Monday, July 13, 2009

The Dog Days of Summer

Cody looking so innocent....who knows what terror he's dreaming up in his head to inflict on us!!!

Kimi is just over a year and a half years old. She's a real sweety and brings so much joy to our life.

The boy again...more plotting, I'm sure!!! the two of them may be in cahoots ;)

Don't let the innocent look deceive you...they are definitely cooking up something!!!!

Roma In Less than 48 Hours

Two days is not near long enough to spend in Rome, but unfortunately, that's the only time that Donna, Jason & Regina had since they were all flying out on Monday morning. We tried to pack in as much stuff as possible in the less than 48 hours that we had. We arrived right after noon on Saturday so that only gave Saturday afternoon and all day Sunday. We were lucky to have found a B&B in Rome, within a 20 minute walk from the Piazza del Popolo. It was very reasonably priced and beautiful. If you're travelling to Rome anytime soon, definitely give Marco a call and check them out. His wife is a local artist and is quite famous for restoration work on frescoes around Italy. She has done all of the painting in their hotel (Suites Piazza del Popolo).

Here's Marco showing off his breakfast spread. Nothing fancy but plenty of strong espresso, cereal, orange juice, croissants, etc.

The Goldoni room...this is a huge room with a balcony. This is the room Jason & Regina stayed in.

This is the street view from our room. It's a very quiet street so there was no noise at all in our room (on the 3rd floor)...that's the shuttle tracks in the picture. Not only is it a short walk, but there is a shuttle that goes all the way to the Piazza del Popolo....very convenient if the weather is bad.

One of our very first views of St. Peter's. Donna had tickets to mass on Pentecost Sunday (with the Pope). I don't have her pictures yet but I promise to post them when I get them from her. The four of us did not go....we just went with her to pick up the tickets and walk around St. Peter's.

Sunday morning, the four of us walked to the Vatican to meet Donna after mass. Here's Jason & Regina taking a break across the river from the Castel St. Angelo.

This is one of the 10 angel statues along the Ponte Sant'Angelo. All of the angels hold instruments of the passion. This one is titled "Angel with the Garment and Dice."

The inscription reads: "Super vestimentum meum miserunt sortem" which translates to: For my clothing they cast lots (Psalm 22:18) The significance is found in Mark 15:24, Roman soldiers took Jesus' well-made garments and played dice for them.

Everywhere you go in Rome you will run into priests....

Saturday night near the Spanish Steps. My friend Robin over at My Melange is not a huge fan of Rome but I personally love it. I especially love Saturday nights around the Spanish Steps. There is so much energy and everyone is relaxed, having a good time.

Sisters in Rome at the Spanish Steps.

Artists in the Piazza Navona.

Sisters in Rome we're heading to the Pantheon.

I love this guy on the fountain at the Piazza della Rotonda.

A great view of the Pantheon's's only source of light and it's open to the weather allowing rain to enter and fall to the floor, where it is carried away through drains.

One of the fun things about being in Rome on this particular Sunday was the Giro d'Italia was finishing up. We did not spend much time watching the race but it was fun to be there amongst the crowds. This is along the Via del Corso...for my cycling friends...two names you might recognize:
Allesandro Petacchi who won several stages in the Giro and

Michael Barry of Team Columbia.

My peeps cheering the cyclists along the Via del Corso!

Donna, Jason & Regina having fun with the local Arma dei Carabinieri...the Italian National Polizia! Those Italians definitely have a sense of humor!!!

Fans at the Giro finish line.

A giro car at the Victor Emmanuel Memorial. This was the 100th anniversary of the Giro.

Approaching the colloseum...all of those people are there for the Giro...not the colloseum.

Monday morning....Donna, Jason & Regina are all off to the airport and Dick and I are heading north. Arrivederci Italy!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Venice - The City on Water

Paris continues to be my all time favorite city but when I go to Italy I get conflicted. I love Rome for it's ancient ruins and the energy of the city. I love Florence for the art and the beautiful Tuscan countryside. But when it comes right down to it, I think my favorite Italian city is Venice. I love everything about it...the water, the colors, the fact that it's so I won't bore you today with much commentary...just photos.

My peeps waiting for our water taxi. We had just driven 3 1/2 hours from our villa to arrive here...

Our first glimpse...sun washed buildings

narrow waterways...

Brilliant colors....

Al Fresco dining on a canal...

Boats tied up....waiting.....

More al fresco dining!

Gondolas waiting for couples to be romanced down the gentle canals....

Our first glimpse of Piazza San Marco...

Narrow alleys...

Two sisters in Venice!!!

My honey bunny and me at Piazza San Marco.

Domes of San Marco Basilica...taken from the Campanile. Luckily for us, no climbing...this tower has an elevator!

Gondolier taking a break....
Pretty red dresses on canals...

Now the sun is starting to set and the colors are getting richer, deeper.....

The city takes on a much softer feeling at night...the air is cooler and the water seems more gentle without the sun beating down on it....

The sky begins to glow upon the Grand Canal as we say Arrivederci!

Tired, but happy, tourists speeding down the canal ...for a long drive back to our villa!

A day in Florence

It's Tuesday so we must be in Florence! We took our lives into our hands and let Dick drive us into Florence. It's always a harrowing experience but even more so during morning rush hour traffic. We had 10:30 a.m. reservations to see Michelangelo's David at the Accademia. What an incredible piece of art. No pictures allowed so you'll just have to head over to Florence and see him in person. Once that was checked off our list, we headed down to the Duomo.

The Duomo (The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore)is one of the main reasons people visit Florence. Designed by Brunelleschi its construction started in 1296 and took almost 150 years to complete. It is 153 m long and 38 m wide making it the 4th largest cathedral of the world. The exterior is faced with marble panels in various shades of green and pink bordered by white and has an elaborate 19th century Gothic Revival facade by.

The cathedral complex includes the Baptistry and Giotto's Campanile. The three buildings are part of the UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE covering the Historic Centre of Florence . The basilica is one of Italy's largest churches, and until the modern era, the dome was one of the largest in the world, being surpassed in width only by that of the Pantheon in Rome. It remains the largest brick dome ever constructed.

The line to go into the Duomo. It was scorching hot on this day so we decided to bypass the crowds that were going into the Duomo....

and make a climb instead to cupola. 463 steps to the top...but it was one of the highlights of our visit to Florence.

Once inside, you are treated to the magnificent paintings of the inside of the's amazing because you are up close and personal to these beautiful pieces of art...although they are pretty scary depictions of heaven and hell.

The obligatory group shot of us outside the cupola....the beautiful tuscan hills behind us. We had beautiful weather the entire week...although the day in Florence was the warmest.

A view of Giotto's Campanile from the Duomo.

Another beautiful Catholic Church, the Basilica of Santa Croce, is seen the distance.

The Uffizi Gallery in the distance.

One last look through an ancient window.

With the cupola climb behind us, it is time to head out to the Piazza Dell Signora, a popular spot for tourists and one of the city’s most splendid piazzas which has been the hub of Florence political life since the 13th century. It is filled with replicas of famous sculptures and historical buildings including Palazzo Vecchio, a copy of Michelangelo’s David and the Neptune fountain.

One of the things I love about travelling in Europe (or anywhere else) is being able to watch the world go by. I love this pic taken at the Piazza della Signora because it's an example of how diverse the world is...and how wonderful it is to visit places that you can experience all of the different cultures surrounding you.

It's a hot day, remember? So a little bit of R&R is needed at the piazza.

After our quick break at the piazza, we headed off to find lunch and something cold to drink. I don't know what the actually Italian name of this restaurant is, but we all got a kick out of the English translation.

We finally made it to the Basilica de Santa Croce (Basilica of the Holy Cross) is the principal Franciscan church in Florence and a minor basilica of the Roman Catholic Church . The site, when first chosen, was in marshland outside the city walls and is the burial place of some of the most illustrious Italians, such as Michelangelo, Galileo, Machavelli and Marconi, thus it is known also as the Temple of the Italian Glories. It is also the largest Franciscan church in the world but unfortunately, today was not our day to visit. The church was surrounded by Italian secret police because the Italian President was visiting that very same day. Oh well...maybe next time!

I love the "living statues" all around Europe. This guy had just finished getting must have been 100 degrees and he was sweating like crazy but once he got all of his gear on he was strictly professional. The amount of work that these guys put into these is amazing! Donna was the lucky recipient of his attentions since she's the one who dropped the coin in his basket.

Two sisters in Florence!

A scorching day on the Ponte Vecchio.


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