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FC: The Provin's 2011 Italy Vacation

1: Our Italy vacation was truly a chance in a life-time. We were able to spend some time in Rome, Florence and the Amalfi Coast. The sights were both amazing and breathtaking. We soaked in the history of the cities, the culture, and the beautiful art and architecture. The Italian cuisine was delicious. The wine was robust and flavorful. Someday, we hope to go back!

2: We left for Rome from the Des Moines Airport early on Monday, April 11, 2011. We arrived in Rome Tuesday morning. We took a van to our hotel, the Sheraton Golf Resort. We checked in, settled into our room, and then went to explore Rome.

4: The church of Santa Maria in Aracoeli stands on the Capitoline Hill at the top of a wide, steep flight of steps. The church dates back to the 13th century. The view of the city from the top of the steps was beautiful. We enjoyed sitting on the steps watching the people and traffic.

6: The Piazza del Campidoglio was designed by Michelangelo. The floor of the piazza is inlaid with a star-shaped pattern. Michelangelo placed an equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius in the center. It escaped the fate of many statues that were melted down by the pagan emperors during the Middle Ages.

8: The Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II was built to honor the first king of a unified Italy. It was built of pure white marble. It consists of majestic stairways, Corinthian columns, fountains, an equestrian sculpture of Victor Emmanuel, and two statues of the goddess Victoria riding on Quadrigas.

9: The monument holds the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier with an eternal flame. The body of the unknown soldier was chosen in 1921 from 11 unknown remains during World War I.

10: The Roman Forum was the hub of daily life in Rome, the capital of the world's largest empire. It was the center of Roman social, economic, and political life. All roads led to Rome.

12: The Colosseum stands in the heart of Rome. Building began in AD 72 and it took 8 years to complete. The Colosseum covers about 6 acres and rises to 159 feet. The structure could hold 70,000 spectators. There were 3 tiers, each with 80 arches and an attic. The top had brackets that allowed for a shade for the sun and bad weather.

13: The arena had a wooden floor covered with canvas and sand. Tens of thousands of animals were killed in the arena. The Gladiator games would last up to 100 days.

14: Hadrian's Villa was built in the 2nd century AD by Emperor Hadrian in Trivoli. The villa was built for the emperor to get away from the city life of Rome to enjoy the peaceful and beautiful countryside. The complex comprised of more than 30 buildings and covered about 250 acres. There were palaces, temples, pools, fountains, and many statues.

18: Tivoli Villa d'Este was built in 1570 AD. The Italian-style garden includes over 500 fountains, water jets, pools, cascades, and grottoes. Roman hydraulic engineering diverted water from the Aniene River to supply water to the fountains and pools. The views were beautiful.

19: All the gardens and fountains were terraced on a hill.

22: The Fontana Di Trevi was our favorite fountain. In the middle, Neptune rides a shell-shaped chariot drawn by seahorses.

24: At the top of the Spanish Steps is the Church of the Trinita Dei Monti. This was a beautiful place we kept coming back to where we could just sit and watch the people. The view below was breathtaking.

26: The Pantheon was built in 227 B.C. An obelisk of Ramsses II can be seen in front. The inside of the Pantheon measures 43.4 meters in width and height. Light and air enters through the opening at the top called the oculus which is 9 meters across. Some of Italy's most famous kings are buried here.

28: We traveled to Florence on a train. We were unsure at first how to find our train and read the information board but we figured it out. Wow, a great way to travel!

29: The Duomo di Santa Maria del Fiore can hold up to 20,000 people. The exterior is built of green and white striped marble. It has amazing Gothic arches and some of Italy's best stained-glass windows.

30: The barrel-vaulted ceilings and windows made the Duomo feel light and airy. A dome can be found at the crossing of the transepts and nave.

32: These pieces of art are located in the Piazza Della Signoria. Open-air public assemblies were called here in times of crisis. A fountain featuring Neptune can be found in the middle. A bronze statue shows Perseus with Medusa's severed head. | A copy of Michelangelo'sDavid is found here as well.

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