S: Italy - July 2012
FC: Celebrating our 25th Anniversary
2: We talked about going on this trip, for our 25th anniversary, for many years and it finally came. We left Chicago at 5:25 pm and arrived at 9:30 am in Rome on Friday, July 20th. This is where our story begins
4: Evening of July 20th, we start our tour of Rome with a visit toThe Spanish Steps.The138 steps built in 1725 lead from Piazza di Spagna at the base to Piazza Trinita dei Monti, by the Bourbon Kings of France, at the top. Our stops also included the Piazza Del Popolo (The Peoples Square) | ROMA
5: We took a ride around Rome by bus and end up at the Opera Ristorante for dinner. The food was fabulous and the live entertainment was excellent. After dinner it was back on the bus for an evening tour of Rome and a stop at St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City.
6: ~Vatican City~ Our first full day of touring included the Vatican Museum, St. Peter's Basilica, the Sistine Chapel and Vatican City. We were awestruck by the history and beauty we saw.
9: Left page at the top: The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel painted by Michelangelo. We were not allowed to take photographs, but we couldn't resist. I mean how often do you get to see this in person? Left page at the bottom: The Roman Pantheon outside. and inside the Pantheon. Facing Page: Various pictures of Piazza Navona. Piazza Navona was built on the ruins of the Stadium of Domitian in the 4th century A.D. Above center: We enjoyed dinner at a café just off of the square. There were lots of artists and street performers in Piazza Navona. It was a great evening just hanging out by ourselves in the square. We bought a watercolor painting for the house.
10: Top left to right: Shelda and I throwing our coins in Trevi Fountain. 'One to return to Rome...' Bottom left to right: The marble column of Marcus Aurelius in Piazza Colonna, Terry at the fountain in the Piazza Della Rotunda outside the Pantheon. Our tour guide talking about the city water fountain next to the Temple of Hadrian.
11: One of our excursions included a guided tour of the interior of the Colosseum. We were amazed by the shear size of it. We talked about what it must have been like in it's day. The floor would have been wooden and covered with sand. Below it were holding pens and lifts designed to move people and animals up through the floor via trap doors. The Colosseum was inaugurated in 80 A.D. by Emperor Titus.
12: The area surrounding the Colosseum was filled with the remains of temples like the one dedicated to the goddess Venus, and Rome (above left) and the Arch of Constantine. (above right and facing page). The blue lanyards and green radios were provided by our tour director so we could hear our guides while walking in a group. What a great idea!
14: SORRENTO | Sorrento was our first experience of Italy outside of Rome. The small streets filled with shops and café's along the coast was charming. The pizza was different in Italy but very good. The area was proud of it's Buffalo mozzarella and it was very tasty. We visited the Notturno inlaid wood factory for a demonstration and found a table which we had shipped home. The picture above is of the Piazza Tasso. Left is a picture close to our hotel near Sorrento from the Grand Hotel Moon Valley. You can see an overlook of the Gulf of Naples and Mount Vesuvius in the distance. Terry admired the handiwork of the wooden motorcycle to the right. Sorrento is in the Campania region of Italy.
19: We enjoyed an excursion to Positano also in Campania. The town itself is perched on an enclave on the face of a hill and winds down towards the waters of the Amalfi Coast. The town had a charm all it's own. We made our way through shops and cafes, down winding roads and stairs to the coast line. The region is proud of its lemons and it seemed to be a theme in many of the stores. Hand made shoes were another item that Positano sold in its shops. Our tour guide thought we needed to taste Limoncello, an alcoholic drink made from fermented lemons. We tried it and thought that tasted like lemon NyQuil. We tried a cannoli and a lemon cake while we were there with cappuccino. The sand on the coast is very coarse as a result of the volcanic activity centuries ago, but very scenic.
22: POMPEII | Near Naples, we visited the Roman city of Pompeii. A once prosperous city of 20,000 frozen in time by the volcano, Mount Vesuvius that covered the city with 26 ft of ash during the eruption of 79 AD. You could see many rooms with wall art and could only imagine how vivid it was during its time. To the left you can see the theater and a serving station for food of the day. Below are idols that they worshiped and one of the many roads in town. Terry is standing in front of the Temple of Jupiter with Vesuvius in the distance
23: The city was massive. The art on the wall and size of some of the homes reflected a thriving community in its day. Lower left is the atrium of the house of Menander. This may have been from the family that Nero's second wife was from. I think we could have become lost in the story and we both wished we had more time to go through Pompeii.
24: Pompeii was destroyed in 79AD when Mt. Vesuvius erupted. The eruption was so violent that 2000ft of elevation was removed from the top of Vesuvius. The amount of material deposited covered the city in 26ft of ash and debris and pushed back the coast line 3 miles. Those unfortunate to have remained in the city were overtaken by the caustic gases and entombed in the ash. During excavation, these hollows left by the now decayed remains, were filled with plaster revealing a very detailed likeness of the person.
27: Assisi is a small medieval town perched on a hill in Umbria, the heart of Italy. Famous as the birthplace of St. Francis. Most of the cobblestone streets and alleys will take you to the basilica of St. Francis completed in 1253. Assisi has a charm all it's own and we immediately fell in love with it. The panoramic view of the Italian countryside took our breath away. The town was different from all the other towns we had visited and had more of a medieval feel and was very peaceful. Walking the streets at night gave us the feel of stepping back in time.
28: Below is a picture from the courtyard of the basilica and the winding road looking up toward the Piazza Del Comune. It was really easy to get lost in Assisi with it's winding roads and it turned out to be a great place to explore. Below you can see our hotel and the view out the window on the side of the first stone building we came to.
30: VENEZIA | The page on the right shows the Bridge Of Sighs. The final bridge prisoners would cross on their way to prison. A local legend says that lovers will be granted eternal love and bliss if they kiss on a gondola at sunset under the bridge. The larger bridge is the famous the Rialto Bridge, the main pedestrian crossing over the Grand Canal. | Venice is a city of small islands, The maze of canals threaded through the city requires the use of more than 400 bridges to permit the flow of foot traffic. We were serenaded in our gondola by a singer and an accordion player, with traditional Italian songs. The gondolier took us along the town literally built on stilts in the water. It was quite the memorable experience.
33: On the left is Piazza San Marco (St. Marks square) and below one of the many streets lined with stores. Below, Terry found a flower shop, that was closed for the afternoon, and bought two red roses for our anniversary. He carried them around in the heat of the day and they never wilted. We went to a glass factory on the island of Murano, by water taxi, and were given a demonstration. We thought the man in the boat looked like the quintessential Italian fisherman from a bygone era. For our anniversary we found the perfect glass to have engraved and shipped home. Since Venice is such a popular tourist spot, it was very crowded. However, it was such a unique experience and made even more special because it fell on our 25th anniversary.
36: BURANO | Burano is an island in the Venetian Lagoon. It stood out for brightly colored homes and shops selling lace. The colors of the houses follow a specific system originating from the golden age of its development. The oddly colored house once belonged to Guiseppe Toselli, better known as Bepi Sua ( Sweet Bepi). It was less crowded than Venice and we had a seafood risotto there. A special cake was brought out for us to celebrate our anniversary. It was a fun and special day. The shops were small and the people were very friendly. Burano also had a leaning tower all it's own. We had a great time and the weather was perfect.
38: VERONA | We visited Juliet's balcony in Verona. Tourists bought locks to place on the gate as a symbol of undying love. Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliette is based on the real families in Verona at the time. Verona had a more modern relaxed feel about it. A Roman amphitheater was built in the 1st Century AD in an elliptical shape, and is the world's third-largest amphitheater to survive from antiquity.
39: BONDI BEACH is one of Australia's most famous beaches and among the world's most well-known beaches. The beach is roughly a kilometer long and is located on the east coast of Australia and is a suburb of the city of Sydney.
40: From the square you could see street performers and an artist painting Lamberti tower completed in 1463. We sat at a café in the square and ordered a couple of cappuccino's which had the shape of hearts in the froth. It was unique and made the day special.
43: Como is a town in Lombardy, on the Italian-Swiss border. It sits at the southern end of Lake Como. Como was the birthplace of the Roman authors Pliny the Elder and Pliny the Younger, as well as Alessandro Volta, 18th century inventor of the battery. The Cathedral of S. Maria Maggiore had many different styles of architecture and was started in 1396 . The statues of Pliny the elder and younger were placed on the outside of the cathedral. We took a boat tour of the large homes around Lake Como. It was very beautiful day and the lake and homes were picturesque. The tour guide pointed out George Clooney's home and some of the other homes of the wealthy such as Versace.
46: PISA | Pisa is in the northern half of Tuscany, not far from the coast and about an hour west of Florence. The Piazza dei Miracoli (Cathedral Square) or Field of Miracles contains the Torre Pendente (Leaning Tower), Duomo di Pisa, (Cathedral of Pisa), Battistero (Baptistry) | Pisa was one of those places that you have seen pictures of but never could have imagined seeing in person. We had decided ahead of time that we wanted to push the tower over instead of holding the tower up. It was funny to see all the tourists holding up air in order to get the right angle for their picture.
48: Before arriving in Pisa, we drove by quarries for the white marble that we would see all over Pisa. Construction of the tower occurred in three stages across 344 years.The foundation was started in 1173 on soft ground and was not completed until 1319.
50: FIRENZE | We really looked forward to Florence and were not disappointed. We had dinner and were invited to dance in front of everybody for our anniversary. It was a fun evening out and most of the group spent the evening dancing. Below you can see Terry joining in on the song YMCA. The couple raising their glasses was our tour guide Maria and bus driver Antonio. The medieval tower below was a structure left from the ninth century.
51: Below is the Battistero di San Giovanni (Baptistery of St. John). It is one of the oldest buildings in the city, built between 1059 and 1128. The Baptistery is renowned for its bronze doors with relief sculptures. These sculptures are reproductions while the originals are being restored. They were damaged during the great flood of 1966. We visited the Galleria dell'Accademia where Michelangelo's David, commissioned in 1501, resides. Pictures are not allowed inside the museum, but outside is a reproduction. Another very famous sculpture is Giambologna's Ratto delle Sabine or Rape of the Sabine.
52: Florence was filled with so much history and art that we wished we had more time to explore the many streets and galleries. We also visited leather shops and multiple shops of Venetian masks. On this same page is the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore (Basilica of Saint Mary of the Flower) is the main church of Florence. The Duomo, as it is ordinarily called, was started in 1296 and completed in 1436. the basilica is faced with marble panels in various shades of green and pink bordered by white. It was a beautiful structure and the colors made it very unique. The page to the right is the the narrow courtyard between the two wings of the Uffizi gallery. The courtyard was lined with statues of famous people of the time. Adjoining the Uffizi is the Loggia della Signoria. It had many different famous sculptures underneath it as well.
56: The picture above is the Palazzo Vecchio ("Old Palace") is the town hall of the city. Our tour guide took us to Piazzale Michelangelo, a square that overlooks Florence and it's many bridges. It was a great viewpoint over the entire city. On the right page is the Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge) is a Medieval stone closed segmental arch bridge over the Arno River, noted for still having shops built along it, as was once common.
58: We had started our journey in Rome and now we finished our last night in Rome before our flight back home. We spent the evening at a restaurant not far from the coliseum. Terry was picked by the actors to participate in a song from the Barber of Seville. The food and entertainment were great. | ROMA
59: The majority of the group were mostly a mixture of Americans and Australians. A family from Singapore and a few from New Zealand and South Africa. Terry slipped out while we were at dinner to catch a picture of the Colosseum at dusk and then we walked after dinner for our last night in Rome. We left with such wonderful memories. Arrivederci Roma, Goodbye, goodbye to Rome . . .