S: Italy ~ 2011
BC: Venice | Rome | Sorrento | Guess What? | Toilet Flusher! | Created by Janelle Paulson
FC: Italy Venice~Sorrento~Amalfi Coast~Pompeii~Rome March 11-20, 2011
1: Day 1~Saturday Venice was an amazing city! After arriving at Marco Polo Airport, Deb and I hopped on a bus, boarded the #1 vaporetto, and then meandered down the Grand Canal to our hotel at the San Zaccario stop, only two blocks from St. Mark's Square. At more than two miles long, 150 feet wide and 15 feet deep, the canal is lined with beautiful palaces and passes under the famed Rialto Bridge. The 45 minute trip was truly a perfect way to experience the unique charms of the city and the hustle and bustle of the waterway.
4: After checking into Hotel Igea, quaintly located on Campo San Zaccaria, we were greeted with a bottle of Prosecco and chocolates, wandered the winding cobblestone streets and toasted our first day with a drink by the Rialto Bridge. That evening, compliments of our Dreaming Venice package, we dined at the hotel.
5: Day 2~ Sunday Before boarding our private taxi to a Murano Island glass factory, we started the day with a delicious breakfast buffet.
6: Views from the Campanile Bell Tower on St. Mark's Square
8: Built in the 11th century, St. Mark's Basilica is richly embellished with Byzantine mosaics, home to St. Mark's body and the four bronze horses, looted from Constantinople.
10: Our second night in Venice ended with a three-course meal at Ristorante alla Conchiglia. Under a canopy overlooking a sleepy little canal, we sipped wine as we dipped our bread in oil and balsamic vinegar. Not even the rain could dampen our fun.
11: Day 3~Monday Destination~Sorrento. To catch our 10:50 am EasyJet flight to Naples, we took an early Alilaguna Water Bus shuttle to the airport and after landing an hour later, boarded the Curreri Bus for a scenic drive along the coastline to Sorrento. As we entered town, there was the Hotel Antiche Mura, situated a block inland from Piazza Tasso atop a hill overlooking a ravine and surrounded by fragrant lemon trees.
12: The wood-fired pizza at Pizzeria da Gigino, topped off with my first gelato, was a delicious end to our first night in Sorrento!
13: Day 4~Tuesday Deb and I explored 30 miles of hairpin curves and breathtaking vistas of the Amalfi Coast via the city bus.
14: Amalfi's Byzantine and Moorish infused architecture
15: Day 5~Wednesday After another amazing breakfast buffet, we are off to Pompeii via the Circumvesuviana Train. Buried under 30 feet of ash from Vesuvius (pictured in Forum background), typical Roman life of A.D. 79 unfolded.
16: After a 4 hour visit to Pompeii, the remainder of the day was spent traveling to Rome via the craziness of Napoli Centrale train station and a 2 1/2 hour train ride to Rome's Termini Station. Upon arrival, a two-block long taxi line greeted us, but we managed to trek to Hotel Archimede in spite of the dark and pouring rain! After checking in, we relaxed over dinner at Flann O' Brien's Pub. | Day 6~Thursday Luckily, we purchased our Vatican Museum tickets on-line Wednesday night. A two-block walk from our hotel, the Repubblica Metro stop was a quick starting point to the day's destination~~Vatican City, a 100 acre independent country.
17: The Vatican Museum, one of the world's greatest art collections, housed over four miles of ancient statues, frescoes, tapestries and other antiquities. Our visit culminated with many of Raphael's masterpieces and the gem of the museum, Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel.
18: Always eager for a view from above, we opted to take an elevator to the roof of St. Peter's Basilica and then climb 323 narrow, domed-curved steps to the top of the dome! The views of the dome designed by Michelangelo, the square below, and the city were well worth our time and effort!
19: Rome does not have a modern skyline. No building in Rome can be taller than St. Peter's which is 452 feet tall and has the largest dome in the world. | The statues of Christ and the apostles are 18.7 feet tall.
20: Michelangelo sculpted his Pieta when he was 24 years old. | The Circus of Nero, where St. Peter was crucified, once sat on the spot which is now St. Peter's Basilica. Bernini's altar work and seven-story-tall bronze canopy are the site of daily mass. The church is filled with mosaics, not paintings. | The dome is 65.6 feet high, rising to 240 feet from the ground
21: Having bought our Roma Pass which allowed us unlimited use of the metro, bus and two sites, we took the metro in the evening to the Barberini stop and then walked to the Trevi Fountain, a Baroque avalanche of water gushing from 24 spouts. | The magic of the square is enhanced by the fact that no streets directly approach it. You can hear the excitement as you approach, and then you turn the corner and you are there! Tossing a coin over your shoulder ensures your wish to return to Rome.
22: Day 7~Friday The Colosseum, a 2000 year old structure, could accomodate 50,000 spectators who loved watching gladiators, criminals and animals fight to the death.
23: Constantine defeated Maxentius legalizing Christianity. The Arch of Constantine is decorated entirely with recycled carvings from other buildings. | Only a few fragments of the Forum, begun by Julius Caesar, exist. .
24: Palatine Hill, where Rome's emperors chose to live, provided amazing views of the Forum, pictured above. We spent several hours viewing such sights as Circus Maximus and toured a home with beautifully preserved frescoes. That evening we splurged on a delicious dinner, complete with wine and dessert, at Ristorante il Gabriello near the Spanish Steps. While enjoying another glass of wine across the street from the hotel, we laughed hysterically at a musical mechanical duck a vendor plopped down on our table. He wanted 20 euros. I said 5. He eventually agreed, so now Ole has an Italian duck.
25: Day 8~Saturday Our final day in Rome was via the city bus. The Victor Emmanuel Monument, in honor of Italy's first king, was our first stop. The 43 ft statue of the king on the horse is the | largest equestrian statue in the world. The mustache is over 5 ft wide, and a person could fit into the horse's hoof. Soldiers guard Italy's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
26: Capitoline Museum covered two buildings with an underground connecting passage and views of the Forum. Claiming to be the oldest museum in the world, it was founded in 1471 when a pope gave ancient statues to the citizens of Rome. | In the courtyard, massive chunks of Constantine, once a statue in the Forum, could be seen. The museum also included the 13th century She-Wolf and the greatest surviving equestrian stature of antiquity, Marcus Aurelius on horse. Because Christians believed it was a statue of Constantine, it was not destroyed. A copy, pictured below, now stands in the square.
28: Piazza Navona
29: Best way to see Rome...miss your bus stop, ride it to the end of the line, and then use a map and street signs to know when to get off! | This oblong square retains the shape of the original racetrack built around A.D. 80. Today, street music, artists, outdoor cafÃ©s and Bernini's Fountain of the Rivers made this an fun place to visit.
30: Built in 27 B.C., the Pantheon is the most complete ancient Roman buiding remaining today, continuously used since its construction, transforming from a pagan temple to a Christian church. An architectural wonder---its dome is exactly as wide, 142 feet, as it is high. | The portico, called "Rome's umbrella", is a gathering spot in a rainstorm. Its 40-foot one-piece granite columns are the biggest in Italy. The obelisk was originally erected in Egypt by Rameses II. | The Pantheon
32: Piazza della Rotondo In the center of the piazza is a fountain, the Fontana del Pantheon, capped by a Egyptian obelisk. The piazza is slopped with five steps on the south side, and two on the north. The steps are a perfect place to take in the magnitude of the Pantheon as well as a people-watching extravaganza spot! | Fountain fun!
33: The air was filled with the sounds of water trickling from the fountains, music, and voices.
34: On our trek to the metro with growling stomachs, we stumbled on La Locanda del Tempio. Situated on a busy little narrow street between the Pantheon and Trevi Fountain, the outdoor eating area provided a perfect place to reflect on our amazing Italian adventure while drinking several carafes of wine and eating one of our favorites~~~bread dipped in oil and balsamic vinegar. | Day 9~Sunday Arrivederci, Roma! Taking a taxi to catch our 10 am flight was definitely the way to go! Duty free shopping lesson---pack liquor in suitcase if you are not flying directly home because you can't take it through security.
35: Flights Friday/Saturday, March 11-12 Delta ~ Depart Minneapolis at 3:45 pm arrive Paris at 7:25 am ~ 8 hr 40 min Air France ~ Depart Paris at 9:55 am arrive Venice at 11:35 am ~ 1 hr 40 min Monday, March 14 EasyJet ~ Depart Venice at 10:50 am arrive Naples at 12:00 pm ~ 1 hr 10 min Sunday, March 20 Alitalia ~ Depart Rome at 10:10 am arrive Chicago at 3:05 pm ~ 11 hr 54 min Delta ~ Depart Chicago at 5:30 pm arrive Minneapolis at 7:02 pm ~ 1 hr 35 min | Venice Airport Bus to Venice ~ 3 #1 Vaporetto ~ 6.50 Rialto Bridge Drinks ~ 4 Murano Bracelet ~ 20 Campanile Tower ~ 8 St. Mark's Museum ~ 4 Ristorante alla Conchiglia ~ 20.50 Hotel Igea ~ 151.50 Waterbus to Airport ~ 13 EasyJet to Naples. ~ 25 EasyJet Bag Fee ~ 25 | Sorrento Curreri Bus to Sorrento ~ 10 Beer ~ 5 Pizzeria da Gigino ~ 14 Gelato Primavera ~ 3 Creama Limoni, Water ~ 8.80 SITA 24 hr Bus Ticket ~ 7.20 Amalfi~Cathedral ~ 3 Pizzeria da Franco ~ 11 Hotel Antiche Mura ~ 109 Circumvesuviana Train ~ 1.90 (Sorrento to Pompeii) Pompeii Entrance ~ 11 Circumvesuviana Train ~ 2.40 (Pompeii to Naples) | Rome Train to Rome ~ 13 Flann O' Brien's Pub ~ 16 Vatican Entrance ~ 19 Roma Pass ~ 25 St. Peter's Cupola ~ 7 Berzitello & Rosso ~ 15 Sunglasses ~ 5 T-Shirt for Ole ~ 5 'Il Gabriello Dinner ~ 28 Wine ~ 5 Gelatto ~ 3 'La Locanda del Tempio ~ 21 Rome Prints ~ 5 Italian Goodies ~ 8.80 Hotel Artemide ~ 350 Taxi to Airport ~ 22.50 Duty Free ~ 31.90 | Roundtrip Air ~ $1030 Hotels ~ 611 = $843 Food ~ 159 = $220 Transportation ~ 130 = $179 Sights ~ 77 = $106 Souveniors ~ 76 = $105 | Trip Total $2483 Memories....Priceless