S: Italy and France 2011
FC: Italy and France 2011
1: The Cast & Crew | Jeff Allison | Jennilyn Stoffers | Ray Thacker | Teri Erickson | Wynette Pace | Carlene Spaulding | Mark Linnell | Hydee Cunningham
2: Things we learned on day 1: Rome 1. Boston is a terrible international airport. The international gates are through a parking lot and about a mile away. Once you get there you have to go through security again, making connecting flights almost impossible. Teri and Ray made it though. The rest of us were re-routed through London Heathrow. 2. Hydee became JR Cunningham going to Palm Beach. Luckily Delta was able to get that fixed as Hydee did not have a sex change on the flight from SLC to Boston. 3. Alitalia loses luggage. Out of 8 people traveling, only Mark got his luggage on the flight on which he arrived. 4. Pace in Italian means peace and is pronounced PAH-chay. This little lesson was delivered by the customs agent as we arrived.
3: The villa was 2 hours north of Rome. We went to the airport, picked up our 3 compact cars and hit the freeway. The fearless drivers were Jeff, Ray and Wynette. The cars did not have cruise control, so we're lucky that we didn't receive speeding tickets. There were fortresses at the top of every hill. It was so amazing. | Finding the Villa was very difficult. They left out what to do at one roundabout. We called the owner and he didn't speak a work of English. We finally found a cafe and they were able to talk to him. He met us there and we were able to follow him to the Villa. | Traveling to the Villa
4: The Villa was everything we wanted it to be. There were 4 bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms in the main house and a bedroom, a bathroom and a pool table in the pool house. The main house had a kitchen upstairs and a kitchen downstairs. We spent most of the time upstairs as it had the table where we cooked, ate and played cards. That night we went into the small town Monteleone d'Orvieto to grocery shop and have dinner. | T H E V I L L A
5: Monteleone d'Orvieto
6: On Sunday, we split up. Jeff and Ray headed to Rome to see if Jeff's luggage had arrived. The rest of us explored the small towns between Monteleone d'Orvieto and Perugia.
7: Mark couldn't figure out how to put the car in reverse. At one point in time, Hydee had to push him out of a parking spot. The rest of the day they made sure they were in a pull-through. Wynette did the best parallel parking of her life in Perugia. | Piegaro was having some sort of glass festival. We saw people etching on glass, blowing glass, and tons of glass jewelry. Wynette and J.L. really wanted to buy a potato fritter, but could never figure out if they needed money or tickets and no one spoke English. In our wanderings we also found a bakery with the best treats!
8: Orte On Monday we went to Orte, a small town that dates back to 6th Century BC. It is a fortress on a hill that needed to be conquered by us. We arrived at about noon and all the stores and shops were closed for siesta from noon to four. That didn't stop us from wandering the town. The streets were tiny and narrow but easy and fun to explore.
9: It was a very interesting little town. Ray and Wynette played checkers in the town square (Ray won). We found a little plaza where we took group pictures and some great action shots.
11: The fountain above was discovered a few years ago when the town was fixing the cobblestones in one of the plazas. Wynette kept capturing J.L. doing jumps at the end of one of the alleys.
12: Tuesday we split up. Carlene, Hydee, Mark and Jeff rode the train into Rome. Ray, Wynette, J.L. and Teri drove to the Eastern coast to experience Italian beaches. | On the way to the beach, we stopped in Perugia to do some sightseeing and shopping. Perugia is known for it's universities and art. Perugia also hosts many festivals throughout the year. | Perugia
13: After leaving Perugia, we headed due East. The scenery was amazing.
14: The first beach we hit was in Civitanova Marche. The beach wasn't sand, it was tiny rocks. We spent a good hour just sitting looking at all the different shapes, sizes and colors. Wynette is the only one that left the beach with no rocks in her pockets. We nicknamed it Jelly Belly Beach as some of the rocks looked like Jelly Bellies. | Civitanova Marche
15: We drove straight up the coast from Civitanova Marche to Ancona. We did make a pit stop at IKEA. | Ancona | View from the Top | View from the bottom
18: We left about 5:30 am on Wednesday to go to Florence. Florence is the 72nd most visited city in the world because of its beauty, art and architecture. They isn't enough room in the museums for all of the art. There are statues and all sorts of sculptures in the middle of most of the roundabouts. We had a local tell us that the museums will open the windows in the summer to let in fresh air. Above is the "Old Bridge." | F l o r e n c e
19: These statues are found in the Piazza della Signoria in Florence. The originals are in museums around the city. From left to right: Hercules and Cacus by Bandinelli (1534) David by Michelangelo (1501) Perseus by Cellini (1554) Fountain of Neptune by Ammannati (1565)
20: We battled rush hour traffic and arrived at the hotel in time to take their first shuttle into the city. We went to the Bargello museum, had lunch in the Piazza della Signoria, then split up to do a little sight-seeing or shopping. We met back up and went to the Uffizi museum. Then we once again split up. Mark and Jeff took a hop on/hop off bus tour, Ray wandered aimlessly and J.L., Hydee, Carlene, Wynette and Teri went to the Boboli Gardens.
21: B o b o l i G a r d e n s
22: The Boboli Gardens were built for Eleonora, wife of Cosmo Medici I. They were started in 1550 and cover 11 acres.
24: We took a bus tour of Tuscany on Thursday. Our first stop was Sienna. The Sienna Cathedral was built in 1230. The cathedral has a spectacular multi-colored marble flooring, that covers the whole of the inside like an enormous carpet. The floor is divided into 52 squares, with many biblical scenes. Within the cathedral there are fresco that have never been touched up since they were painted. There were also original hymnals used by the monks. It was a truly amazing church. The floors of the cathedral are covered 10 months of the year. Luckily for us, they uncover the floors in September and October to clean and restore. | Tuscany in Twelve Hours: Sienna
30: The Piazza del Campo is the home of the Palio race. There are 17 "Contrada" within Sienna. Each contrada is a small district within Sienna that has its own coat of arms, government, colors, emblems, etc. Each contrada enters into the Palio lottery and ten get to compete. They put fences up around the piazza along with straw bales and mattresses. As for the jockeys, there are no rules. They can hit and whip other horses or each other. There have even been years that the winning horse didn't have a jockey riding it any more.
32: We left Sienna and went to a family owned and run vineyard. They produce organic beef, wine and olive oil. We had a fantastic lunch.
34: Our tour guide drew this on her paper place mat while we were eating lunch. Mark and Jeff swiped it from the table...
35: San Gimignano
36: San Gimignano is a fortress on the top of a hill. It was a stopping point for catholic pilgrims on their way to Rome and the Vatican. Everyone should go on a pilgrimage to San Gimignano to get award winning gelato!
37: Pisa Pisa was the last stop on our Tuscany tour. The construction of the tower began in 1173 but wasn't finished until the 1300's. When construction began it was meant to be straight, however by the third story it was leaning. The lean was caused by the foundation being laid on soft ground. In the late '90's the incline became so severe, that the top engineers in the world were called in. The engineers could have actually straightened the tower, but for some odd reason, they were asked to leave the tower leaning. There are 294 steps to the top of the tower. We climbed every single one!!!
38: Climbing the tower was great. The incline doesn't look that steep, but on the inside, you actually end up leaning the direction of the tower as you go around. It was so fun! There are worn spots in the stairs where so many people have stepped in the exact same spot. Teri wasn't feeling well that day, so she stayed at the bottom. We missed her.
40: From back to front: Jennilyn, Wynette, Jeff, Mark, Ray, Carlene, Hydee. Insert: Teri
41: They only give you 20 minutes to climb the tower. There were times that it was a pretty tight squeeze on the stairs as the 5:40 group was coming down and we were climbing up.
42: It was a fantastic 12 hours. That night Mark, Jeff and Hydee stayed in Florence to do a tour the next day, while the rest of us headed back to the villa. We got back very, very late.
43: The view from the top was amazing.
44: Friday, we got up late, did some laundry, started cleaning, and took a car to the train station so Jeff, Mark and Hydee could get back to the villa. The one thing we wanted to do that day was go to Perugia because the Eurochocolate festival was going on. On our way to the beach on Tuesday, we saw this interesting looking town just South of Perugia so we thought Friday would be a good day to explore it since we were going that way for the festival. The interesting town was Assisi. Assisi is the birth place of Saint Francis. Saint Francis wanted to save the world, so he left his home to do missionary work. While on his travels he saw an angel. The angel told him he needed to save the world starting in his own town. So, he went back home and founded the Franciscan religious order. | Assisi
48: Spanish Steps People would not get out of our picture. | Deposition by Daniele da Volterra in the Trinita dei Monti at the top of the Spanish steps.
49: We left the villa early as we had tickets for a Colosseum tour. We dropped off the cars and got a shuttle driver to take us to the hotel. He asked what we were doing and we told him that we had a tour and he told us that there was a scheduled protest at the Colosseum and that the area was closed down. Sadly, for Mark and Jeff, this was the second time for them that a tour was canceled because of a protest The protest was supposed to attract 20,000 extra people to Rome, so we headed downtown to see other sights. We had some lunch and went to the Pantheon. Some of the party wanted to finish some souvenir shopping. Mark, J.L. and Wynette decided that they wanted to see the 20,000 extra people at the Colosseum. So the party split up. | In front of the police barricade | Behind the police barricade
50: In front of police barricade
51: Behind police barricade
52: Versailles | On Sunday, Carlene, J.L, Hydee and Wynette flew to Paris. The others flew home. Once in Paris, we took a taxi to the hotel, which was way too rich for us, then walked to the subway and took a train to Versailles. On Sundays, Versaille does their fountain show. We did a tour of the building, then spent the rest of the afternoon in the gardens. Versailles was originally a hunting lodge and Louis XIV turned it into the palace it is today.
56: This is the bed where the queen gave birth to the heirs to the throne. Unfortunately she had to do this in public. The people wanted to know that the child came from her and was a true heir to the throne. Marie Antoinette, wife of Louis XIV had four children, only one of which lived to adulthood. Both Louis XIV and Marie Antoinette were beheaded in 1793. | On the way back to Paris, we decided to stop at a "Mexican" restaurant. Their idea of Mexican was to add curry to the dish. It was truly awful.
57: Paris | On Monday, we went to as many sights in Paris as we could. We started at the Louvre, but the next available tour time wasn't until 2:00, so we went to Notre Dame.
58: Venus de Milo | Victory of Samothrace At the Louvre, we did the "Masterpieces" tour. A lovely lady took us around to show us the main pieces. It was short and sweet. | Mona Lisa | Riveting information
59: After the Louvre, we hopped on the hop on/hop off bus and headed to the Sacré-Coeur. We made it there 20 min. before the dome closed. However, we didn't have a credit card with a SIM card in it, so the ticket kiosk outside the building wouldn't let us buy tickets.
60: We walked from the Sacré-Coeur to the Moulin Rouge. Of course on the way we had to stop and get a crepe and souvenirs. What we didn't know is that the red light district was between point A and point B. We walked by some naughty stores.
61: We went to the Eiffel Tower...twice. Once during the day and once at night.
64: On Tuesday, we went to the Paris Catacombs. So interesting! They were a lime stone quarry on the outskirts of Paris. As Paris grew, it started being built over these quarries that had not been reinforced. Pretty soon, whole neighborhoods would cave into the quarries. Once they were stabilized, they were sitting empty. Also, as Paris grew, the cemeteries became full. During the plague, the cemeteries were overflowing and causing more problems. If a bottle of wine was opened, the air was so bad that it would go bad within an hour. So, they decided to start exhuming the bodies from the cemeteries and put them into the empty quarries. Every night, for 18 months, wagons full of bones and bodies would follow monks from a cemetery to the quarries. It was originally just a dumping ground, Once all the bodies were transferred, they transformed the caverns and rearranged the bones and skulls into patterns.
65: STOP! THIS IS THE EMPIRE OF THE DEAD
67: The black line on the ceiling was put there to help the limestone miners find their way out . There was one worker that would stay underground during his breaks and lunch to carve scenes in the limestone as seen to the left. The whole way through, Wynette felt like there was someone following us. Creepy!
68: The Musée Rodin has "The Thinker" sitting out in the garden. We spent 1 euro to go into the garden. We saw the thinker and the "Gates of Hell" before it started to rain. Luckily Hydee and J.L. were willing to save Wynette from Hell.
70: Sadly, on Wednesday, we flew home. A little note about our hotel: We stayed at the Hilton Paris Arc de Triomphe. It was way out of our league. Above, is a picture of the public restroom. Each of those mirrors are actually doors to your very own little bathroom. They didn't have paper towels to dry your hands with, they had linen towels. The service was great, and the breakfast was divine. Best waffles....ever. WOW!
81: Good Times must come to an end