S: ITALY 2012
BC: MYERS © 2012
FC: La Bella Italia | May 26 - June 8, 2012
1: Bernadette laid the groundwork for a family vacation when she moved to Italy in August 2011 to spend her junior year studying at the University of Bologna. Nine months later, Joe, Sheila, Lilly and Olivia met Bernadette at the McDonald's in Rome's Termini Station, kicking off an unforgettable two-week adventure exploring Rome, Florence, Cinque Terre, Bologna and Venice. For us, Italy was truly bellissima. We wish we could share in this book all the magical moments — each gelato, velvety dish of pasta, awe-inspiring work of art, breathtaking view and colorful personality — but we can't. What follows are highlights of our trip. The rest is indelibly etched in our memories. | The trip of a lifetime ... | "A man who has not been in Italy is always conscious of an inferiority, from his not having seen what it is expected a man should see." -Samuel Johnson
3: Rome is like a free-spirited and captivating woman, beautiful and always smiling. Four days provided an opportunity to explore and fall in love with this amazing city. We loved its piazzas, cobblestoned streets, historic buildings and ancient ruins.
4: Traveling is the ruin of all happiness! There's no looking at a building after seeing Italy. — Fanny Burney | The Pantheon | Rome's umbrella
5: Piazza Navona
6: The Vatican
7: St. Peter's Dome
8: Trastevere | Trevi Fountain | Spanish Steps
9: "It is the city of mirrors, the city of mirages, at once solid and liquid, at once air and stone." – Erica Jong | Castel Sant'Angelo | Villa Borghese | Tiber River
11: If Rome is a free-spirited woman, then Florence is her more serious and refined sister. Florence's narrow streets and sidewalks are teeming with tourists and American students. It's difficult to relax, meander and appreciate the city's elegance and beauty. But, Florence is the undisputed capital of Renaissance art and history.
12: San Miniato
13: "The Creator made Italy from designs by Michaelangelo." — Mark Twain | Florence street scenes
14: > Artist Clet Abraham makes these silhouettes and sticks them on street signs throughout the city. | "Il Porcellino" | "Yum!" | More Florence
15: Souvenir shopping at the San Lorenzo market
16: Cinque Terre
17: After a week of the urban experience, we arrived in Cinque Terre, the Italian Riviera, much more low key than its French counterpart. Cinque Terre consists of five towns (the name means "five lands") nestled in the cliffs along the Ligurian Sea. Torrential rains and mudslides had devastated Vernazza in October 2011, but the residents and business owners worked hard to dig out and prepare the town for the 2012 tourist season. This leg of the trip provided so many beautiful memories, including the dinner at Ristorante Belforte and the hike.
18: "You may have the universe, if I may have Italy." — John Muir | The Hike | Cinque Terre is a national park. You can hike along a coastal path connecting the five towns. Several legs of the coastal hike are still closed from the mudslides. Instead, we ambitiously took the inland path to Corniglia. Straight up and straight down. We were ill prepared, but the adventure was one of the highlights of the trip.
19: Riomaggiore to Manarola
20: Manarola to Corniglia
22: Halfway to Corniglia, we stopped in the charming town of Volastra for a wine tasting at Casata dei Beghee. Carlo, one of the partners, charmed us with Cinqueterre DOP, a refreshing white with a flavor somewhere between a Riesling and a Chardonnay. | Volastra
23: When we reached Monterosso al Mare, we were tired, hungry and thirsty. How convenient that the town has the best beach in Cinque Terre. We spent the rest of the day nursing our aching calves and sore knees, swimming in the buoyant saltwater and basking in the sun. | Monterosso
25: Rejuvenated, we traveled to Bologna to see Bernadette's stomping ground. Bologna pleasantly surprised us. No tourists, Medieval architecture, miles of arcades and, as if we hadn't been well fed until now, unbelievable food, not to mention excellent shopping. Our new favorite store? Zara! | Bologna landmarks
26: Bernadette's apartment
27: Bernadette and her roommate, Cristina | Indiana University's staff in Bologna | Where Bernadette had her classes | The university piazza | The University
28: Bologna has 25 miles of arcades, built when the city was rapidly expanding in the early 12th century to accommodate the influx of people attending the university. The arcades shelter pedestrians from the hot sun and rain. We hiked two-and-a-half miles through 666 arches to the San Luca Sanctuary overlooking the city, driven by our obsession to burn off the calories we consumed the previous night at our bountiful dinner with the Longos. | Bernadette with the Longos, Antonello, Pietro and Leticia. | Bernadette and Pietro, the boy she tutored in English, exchange soccer regalia. | Climbing to San Luca
30: The numbered arches on the hike to San Luca prolong the agony by reminding you how much further you have to climb.
33: "Venice is like eating an entire box of chocolate liqueurs in one go." — Truman Capote | We arrived in the city of canals early afternoon along with throngs of tourists visiting for the day. It was an alarming assault, considering we hadn't encountered a tourist in two days. Someone important must have been visiting, because we saw men in dark sunglasses and headsets staked out in front of the posh Hotel Daniele and men with crisply starched naval uniforms meandering the streets.
34: Sightseeing in Venice | St. Mark's Basilica | St. Mark's Campanile and Doge's Palace | Bridge of Sighs
35: Cichettis are small appetizers we ate while pub hopping during the Venetian happy hour. We felt like Venetians, eating cichettis and drinking Prosecco and Aperol. | Cichettis
36: Murano and Burano | We ventured off the main island of Venice into the lagoon to visit the glass-making workshops of Murano and to experience the mellow charm of Burano, famous for its lace.
38: Food and Wine
39: Food and wine were stars on this trip. We indulged in gelato twice a day and wine with every lunch and dinner. Each meal was a feast, every dish a masterpiece. | Rome
40: Florence | Cinque Terre
41: Bologna | Venice
43: Getting around
44: Having fun
45: Special thanks to our tour guide, Bernadette, who helped make the trip a success. Now we understand why you love Italy. And a special nod to Rick Steves, our sixth traveling companion. | "In Italy for thirty years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed but they produced Michaelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love; they had five hundred years of democracy and peace and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock." — Orson Welles | Our Tour Guide
46: Favorite Memories | "The first-class, air-conditioned compartment on the train ride from Rome to Florence." "Watching the girls become good travelers." "Leaving the apartment at 7 p.m. for dinner and returning at midnight." | "Everything about Cinque Terre." "Wine, gelato and pasta!" "Having the family together."
47: "The huge appetizer at Osteria Quindici in Bologna." "Scavi tour under St. Peter's." "The hike in Cinque Terre." | "Burano." "View from St. Peter's dome." "Napping in the afternoon." | "Sharing the Florentine steak five ways at Trattoria Mario." "Dinner at Ristorante Belforte in Vernazza." "Dinner with the Longos, especially having to get up for a breather."
49: "What is the fatal charm of Italy? What do we find there that can be found nowhere else? I believe it is a certain permission to be human, which other places, other countries, lost long ago." — Erica Jong