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Arrivederci, Clayton and Henry counties - Curt Yeomans

Well, it is here -- at last. I am going to Rome, "The Eternal City," for the next week.

On Saturday afternoon, I will board a plane so I can fly more than nine hours from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, to Rome Leonardo da Vinci Airport, where I will arrive at 8 a.m. (Rome time), on Sunday.

I'm looking forward to this so much. I can't wait to try and speak some Italian (I've been practicing like crazy since last week, and I've gotten better), eat gelato, try an eight-course meal, wander the ruins of ancient Rome, see the heart of the Catholic Church, and look out over the city from one of its seven hills.

I am going to outline what I'm doing in Rome. Part of my reason is to brag (I'm going to Rome, so can you blame me?), and part of it is that I want you to know some of what you can expect me to write about when I get back. You didn't think this would be different from my last trip to Europe, did you?

My time in Rome will actually begin somewhat quietly. I'll be sitting down somewhere -- I'm not quite sure were yet.

I will be sitting because I have to wait a while before I can check into my hotel, because check-in time is six hours after I arrive. It is a shame, too, because I would love to be able to go to Easter Massa in the morning at St. Peter's Basilica, in Vatican City. I don't think luggage would be allowed, though.

But, as far as the hotel issue is concerned, I got one in a great location. It is called the Hotel XX Settembre, and it is only a couple of blocks away from the Stazione Termini. That is the main train terminal in Rome -- basically that city's Grand Central Station, where the major subway lines all converge.

So far, I have only three of my eight days in Rome set aside for tours. I picked a couple of local tours to hit the highlights of the city on Monday and Tuesday. I did not set anything up for Sunday because, (A) I may not be able to leave my luggage at my hotel until check in, and (B) I may be worn out after my flight, and not really up for doing much on my first day.

On Monday, I am doing an "Ancient Rome Half-Day Walking Tour," which includes visits to the Coliseum, the Roman Forum, the Capitoline Hill, Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon and the Piazza Navona. As part of the three-hour guided tour, I get to skip the lines of people waiting to get into the Coliseum and the Roman Forum.

On Tuesday, I am doing another half-day walking tour, this time in Vatican City, where I will go on a guided tour of the Vatican museums, the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica. I can't say, yet, if I am going to run into the pope.

I have nothing set up, yet, for Wednesday. I think I'm going to just wing it that day. It's the same thing on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I know I am going to take the train to Naples, and then on to Pompeii one of those days, but I'm not yet sure which day that will be. I'm planning to take a train up to Pisa on another one of those days, to see "The Leaning Tower of Pisa," of course.

On Thursday, however, I am taking a day-trip tour to Florence, where I will travel through the valleys of Chianti and Tevere, and across the slopes of the Apennines, to reach my destination.

During my day in Florence, I will go on a guided visit to the Galleria dell'Accademia, to see Michelangelo's masterpiece, the "David," and then do a walking tour to the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, to see the Baptistery, Giotto's Bell Tower, and Brunelleschi's dome. Then I will have lunch in the Piazza della Signoria, before going to the Basilica di Santa Croce, to see the burial place of several famous Italians, including Michelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli, and Guglielmo Marconi (the inventor of radio) before ending my day trip at a Florentine leather school.

My whole trip will end on Monday, April 12, when I board a plane to fly back to Atlanta. But, my return is so far away. I'm just looking forward to the next week, for right now.

Curt Yeomans covers education for the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached via e-mail at cyeomans@news-daily.com.