S: Italy Trip of a Lifetime
BC: DEPARTED | ITALY | 19 JUNE 2012
1: ITALY | ITALY | ARRIVED 9 JUNE 2012 | We chose three of the most exciting cities in Italy to tour and explore, Venice, Florence and Rome. The people here do not have a national loyalty so much as a city or regional loyalty. They like to be called Venetians, Florentines and Romans.
2: I can't believe it!! I am finally going to a place I have dreamed of ever since I was a child...a place where history was made. Where I will get to see the most incredible architecture and art that the world has ever witnessed! Also, to be able to share this experience with my wife Julie and our close friends Mike & Cindy! Italy, Here We Come!
5: VENICE Situated in a lagoon in northeastern Italy, and criss-crossed by more than 200 canals and 400 bridges, Venice serves as capital of the Veneto —one of Italy’s wealthiest regions. The historic center of Venice, spreading out from the beautiful Basilica di San Marco, is built on a group of islets separated from the Adriatic Sea by a barrier of islands and peninsulas.
6: BELL TOWER | St Mark's Campanile (Campanile di San Marco in Italian) is the bell tower of St Mark's Basilica in Venice, Italy, located in the square (piazza) of the same name. It is one of the most recognizable symbols of the city. The tower is 98.6 meters tall, and stands alone in a corner of St Mark's Square, near the front of the basilica. It has a simple form, the bulk of which is a plain brick square shaft, 12 meters a side and 50 meters tall, above which is the arched belfry, housing five bells. The belfry is topped by a cube, alternate faces of which show walking lions and the female representation of Venice (la Giustizia: Justice). The tower is capped by a pyramidal spire, at the top of which sits a golden weather vane in the form of the archangel Gabriel. The campanile reached its present form in 1514. As it stands today, however, the tower is a reconstruction which leans slightly, completed in 1912 after the collapse of 1902.
8: WATERSPOUT/TORNADO!!! Something like this just doesn't happen every day! We were lucky and blessed to have seen this rare disturbance without injury or lose of life. Julie said it the best way and I quote "Shouldn't we be terrified?" as it traveled away from the small taxi boat that we were on and did very little damage.
10: Lido di Venezia and | VENICE
11: St. Mark's Basilica & Doges Palace We entered St. Marks in a big line for free with an enforced dress code. We were not aloud to take pictures or talk. The Doges tour was with a guide that was very knowledgeable about the palace. Lower right is Julie and me in the court yard of the Doges Palace where you can see the domes of St. Marks'. Lower center is a ceiling in the palace and lower left above the door to St. Marks'. We enjoyed a Gondola ride with an accordion player and a singer. Upper right is me bellying up to the breakfast buffet at our Hotel on the Island of Lido di Venezia. | This is Venice's own leaning tower. It is the Greek Orthodox church on the Island of Venice. There are actually two other leaning towers in the Venice area. The bell tower on the Island of Burano and the Basilica di San Marco Bell Tower.
12: From the beautifully colored picturesque streets to the Grand Canal and the Rialto Bridge we traveled the canals and lagoons to visit the Island of Burano, the cemetery island of Saint Michele and the Jewish Ghetto and tasted the wonderful Italian cuisine. The Bridge of Sighs shown below left is part of the Dogies Palace and looks out at the lagoon in Venice.
13: Our trip has been amazing!! The locals are as warm and beautiful as expected. We've been able to visit all of the places on my list and I got to take as many pictures as I wanted. This place seems to have been built for tourists yet in some places they don't make it very comfortable for us tourist. You have to pay and get food or drink in order to sit in a chair at a cafe.
14: FIRENZE | Nuova Pianta Di | 14 JUNE 2012 | DUOMO
15: PIAZZA DELLA SIGNORIA Right from Medieval times, Piazza della Signoria has always been the civic centre of Florentine life. Although some original buildings (the Loggia dei Pisani and the Church of St. Cecilia) and the ancient brick paving, which gave it greater unity of style, have now disappeared, it remains in all its aspects a square of incomparable beauty and elegance.. (Pictured below) | PONTE VECCHIO
16: DUOMO OF FLORENCE Built by Filippo Brunelleschi who won the competition for its commission in 1418, the dome is egg-shaped and was made without scaffolding. The raising of this dome, the largest in the world in its time, was no easy architectural feat. At the base of the dome, just above the drum, Baccio d'Agnolo began adding a balcony in 1507. One of the eight sides was finished by 1515, when someone asked Michelangelo -- whose artistic opinion was by this time taken as cardinal law -- what he thought of it. The master reportedly scoffed, "It looks like a cricket cage." Work was immediately halted, and to this day the other seven sides remain rough brick.
17: The only way to see the inside of the dome up close and enjoy the extraordinary view of Florence it offers is to climb its 463 steps (there is no elevator): the route takes you by the interior of the dome where you can admire Giorgio Vasari's frescoes of the Last Judgment (1572-9) up close. While they were designed by Vasari, they were actually mostly painted by his less-talented student Frederico Zuccari and finished by 1579. The frescoes were subjected to a thorough cleaning completed in 1996, which many people saw as a waste of restoration funds when so many more important works throughout the city were waiting to be salvaged. The scrubbing did, however, bring out Zuccari's innovative color palette. Continue upwards through the two shells of the cupola and out onto the lantern, from which you can enjoy impressive views of the city. We were a few short blocks from all the wonders and beauty of the ancient buildings and statues. Each day we discovered incredible art work that made your mouth hang open in awe! We visited two museums that contained brilliant works by Michaelangelo, Leonardo and others. I was amazed and overwhelmed by the two Pietas' at the Accademia Belle Arti and the David as well. We were unable to take pictures here but, I was able to get some wonderful books that explained all my questions and curiosities.
18: Tradition states that if you rub the snout of the boar, you will return one day back to Florence and it would be apparent by the well polished snout compared to the rest of its dull bronze body, that many travelers and tourists alike, believe this tale in the hope of wishing to come back to this quaint Italian city packed with arts, history and culture. You may see many visitors placing a coin in its mouth hoping the coin will fall directly into the grout below meaning their wish will come true, in a similar fashion to throwing a penny into a fountain. If the coin doesn't fall into the grout, the wish will not come true, but be warned though.. it is considered unlucky to try and make another wish hoping for a different result. | Rub his nose to return to Firenze one day.
21: We saw the new world living and working together with the old world.
22: Fiesole This is a town and commune of the province of Florence in the Italian region of Tuscany, on a famously scenic height above Florence, where we enjoyed a great view and meal. (Opposite page) The sister statue to our Statue of Liberty is in a Basilica in Florence and another Arch of Triumph in the center of the city. A statue of the "Huntress" was a classical decoration at our Hotel.
23: Gelato It was unusually hot in Florence for this time of year, so it was essential to make scheduled stops at the local Gelato stand!
24: Basilica di Santa Croce The tomb of Michelangelo as well as Galileo (lower left opposite page) are found here. This is the city where Michelangelo was born and his tomb is pictured above right. The Basilica is gigantic with many wonderful paintings and sculptures that I was able to photograph as long as I didn't use a flash.
26: ORVIETO On our way from Florence to Rome, we stopped for lunch and a few hours visit at a beautiful town. This town, like many is built on a mountain. We took an interesting trolley car up the side of the mountain to get to the heart of the town. Also, like most towns, there is a church, a square and a clock tower. We enjoyed good food and beautiful surroundings as we walked the streets of Orvieto. I tried a Wild Boar Burger because I was craving an American Hamburger (not the same). The Duomo of Orvieto is magnificent!
28: The Cathedral of Orvieto The narrative of the facade expresses the message of Salvation: from Creation, its beginning and foundation, to the Last Judgment. The bronze sculptures are of the prophets Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and the Archangel Gabriel and Michael. It also had many beautiful mosaics. The interior has many art pieces dating back to the thirteen and fourteen hundreds. (Inset on opposite page) Our last look at Orvieto.
30: AWE ROMA | 17 JUNE 2012
31: The Ancient City of Rome Our first day we toured the country within the country, the Vatican. Our next stop was the Roman Forum and the Colosseum. We then had free time to explore the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, the Spanish steps, the Borghese Gallery and many of the ancient Basilicas of this beautiful city. It was the Cathedrals that had many of the art works and architecture that we wanted to see and it took us several days to see as many of them as we could.
32: THE VATICAN | Home of the Pope | 18 JUNE 2012 | Rome Pieta was created by Michelangelo and is placed in St. Peters Basilica now behind bullet-proof glass because of one disturbed person who tried to destroy the masterpiece with a hammer twenty years ago. A must see for me! I was told the person hit the statue several times breaking off several pieces from the Madonna's face and the face of the Christ. They were repaired as best they could and now visitors can no longer get a very close look at this wonderful sculpture other than with pictures such as on the left.
33: St. Peters Basilica built during the reign of Constantine who was a soldier and dictator, a ruthless and ambitious ruler, whose worldly interests played a prominent, but not a predominant part in his determination to advance the banner of Jesus Christ. He was helped and exhorted in the role of supreme protagonist of Christianity by Pope Sylvester. (Upper left) Picture looking up into one of the smaller domes of St. Peters Basilica. (Lower left) Looking up into the large dome of St. Peter's created by Michaelangelo and below is a picture of part of the alter piece. The inset is a relief for a Pope's tomb.
34: The History of the Sistine Chapel began when it was constructed between 1475 and 1481 by Giovanni de Dolci under orders of Sixtus IV to a design by Baccio Pontelli. Some forty meters long and 13 meters wide, it long sided walls have six windows that illuminate the chapel. Also under the reign of Sixtus IV, the walls were painted by celebrated artists of that period that included Botticelli, Ghirlandaio, Pinturicchio and Signorelli.
35: SISTINE CHAPEL | It was a jaw-dropping experience to enter this part of St. Peters Basilica. I was expecting an enormous room with the famous art work of Michaelangelo to be difficult to see high on the ceiling. I was pleasantly surprised at the size of the beautifully painted ceiling and walls. I now know why this is considered a national treasure that had to be preserved for the generations to come. Torches to light the Chapel blackened the ceilings but are now clean and beautiful again. | Pope Julius II was a great admirer of the young Michelangelo, and despite the celebrated falling out over his commission for the Popes funeral monument, he persuaded Michelangelo one way or the other to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
36: ROMAN FORUM | Our Tour Guide Barbara
38: THE ARCH OF TRIUMPH DEDICATED TO EMPERIOR CONSTANTINE | Just my thoughts on this incredible piece of history
40: THE COLOSSEUM Vespasion meant the great amphitheatre to immortalize the name of the Flavians; Emperor Titus inaugurated it in 80 AD. Afterwards, details were added by the Emperor Domitian. Its construction took eight years. The archways had Doric semi columns on the first floor, Ionic on the second floor and Corinthian on the third. It stands 165 feet high, oval in shape, its axes measure 620 feet by 515. It held 50,000 spectators and 50 fountains were installed for refreshing the crowd. It also had a extraordinary air conditioning system with a roof called the velarium which was basically an immense awning, which on special occasions was spread out over the Colosseum to protect the spectators from the heat of the sun. On another occasion this Colosseum was flooded with water and was used as a reproduction of a great naval battle scene using hundreds of Gladiators.
41: Inset Pictures The pictures to the right from top to bottom are; "The mouth of Truth" from the movie Roman Holiday, our tour guide for the Roman Forum and Colosseum, view of the lower levers of the Colosseum, close up view of Colosseum outer wall, and an ancient piece of column from the Roman Forum.
44: PANTHEON | SPANISH STEPS
47: WOW! The Trevi Fountain...
48: This unique fountain has a long history. Its origins date back to ancient Roman times and when it served as the terminal point of the aqueduct Aqua Virgo. Aqua Virgo translates to “the Virgins Water” and derives from an old Roman legend. The legend states that a young maiden revealed the source of the water to a group of Roman soldiers. Emperor Augustus then ordered a 22 kilometer long aqueduct to be built with the purpose of leading the water to the thermal baths. The upper level of the fountain is dominated by a bas-relief on either side depicting scenes from this legend.
49: CHURCH OF THE BONES Santa Maria della Concezione church has a unique crypt that we had to visit. The Capuchin Monks, who came here in 17th century filled five underground chapels with bones of 4000 humans. Some of the bones and skulls are pilled up, but many of them are arranged in simple Christina symbols. The display,somehow shocking is to draw attention to vanity of common life on the earth. As the motto above the way out goes ‘ We were like you are, you will be like we are’.
50: Basilica of Saint Peter in Chains | San Pietro in Vincoli is a small basilica in Rome founded in the 5th century to house the chains that are believed to have bound Saint Peter in Jeruselem. Even more famous than the chains of Saint Peter is Michelangelo's statue of Moses, part of the Tomb of Pope Julius II found here.
53: We visited many other basilicas or churches in Rome such as San Carlo alle Qualtro Fontane lower left, St. Ignatius of Loyola pictured lower center with ceiling above left, Santa Maria Maggiore pictured opposite page left, Tempio Adriano (center), Santa Maria degli Angeli opposite page right, and Piazza Colonna opposite page lower right.
54: The Borghese Gallery, or Galleria Borghese, is one of the top museums in Rome. The museum is housed in the gorgeous Villa Borghese mansion in the Borghese Gardens on the Pincio Hill and contains masterful marble sculptures by Bernini among other treasures.
55: Arts patron Cardinal Scipione Borghese, who was the nephew of Pope Paul V, commissioned the building of the Villa Borghese and its lush surrounding gardens from 1613-1616. Borghese used the villa as a home for entertaining as well as a place to display his growing art collection. The Cardinal collected antiquities and was among the first patrons of Baroque sculptor Gianlorenzo Bernini (Inset portrait lower center).
56: POMPEII | Pompeii which is near Naples are considered port cities and looming over them is the ominous Mount Vesuzius. Mt. Vesuvius is an Italian volcano that erupted on August 24 A.D. blanketing the towns and 1000s of residents of Pompeii, Stabiae, and Herculaneum. Pompeii was buried 10' deep, while Herculaneum was buried under 75' of ash. This volcanic eruption is the first to be described in detail. The letter-writing Pliny the Younger was stationed about 18 miles away in Misenum from which vantage point he could see the eruption and feel the preceding earthquakes. His uncle, the naturalist Pliny the Elder, was in charge of area warships, but he turned his fleet to rescuing residents and died.
58: We enjoyed a 2 hour tour of the ancient ruins of Pompeii. Our tour guide "Marco" gave us insight on why the city was never rebuilt. He described Pompeii as a typical Roman town with an arena and theater, running water from aqueducts, Gladiators and Statesmen, hotels and Temples. They had all the modern conveniences of the time period. They were very immoral, sinful people and according to the locals they were condemned by God for all eternity. Upper left is a Pizza-styled oven and a well. Lower left is a pipe for indoor running water. Center is a temple in the town square. They placed white stone that reflexed light to help mark the streets at night (lower left opposite page). The bodies that were recovered are cement casts of the bodies and not the mummified remains of people.
60: We traveled under the old aqueduct (above left) as we headed for the airport and our long 10 hour direct flight to Detroit. Upper right, I'm finally enjoying a cheese burger (upper right) although I'm not sure of the type of meat or the cheese. The girls doing their best to understand and communicate in a cafe. Below right I decided the only way to extend my visit is to jump into a fountain and get arrested. Here is my attempt in a dry fountain at a local park. No such luck!
61: We said our farewells to Venice, Florence, Rome, Italy and our wonderful tour guide Barbara with a Michigan salute of the local food and drink! | Great Friends, Good Food, Awesome Art and Ancient History make for a Fantastic Vacation of a Life Time!