Our final day in Rome brought us to more memorable sites. Our first stop was the beautiful Piazza Popolo where we enjoyed the fountains and scenery of the breathtaking open space. At one end of the Piazzo stand two twin Santa Maria churches, however one was currently undergoing exterior renovations and the scaffolding detracted from its beauty. No problem for us because we were headed to the church across the Piazza, the beautiful Santa Maria de Popolo. This church is richly decorated in many different motifs but the main attractions are the twin Carvaggio paints of the conversion of Paul and the execution of St. Peter. However, Paul have been removed temporarily, possibly it was undergoing renovation or just on loan to another exhibit. There was a sign explaining, but it was only in Italian.
Having wrapped things up in Piazza Popolo, we began our walk toward the Piazza Navona. On the way we passed by one of Romeâ€™s Newest Museums, the Ara Pacis, which holds a recently reassembled and restored ancient alter built to commemorate the Pax Romanis. We didnâ€™t go into the museum but its glass walls allow passersby to glimpse this remarkable piece. We continued on for a couple of more blocks to the Piazza Navona where we enjoyed lunch and a slightly different view of the Piazza Navona. Usually the space is quite open, but in late November they begin their Christmas market. There were lots of booths set up selling Nativity Figurines, crÃ¨ches, ornaments and candy. We had to walk around to be able to see all the fountains and statues, but it was also interesting to visit the Christmas market.
We headed back to the apartment by way of the gelato store and began to get organized for the departure the next day. Savannah and I realized that we hadnâ€™t yet gotten any gifts for their school teachers, so we decided to go the â€œI â€œheartâ€ Romeâ€ store and pick out something for their teachers. The printed aprons seemed both practical and fun, so we got those for all the teachers except one whom Savannah said liked funny hats, so he will be getting a Chefâ€™s hat with pictures of gelato on it. She says he likes sweets too. Off to dinner we went after some packing organization, right down the street and another great little local place. I was following a theme and once again had a seafood dish, this time a frutti di mare soup with lots of clams, mussels, and shrimp. Everyone else had pasta alla amatriciana, a tomato and bacon sauce. We all commented that we were sad to be leaving Rome but excited to be going on the cruise.