A Travellerspoint blog

Italy

One Last Day in Italy

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One thing you will find everywhere in Italy is the coffee. Apparently it will cost more to sit down to drink, some sort of tax or something, so must prefer to stand. Espresso is the drink of choice with Cappacinnio and latte in 2nd place. Little stands are everywhere and fortunately, not the big chain stores. I found a coffee drinking friend in Terri, a woman on this trip. We attempted to try the coffee from as many stands as possible.

We had some free time at night and were at the Plazza Navona. There is a fountain, Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi http://www.rome.info/bernini/fountain-four-rivers with 4 figures which represent the 4 rivers of the world: Ganges, Nile, Danube and Rio de la Plata.

Terri and I sat down at a little outdoor restaurant, right on the square, and had a cappuccino. Perfect way to people watch the passer byers and the street merchants running up to the square with their products, then folding up shop and moving along quickly when the police arrive.
Kids had fun this night when they ran around exploring the areas.

We had to get up early to go to the Vatican, Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica and the Pantheon.

We went 1st on a walking tour, much of where we’d walked the night before. Then ended up at the Pantheon. I didn’t realize before but Raphael was buried at the Pantheon so I ran in for a view and photo of his grave.

We picked up lunch to go but, not before picking up a specialty coffee at the Tazza D’Oro Coffee Shop. http://www.tazzadorocoffeeshop.com/en/home.html. The coffee is an iced drink, “Granita Caffe de pana”. This coffee consists of whipped cream then iced espresso then another layer of whipped cream. Terri and I looked at the glass of coffee and thought “this isn’t coffee, this is ice cream. Then one taste and we were in coffee heaven. You can only get the real Granita Caffe at the area of the Pantheon. The rest are fakes.

After a bus ride to the Vatican City Sunny decided to walk, even if it was slow. She didn’t want to miss the tour, which she would do using the wheelchair. We met our guide who told us “this is not my first rodeo”, she would have the group go at our pace. The guide took the time to explain things when there was a place for Sunny to sit, or have Sunny take a short cut where there were things that were not quite so important to see. We were able to make it thru the entire city with Sunny getting a seat along the wall of the Sistine chapel with a great view of the ceiling.
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The ceiling of walls of the Sistine chapel are so amazing. There are so many imagaes pn the ceiling that no matter how much one looks there is something which is new. To think that Michelangelo was not a painter is unbelievable.

When we came out of St Peter’s Basilica Sunny was in pain. She could hardly walk but wanted to still take photos. We shot so many photos.
As she went slower and slower the rest of the group went ahead on down the hill. They could see us and see that she needed help. They told us later that they had a talk on how to get her down easily. They sent a student, Juan, and another girl to help. Juan was to carry her and carry her he did, on his back all the way down to the group. Then others put arms around her to help take the weight off while she walked. It was truly a group effort.
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We made our way to the bus with a stop at a souvenir shop where I found many Ferrari items and a book of the Sistine Chapel for Sunny.
Next stop was dinner, a pizza dinner, with chicken and sautéed veges for me. This was our last dinner together, the last wine for the Red Wine Sippers in Italy.

Alas Italy was over, and without my bag.

Posted by Miss Chris 01:03 Archived in Italy Tagged travel italy rome tour vatican chapel grandkids Comments (1)

Rome- We Made It

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What a very long day of walking and looking.

We started at the Colosseum with a guided tour. We went in thru gate #57, a gate where the regular people would have entered. The games were free but people had to have a ticket to enter; a ticket showing which gate (status based) they would enter.

We were always walking: down the long entry corridor, up 4 flights of steep stairs, around the upper level, down the stairs to the lower level. The sun was hot and bright so we were sweating, but probably not as bad as the gladiators in their time.IMG_20140622_112806_957.jpg

From the ground floor we were able to see the bottom corridors open to the air now. It is easy to imagine the wild animals, which had been confined there for several days, and the people who would fight them, and the gladiators who would fight for their lives. We wondered what it would have been like to see that kind of fighting.
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From the Colosseum we walked up the broad street, where the chariots would enter, up to the forum. There are ruins on all sides. We didn’t have time to do anything but look. I took a ton of photos and hopefully will know what they are about when I get home. I’ll download a map of the area and then sort thru what I saw.

I must add; a member of our group is named David. He has been so wonderful this trip, but I’m guessing that he didn’t know his trip would be so entwined with ours. David missed the part of our trip after the Colosseum as he wheeled Sunny thru using the lifts. Our tour leader gave them a private tour but they still missed a large amount that we saw. The wheelchairs cannot make it thru on the cobblestones. It is nearly like rock hopping in a river. I really felt badly but he insisted on taking Sunny and wouldn’t hear of anyone else touching the wheelchair. David is always making corny jokes but is fun and so protective. We are so lucky to have him in our group. And I must give everyone credit for pitching in and helping. David helps thru the worst but nearly everyone helps wheel.

So from the forum we went out to the road where the ruins extend across the large boulevard. More forums for one thing or another. More churches, the Christians turned so many sites into churches, like really you need another church?

Several of us had opted not to go to the catacombs. The tour guide gave us a map with the way marked leading to the restaurant where we would have dinner. A friend (new from this trip) joined Sunny and I for a walking adventure, and adventure it was.

Our tour guide had recommended that we eat in the Jewish Ghetto, Ghetto doesn’t have the same meaning here as it does at home. But it is the area where the Jewish people lived. The restaurants have a fusion of Jewish and Roman foods with the spatiality of fried artichokes.

Terri and I took turns pushing Sunny, walking and referring to the map. Unfortunately we did not see the street we needed to take; the map was hard to read the street names. We walked and walked not recognizing the street names at all. Finally we walked up a hill, me pushing the wheelchair and Terri going to ask some police where we were. Of course we were way past where we were supposed to be. So we walked back, found a street which still wasn’t the right one; Octivito instead of Otilito. Another cop pointed out the street, right in front of us which led straight to the Jewish Ghetto. After meals of fried artichokes and rare meat with dried beef and truffle sauce we were stuffed. We needed to do lots of walking before dinner in 3 hours.

After walking and walking we came up on large structure. When we got to the front we found that it was the Pantheon. Entry is free so we entered and enjoyed the cool air.

Posted by Miss Chris 20:54 Archived in Italy Tagged walking travel rome colosseum outdoors fourm Comments (0)

Another Day in Florence

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Another day in Florence is another day in Paradise.

Dinner the night before was an awesome meal. Food before was not great, not what I expected, but it was food. Now we had real vegetables, and great red wine! It was in a little restaurant off of a square, but there are plazas everywhere. This plaza is the location of the church where Michelangelo is buried. Dinner was sautéed veges with chicken. The restaurant had made tiramisu for the group but for me they made Panna Cotta with a berry sauce, it was to die for!!!!
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We finally had a free day, like from the time we arrived back at the Duomo area until we had to leave at 1:30pm. Some went shopping, some ran from 1 site to the other, some sat and absorbed the Italian life. One friend Terry, spent her time sampling gelato and other Italian delights. Sunny and I went to a couple of shops for some emergency clothes, got some undies from Italy too! The shops were close by, so we could hurry with that.

From the shops we walked past the Duomo and on to the Leonardo Di Vinci museum. It was not what I expected at all but such fun. It is a small museum that contains drawings and by the drawings are the items made out of wood. Some are things that you can touch and work. So, for example, his drawing of the helicopter is there with a made up model. Models for his parachute, water wheel, mud boats and lots of other things are there. Also interesting is a small room, maybe 10 sides (I don’t remember exactly and haven’t looked it up) that has a mirrored door. So you go into the room and shut the door, stand in the middle and see a vast number of reflections.

The museum didn’t take a real long time so we had time to find lunch. A friend had sent a link to a restaurant that she’d gone to and recommended by Rick Steves. We found the street but couldn’t find the restaurant for anything. Because it was getting close to 12 noon and we had to walk to the other side of the Duomo to meet the group, we ate close by the recommended place. I had wonderful seafood pasta and Sunny had a 4 cheese pizza. We could see the large oven where the pizzas were being cooked. A glass of red wine helped take the aches away as I was the only one to push the wheelchair.

Weather was hot! Probably only in the mid 80's and maybe 30% humidity but when pushing a wheelchair all over on cobblestone streets, it gets hot!
Now off to Rome.
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Posted by Miss Chris 22:18 Archived in Italy Tagged food walking travel florence europe michelangelo leonadro_di_vinci Comments (0)

Florence, a Wonderful Place to Visit.

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For this trip we are traveling with an immediate group of 20 from California, 6 of us are adults. We are part of a larger group totaling maybe 30 kids and 11 adults. The other groups are from Florida. One group is a high school art class and the other group consists of middle schooler’s.

It has actually been fun to meet other parents and/or parents on this trip. We have stuck together during meals especially and during the evening free time when kids are running around.

The first night 4 of us women sat together at a table and 2 of us decided to buy a bottle of wine, we needed it. One woman thought that she really didn’t want to drink but soon joined us. Another woman saw we were having fun and brought her bottle of wine over to share. We now call ourselves the “Red Wine Sippers In Italy". Each night we take turns buying the bottle. It is a great way to do some wine tasting in Italy.
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Today we spent the day in Florence. I’ve read about Michelangelo and his David for many years. It was amazing to see the David. The muscles and the veins are exactly as I’ve read. David was much larger though than I thought he would be. I took photos from all angles. Seeing David was so amazing and so moving. He is my new “hunk o man”!!!
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There were other Michangelo’s on display, most unfinished. It was interesting to see how he would see find bodies in the stone.

We walked along the Vasari’s Corridor to the Ponte Vecchio bridge, all build in the 1300-1400’s. There is a story around this corridor and bridge. You can read about it at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ponte_Vecchio.
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Another place we visited today was the Duomo, the very large domed church. You may pay a fee to climb the 400+ stairs to go into the domed area. The dome reminds me so much of the Saint Carl’s Church in Vienna where you may take the elevator up then walk up stairs into the domed area. St Carl’s is smaller but having done that already, and Sunny being unable to walk I think we will skip that hike.
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Still another day with no luggage or fresh clothes. Lufthansa is saying that they do not know where my bag is and on the site to trace it the site says it is still being traced. The tour leader spoke with someone who told her I may buy some emergency clothes and they will pay 50%. We are still hoping that the bag shows up in Rome. For now, I’ll buy some emergency clothes tomorrow during free time, Dale has had to go to CVS and pick up the prescription for replacement medication and I’m starting to make a list of items in my very stuffed bag.

There are worse things than having to shop for new clothes in Italy!

For those who are interested; the weather was very pleasant today, about 75 F with a breeze in the afternoon. Some clouds.

Posted by Miss Chris 14:54 Archived in Italy Tagged travel florence europe david michelangelo Comments (0)

The City of Assisi

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If it is Thursday it must be Assisi. We arrived last night at the Hotel Castillo about 8:30 pm, the restaurant stayed open for us. They served us a 2-course meal: 1 pasta and 2 a meat loaf with gravy and French fries. The gravy had wheat so I was given local fresh pressed olive oil. YUM. 2 of us cannot eat gluten, the other woman can’t eat lots of other things too so it makes it easy for me.

The hotel is high on the hill of Assisi. http://www.hotelcastelloassisi.it/ I never found out if it was old or just made to look old but Assisi is old. Most of the city built in the 1200/1300’s; some older, some newer.

We were dropped off next to the old city, or I should say the new-old city, only built in the 1300’s. We had a tour guide thru the city, walking from old to older, built in BC. So much of it reminded me of Jerusalem, the arches, the stones.

We saw the tomb of St. Assisi, the churches, the small old homes, city walls. All things I’ve seen in the Middle East and China. Funny how it has so many similar qualities.

Lunch was at an outdoor café, great for people watching. A sort of caprese salad with lettuce. But they put out bottles of Balsamic vinegar and local olive oil to use. Now I’ve tried lots of Balsamic and never found anything that tasted more than vinegar. OMG I’m in heaven!!! At least Balsamic heaven. I dumped it and the olive oil on my salad. I could just have those two things and be happy.

But the gelato is so good!!! And the Cappuccino’s, OMG, they are to die for. And meringue cookies. Oh, my stomach hurts from thinking of all the food I’ve consumed! IMG_20140619_094558_057.jpg

Still no bag. I've been asured that by tomorrow we will know if I have a bag or not. If not then I guess I'll get new stuff. Oh well; I can think of worse places to shop!!!IMG_20140619_125949_925.jpgIMG_20140619_110916_098.jpg

Posted by Miss Chris 14:34 Archived in Italy Tagged food travel italy europe assisi outdoors grandkids cathadrals Comments (1)

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