July 23-26, 2007 – Rome
We are finishing our 3rd day in Rome, and so far, it is VERY HOT! We arrived on Monday morning. We couldn’t sleep on the plane because the PA system kept dinging at us nonstop, throughout the flight (Like those Southwest commercials – *DING!*). So having been up for 34 hours straight, we were pretty tired, but managed to check out a few churches near our hotel. We also took a walk through Rome, visiting the Campo di Fiori, Piazza Navona, the Pantheon, Piazza Colonna, Trevi Fountain, and the Spanish Steps.
Yesterday, we went to the Colosseum, Palatine Hill, Roman Forum, and Capital Hill. It was only about 87 degrees. They are predicting 91 for Friday, when we go to Pompeii… I hope we don’t melt!
Today, we woke up early and went to Vatican City. The line to get in stretched around the block, but moved pretty quickly. We learned that the fig leafs only cover the statues in the Vatican because nudity is shunned. We were impressed by the museum’s expansive collection, but a little disappointed with the Sistine Chapel. I guess we thought it would be bigger. We were amazed by St. Peter’s and its colossal size. This afternoon, we went to the National Museum of Rome and saw famous statues, like the Discus Thrower.
Our Hotel is in a central location, right across from the Termini (train station), so we can always get a cab easily. It has a good view of the Baths of Diocletian. The hotel staff told us it was “suggestive”, but really they are just tombstones, so it’s creepy. We are happy that there are cool water fountains everywhere to refill our water bottles. This helps in the scorching heat. We are looking forward to Florence, because we think that Rome is too big and too dirty. Our last day in Rome, we went to the Villa Borghese. The gallery there was gorgeous and we felt the ceilings were what the Sistine Chapel should have been. They were colorful, dramatic, and large! There were also great sculptures there. We spent the rest of the day in the Villa Borghese, which is a big park (like Central Park in NYC), except with statues and roman columns. We rented a boat and rowed on a small lake there.
July 27, 2007 – Pompeii
On Friday, we took a day trip to Pompei. We had to change trains in Naples, which was very sketchy, but we kept a close eye on our bags so as not to get pickpocketed. The weather was predicted to be 95 degrees (and feel like 101!), so we prepared for the worst. But it wasn’t as bad as we thought. Pompei was bigger than we expected and showed us what an ancient Roman city was like. Fascinating!
July 28-30, 2007 – Florence
We headed straight for the train station and took an express train to Florence. We ate lunch atop a department store in Piazza Republica, and went inside the Duomo. In the afternoon, we walked around the San Lorenzo Market and bought some leather goods. Today, we went to the Uffizi Gallery and saw many famous Medieval and Renaissance paintings. We walked across the Ponte Vecchio Bridge and went to the Boboli Gardens.
We like Florence because it is a small, walking city with lots of shopping. We only have a week left. It seems like it’s going by fast, though we will be glad for some clean clothes and cooler weather!! The last picture is the view of the full moon and church domes from our hotel window last night.
On Monday, still in Florence, we went to the Bargello Museum. It was kind of a bust because many of the more famous statues were under restoration. We walked to the Santa Croce Church and saw quite a number of famous people’s tombs, like Galileo, Michaelangelo, Dante, etc. From there we went to the Science Museum which had lots of mathematical tools and some of the first clocks. It also had the middle finger of Galileo. We don’t have many pictures of Florence, because most of the museums did not allow cameras!
July 31, 2007 – Pisa
On Tuesday, we went to the Accademia in the morning, to see the famous David statue by Michaelangelo. That was basically the only thing in the museum which we paid 13 Euros for!! It was still pretty amazing. Then, we took a side trip to Pisa, which we did not plan. We went up the Leaning Tower, which until 2001 had been under renovation to partially correct the lean. They brought it back about 6 degrees, to the same place it had been 200 years ago. It still leans pretty badly, enough to give you some vertigo at the top!
August 1, 2007 – Siena
Today, we left Florence for an overnight in Siena. It’s nice, with lots of winding side streets and hills. We went to the Duomo here, and then relaxed in the main square for the afternoon. Then we went to the San Domenico Church, that heralds the Patron Saint of Siena (St. Catherine).
August 2-5, 2007 – Venice
On Thursday, we left Siena and took a train to Venice. We had to change trains in Florence, and because we did not take an expensive express train, it took most of the day to get to Venice. We rode the Vaperetto (Water Bus) from the train station to St. Marks Square. Then we attempted to walk to our hotel nearby. We took a couple of wrong bridges, but ended up on the right track and found our hotel without getting too frustrated. After we checked in, we decided to get a good map of Venice that showed all the side streets and alleys.
Yesterday, we went to Saint Mark’s Square, but it was raining off and on! Maybe this is how Venice was meant to be seen, a little misty and gray. Again, we got to skip the long line at the Basilica, thanks to tips from our trusty Guidebook (Thanks, Rick Steves)! Then, we bought some birdseed and fed the pigeons, just before a big rain storm that cleared the square. To get out of the rain, we followed everyone else into Doge’s Palace. It was very interesting to see the workings of Venice’s proud republic and the corrupt parts, like the covered Bridge of Sighs that took prisoners to their jail cells in secrecy. Then we walked to the busy Rialto Bridge in the afternoon.
Today, we got a ride to Murano island, where they make beautiful glass art. We saw a quick demonstration, then walked through the shops on the island. The glass museum was closed, so we went back to Venice and wandered around for the rest of the afternoon, getting lost (this time on purpose). Tonight, we will eat our last Italian dinner and go for a Gondola ride to spend the last of our Euros…