S: Europe Express 2011
BC: Someday I hope we all get to return to Italy together! Love, Mom
FC: Europe Express-2011
1: Typical London black cabs | First stop: The British Museum | We arrived on Thurs. & had the afternoon to explore. | London
2: Mike enjoyed these detailed Grandfather clocks. | This is the actual Rosetta Stone.
3: The Hall of Enlightenment
4: Leicester Square is like Times' Square: a theater district. The Texas Embassy is a restaurant the boys wanted me to get a picture of.
5: The greenery wall is real & on the front of the Art gallery. The strange dude on the bottom was seen 2x that day.
6: Lord Nelson is at the top of the pillar. He was a navy admiral who won the battle at Trafalgar. The statue is a countdown to the Olympics. Napier is on the horse; Big Ben is in the foreground. The lower picture is an original Big Red Bus.
7: Kids climbing onto the lions in Trafalgar Square.
8: Big Ben, of course. The London Eye. We didn't go on; Katie wishes we had. This will be The Shard. The subway system is called "The Tube." Very polite lady says, (recorded) "Please mind the gap."
9: large monument is a memorial to the Merchant Marines that lost their lives in WWI & WWII. The main figure is of Poseidon.
10: Big Ben & Parliament. Tower of Parliament. The royal guard, just before the "Changing of the Guard" ceremony, every day at 11 am. Scottish bagpipers precede the Royal Guard. It happens at least 10 places around Buckingham Palace. Note the crown on top of each flagpole that lines the street.
11: Buckingham Palace. Above right, horse-drawn carriage. Lower right, the middle window is the balcony Will & Kate came out to greet the crowd on their wedding day. A pub we tried to eat at; took too long.
12: The Tower of London. Very funny "Beefeater" tour guide. Amazing history here!
13: Top left shows the 20' drop the River Thames tide. Millennium Bridge: featured in the beginning of the 6th Harry Potter movie. We tried to tour Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, but they only give tours in the morning.
14: Middle left is spire of Parliament w/ flag. Great shot of big Ben, W. Abbey is where Will & Kate married. Top R is the side; lower L is extension of same. Lower middle is the front. Statue/pillar is the drive up
15: Chunnel to Paris! Olympics sign in station. | Paris
16: A main square in Paris. Grass wall is of a soccer stadium. Pastries in the windows were amazing!
17: Funny moments w/ Robanne Harrison & Dan Sparago (both with the N.M. group) | "This would be the infant sacrificing station" RA | "You don't know the back story. That could be a demon child." RA | Toward the end of the trip, we were walking in a town late at night and we couldn't find Anne-Marie . Robanne said, " Well, shes' left us. I guess she figures it's unlikely we'll die because the weather is mild."
20: Luxemburg Garden & Palace Built for Mary of Medici, wife of King Henry IV. | Note the narrow tree tops on the L. Middle pict: these were put in Paris by an artisit to signify the Prime Meridian (N/S) when it went through Paris. It eventually changed. This symbol was used in the movie "The Da Vinci Code." Our tour guide: Elisabeth; "We don't joke about the Germans." R-This is one of 3 statues of "Lady Liberty" in Paris.
21: Above- St. Genevieve church, patron saint of Paris. Legend has it that she saved the city from destruction two times. Middle L- green dome is part of University of Sorbonne. Middle R- oldest homes in Paris. Now they are very pricey b/c they're individual homes in the middle of the city. Bottom-shops in old wine warehouses. The city tries to restore old buildings after some significant ones were torn down in the 70's.
22: Street & statue dedicated to St. Michael. | Gilded statues on the Alex. III bridge. | Opera House: Nat'l Academy of Music | On the top sides of the Opera House are gilded statues of the god of music: This hall is actually built over a small waterway, hence the origination for "The Phantom of the Opera."
23: Large monument built by Napoleon, made from the bronze of cannons from Austria from a war. It has spirals of the story of battles from the war. At the top is a statue of Napoleon dressed as Caesar. The obelisk is Egyptian and given as a gift to Paris from an Egyptian leader.The fountains were in the same square. | On the left is the gold dome from Napoleon's memorial bldg. The gold flame is the flame from the Statue of Liberty. Since Princess Diana died in the tunnel at that street, it has become a memorial site for her.
24: K, A, E, Anthony, Amos, Fernando & Jose, | Hotel des Invalides: a former military hospital and adjoining church, now a large military museum; famous for tomb of Napoleon. His crypt is directly beneath the gilded dome. We were told he died between the two buildings in the top, center pict.
25: The wall at top right was built by Phillipe Augustus in the 9th Century to protect the city. Rest of the pictures are of "La Cathedrale Notre-Dame"
27: Armed guards w/ machine guns strolled the plaza. | back: Erik, Brian, Maria, Cody front: Andrew, Katie, Kareena, Megan, Lexi, Emily, Carmen, Jordan, Candace, Samantha, Jay.
28: The restaurant where we ate lunch, as a group. The view from outside, top left and bottom left. Lively discussion, as usual. That afternoon, we strolled the shopping areas.
29: Arc de Triomphe Remember when Andrew got caught on the subway and we lost him. He knew where he was!
30: To the right, an impressive floor-to-ceiling painting.: "The Wedding Feast at Cana", 22x32 ft.
31: La basilique du Sacre-Coeur
32: Pisa | The domed building is the Baptista.. Many churches in Italy had these b/c you had to be baptised before you entered the Cathedral, top. The Leaning Tower is 700 years old. It was the bell tower for the church, but then the ground shifted.
33: Inside the Duomo: the Cathedral, hangs a famous chandelier that inspired Galileo"s pendulum theory. He was paying more attention to that than the mass.
34: Jose, Casey, Joe, Brian, Alex, Amos & Ferdinand. | Florence | Day 5: breakfast in Paris, lunch in Pisa, dinner in Florence. After dinner, we walked to the town square: Palazzo Vecchio. | Top: Cody, Megan, Brian, Candace, Samantha, Jay & Kareena. R: Carmen, Maria, Lexi, A, E, K, Emily & Jordan.
35: This building was once the home of the Medici Family. It is now the Town Hall. Unbelievably ornate.
36: Upper picts ( x for gelatto) are of statues in portico of Senoria Square. This area is called the Loggia dei Lanzi. Two tall ones on this page flank the doors to the Town Hall. The bridge below originally connected the Medici house to the place of business next door.
37: Tradition to put a coin in the boar's mouth. If it swallows it. you'll return to Florence. (Robanne even kissed it!) Bridge: Ponte Vecchio. Used to be slaughter houses along the river. Now it's a section of nice leather shops.
38: All-time best & favorite gelato: GROM! | The Duomo Left: bell tower Right: front of church Top: Extension of church to the double-layer dome. Designed by Brunelleschi. Michelangelo copied this for the dome of St. Peter's. | Dome built in 1480. Took 16 years to build. No scaffolding used on inner one; it's self-supporting. | Next day: Day 6. Tues. June 14 Tour of Florence.
39: Above photos show the exact spot where "David" was supposed to be placed. | Our tour guide, Alexandro, holding the hippo.
40: These are the doors to the Baptistry of St. John, across from the Duomo. It is an octagon shape, which was common for many centuries. This is one of the oldest buildings in the city, built between 1059 & 1128. There are 3 sets of bronze doors; two designed & built by Ghiberti. It took 14 years to carve the original doors. Michaelangelo called the east pair the "Gates of Paradise." Each square depicts a significant story from the bible. The 3 statues are by Sansovino and shows the baptism of Jesus by St. John.
41: We then visited the Academia, a collection of art from 1200-1500, including David & "The Rape of the Sabian Woman"; the first sculpture to be carved in the round. Giovanni Bologna sculpted it in 1584. A replica is being restored in the Loggia dei Lanzi, as seen below. Michelangelo completed David in 1504. It took 3 years to carve; he was 26 when he started. The statue was commissioned by the people of Florence. It took 4 days to move it a 5 min. walk from work site, to church. It is 16' tall. The pose is "contra postra": weight shifted to the right. This replicated the Greek & Roman statues. | Below is the family crest for the Medici family. 6 balls in a circle. Speculated to be pills since the name means | Our friendly hippo is seen just below the Medici Crest!
42: This is Piazza di Santa Croce, the largest Franciscan church in the world. Started in 1200 in Gothic architecture: wide main aisle and open painted trusses in the ceiling. There are 400 tombstones in floor of church. Above: Galileo's tomb. Astronomy to the left, Geometry to the right. | This is "liberty of Poetry." Bartoli was inspired by this statue when he made our Statue of Liberty! Michelangelo's tomb. Died at age 89 in Rome. Body stolen to be buried in Florence. 3 statues, L to R: Painting, Sculpture & Architecture.
43: Dante's Memorial: This is an empty tomb. He is at the top; L represents Italy and the R, poetry. He wrote the Divine Comedy. The official language of Italy came from his Florentine dialect. | L: tomb of Machiavelli; his bones lie there. He wrote "The Prince", famously illustrates "the ends justify the means." The Latin epitaph reads: "so great a name has no adequate praise." Mid: tomb of Rossini, who wrote the opera, "The Barber of Seville." R: a chapel dedicated to St. John, with frescoes painted by Giotto. In 1966, the city flooded to the top tile.
44: On every June 24, feast day of St. John, there is a wild game in the town square. They were setting up for it. It's a combo of soccer, rugby & street fighting. Sand is poured for the floor. Along the left side of this square is where we did our leather & jewelry shopping! | Pazzi Chapel, arch enemy of the Medici family, designed by Brunelleschi. 4 apostles in arch near dome; 12 apostles around the main square. Note the glazed terra cotta.
45: Typical narrow streets of Siena. Santa Maria Assunta, top. Kids on bridge w/ St. Dominic's in backround. Famous horse race held annually. (A recent opening scene in a James bond movie.) Bottom: in front of the Baptista for Santa Maria. This is built on a hill, so the Cathedral is stair-stepped above this. On the steps, our guide Federica. | Siena | While the rest of the group had the afternoon free, we took the optional bus ride to Siena. Anne-Marie joined us. Excellent tour & beautiful scenery.
46: Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, top L. Baptistry to the R. Cathedral covered in local marble: pink & green. Yellow bldg. is Provinvial Admin. to govern the outlying areas. Large arch above it; staue of Romulus & Remus just in front.
47: The pulpit is 8-sided; built by a father/son team from Pisa, named Nicola & Giovanni Pisano. Son did most of the work and he was just 17. He did the scene of the crucifixion. | This is the tomb for Pope Pius III. The 4 statues were made by Michelangelo. Clockwise from L: St. Paul, St. Pius St. Gregory & St. Peter. All made from white marble.
48: This is the Piccolomini Library, named after the wealthy, powerful family that wanted to leave a legacy here. The room is filled w/ original frescoes that tell the story of their family member that became Pope Pius II.. He became Catholic at age 40 and a pope 13 years later. He was also uncle to future Pope Pius III.. In the center of the room is a sculpture "Three Graces" seen on the next page. It's a Roman copy of a Greek original.
49: Also in this Cathedral is a chapel donated by the Chigi family. A wealthy family who's son Fabio Chigi became Pope Alex. VII. They, too, wanted to show their significance b/c their son was a pope. Guido Chigi founded this music academy, in order for the world to know Siena had strength in all the arts. The best of the best teachers and students are here. When we toured, we even heard opera music and students singing.
50: No trip to Siena is complete without learning about the famous St. Catherine of Siena. She was born in Siena, the 21st child of 25. She had a vision of Jesus at age 6 and committed her life to Him at age 16, despite pressure from her family to marry. She insisted on joining the tertiary Order of Dominicans. (1st Order is by men; 2nd Order is by women; 3rd Order is lay people.) The papacy had moved from Rome to Avignon, France. and divisions were beginning. Catherine decided to write to Pope Gregory XI to convince him to move the papacy back to Rome. He eventually did. | She moved to Rome, & later died there. People from Siena came to take her head back to Siena in a miraculous trip. Her uncorrupted head is on display in the Church of San Dominico. She is one of 2 patron saints of Italy, along with St. Francis of Assisi. Pope JPII named her a European patron saint.
51: Piazza del Campo: Town Square. Famous horse race, Palio, held 2x a year: July 2 & Aug. 16. Both are feast days as you needed excuse of church to play in the Middle Ages. Race lasts 75 sec. It's a big competition for the 17 territories. | Back in Florence, we walked to get gelato after dinner. This scene to the R is classic: outdoor cafe w/ gentleman playing the accordion. We went to Vivoli for gelato; Dan's favorite. Such fun memories!
52: Assisi | Day 7, Wed. June 15 Robanne's Birthday! Travel from Florence, to Assisi, then on to Rome! | Assisi is a great example of a hilltop village. In the Middle Ages, the feudal Lord lived at the top (Great Rock Castle is seen to the L) and the village was below. They had to pay for protection. Large gates closed the entrance to the village at different points. The first large gate of Assisi is below left. This castle was built in the 14th century. Below right is an example of the tight walkways up hills, in & around the village.
53: Basilica of St. Clare. The flying butresses, below, are unique. The one on the R was filled in to create the convent for the "Poor Clares" Franciscan order she established. | St. Clare was a good friend of St. Frances, spending a great deal of time with him throughout his life. He so inspired her, she started her own Franciscan order for nuns. | Above: St. Clare's uncorrupted body. Right: the area under the nave houses many 1` & 2` relics of both St. Clare & St. Frances. More than 15 items on display; no gates for us.
54: 2nd gate of city at l. The 3rd gate w/ Medieval wall is oldest in city and underlines the Roman origin of the town. Center: highest tower in the city. On the R: our guide, Federica, stands in front of The Temple to Minerva; typical Roman architecture. | Picture above shows how much lower the city square used to be, in front of Temple to Minerva. To the R; the Town Hall where the mayor's offices are.
55: Gorgeous view of the Umbria valley; typical Baroque lamp on wall. | Beautifully ornate lamp on a city wall. | The street that takes us to the Basilica of St. Fr. | Left: Residence of current Franciscan nuns! Above: A Roman arch & wall. This was the end of the city in the 13th Century. R: a lovely building at the divide in the road. Love the flowers!
56: Basilica of St. Frances It took 25 years to build. Gothic style, full of frescoes by Giotto that told the story of St. Fr.'s life. He was the first person to receive the stigmata since Christ & many comparisons were made between him & Jesus. | The view from the hillside, down from the Basilica. All 3 picts from the same spot. To the right, you can see the dome of St. Mary of the Angel. This is where St. Frances died in 1226. | This is the side view of the Basilica, showing the friary. The upper church is Baroque, shows the life of St. Fr. The lower church is Romanesque and shows the death of St. Fr. | A beautiful day, a beautiful view with my beautiful kids! This could be a Christmas card photo.
57: Many monk sightings; I felt like a stalker. The entrance is shown in top picts Statue is St. Fr. coming home from war before his conversion in 1205. He was praying in front of the cross of St. Damien when he heard God say to him:"Go, repair my church in ruin." PAX=peace. T=tao, last letter in Greek alphabet. This became the Franciscan symbol.
58: St. Mary of the Angels Church Where St. Frances died. Lovely rose garden here as well. | Crossed keys meant this church was blesssed by a pope. The two wooden panels above the door are of St. Frances & St. Clare | A picture of the men working on the golden Madonna that graces the top of the dome. Upon leaving the church, in an alcove was this statue of St. Frances with a real dove in the basket!
59: A bronze plaque on the outside of the church is a dedication to the visit from Pope John Paul II. This might be the mass celebrated at that time. The gold Madonna as viewd from our bus at a distance. | Funny story: It was outside this church that Alex & Casey were listening to Andre Bocelli sing "Con te Partino" in Italian, on their ipod. They loved this song. It was the first I heard of it.
60: Dinner that night at Casa Nova, complete with opera singers. They sang to Robanne (birthday!) and we got a group picture. We had breakfast in Florence, lunch is Assisi and dinner in Rome! Funny story continued: the singers sang "Con te Partino" and the CA Boys gave them a standing ovation. Casey said, "I"ve waited years to hear that & you get to hear it the same day you learned of it! " | Rome
61: That evening we walked to St. Peter's Square. Truly awesome! The Vatican is a walled city, complete with Swiss Guards. Huge Roman columns surround the square. Below L: St. Peter's Basilica w/ the dome behind. Below R: the Pope was up late! Those really are his bedroom windows.
62: They were celebrating the recent Beatification of JPII., which was 5/ /11. Pairs of saints are atop the wall surrounding the square.
63: There were 76 gates, to seat 50,000 people. We entered at gate #52 (R). It took only 12 min. for everyone to exit. | Our guide, Francesca, showing the holes made from recycling the original white marble.. The Colosseum was used for 500 years for gladiator games, until abolished by the Christians when it held animals. The facade of the Vatican is made of limestone taken from the C. To the R: original steps leading to upper level.
64: Below R: A cross marks the spot where the Emperor sat, facing NW so the sun wouldn't bother him. Below L: stage has been reconstructed. "Arena" comes from the Latin word 'rena' meaning sand. They used sand to absorb the blood.
65: L: entrance to barracks for galdiators. If they went back during games, it was considered bad luck. White blocks are original marble blocks. Lower picts. show ramps & trap doors below the stadium floor, controlled by pulleys. "Thumbs down" was really mid-way gesture for slitting the throat.
66: This white line is the original outer wall of the C. The Temple of Venus is to L.
67: Above: Arch of Constantine Right: Temple of Venus & Rome Below: Dan knew this guy from past visits. The boys had some fun and I stood my ground. Enough said.
68: The Roman Forum: The city center, located in the valley between Capitol Hill & Palatine Hill. Rome became the capitol of Italy in 1870. The columns below R were part of the Basilica Aemilia, a courthouse/bank. Columns in the middle were from the Temple of Vespasian. Columns on L are the Temple of Saturn. The road through the Forum was called the "Via Sacra" = Sacred Way. | To the R, on the L side, is the Curia (dome not incuded) which was the Senate house.
69: The Roman Forum: The city center; the valley between Capitol Hill & Palatine Hill. Rome became capitol of Italy in 1870. | Top L: Temple of Antonius & Fuastina, under renovation. Top R: House of Vestals Left: Temple of Vesta Right: Temple of Castor & Pollux Below: The Temple of Julius Caesar. The place where his body was burned
71: Top L: Mile 0, the Golden Milestone. "All roads lead to Rome." Top R: Basilica of Julia Middle & bottom: imprints left of coins that were scattered & burned during the burning of Rome. Bottom L: Rostra--a speaker's platform
72: Top: refilling water from original Roman aquaducts. Clever drinking fountain also! Columns: Temple of Vespasian Arch: Arch of Septimius Severus
73: L: City Hall in Middle Ages that Michaelangelo gave a new facade. Current City Hall w/ 2 large statues representing 2 major rivers. L: Nile, resting on a sphinx; R: Tiber, resting on Romulus & Remus. Famous statue of R & R w/ the she-wolf. Rep. the Senate & the People. | Michelangelo designed these famous steps for horses to walk down. Leads from City Hall to street below.
74: A current excavation going on in the middle of a town square. We ate lunch (fab. pizza) on the square and watched it being worked on. We were told there are 4 temples here, from 4th Century BC to 1st Century BC. Katie liked watching the cats running around Remember the city worker chilling his beer in the aquaduct drain.
75: L: Back side of the Pantheon. | Top: Julius Caesar assassinated here, btwn these 2 bulidings: Campus Martius We walked down a shopping district for priests' garments. The Pope's tailor is here. The large Monstrance: 4900 E.
76: The Pantheon Originally a temple to Roman gods. Huge bronze doors open to an amazing interior. The large "drum" in back supports the dome above & houses many alcoves of tombs & shrines.
77: At top of dome is the oculus, the only source of light. Awesome pict! Dark tomb above L is of the 1st King of Italy. Top R is Raphael's tomb. At L is the 2nd King of Italy's tomb. At R:
78: At L: yet another gladiator, outside the Patheon this time. It was always entertaining to watch. | This must have been a significant building. But now we can't remember. (I should have kept taking notes!) | The same with this sculpture. I don't even recall where it is. We think it has something to do with Pope JPII. Maybe someday you'll figure it out and you can write it in here!
79: This is the garden area outside the Vatican Museum A great view of the cupola of St. Peter's. The large pine cone was once part of a fountain and each point had an opening for the water. Two of these stand on either side of a staircase. | Upper R: There were several large displays in the gardens that explain the Sistine Chapel's ceiling. To the R: the globe that is at the other end of the garden. It spins on an axis and has strange cut-outs.
80: The top R is "Laocoon and His Sons," strangled by sea serpent. One of the first sections we came to was dedicated to animals. Then there were long halls of countelss statues, all originals.
81: This sculpture is The Belvedere Torso. The inscription above is located at the base. It is the signature of the Athenian sculptor: "Apollonios, son of Nestor." This dates to 2nd cent. BC and was an inspiration to Michelangelo & Raphael.
82: Top R: Sarcophagus of Constantina, dau. of Roman Emperor, Constantine. The sphynx was a gift from Egypt. Even the ceiling had ornate detailed paintings. Below L: large Roman chariot, in the chariot room.
83: This was a magnificant hall of extraordinary examples of trompe l'oeil paintings. The one of Christ was amazing how the eyes followed you as you moved by. The ceilings looked 3D.
84: Finishing the Vatican Museum, we saw the hallway to the Pope's residence. Just before entering St. Peter's Basilica, there is a fountain outside w/ city water. The immense Holy Door that is only opened on special days. The Pope's emblem on the floor. (That's Katie to the left.)
85: Above: view of St. Peter's Square from the steps of the Basilica. A moving view. Great perspective of all the saints' statues that line the walls. I happen to get a shot of St. Andrew above. Confirmed w/ statue inside. The window to the left is where the Pope comes out to give a papal blessing to the crowd in the square.
86: The main altar, is Bernini's Baldacchino. | Amazing ceiling | St. Teresa | The letters in the gold area are 6' tall | The Pieta.
88: Within the main dome, 4 prominent statues were in each alcove. Above, St. Longinus & St. Helena. To the R: St. Andrew & St. Veronica.
89: St. Matthew with the ox. | St. Mark with the lion. | St. Luke with the angel. | St. John with the eagle.
90: Closer view of Bernini's altar. Note the crossed keys at the base, with the hat above. This is the coat of arms for the papacy. At R: Altar of the Chair of St. Peter, by Bernini. The dove is in the center of the stained glass.
91: Monument to Pope Alexander VII, by Bernini. This was the last grand masterpiece of Bernini. The flowing drapery is made of Sicilian Jasper. Foreground is Charity, w/ child in her arms. Truth has a foot on the map of the world. Second level is Prudence & Justice. These 4 statues were made by another sculptor. | Monument to Pope Pius VIII. Jesus is standing over the kneeking pope, flanked by Peter & Paul. The allegories are Prudence & Justice.
92: Above: Altar of the Transfiguration, placed above the tomb of the uncorrupted body of Pope Pius X, below. On our way out, we saw more Royal Guards. These same uniforms were designed by Michelangelo. Andrew confidently thought he'd make it past them.
93: For dinner that night, we were served pasta from a lg. wheel of cheese. Yum! Then on to the Spanish Steps. We came from the top. The Sallustian obelisk (L) is situated directly in front of the Church of Trinita dei Monti, seen at R. This is centered at the top of the steps. There are 2 main sections of steps.
94: This book is dedicated to my incredible husband. Thank you, Mike, for all the hard work and sacrificing you do so we can take trips like this! More than just memories were made. This was an experience that few get to have. This book is a treasured gift to our three wonderful kids. May you hold dear the days here. | This book is also a gift to our new friend, Robanne, for her birthday!
95: Trevi Fountain Neptune dominates the fountain in the center. A statue of "Abundance" is in the niche to the left, and "Salubrity" to the right. It was completed in 1762. | Legend has it that if you throw a coin over your right shoulder, make a wish& it lands in the fountain, you'll return to Rome someday!
96: Pictures from Katie's camera. Our balcony was diagonal from the boys' room. I ran over to get pictures. We could see the Vatican walls from here & the top of St. Peter's dome. | The California Boys: From L: Joe, Alex, Casey, Brian, Anthony, Jose, Amos, Fernando | The New Mexico Group: From L: Brian, Maria, Megan, Cody, Emily, Jay, Jordan, Samantha, Kareena, Carmen & Lexi.
97: One last stop for gelatto! This was a busy place. Then one final walk to another huge fountain. This is the Bernini Fountain of Four Rivers, located in Piazza Navona. The four figures represent the Nile, the Ganges, the Danube and the River Plate. There were many street artists in the square.