Saturday, July 18, 2009


We just returned from Italy. Three days in Rome, then a tour of Tuscany. We stayed in Montecatini and from there took day trips to San Gimignano, Siena, Cinqueterre, Florence, Lucca, Pisa, Torre del Lago Puccini, Forte Dei Marmi, and Assisi. All of this was through The Rome & Tuscan Highlights of Trafalgar Tours. This was a delightful trip. I like to take tours the first time visiting a new area ... this way I know where I'll want to spend more time when I return (definitely Lucca, Florence and Siena). Here are some highlights of Rome.

Ponte Saint' Angelo, completed in 134 AD, the home of 10 angels holding instruments of the Passion.

Angel with Cross, sculpted by Ercole Ferrata (1610 – 1686).

St. Peter's Square and Basilica S. Pietro, by far the largest and most impressive church I've ever visited. The history, the art ... amazing.

Pietà, sculpted by a young Michaelangelo

Bernini's Baldacchino

This monumental canopy shelters the papal altar where the pope holds mass.

Musei Vaticani. You could be there for days and not be able to absorb all the art and history. Painted ceilings adorn the entire place ... like this one.
The Sistene Chapel was rushed and very very crowded ... no way to see it all; this was totally overwhelming and indeed gives new meaning to the term "awesome." Our tour guide gave us the history of the Wall of Redemption, Michelangelo's Last Judgment, which he did years after the ceiling. No photos allowed (although most people were taking photos). I didn't, good girl that I am.

The Creation of Adam by Michaelangelo. Public domain image courtesy of the Web Gallery of Art.

The Last Judgment (1535-1541) by Michaelangelo.Public domain image courtesy of the Web Gallery of Art.

Piazza Navona. It is amazing that every few blocks there are these piazzas with fabulous sculptures. This is one of three fountains, the Fontana del Moro (Fountain of the Moor).

Fontana di Trevi. Glad we came here in the evening. The area is filled with tourist souvenir shops, but there were less crowds at night. Plus the fountain was lit up and absolutely beautiful. It was quite festive and very impressive.

We returned the next night to this area to dine at a restaurant where the walls were painted with beautiful fresco's, and the food was good, not excellent.

Interesting ... no Starbucks in Italy. Coffee is served in "Bar's" where you drink it standing at the bar (cheapest price) or seated/waited on (higher price.) Served as "shots" of espresso, it's a "drink and run" thing. No Styrofoam cups littering their landfills.

Next, I'll show highlights of Tuscany.

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