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S: Sorelle d'Italia (Sisters in Italy)

FC: Sorelle d'Italia

1: May 7, 2010 We found each other after scary taxi rides and lots of searching. We still had time to enjoy the northeast corner of Rome we stayed in, at the Hotel Fenix.

4: May 8, 2010 Exploring Rome | We walked a lot today - from the National Museum to the edge of Vatican City

5: the Piazza Navona beautiful fountains, lots of street artists, street musicians, and yummy food - salmon pizza and bruschetta!

6: The Pantheon What a beautiful building, even under scaffolding! Tons of children on field trips, street music and outdoor tables full of people and food. Quintessential Italy!

7: This gives you a way to see how big the Pantheon really is. Look at this door!

8: beautiful overwhelming gorgeous exhausting | This sign appeared in almost every room - and there were tons of rooms! | the Vatican Museum | May 8, 2010

9: St. Peter's Basilica | The sun came out. Hooray!

11: May 9, 2010 The Roman Forum and Coliseum Today was a day to be amazed at how old and majestic things can be. We were lucky it was sunny. Today was all outside. | Yep, the Coliseum is huge... no doubt about it!

12: Night on the town Full of unexpected turns: from dinner, to the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain, and the Spanish Steps. Who can forget missing the Metro and walking around Rome at midnight? Thank you, Lord, for Harry's Bar!

13: On to Florence Note to self: take the faster train next time! We arrive in a thunderstorm. We have a beautiful view from Hotel Roma - the church above. We walk along the Arno River at dusk. Need I say more? | May 10, 2010

14: The Ponte Vecchio Not as picturesque as the image in my mind, but still a fun part of the landscape. | Florence - in the daytime or in the nighttime - is magical! It was so much more relaxing than Rome, too.

15: May 11, 2010 A morning at the Uffizi Gallery (Botticelli's Birth of Venus anyone?) Delicious lunch at Trattoria Nella - ravioli, rigolitti (Tuscan bread soup), fettucine, even rabbit! Great shopping in the piazza near Uffizi - scarves, scarves and more scarves!

16: the Duomo (Santa Maria del Fiore) A beautiful place to get out of the rain. The candles that people lit to pray for others were the prettiest objects to look at. | In the evening, a wonderful treat awaited us - opera in a church! After a yummy meal in a basement restaurant, we headed to a small church to watch Carmen, up close and personal. About 25 of us got an up-close seat, as well as champagne during intermission.

17: View of the Duomo from the Boboli Gardens | The lobby of our hotel: a beautiful painting of Florence | May 12, 2010

18: the Boboli Gardens | We headed here for a much needed break from museums and crowds. What a good decision! All the moss and endless trails, with beautiful statues popping up out of nowhere. We just love Florence!

19: After margherita pizza in Florence, we headed to catch a train to La Spezia, and then on to Riomaggiore. We arrived in time to chat with two older gentlemen who helped us find the owner of our apartment. We explored the many, many, many stairwells and found this marina. Gorgeous! | Cinque Terre

20: This is why we came to Italy - sunset on the Mediterranean Sea. Can you get any better than that? Well, add a red grapefruit Bacardi Breezer, and you've got a perfect evening!

21: May 13, 2010 After a good night's sleep in our apartment overlooking the Mediterranean, we set out to explore Cinque Terre. This stairwell is one of hundreds in Riomaggiore. It heads up to our apartment. We walked down the Via dell'Amore towards the next town, Manarola. You can see the train at the station.

22: Manarola | There were vineyards everywhere: around the towns and along the roads. These were along the Via dell'Amore. | Manarola's main street | Looking down on Manarola's marina

23: Yea for Rick Steves! This page is in honor of Rick Steves, our travel guru. He had fun self-guided walks in his guidebook, had the best places to eat, and was the most help on navigating the train system. Thank you, Rick, for a wonderful trip! | The view of Manarola, above, was taken from one of Rick's guided walks. Rick also led us to our favorite restaurant in Manarola, Trattoria Il Porticciolo. Salmon ravioli and roasted vegetables. Yum! | Water (no gas) and white wine: staples of Italian dining!

24: Weather We had interesting weather in Italy. It rained at least half the time, and we had hail and thunderstorms two of those days. Laurie went through two umbrellas. We saw Vernazza in the rain and hail (top). Note to self: don't climb to a high tower while it is lightning! Below is Riomaggiore, viewed from the north end of town, where we ate dinner at Ristorante Ripa del Sole.

25: May 14, 2010 Monterosso al Mare We enjoyed a self-guided walk around this beautiful town and managed to see a thunderstorm roll by but not overtake us. | Church of St. John the Baptist | A statue of St. Francis overlooks the ferry | A basketball court three stories up; I wouldn't want to have to get the ball!

26: Cemeteries You wouldn't think to visit these in Italy, but they were well worth it. Rick sent us by on the self-guided walks. Very peaceful, very well-kept. These views are from Monterosso, but we visited Manarola's as well.

27: Time in Monterosso Lunch at Via Venti, with the yummiest pear and cheese pasta ever made, as well as grilled fish and potatoes. The sun came out, so we enjoyed a view of Monterosso's beach on the way back to the train.

28: Our last afternoon in Riomaggiore Laundry and Skype, then soaking in the sun with more Red Grapefruit Bacardi Breezers. Lovely! We must do this again.

29: Riomaggiore's only beach is full of stones smoothed by waves. The water was beautiful, if a little rough. We sunbathed and read away our afternoon. | Only a couple men were brave enough to swim in the high waves. Better them than us!

30: May 15, 2010 Another wet day so we headed back to Rome earlier than planned. Ate McDonald's in La Spezia and had the only fountain Coca Cola Light (no ice available) on the trip. This red bathroom was in our hotel room in Fiumicino. | Bancomats were our best friends and our worst enemies. The Italian version of ATMs, they were easy access to money, but sometimes Laurie's bank didn't cooperate.

31: Time to separate Jen headed home to San Antonio, and Laurie caught the ferry to the gorgeous island of Sardinia. | May 16, 2010

32: Sardinia | What's not to love about this beautiful island? the boats the quiet the water the rental car

33: Day tripping

34: Ancient structures and odd parades

35: Rome collage

36: So much of Rome to see

37: More Italy memories

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