I took the train from the south of France (see blog) to Rome and only spent a few days there but was able to visit most of the major sights including the Vatican. A few things surprised me about Rome/VC. One was how intertwined the ancient ruins are with the everyday life of a modern city. Everywhere you look, in residential neighborhoods, parks, commercial districts, and shopping areas, there are signs of the crumbled empire. The other thing that stood out for me was the opulence of the churches. The amount of gold, silver, marble, and other gaudy stuff is overwhelming. At first glance you think how beautiful but then I started to reflect on my trip in South America, especially the town of Potosi in Bolivia (see blog) where it is estimated that over 9 million indigenous workers and African slaves died in the mines. Of course that was under Spanish rule and this is Italy so I took a bunch of pretty pictures and moved on to Greece (see blog).