, tavern, or home. At Ostia, you can also see which areas are from the Republican or Empire periods by their level in the ground.
We also made a visit to Saint Paul's Basilica, "Outside the Walls," as it is known. This basilica seems under-visited, when you consider its exquisite mosaics, not to mention the tomb of Saint Paul! It's nice not to have the crowds like at Saint Peter's, but this is still a great place to visit. There are painted medallions all around the church depicting Popes through the ages, with a spotlight shining on the portrait of the current Pope, Benedict XVI. In 2006, archaeologists uncovered more of the original basilica from the time of Theodosius (4th century, I think) and part of a sarcophagus marked with Paul's name.
We were finally able to get into the restaurant that we wanted to visit -- a cozy place I heard about that is well over 100 years old. It's definitely time to go sleep off dinner.
We will contact our respective families when we get to JFK. We took massive amounts of pictures, which you will soon get to enjoy, along with crazy stories from our trip, including my mishap today, when I slipped on a step, fell, and ended up covered in some strange gelatinous substance. It was disgusting, but I'm fine.
See you all soon!