FC: Italy 2011
1: Arriving in Pompei at the train station. | Pompei's beautiful Duomo and campanile.
2: The ruins of Pompei from the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD.
4: Naples Our hotel overlooked Piazza Garibaldi, an area that currently resembles NYC's Ground Zero, but not sure why. Bustling place with the train station on the other side. Below, our Hotel room....the UNA Hotel Napoli. Highly recommend UNA hotels!
5: Shopping area and sidewalk artist. (This is where the chocolate story originates!)
6: Palazzo Reale - The Royal Palace in Naples
7: To the right: Wood carvings famous in Naples.
8: Brandi-Est. 1790 and inventor of the margherita pizza. Original ovens below, menu to the right. Neopolitans take their pizza *very* seriously and it's *very* good!
9: The before and after! Lauren doesn't like end crusts (the best part!) And a wood carving in the restaurant.
11: Rome The Colosseum to the left and the Arch of Constantine below. The Arch is between the Colosseum and Palatine Hill, dedicated in 315 AD.
12: The Pantheon. Originally built as a temple to all gods from Ancient Rome, it is now a Roman Catholic church. | The tomb of Raphael, master painter, who died in 1520 at the age of 37. The tomb is inside the Pantheon.
13: Inside the Pantheon and the piazza outside the Pantheon below. A shame it was raining lightly that day because it is lined with cafes and shops that were largely empty.
14: Gelato!! | The travesty of this trip is that while I was in Italy for 8 days, I only had gelato THREE times!!! However, I did take pictures of it everywhere we went because it just looked so darn good! (And it was!!!)
15: To the left and below was from the same shop. I think Lauren said they had around 60 flavors (take THAT Baskin-Robbins!). The guy behind the counter gave us a tasting spoon every time we mentioned an interesting flavor (and there were a LOT of them). We felt obligated to then buy some but, man, were we stuffed!
16: The Trevi Fountain The detail is astounding, beautiful and romantic. Legend has it that you are to throw a coin into the fountain with your right hand and over your left shoulder and one day you will return to Rome. I did this in 1983 and returned in 2011 so I guess it's true! :-)
17: Day and night views | On this day we also visited the Borghese Gallery. No photos allowed, but an amazing art gallery!
18: Wednesday: All day at the Vatican by myself while Lauren was in class. This was an amazing day. I had a ticket to see the Pope speak in the Audience Hall behind the Vatican walls at his weekly Wednesday address. I'm not Catholic but being in the presence of the Pope is an experience! I felt so lucky to be there (especially after the hotel didn't give me my wake-up call and I nearly missed it). Then in the early afternoon Lauren had gotten me on a tour of the Necropolis, 2 floors beneath the Basilica. This tour is hard to come by and only takes 14 people so I was extremely lucky to get to go (thank you, Lauren!!). The Necropolis is where St. Peter was martyred and where most of his bones lie today (some of his bones are in the Pope's private chapel in his apartments). To be at this spot, and pray at the site of the tomb of the first Apostle, is truly indescribable, and unfortunately, no pictures were allowed anywhere in this area. The tour ended in the Basilica where we wandered among the throngs of people. It's really too much to take in at once, there is that much art and history to be absorbed. After viewing the Basilica I went to the Vatican museums and the Sistine Chapel. Truly an amazing day I am so grateful to have experienced.
20: The Basilica, St. Peter's Square and the central nave.
21: Michelangelo's "Pieta," from 1498-99. A depiction of Jesus on the lap of his mother Mary after the crucifixion. It's the only piece Michelangelo ever signed. It is also now behind glass as some moron once tried to deface it.
22: The Audience Hall is rather contemporary and seems kind of out of place in Vatican City. The only adornments are a stained glass window on either side of the room and the contemporary sculpture at the front.
23: The Pope gives his message in Italian and then various Cardinals repeat the message in their language...German, Spanish, English, French.
24: Inside the Vatican Museums. I've always been drawn to ornate ceilings and the work that must have been entailed (and the patience that I don't possess).
25: A forbidden photo of the altar in the Sistine Chapel.
26: At the end of this fantastic but exhausting day, Lauren and I went for coffee and I ordered a donut. Italians don't just hand you a donut in a bag...food, all food (apparently including donuts!) is to be experienced! On our way to dinner after our coffee, we stopped at a bakery.
27: After our yummy dinner, our waiter insisted we try his favorite dessert, below. It's a rhumbaba. Light yeast cake soaked in rum with fresh strawberries and Italian whipped cream (less sweet than ours). It is now MY favorite dessert! We were stuffed from dinner but we ate every last bite before heading to the Spanish Steps.
28: On Thursday we rented a car and headed north. We saw and did quite a bit in the next few days! On highways, the Italians have it correct. They drive on the right and pass on the left. They all obey this and it makes life on the highway much better for all. This is not true of city driving. There are often no lines on the pavement and where there are, they are widely ignored. It is not uncommon to see 4 cars abreast on a 2-lane highway, all jockeying for position and all with horns blazing. It is very unnerving! | Our first stop, Siena, about an hour south of Florence (the guidebooks say 30 minutes but they lie! lol) Siena is beautiful and the very definition of a charming Italian town.
29: We thought their Duomo was the most beautiful of all we visited, both inside and out. It literally took my breath away when we rounded the street corner leading to it..
30: The Duomo organ, left. Lots of pedestrian streets, right. A Vespa parking lot, bottom right. Gorgeous produce at a Siena market, bottom left.
31: And then it was on to Florence for the night. Can't say enough about the Hotel Centrale. Our favorite hotel all week and within 2 blocks of the Duomo and major historic area. Because both Lauren and I had been to Florence before, we stayed the night, shopped a very little in the morning, saw the Duomo and moved on. | The Duomo, left, and Florence Baptistery, right. The Baptistery was built between 1059 and 1128.
32: The altar in the Duomo and the domed ceiling. Begun in 1296 and completed in 1436. This is one of Italy's largest churches.
33: After the morning in Florence, we were headed to Verona with a stop in Bologna, site of Western Europe's oldest university. This is where I nearly killed a Vespa rider (completely unintentional, I swear!). We had lunch (spaghetti Bolognese for me, of course!) and shopped a bit. The city was so crowded with cars, Vespas, pedestrians, etc. that we never did find the university. I was just grateful to get out alive and not kill anyone in the process! :-) | Beautiful cakes in a bakery window.
34: Bologna Lunch, left. Shopping, below. Coffee (aaaaaah!), right.
35: And then on to Verona, site of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. We arrived in the evening, checked into our hotel and went out for dinner. Because we were within the historic district walls, we weren't finding much in the way of restaurants, but eventually went into one that had a bar in front with several people in it. We were shown to the back restaurant where there was not a soul. Not a good sign...our first of several. Options were limited, however, so we decided to give it a go. The second sign that something was amiss was when the waiter said he couldn't mix and match the pasta noodles and the sauces. It had to be ordered as noted on the (limited) menu. The third sign that something was amiss was when, after ordering, we were chatting when we heard a microwave DING! go off. The fourth sign was when the food arrived and mine was lukewarm, obviously from a can, and completely inedible. Lauren ate her risotto and then we went in search of food for me. I ended up with pizza and gelato so it wasn't a totally lost night. :-) | Verona's Arena.
36: Supposedly this was Juliet's courtyard and balcony. Within the courtyard is a statue of Juliet, below. You're supposed to rub her right breast for good luck.We didn't. lol Outside of the courtyard is the sign and red-lit heart showing the way to her house.
37: Inside the courtyard are two of these gates, above. On them are padlocks with names or sentiments engraved on them. A couple is to lock their padlocks together on this and throw away the keys for everlasting love. | An inventive trash can! | Beauty and the Beast was to play that day. Wish we'd had the time! | I thought this street performer was hilarious but Lauren was less than amused. :-)
38: Saturday morning market was in full swing! The contraption to the left is how they used to measure produce.
39: Lauren said she had seen Cavalier's all over Italy but I didn't see one until Verona. His name is Sam and he looks a *lot* like our Bella. | My friend Heike has been trying to get me to come to Cologne for the German Xmas markets for years. Finally made one, though it was in Italy!
40: Last stop before returning to Rome...Perugia. Known for its chocolate company, Perugina and its famous Baci candy. Talmone is a candy store with Baci and every other kind of candy imaginable. This town takes enormous stamina to visit as all of its streets are steep, steep, STEEP! | An end note to my daughters. To Lauren, you are a master tour guide and a fantastic traveling companion. I loved every minute with you!! To Taylor, I missed you enormously on this trip but so admire that you put prior commitments first. I love you both more than I can ever say.