S: ITALY 2010
1: September 18 - October 2, 2010 Depart September 18th 10:45 am ORD to NYC LaGuardia Transfer to JFK 5:25 pm JFK to Rome (lands at 7:55 am (12:55 am CT) on September 19th) ROME AND VATICAN CITY – September 19th – 22nd Hotel Patria Via Torino 36 FLORENCE, TUSCANY, AND SIENA– September 22nd – 26th Hotel De Lanzi Via Delle Oche 11 CINQUE TERRA – September 26th – 28th Il Borgo di Campi Strada Litoranea Km 9 4 Riomaggiore, SP 19017 PARMA – September 28th – 29th Liberty Residence Hotel Pizzale Salvo d'Aquisto, 15 VENICE – September 29th – October 1st Alloggi Gerotto Calderan Campo San Geremia, 283 Depart October 2nd 7:45 am Venice to Madrid (lands at 10:15 am) 11:55 am Madrid to ORD (lands at 2:15 pm CT (9:15 pm Italian time)) | Mac was NOT excited to see Mommy leave. And while I was very excited for the trip and looking forward to a much needed break, I was a little nervous to leave my babies for so long!
2: En ROUTE Sunday, September 19th | our first "Italian" meal
3: ROME | I'm pretty much set! | San Bernardo Piazza | Piazza della Repubblica | Santa Maria Maggiore Built in the 350's by Pope Liberius after the Virgin Mary appeared to him in a dream and told him to build a church in her honor wherever the next snow fell.
4: Colosseo | we made it | After landing in Rome (and only about an hour of sleep), we walked directly to the Colosseum. This 1930 year old structure was AMAZING. Gladiators fought hungry lions who popped up through trap doors while emperors, knights, and citizens of all classes enjoyed the show.
7: While stands the Colosseum, Rome shall stand; When falls the Colosseum, Rome shall fall; And when Rome falls, the world. - Lord Byron
8: A view of the Colosseum and Arco Di Costantino
9: Palatine Hill | Overlooking the Roman Forum, the Palatine was the setting for Romulus' murder of his brother Remus and Rome was founded in 753 BC. It is home to the remains of Emperor Domitian's palace which included a stadium for private games and events, baths, gardens, and the private residence. Much of the palace was adorned with colored marble that is still in place today.
10: Roman Forum | One of the most interesting buildings in the Roman Forum was the Tempio di Romolo which was originally a pagan temple that was turned in to a church with the addition of a cross by Pope Felix IV in the 6th century. The original ancient bronze doors still exist. | The Tiber River was notorious for flooding. You can see the marks where they tried to pull down the columns of this building to try and free it from the silt build up. The columns would not budge so they gave up and built a church INSIDE of this previously pagan structure.
11: ROME | gelato, our hotel, and one of the many buildings that caused me to "get inside the map" | on the streets of
12: Quatro Fontaine | Roma Capitale Pantheon
13: Mom had been in Italy the year before our visit and sent us with a lot of great tips. Our favorite was throwing coins in to Trevi Fountain. A traditional legend holds that if visitors throw a coin into the fountain, they are ensured a return to Rome. A second coin will lead to a new romance and three will ensure either a marriage or divorce. We all threw just one coin. It is considered lucky to throw the coins with one's right hand over one's left shoulder into the fountain.
14: We were wandering the streets on our first night and ended up at this little restaurant tucked away from all the piazzas. It was FANTASTIC! We knew we were on to something when everyone at the table next to us was speaking Italian. Go where the locals go! Gnocchi, pasta.... etc. It was definitely a good sign of what was to come!
15: The Spanish Steps Monday, September 20th
16: Dining was definitely the highlight of our trip. We only bought about $100 worth of souvenirs between the three of us... which simply left more money to spend on food and wine! Some of our favorites included gnocchi with cherry tomatoes, pesto & mussels at La Cantuccio in Rome, the family style dinner at Trattoria der Pallazo (also in Rome), gnocchi with blue cheese and walnuts at La Grotta Guelfa in Florence, Vin Santo at Castello di Verrazzano in Greve in Chianti, limoncello and lots of wine at Pizzeria S. Croce in Florence, milk fed veal chop with cherry tomatoes & potatoes at L'Osteria di Giovanni in Florence, seafood risotto in Riomaggiore, focaccia from Il Massimo Della Focaccia in Monterosso, the dinner at Angiol D'or in Parma, the best pizza EVER at a hole in the wall in Venice (that we couldn't find again if our lives depended on it!), our favorite snack of cookies and Nutella, and of course, the Crispy McBacon! I think the only things we had that we didn't like were any form of hot dog (pizza or calzone - we should have known being out of Chicago not to go with the hot dog) and Grappa. Grappa does NOT equal yummy! "It tastes like burning!"
18: On the streets of ROMA | Smart Cars ARE smart! | Piazza del Popolo | Castel Sant Angelo
19: We took a walk along the Tiber River from Ponte Margherita to Ponte Vittorio Emanuele II. It was a nice day, but not as scenic as we had hoped. | Palazzo di Giustizia
21: Our walk continued through the streets of Rome: Piazza d'Oro, Piazza Navona, the Pantheon, and Templo Adriano.
22: Trattoria der Pallazo Tel: 06/68801488 Address: Largo del Pallaro 15 Dinner! This is a fun place and a great experience, filled with mostly Italians though some Americans do stumble upon it. They speak English there so it won't be a problem. It's located behind Piazza Navona which sometimes makes it hard to find. Reservations are recommended though not always purposeful as I have arrived many times and waited nonetheless. It's VERY popular with the locals. The owner is a husband and wife team who cook and serve and treat you like family (which means they may even yell at you if you don't finish your plate!). Everything is homemade, right down to the pasta. There are no menus, no choices, you eat what they cook. The amazing thing is... no matter what they cook, it's outstanding. Imagine eating Sunday dinner at an Italian family's home. That is what this restaurant is like. For about $20 a person, you get appetizers consisting of prosciutto, mozzarella, vegetables, meatballs, olives, then you get a pasta followed by a meat, homemade potato chips, wine and dessert. If you want more wine, it's just a few extra dollars a bottle... and it's great! You are surrounded by noisy Italian families and friends sprinkled with some touristy groups, but it feels like you are part of their family. Above the door is written:""qua se manga quello che passa casa" which means "here you eat what we want to feed you." It's definitely worth it, but I would advise a light lunch as the food is plentiful. After dinner walk around the corner to Piazza Navona or Campo dei Fiori to listen to musicians playing in the street, grab a coffee or gelato! | Thank you | Jen!
23: Piazza San Pietro
24: We avoided the line for the Musei Vaticani by booking our audio tour the day before... thank goodness! | Galleria Chiaramonti | Braccio Nuovo | Museo Egizio | Tuesday, September 21st Vatican City
25: Galleria delle Carte Geografiche
26: Stanze di Raffaello
27: Sala degli Animali | Hercules of the Forum Boarium | Cortille della Pigna
28: Capella Sistina
29: Lunch and a quick water break (Romans are very proud of their water and there are running fountains every where) before we took a quick tour of the Basilica di San Pietro
30: Inside the cathedral, we found entombed popes, St. Peter enthroned whose foot has been worn down by pilgrims paying their respects by rubbing or kissing the foot , the Porta Santa which is only opened on Holy Years, creepy floor grates, and the Pieta statue behind bullet proof glass. | We made Laurie, the nice little Catholic girl, do everything in the church. :)
32: Florence at First Sight | Wednesday, September 22
33: Duomo | After a long day at Vatican City, we enjoyed some wine and dinner and departed the next day for Florence via high speed train - a 2 hour ride. Our first sight was the Basilica di Santa Maria Novella against a gorgeous blue sky. We checked in to our hotel and went straight to the Duomo (Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore) and climbed the 463 steps to the top for some fantastic views.
35: The stairwells were very narrow and at some points a two-way path going up and down | And then we had to go back down... | A sneak peak on the way up...
36: Inside the | Duomo | It took 11 years to paint the 38,750 square foot dome with a representation of The Last Judgement... and there were many disturbing scenes
37: Exploring Florence | Mercato Centrale | Campanile | Palazzo Vecchio | Limoncello and Italian Jager at Il Guelfo Brillo
38: Thursday, September 23rd We took a "bus" trip to Montefioralle in Greve in Chianti which turned out to be just us in a taxi! Our driver was very knowledgeable and took us to check out the tiny, medieval town before arriving at Castello di Verrazzano for a winery tour. We saw capers, grapes, and olives all being grown and sampled delicious wines. We discovered a new favorite, Vin Santo or the Holy Wine. The grapes for Vin Santo are kept in warm, well ventilated rooms that allow the moisture in the grape to evaporate allowing the sugars in the grape to be more concentrated. Delizioso!
39: Vino Bianco "Ser Chiaro" Chianti Classico Chianti Classico Riserva Vin Santo
40: We decided to continue the theme of the day with some drinking in Piazza San Marco with the Basilica di Santa Croce in the background. Our very attractive waiter told us where he would be after work, but we were a little too tipsy to even attempt to meet up with him!. | And finishing first as always... LINDSAY!
42: ichelangelo's David is AMAZING. We were quite bored with the rest of the Galleria dell'Accademia and the Uffizi, but the massive size and detail of this statue took our breath away. It stands 17 feet tall and is made completely of marble. It is the iconic representation of culture. | M | a masterpiece of Renaissance sculpture | D A V I D
43: TURTLE POWER! | Window shopping at the market over Ponte Vecchio and the Arno River | Friday, September 24th
44: The View of Florence from Piazzale Michelangelo
45: Finished the day with a fancy dinner at L'Osteria di Giovanni
46: a beautiful day in | According to legend, Siena was founded by Senius, son of Remus, who was in turn the brother of Romulus, after whom Rome was named. Statues and other artwork depicting a she-wolf suckling the young twins Romulus and Remus can be seen all over the city of Siena. | Piazza del Campo | saturday, september 25th
47: A transplant from the U.S. recommended that we rent a car and drive around Tuscany rather than take the train to Siena. However, after a loooooong morning of checking 3 different rental car places (who had manual transmissions or no cars at all), we ended up on the train anyway... AND we got a 5 euro fine for not validating our train ticket. We enjoyed some McDonald's on the 90 minute train ride and emerged to blue skies in the cozy Tuscan hill town.
48: CINQUE | The 2 1/2 hour + 9 minute train ride from Florence to La Spezia to Riomaggiore resulted in quite a change in terrain. We emerged from a mountain tunnel in to a coastal paradise. We were greeted with a delicious seafood risotto and took the 1 km walk from Riomaggiore to Manarola on the Via dell' Amore (Lover's Lane).
49: TERRE | Via dell' Amore | There were padlocks on a fence and under the tunnel near the Manarola side on the path. Young loves wanting to lock in their love forever, come to Via dell’Amore, write their names on the lock and close it on a fence along the trail.
51: After dragging our luggage up the hill at the center of Riomaggiore, walking down the stone path to the house we shared with 2 girls from Madison, WI (small world!), and having dinner at the hotel, we slept very well our first night in Cinque Terre. On Monday, September 27th, we took a bus from the hotel, a train from Riomaggiore and ended up in Monterosso al Mare - the most scenic of the five lands. | Quiche and apple tarts for breakfast from our new favorite baker - Il Massimo della Focaccia | And so begins our 7 km hike through the mountains of Cinque Terre
52: Looking back to Monterosso from the trails | The terrain was rough at times, but it was well worth the views!
54: Thank goodness I don't care if I look cool! | More treacherous paths... | More amazing views
55: Corniglia | Not only did we have to walk to the village of Corniglia, but we had to walk down 33 flights (382 steps) to get to the train station!
56: After our long day of walking, we did a little grocery shopping in Riomaggiore and put together our own little dinner of foccacia, caprese salad, and WINE. We spent the night playing Phase 10 and snacking on a very large bag of cookies and Nutella. | "Do we have to go to bed? Can we drink the white wine??" ~ Laurie
57: Views from Il Borgo di Campi | Tuesday, September 28th | A lazy day in Monterosso al Mare
58: Waiting... | As gorgeous as Cinque Terre is, the one thing we did not like was all of the waiting. We felt like we spent half our time there waiting for trains or buses! At least it gave us a lot of time to chat and play cards. | waiting... | and more | waiting...
59: PARMA | Parma was our wild card. We had one day with no where to go and had considered Pisa, Bologna, and a couple other places, but decided Parma was a good in-between for Cinque Terre and Venice. After a 2 hour and 15 minute train ride, we got a room at the 2nd hotel we tried and paid 190 euro for the room - our most expensive accommodations yet! | We walked the entire city in about 2 hours. There was not too much to see - more churches and museums. We did have a delicious ham & cheese croissant snack before heading back to our room for some wine, Italian chocolate, and more Phase 10. Wednesday, September 29th
62: This meal deserved its own page. It was by far one of the best of the trip. We ate at Angol D'or - a small and deserted restaurant we found just strolling around Parma. We started with a bottle of Lambrusco, mozzarella, tomato, Parmesan, pear, and hazelnut salad and some Parma ham. The ham melted in our mouths - so good! Our entrée selections were pumpkin ravioli, risotto with eggplant, Parmesan, pesto, and tomato, and Parma ham on buttered noodles.
63: A train from Parma to Bologna and then it was on to Venice, "The City of Water". We couldn't believe the view just walking out from the train station! | September 29th - October 1st
64: Much of our time in Venice was just spent walking around. We didn't have to pay as close attention to the map as we did in other cities. We figured how lost can we get? We'd eventually hit water and have to turn around! | Serenissima | Queen of the Adriatic | City of Water | City of Canals
65: La Dominante | A much deserved gelato break... we hadn't eaten as many sweets as we thought we would throughout the trip. There was too much delicious pasta & pizza for our taste buds to think about dessert! | City of Masks | City of Bridges | The Floating City
66: Piazza San Marco | Piazza San Marco is the social, religious and political center of Venice. A grand, open space, it is one of the few urban spaces in Europe where human voices prevail over the sounds of motorized traffic.
67: St Mark's Campanile and Basilica | Recently restored in the 1990s and early 00s, the Clock Tower was placed where it would be visible from the waters of the lagoon and give notice to everyone of the wealth and glory of Venice. | The mosaics inside St. Mark's Basilica were AMAZING. The detail was stunning - we couldn't believe how much was still in tact considering they were completed in the first half of the 13th century! | One of the most recognizable symbols of the city, Campanile di San Marco is 98.6 metres (323 ft) tall, and stands alone in a corner of St Mark's Square.
68: Ponte della Costituzione designed by Santiago Calatrava
69: Gondolas, Bridges, and Canals... | OH MY! | Ponte di Rialto over the Grand Canal
70: Historical Pasta... NOT SEXY (we never did figure out what it was supposed to be!)
71: Friday, October 1st We took a vaporetto (water bus) over to the islands of Murano, best known for their glass making. In 1921, the Venetian Republic, feared fire and the destruction of the city’s mostly wooden buildings, so they ordered glassmakers to move their foundries to Murano. It was pouring, but we did a quick tour of a glass factory where they did a demonstration. It is so amazing what they can do!
72: One Last Look | Special Toast!
73: They never stamped my passport going IN to Italy and I was majorly bummed! Luckily, I got a stamp on the way OUT! I'm not sure how that makes sense, but WHATEVER! | And we saw Dennis Rodman at the airport in Madrid. We weren't sure if that was a good sign or a bad one, but it topped off one hell of a trip! | This photo pretty much summed up most of our trip (although it is missing the Phase 10 cards). We did a lot of walking which made us sleepy post-dinner so we would go back, lay in bed, eat cookies with Nutella, and read our books. We even did our own mini-book club and all read The Hunger Games Trilogy on the trip! Oh and wine. We drank A LOT of wine! | Headed Home