S: Tour of Italy - 2011
BC: Ciao! | Buongiorno! Ho sete! Ho bisogno di una birra! Grazie! Prego!
1: Embarking in late May 2011 from Minneapolis, Alice, Mary and Grace took a two week/three generation tour from Rome through Florence. Along the way we saw ruins, ate wonderful food, traveled the slow trains, met new friends, visited Alyssa and discovered history.
2: The overnight flight on Alitalia was smooth and we arrived safely. We dropped our luggage at the airport Hilton (or as the cabbies call it the "Ilton Ilton") - the plan had been to take the hotel's free shuttle into the city to see the sights and stay awake as long as possible...but of course there was a strike, so we took a taxi instead to Piazza Navonna.
4: The Pantheon - Rome's oldest enclosed domed structure Roman public drinking fountain Grace and the Gladiator | Our chauffeur did not disappoint, but gave a rousing rendition of "crazy Italian cab driver" leaning on the horn, weaving at a dizzyingly fast pace through traffic. He cursed under his breath for an hour - completing the tableau with expansive hand gestures, abrupt braking and white-knuckle turns.
5: We reached Piazza Navonna and despite the immodest hour of 10 a.m. sat for a birra at Domiziano Ristorante. From there we wandered into Borromini's St. Agnes in Agony church on the Piazza. Then through the ancient streets to Cafe Geoleti for gelato. On the way back to the "Ilton Ilton" our driver begged permission and took us to Piranesi's Keyhole on Aventine Hill for a magical view of St. Peter's.
6: View of St. Peter's Basilica from our Convent Room Alice's quarters neat and tidy
7: Casa D'Accoglienza Tabor Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother - Via Paolo III - Rome
8: . | Vatican Gardens May 26, 2011 | Beyond this lichened wall we could see the Pinacoteca.
9: The Pinacoteca as viewed from the Pope's Gardens
10: Pathways, Plantings, and Peace
11: Medieval Vatican City wall, a statue for John Paul II, and beautiful fountains.
12: Scale Model of Vatican City and a Tour of the Gardens
13: We saw the Pope's heliport, the Vatican radio station and the best possible view of the dome of St. Peter's Basilica. | ...beautifully groomed Italian,French and English gardens from the 16th,17th and 18th centuries,
14: The Vatican Museums Magnificent ceilings and Michelangelo as painted by Raphael | We wandered all afternoon through the Pinocoteca,and saw special exhibits from Aboriginal Australia and Faberge. The adventure ended in the Sistine Chapel. Sorry - no photos allowed.
15: Time for a break! The Vatican experience was overwhelming with history, art, and beauty. A sidewalk cafe rest was just the ticket.
16: Our special dinner at Le Mani in Pasta Chef Andrea Consoli of Cooking Classes in Rome recommended this restaurant. When our taxi pulled into the very narrow Vei dei Genovesi we thought we were lost - but the driver insisted "this is it!"
17: Our server Francesco was a handsome older man with a big smile and good humor. We enjoyed champagne, wines, grilled veggies, beef rigatoni, fruta di mare pasta with a light red sauce, wonderful bread, a bracing lemon sorbet and high octane tirmisu.
18: Saint Peter's Square
19: Alice at the Holy Door - it was sealed by Pope John Paul II in 2000 and will be opened in the Jubilee Year of 2025
20: ...words cannot describe the grandeur of this place. Our necks ached with the effort of craning upward. To take it all in, in a single visit, is impossible.
22: Altar in St. Peter's Basilica Bells of St. Peter's Michelangelo's Pieta Dome of St. Peter's - Swiss Guards Alice touching St. Peter's toe
24: Wonderful guitar music as we wandered through ancient Rome on Saturday, May 29
25: Victor Emmanuel Monument Built in 1920 to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Italian Unification
26: Took the bus to the Victor Emmanuel Monument, then walked down the Via Del Fiori Imperiali to the Colosseum, Forum and Palatine Hill. Truly massive and wondrous.
27: Inside the Forum: Alice and Mary in the House of the Vestal Virgins The Curia Caligula's Palace Temple of Saturn
28: We did the Roman Forum walk according to our ever-present Rick Steves' Italy guidebook. | Pretty Girl at the Forum | Fresh flowers on Julius Caesar's funeral pyre. | Neppel Nose?
29: The walk through the Forum brought history to life for us. Afterwards - a great lunch at Enoteca Cavour 313. We tried to see San Pietro in Vincoli Church with Michelangelo's Moses; this attempt failed as did our second try that evening ...there's always next time! | Enoteca Cavour 313 | Flowers of the Vestal Virgins | Pretty Girl at the Forum
30: Trevi Fountain at Night Good-bye Rome! | We're off to Assisi
31: After Sunday morning Mass at St. Peter's Basilica, we departed Rome from Termini and with the help of fellow passengers made our connection to Assisi. We stayed at St. Anthony's Guest House where Sister Sue from Vancouver was our host. Al Cappone served us dinner at a local restaurant Monday night.
33: At St. Anthony's Guest House we stayed all together in one large room. This convent was warm and friendly. | St. Anthony and St. Clare, walked these narrow streets of cobbled stone. We learned of their lives and admired the Umbrian countryside.
34: Climbing above Assisi Looking up at Rocca Maggiori Assisi in Umbria | Saint Anthony's Basilica
35: Our view of St. Clare's Basilica from St. Anthony's Guesthouse Canoli! Canoli! Dinner at Ristorante Degli Orti A rest in the Piazza del Comune
36: Beautiful Cinque Terre We had two nights in Vernazza at Il Pirata. After a warm greeting in the bar, we followed our host Noelia up the narrow road towards lodgings we couldn't yet see. Our doubts grew as a car whizzed by forcing us to crowd up next to a tumble-down shack. For a moment it looked like we were going to be put up in this tilted hovel, but Noelia forged blithely on, showing us to a room in the old mill across a stream - completely charming!
37: The Cinque Terre is a National Park with protected wilderness | The medieval villages were once connected only by footpaths
38: Our trek from Vernazza to Corneglia to Manarola - a breathtaking hike along the sea with stops in each village to explore.
39: After a great day on the trails - we enjoyed a fabulous meal at Il Pirata - hosted by twins Massimo and Gianluca
44: Wednesday, June 1 We arrived in Lucca via the slow train - tired and weary. A bike ride around the walls of this medieval city and a fine dinner perked us up! | Alyssa at B&B Il Seminario | Lucca's Botanical Gardens | Cousins Together in Lucca!
45: We had a tremendous thunder storm as Grace was out running on the city walls. Drenched and muddy she quickly returned home to our B&B. Alyssa joined us for our night in Lucca.
46: From Lucca to Florence where we repaired to the Hilton for our final four nights in Italy. | Honestly - this was Alice's only martini the entire tour! Such discipline!
48: While in Florence we toured the Uffizi Gallery the Accademia, and the Duomo | On our final day Alice and Mary visited San Gimignano, Sienna and a Chianti vineyard.