The environs of Venice, Ravenna, Verona, Florence and Rome produced many of the artistic, political, religious and culinary elements of our world. We went to enjoy and to photograph them.
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  • Day13

    Dinner at Antica Trattorio Polese

    November 13, 2014 in Italy ⋅ 🌙 57 °F

    There was a lovely cocktail party in the lobby of the Hotel Indigo to finish our wonderful tour of Northern Italy. Tony Campaiello, who had been there from the beginning, was there, Tony was our cruise director. Emmanuelo was a private driver for the Monahan family, who traveled with us. Lauro, our bus driver, had formerly been the personal chauffeur for Enzo Ferrari.Saying good-bye was hard but somehow we managed. After the cocktail party we found a little restaurant right around the block from our hotel called the Antica Trattorio Polese. It was not crowded, and the night was comfortable for us to enjoy at table outside. The Italian food was magnificent. This was our final good-bye to our friends Chuck and Debbie, who had shared so many experiences with us since Venice.Read more

  • Day13

    Catacombs of St. Callistus

    November 13, 2014 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 64 °F

    We wanted to see the catacombs and they were not part of our official schedule. So Chuck and Debbie decided to join us in splitting cab fare to the San Callisto Catacombs and back. They are southeast of the city in a beautiful, uncluttered park. We passed the Baths of Caracalla before getting on the old Appian Way to reach the catacombs. It gave me a remarkable feeling of the closeness of history to see road signs reading "Via Appia," just as they have since Roman times. The park around the catacombs are lovely, and we saw many tourists who had just about reached their limits. One woman was sleeping on a bench. Unfortunately, photographs are not allowed inside the catacombs. Obviously they are very dark. There are small chapels for worship as well as the graves of early Christians. The guides were careful to tell us that the catacombs were not used to escape persecution. The Romans and other Christians were well aware of their existence. Rather, they became centers for worship when early saints were buried there. This rendition of the story differs slightly from that which I received in my first visit to Rome in 1971. There is a sense of history here. It is good to be where early Christians worshipped. When we finished at the catacombs we went back to where our cab driver told us there would be taxicabs to take us back to town. We walked for over forty-five minutes looking for a cab. We found several other sets of catacombs, then decided to reverse course. We started to get worried that we would have to walk back through the whole city of Rome on foot. We knew we could do that if necessary, but it certainly was not our first choice. When we were almost back in town, close to the Baths of Caracalla, we hailed a cab that took us back to the hotel.Read more

  • Day13

    Lunch at the Four Columns

    November 13, 2014 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 63 °F

    After visiting Vatican City, our Cruise Director Tony Campaiello took us all to a restaurant, 4 Colonne, just off the plaza at the Piazza Navona. We had an excellent meal, but I couldn't help notice the artwork on the wall. All of the pictures were paintings of very well endowed, unclothed women. To be gracious, I'll say it was sensual. This trip to the Piazza Navona, we took the bus back to the hotel so that we would have time to visit the catacombs on our own.Read more

  • Day13

    St. Peter's Basilica

    November 13, 2014 in Vatican City ⋅ ⛅ 59 °F

    There is no way to describe the opulent glory of the artwork and the architecture inside St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, so I won't even try. We spent much of the morning in the Vatican Museum, seeing maps, statues, relics and articles from all over the world--ancient and modern. It all found its way to Rome when this city was the spiritual capital of the world. As Glenda was looking up at Bernini's baldachin, she was bumped hard by a woman. Glenda had already taken about all the rudeness she could, so she bumped her back, glared at the woman and said, "Right here! Right now! Let's settle this." The woman ran away.Read more

  • Day12

    Piazza Navona, Hotel, and Dinner

    November 12, 2014 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 63 °F

    We had already walked back as far as the Piazza Navona, and I knew I could walk the rest of the way back to our hotel on the Via Giulia. The Piazza Navona was beautiful, as it always is, with its wonderful spouting statues in its fountains. We ducked into several upscale apartment lobbies just to see what they are like. We happened to pass a little store and I was ready for a Coke and some batteries. The store had two motorcycles and a vespa inside. I thought that was a wonder! The owner, a motorsports fan, warmed up to my enthusiasm, and in my broken Italian I let him know that I thought his store was definitely excellent. He beamed. We made it back to the hotel in time to dress for dinner at a very nice restaurant, the Cabiria. It started raining again, and it took the bus almost an hour to reach the restaurant. However, once we arrived, we were warm and happy. The meal was a wonderful ending to a perfect day.Read more

  • Day12

    Walking to Trevi

    November 12, 2014 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 63 °F

    We were given time on our own. Glenda and I wanted to see the Trevi Fountain again, but more than that, we wanted to see a little pizzeria we had noticed on a previous trip here. We didn't know the name of the store. So we walked and saw all sorts of interesting things. First we came upon a demonstration by socialist workers, complete with a man in a sandwich board touting the injustices of the labor system. There was a bookstore that specialized in ancient, printed volumes. We came across our share of street actors, buskers, who impersonated everything from gangsters to popular celebrities. Finally we got to the Trevi Fountain to discover that it was covered with scaffolding for repairs. We went just past it and found the pizzeria named Yum-Yum Style Pizza. We had already enjoyed lunch, but another slice of pizza was tempting. Then we retraced our steps back to the Pantheon. Glenda went into a store that sold nothing but olive oil and spices. We got to sample some one-hundred-year-old balsamic vinegar. It was delicious.Read more

  • Day12

    Pantheon: Architectural Perfection

    November 12, 2014 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 61 °F

    Our bus took us through some very narrow streets in the rain to the Pantheon, the Roman building that seeks to give tribute to all the gods. Whether the gods were pleased or not is a question that only they can answer. However, architecturally all of the knowledge of the classical period reaches its zenith in these two buildings: the Parthenon in Athens, and the Pantheon in Rome. It is covered by the largest dome ever made up to the time of its construction. None other as large could be made until the nineteenth century. The building techniques the architect used to lighten the load on the walls is a story in itself. It proportions and its construction leave one agape. It is a wondrous building. Incidentally, it is used now as a church, blessed by the Pope, and it contains the tombs of King Umberto, of Victor Emmanuel II, and of the artist Raphael. I stopped at a coffee shop just around the corner and had a lovely cup of strong espresso. Then after our visit to the Pantheon we met Debbie and Chuck for lunch at a sidewalk cafe. There was an accordion player there who seemed offended when we did not offer him a tip. I would have been much happier, though, if he had not made all his noise so near our table.Read more

  • Day12

    Arrival in Rome

    November 12, 2014 in Italy ⋅ 🌧 59 °F

    Our departure from the Hotel Indigo was delayed by a couple who had arranged for a private car that arrived late. Nevertheless, we hit the streets with an extended bus tour of Rome on the way to the Colosseum. I was especially interested in the old Circus Maximus, whose course is still visible in the streets of Rome. We drove by the Baths of Caracalla, and the ruins of the Imperial Palace built by Augustus. Arriving at the Colosseum, also known as the Flavian Ampitheater, I noticed above us on a hill the site of the Farnese Gardens. These lovely plantings are located on one of the earliest parts of the city to be settled. Our guide Deborah was extremely pleasant and remarkably well informed. She gave us details about the Colosseum and seemed particularly pleased when I asked to see some places where the stucco covered the brick. She had to get a special key to unlock a gate to show me parts of it, but she seemed as interested in it as I was. Glenda noted that the Colosseum makes her sad. She said that she still feels the tormented spirits of the gladiators, prisoners and slaves who died there for the amusement of their captors. Nevertheless, it is a remarkable structure and shows the genius of the Romans for construction and public works.Read more