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A few phone calls, and a hurry up shift on the Limo companies part, and we were all in the stretch limo headed for Toronto. We found the second-story, enclosed passageway, that leads from the three airport terminals to the Airport Hilton.We walked its length, passing the rail terminal, where we found an ATM and got some needed Euros. We arose early, the differences in time zones not yet acclimated into our circadian rhythms. We bought some cappuccino and croissants, in an airport restaurant, and watched the giant aerial behemoths land and take off in this busy airport.
We climbed these ancient steps, enjoying the surreal experience of viewing the huge sculptures flanking the stairs headway and wondering at the many who had come this way throughout the ages.
Just up the rise, behind the triumphant arch of Constantine, we could see the now familiar broken circle of the remains of the coliseum.
Hunger was gnawing at us, so we stopped at a cute little trattoria labeled a€?planet pizza.a€? We ordered two slices of pizza and continued on, walking the narrow streets as we munched on our pizza. We sat for a time, watching the tourists, and enjoying the sunshine and 62 degree temperatures.
After lunch, we walked about the piazza, enjoying the controlled tumult and browsing the artists with their easels and the colorful souvenir vendors. We were becoming foot weary from the line of march, but headed southeast from the Piazza Navona, in search of the fabled Pantheon. Soon, we turned a corner and stood still for a moment, appreciating the classic lines of the Pantheon, a former pagan temple that had been constructed in 183 A.D. From the Pantheon, we followed our map to the Via Corso and headed back towards that huge monument dominating the skyline, the Vittorio Emmanuel II, in the Piazza Venezia.
We walked the small and narrow streets nearby, looking in on the small vegetable and food shops. The ten oa€™clock bus into Rome looked like the Kowloon ferry at rush hour, so we opted to walk over to the train station to catch the express run into stazione terminal. At Stazione Terminal, we detrained and walked through the large terminal that connects the surface railways with the two principal subway lines which crisscross underneath Roma. Next, we came upon one of the ancient Italian Monsignors celebrating mass at one of the side chapels.
Even the sophisticated stand here quietly unsure of exactly what they are seeing, but respectful of the idea that the remains of so noteworthy a historical figure lay just a few yards away in plain sight. We walked up the nearest boulevard to the Tiber, in search of one of the more storied edifices in Rome, the Castle San Angelo. We emerged into a small courtyard, at the top of the castle, where a statue of St., Michael the archangel, stands ready to protect all with his sword and shield. On our way down, we espied several small exhibit rooms where huge a€?blunder bussesa€? and small cannon of many sorts lay on exhibit.Their fired lead must have cut down many attacking marauders in ages past. We crossed the Tiber at the Ponte Cavour and walked three blocks over to the Via Corso.We were headed for one of the more spacious and beautiful Piazzas in Rome, the Piazza Del Poppolo.
The Parkland is well cared for and looks like a pleasant spot for Romans to gather on a spring or summera€™s day.
We stopped by a station restaurant and bought some wonderful vegetable paninis (sandwiches) for later. We enjoyed another swim in the hotel pool and then stopped by the hotela€™s atm for another 100 euros. We retrieved our luggage from the bus and stood in line for a brief 20 minutes of check-in procedures. We walked the decks, exploring our ship and enjoyed the lounges, shop areas and the many other nooks and crannies of entertainment and activity spread around the decks. Deck #11 aft holds a smaller restaurant called the a€?Trattoria,a€? and serves Italian food every night. We met in the Stardust lounge on deck #10 and got tickets for our 10-hour tour of the Tuscan Countryside and the fabled walled city of Siena.
As the tour bus careened down the highway, we looked at the pastoral scenes, of groves of olive trees and vineyards, dotting the gently rolling landscape. Marco walked us from the bus parking area to the Chiesa San Domingo where we met our local guide a€?Rita.a€? She launched into what was to be a colorful and informed narrative of the Sienaa€™s history and development.
We walked through the narrow, cobbled streets and admired the well preserved walls and quaint shops that appeared around every turn. We walked slowly along the medieval streets, admiring the ancient framing and well preserved architecture. Just next to the Duomo, Rita pointed out an entire area that had been laid out to expand the church. Marco led us to the ancient a€?Spade Fortea€? ristorante, on the periphery of the Piazza, for lunch.
We still had time left after lunch, so we walked back to the Duomo and, for 6 euros each, entered the Musee da€™Opera, next to the Duomo. The bus drove by the walled city of San Gimiano and we caught a glimpse of the open gates of what marco called a a€?medieval disneyland.a€? It looked like a great place to wander when the crowds were less intense. We dressed for dinner this evening in a€?business attire.a€?It was one of the two a€?formal nightsa€? on the ship. The seas were calm that night and we walked topside, enjoying the night air and each othera€™s company.We never lose sight of how fortunate we are to be with each other in these exotic and interesting locales.
We passed through Recco, a Ligurian center for cooking, and then exited into the a sprawling town of Rappalo for the coastal ride into Santa Margarita, where we would take a small ferry to Porto Fino, the heart of the Italian Riveria.
The Castello Brown is everything your imagination could place it to be, sited on the high promontory over a picture book Mediterranean village.
In the quaint village below, we browsed the pricey shops, like Gucci & Ferragamo, noting the breath-taking prices listed in euros.
The Canne waterfront surrounds the marina, a central square, filled with Sycamore trees, and replete with several cafes and their ubiquitous outside tables and chairs. We entered the A-8 Autostrade and drove through Nice and on towards Monaco, some 90 kilometers miles further along the fabled Cotea€™ da€™azur. From quaint and medieval EZE, we descended to the Middle Corniche Road for the picturesque ride into nearby Nice. From the Palais, Patrick threaded the huge tour bus through the narrow streets, fighting the Easter-morning, Mass traffic. I thought that I had a pretty good command of French, but at moments like these, it seems to desert you.
Pat and John were accompanied by friend Joanne, a retired teacher, Al and his mother Cora, also from celebration Florida and the Two Australians, Mike and Carmen Harchand. Revelry aside, the injury was throbbing insistently, so we returned to our cabin, with my hand elevated in the a€?French salute but with the wrong finger.a€? The seas were running rough this evening, with ten foot swells and 25 knot winds. We passed by the entrance to the Las Ramblas, the broad pedestrian promenade that extends into the city, and continued on. The first wonder that we passed is Antonio Gaudia€™s a€?Batlo House.a€? Built in 1906, it is several stories high and has a delightful facade of painted ceramic tiles. Next, we passed the Casa Mila, another Gaudi masterpiece, with its distinctive wavy and flowing, tiled facade.
Then, we came to the sanctum sanctorum of architecture, the Cathedral of the Segrada Familia. The four seasons and many other symbols are represented in this flowing montage that is more enormous sculpture than architecture. Restless, we wandered the decks, met and talked with the Martins and then found a nice photo of ourselves, taken in Sienaa€™s main Piazza, in the photo gallery.
We stopped for a time, in one of the deck ten lounges, and read our books, enjoying the quiet mode of the ship at sea.
We walked topside, enjoying as always the collage of sun, sea and sky, as we knifed through the rolling swells. The Devonshire spread ( as in butt the size of) still engulfed us, so we did another five laps around the deck # 7 promenade. We arose later than usual, read the paper over breakfast and then finished packing for our trip.
As we entered the brand new Buffalo and Niagara International Airport Terminal, I was impressed with the gracefulness of the sweeping lines of the building. We had a last cup of coffee with Joanne and Jack and then checked into the Continental counter with our bags. We had some time to kill,so we strolled the terminal wondering as always at the many stories evident around us. Ironically, I was reading a book on the early years of the Italian mafia, titled a€?Capoa€?. On the way into Italy, we could look down and see the hard granite peaks of the French and Italian Alps.They were snow covered and uninviting, a reef of sky-born peaks waiting to hull out the careless and low flying aircraft.
We were gathered up by Lucio Levi, our tour guide, and escorted to the Central Holidays bus for the I hour ride up into the Lake Lugano region of Switzerland. The Alpine scenery is pleasant and interesting.Everything seemed well ordered and in its place.
Lake Lugano hove into view as the sun came out and we were impressed at the well ordered splendor. The Sun was shining and we could see diverse Alpine landscapes reflected in the depths of the Lake.It was an impressive start to the tour. Lucio brought us to the Hotel Admiral where we checked in to room #415, unpacked and took a short nap.We were tired from the flight.
After our conference with Ozzie Nelson(nap),Mary and I walked along the pedestrian shopping mall, thea€?Via Nassa,a€? to watch the crowds.It was sunny, cool and in the 50a€™s. Next, we sat in an open square overlooking the lake and had a panini and cappuccino at the Ristorante Vanini. We sat frequently , at various stops along the lake side, to admire the Alpine visage.It is picture postcard pretty. The dinner and company were very nice but we were tiring.The bus took us for a brief night ride around the lake and then returned us to the hotel. The bus let us off near the venerable a€? La Scalaa€? Opera House, named after the daughter of the powerful Scala Family in nearby Verona. From LaScala, we walked to the a€?Galleriaa€? shopping complex, the fore runner of our covered malls. The Cathedral was the first for us in a series of such masterful granite and marble epiphanies throughout Italia. It was rainy and cool .We reboarded our bus and crawled for 45 minutes through heavy traffic to the expressway East to Verona.
For the next hour we drove through the Po river valley and admired the vineyards and verdant agriculture of the region. From Verona, we drove Eastward for an hour to the Adriatic Coast and the fabled Republic of the Doges, Venice.
We walked the narrow pedestrian alley ways and delighted in the architecture and charm of this magical city. The immense square is populated by throngs of tourists and locals feeding an enormous army of the aerial rats that we call pigeons. On the corner of the square, near the Church, sits the former seat of the Venetian Republic, The Palazza Ducale. As we walked along the polished marble looking floors, our guide explained their unique construction.
Next, we walked the path of the condemned over the famous a€?Bridge of Sighsa€? and down into the dungeons of the palace.
From the Palazza Ducale, we walked a few streets away and toured the showroom for the a€?Muranoa€? glass works.
We strolled the streets and alleys of Venice buying some postcards and stamps for friends and window shopping. After our gondola ride we strolled the Piazza San Marco and bought some Panini vegetarian and Mineral water from a small stand (14k).We ate our lunch in the square, like the Venetians, and dodged the dive bombing aerial rats that were the delight of squealing children.
Next, we entered the charming Correr Museo, a repository of Venetian art and history from 1300 onward.
After this wonderful dinner we walked back towards the hotel, stopping briefly at the Piazza San Marco. We returned to the hotel, packed our bags for tomorrowa€™s departure and read for a while before sleep took us. At 8:30, a water taxi picked us up from the rear door of the hotel and we had a last twenty minute ride along the canals of Venice. We entered the church and again appreciated the statuary and art work that these churches are a repository for. We stopped for a cappuccino (36k), at a nearby cafe with the Meads, and admired the church and its surroundings. We reboarded our motor chariot and drove for 90 minutes into the foothills of the Appenines towards Bologna.The Po River valley here is lush and grows abundant quantities of sugar beets, corn, wheat and rice. We walked into the venerable courtyard of the University of Bologna School of Medicine, founded in 1088. We settled in for some antipasto, pasta with mushrooms, salad, omelet & potato(for me), and peach torte all washed down with sparkling Lambrusco wine and mineral water. After lunch Mary & I briefly strolled the area looking in on the pricey shops like Gucci and Fratelli Rosetti. We rejoined our bus and set out over the Appenines towards the Toscanna region of Italy and the cradle of the European Renaissance , Florence.
At 8:30, we called for a taxi and rode across town to the a€?Alle Muratea€? restaurant on the Via Ghibellini.
After dinner Arthur and Reneea€™ gave us a ride back to the hotel negotiating the winding and narrow streets of Florence.
We met up with a€?Nedoa€? our guide and stood in line for forty minutes to get inside the Museum. There are works by Michelangelo and others in the building, but the focus of the shrine is correctly placed upon a€?David.a€? Michelangelo had carved this 20 ft statue from a single block of marble when he was only 27.
The guide told us that David, as well as depicting the biblical slaying of goliath, was sculpted as a metaphor for the Venetian republic that had recently thrown off the shackles of the ruling Medicia€™s.
As I viewed this majestic work, I admired the graceful lines of the physically powerful man depicted. Next, Nedo led us through the winding and narrow streets to the Piazza Signorini, the original site of David. From the Piazza Signorini, we walked more winding alleys to the most famous church in Florence, Santa Croce or Church of the Holy Cross.
Started in 1300, this Romanesque beauty hold the tombs of Nicolo Machiavelli, Rosinni and Galileo with memorials to Dante and DaVinci (who is buried in Ravenna). We admired as before the artwork, religious icons and soaring vaulted beauty of these churches, repositories of art and culture and learning. The high water mark, from the horrendous flooding of the mid 1960a€™s , is still visible on the walls. We waited in line for 45 minutes and then, for a 12K Lire entrance fee, we ascended the three flights of stone stairs to the famous gallery. Tiring, we stopped for cappuccino at the small cafe (12K) and watched the swirl of tourists and art lovers drifting by.
As with most Galleries after a few hours, the a€?glaze a€? descends upon us and we know it is time to leave. We left the Uffizzi and walked along the Arno to another fabled site in Florence, The Ponte Veccio.
We stopped at a stand on the far side of the river for pizza and watched the scene as if in a movie. Most of the gang was mildly lit from the eveninga€™s revels and the bus ride back to the hotel was happily raucous and enjoyable. We ambled along the narrow lanes and found and stopped in another old Church, that of St.Rita. Next, we found the a€?Nuovo Mercadoa€? a pedestrian area of exclusive shops and wandering tourists.
From the new market, we walked along the Arno to the Uffizzi Gallery and mingled with the throngs that gathered there daily in the small square next to the gallery. Further along the Arno we stopped at a small cafea€™ and bought spinach and cheese panini and mineral water for 15K.We stood in the sun along the Arno and ate our lunch while watching the daily drama played out on the Ponte Veccio. The Arno valley here is lush and green.Scores of nurseries and tree farms furnish Italy and much of Europe with trees and shrubs. Finally, we approached the Romanesque complex of the Church of Santa Maria.The Duomo, or main church, had been built in 1063 and the adjacent Bell tower in 1173. We reboarded our bus and set off through the Tuscan hills for Florence, passing by the small town of Vinci from whence Leonardo came. At 7:30, we joined the Meads and the Martenisa€™s for dinner in the hotel dining room of the Anglo American.
We were heading through rural Umbria to the historic mountaintop village of Asissi, home of St Francis.
The massive bulk of a 50,000 man Roman Legion had been deployed in the wide valley just behind us. After Mass and communion, we met a€? Marcellaa€? our guide.She began a brief explanation of the significance of the church and the history of St. We wandered up the curved and winding alleys of the upper town admiring the substantial brown, fieldstone structures with red-tile roofs. After lunch, we walked around for a brief time admiring the valley scape and the well ordered Town of St.Francis of Asissi. We boarded our bus and continued on through the hills near Perugia, stopping at the small mountain town of TORGIANO, noted for its vineyards and wine making .
Tiring with the day, we climbed aboard our motorized chariot and drove the final 100 miles along the Po river valley to the Eternal City, Roma There are flocks of sheep, vineyards and villas on every hilltop along the way to Roma.We were expectant and chatty with anticipation at arriving in so fabled a city. The sun was still with us and we were in Rome, so we set out with the Meads for a walk to Navona Square across the Tiber River. The two grand series of steps surround a wonderful floral garden .At the top of the very long steps stands the outline of the Villa Medici with its twin Byzantine towers. Interestingly, the stadium had a canvas awning that could be erected over the entire structure by a team of 400 sailors using nautical ropes and pulleys.
Hydraulic engineers could also flood the first level and stage mock sea battles for the entertainment of the nobility.
And now here it stood, a heap of interesting rubble stripped by scavengers for centuries of all its former beauty. From the Arch of Constantine, we walked along the narrow a€?Via Sacraa€? over the same cobblestones trod upon by the Romans.
The Forum itself was entered through the smaller Arch of Titus, built to commemorate the subjugation of Judea in 70 A.D. Still, standing there beneath the quiet blue sky of a Roman afternoon, one could imagine the triumphs and intrigues of a powerful empire that must have played out here daily.
As we left the forum and walked back over the Via Sacra, we passed by the grassy and treed remains of the Palatine hill where Rome was founded, in the 8th century B.C,. The ruins of the Palace of the Flavian Emperors stands forlornly on the hill overlooking an empty oval of grass that had once been the Circus Maximus. From the Palatine and Capitol Hills, our bus took us for a brief ride across the Tiber to the living and breathing heart of Rome, Vatican City.
We stopped first at a religious store for rosaries, icons and all such necessary souvenirs. Next, we marched across the street to stand in what is perhaps one of the three most noted squares in the world, that of St.Petera€™s.
We made our way past the fountains and chairs, with thousands of others, to the very center of world wide Catholicism, the Church of St.Peter. Words are poor descriptors for the tiled mosaic friezes, bronze castings of various popes and shrines to many of the saints and holy family. A tour of the catacombs and the Appian Way was scheduled for the afternoon, but Mary & I decided we had toured enough for the day. After this refreshing stop we followed the winding streets and the conveniently posted signs to another Roman tourist favorite, Berninia€™s a€?Trevi Fountain.a€? Dutifully, we threw coins over our shoulders into the fountain and hoped it meant we would return to Rome again. We stood for a while watching many others, young and old, throw coins into the fountain and take pictures of each other.Everyone seemed festive and happy to be here, perhaps reflective of the legendary sunny Roman temperament.
From the Trevi Fountain, we retraced our path to the Spanish Steps and then up the Via Condotti and across the Tiber to our hotel to take a breather before dinner. We crowded all 45 of us into a small back room and were served family style by sweating waiters. As we walked the length of the ornately decorated hallways of the Vatican Museum, Nora pointed out the array of wall-sized painted arras completed by Raphael and his students. Next, we entered the quiet precincts of the Sala Immaculata Conceptione,an intimate little chapel adorned with grand murals honoring the Immaculate Conception of Mary, a primary tenet of church dogma. The third level is an evenly spaced depiction of a series of Popes, perhaps a sop to the financiers of the chapel.Lastly, in small triangles and created in a special paint by Michelangelo that is a collage of vivid oranges, blues,reds and peaches,are the prophets of the old testament like Daniel and Ezekiel. Finally, we come to the most prized of artworks, the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.Starting in 1508, under the stern direction of Pope Julius II,Michelangelo painted, in four years, a series of ceiling wide panels depicting Goda€™s creation of the universe ,the original sin in the garden of eden,Noah and the flood.
We left the chapel appreciative of the experience and sat for a while in an outdoor alcove, near the Vatican post office and in view of the high relief of the Vatican Dome of St.Petera€™s. The group had the option to stay and visit the many thousands of exhibits, but we werea€? museumed out.a€? We elected to take the bus back to the hotel. From the hotel, we walked with the Meads across the Tiber and wandered the back streets, on our way to the Pantheon. From the Pantheon we traversed the narrow streets to the Piazza Navona and again admired Berninia€™s fountain of the four rivers. We walked along the narrow lanes to the Tiber River and past the massive fortification of Castle San Angelo with its wide moat. Tonight was to be the last evening in Italy for about half of our tour group,so a special dinner was planned.They were being replaced by 12 new arrivals who had joined us in Rome two days previously.
Upon arrival, we descended a flight of masonry stairs into the ancient cellar of a very old restaurant. Mary and I decide to take a 15 minute walk to the Piazza Cavour to clear our heads before retiring. We retired to our room, finished packing for the morning departure and slept like the dead.
As we negotiated the morning traffic out of Rome, Lucio pointed out to us the remaining lengths of the old city wall.Stretching for some eleven miles, it rises over 20 feet in height. The ride South was uneventful.We were driving through the narrow valley that stretches from Rome to Naples. The Allies drew heavy casualties here in their advance.The New Zealand Commander, attached to the British Eight Army, insisted that the Abbe be bombed.
To the East, the Appenines were snow covered.The mountains here are tall and can reach over 14,000 feet in height. At the Southern end of the valley, sitting along the beautiful bay of Naples like a large and tiered amphi-theater, sits the City of Naples. The traffic was heavy and a small demonstration of some sort was closing the downtown area.Our capable wheel man Fabrizio reversed course in the crowded street and threaded our way along the waterfront heading south along the coast.
Our next destination was the small town of Torre Del Greco, where we stopped at a small company of artisans(Giovanni Apa) who carve cameo broaches from sea shells.
Our guide for the day, a€?Enzoa€?, met us outside the ristorante and shepherded us through the turnstiles and up the stairs and hill to the fabled ruins of Pompei. Some few a€?bodiesa€? were discovered in the ash, completely encased in volcanic material, yet retaining their human shape.
Enzo took us to the towna€™s central forum where we viewed the remains of the curia, basilica,which served as a financial center at the time, and other municipal buildings.Most had been constructed of brick and faced with marble.
We viewed a remarkably well preserved public bath with its steam rooms and lounging areas.It gave you a sense of the ancients as not so different from us. We were up early, wakened by the thunder and lightning flashing across the surface of the bay.
We showered,dressed and had breakfast with the Lynches in the upper dining room, a€?Re Artua€?(King Arthur). We boarded the jet foil and for twenty five minutes had a ride worthy of Disney.The boat slalomed through the four foot rollers like a hog in a wallow. We wandered by the quaint shops to the scenic overlook park named a€?Giardino Augusta,a€? after the emperor Augustus.It had been financed and constructed by the Krupp armaments family. Mary and I wandered the alleys admiring the shops and stopped at a small cafe for panini and cappuccino.
There,we wandered for a time the upscale shops on the narrow pedestrian lanes and admired the even better view, of the bay, from the top of the mountain that is the Isle of Capri. While the girls were in browsing a shop, I noticed that Bill and I were left standing on a street corner.
We walked slowly through town and up the hill to the Sorrento Palace where we sat on the terrace and admired for a time the lovely view as the sun set over the Bay of Naples. After dinner, we stopped by the lobby and listened to some music and chatted with each other for a while. First ,we stopped in town at the a€?Lucky Cuomo Store.a€? It is a display show room for an industry that provides work for a large portion of the town,wood working and furniture construction. As we approached the small tourist town of Amalfi, the traffic thickened like molasses in January. It started to sprinkle soon after we arrived, so most of us took Lucioa€™s advice and stopped for lunch at the a€?Pizzeria Di Marie.a€? We had wonderful Minestrone soup and vegetable pizzas, with panne and mineral water, as we watched Mama Maria and her family work the old fashioned pizza ovens,smiling at the sudden onrush of business form the crazy Americans.
After lunch,we walked along the narrow and crowded main street and stopped for a cappuccino at the a€?Cafe Royal.a€? (5k) Then, as the splatter of rain began, we stopped into the lovely Chiesa San Andrea perched at the head of a precipitous flight of steps. We waited until all of the soggy stragglers had made it back aboard and then slowly inched our way out of town through the tangled snarl of traffic.Frabizio, our sunny tempered wheel man was at his best along these narrow and crowded lanes . We were served tomatoes and Mozzarella cheese on toast, vegetables(for me) bruscetta for the others, salad, pasta crepes with cheese and the house specialty for desert, the a€?Deliciouso Limonea€?, a lemon angel-food cake that is wonderful. The bus returned us to the hotel, where we sat again in the lobby listening to music and chatting with each other.We were leaving these gentle surroundings tomorrow morning and heading North to Rome. We were up early, enjoying the scent of lemons and oranges and the sounds of birds chirping happily in the hotel garden.It seemed like every available patch of green space in the area has its own lemon or sour orange grove along this narrow coast. A light rain fell as we motored Northward along the scenic coastline.Our fellow passengers on the bus were subdued and thoughtful, perhaps mindful of their imminent departure and the real life that lay waiting for us just beyond the ocean.
We stopped for cappuccino and a break at a roadside rest stop.Lucio warned us about being approached by Gypsies with bogus items for sale. Another hour up the road and we approached the towering spur of Mt.Cairo that holds the hilltop Abbe of Monte Cassino. As the wind swirled around us we passed into the first of the a€?four open courtsa€? of the monastery. The next level and open stone courtyard features another statue of St.Benedict and one of his twin sister Scholastica, a rather interesting woman who had helped found the order. The next court, at the head of a small stairs and open to the sky, is the a€?court of the protectors.a€? Displayed in it, is a series of figures and small monuments to the lay members of the order who had become Kings and Popes. Lucio had told us to look for one of the twenty remaining elderly monks, survivors of the WWII bombing. We left the Abbe amidst the splatter of rain.One of our group, an elderly woman, was experiencing a brief reunion with local residents that she had not seen in fifty years. Descending the winding roads from the Abbe, we could see off in the distance the floral cross and quiet grounds of the Polish Military Cemetery A 1200 man Battalion of these gallant lads had been attached to the British Eight Army during the final siege and storming of the MonteCassino.These brave men had led the charge and been virtually annihilated to a man by the superior German forces entrenched in the rubble of the Abbe high above them. Lucio narrated for us a tale of the many daily practices that the life of so important an Abbe had influenced among the local populace.
A Benedictine monk, by the name of a€?Fra Guidoa€?, had also given us our system of musical notes and scales.
We stopped again, about an hour along the highway North, for some excellent Minestrone zuppe, panne and mineral water at a a€?RistoAgipa€? stop.The food was both good and welcome, but the waiter skinned us with a bogus tale of included charges.
As we approached the Eternal City , we could see many bright yellow mustard fields, flocks of sheep and abundant agriculture in the rolling hills outside of Rome.We threaded our way through the city traffic and arrived again at the Visconti Palace for our last night in Rome.
The walk along the Tiber and past the massive old and circular fortress of Castle San Angelo was pleasant.
The area around the Vatican was a swirl of people as we again admired St.Petera€™s square. A curate was singing mass near the main altar and the multi lingual confessionals all had lines of the faithful waiting penitently, signs of an older and different church from the one that we now know in America. We gazed, interested, upon the many marble statues and tile frescoes along the various walls of the enormous church. I was rather taken with a small and innocuous bronze plaque on a wall near a museum, at the side of the church. Glazing over form the impressive reliquary and art treasures, we left St.Petera€™s, a mental portrait fixed forever in our minds of so fascinating a place of worship, power and beauty.
We walked back along the Tiber River to our hotel and ` relaxed before dinner, our last one in Rome and Italy.
The staff of the restaurant was inordinately gracious, even when one character in our group pulled the Maitrea€™D aside and began to offer him suggestions on how to better run the place.
We watched, for a last time, the walls of the ancient city pass by us and thought wistfully of the many people and places that we had seen in these last two weeks. We had a last Cappuccino, changed over some lire at larcenous rates and sat waiting for our flight. We boarded Alitalia flight #640 and had a pleasant, if long , nine-hour, marathon flight back to Newark International Airport.We passed through customs and rechecked our bags with Continental Airlines for the flight to Buffalo. Newark was fast becoming a madhouse as teeming thousands were returning from everywhere on their Easter Vacations. Adipositas ist mehr als nur Ubergewicht: Krankhafte Fettleibigkeit ist ein gefahrliches Leiden, dass die Lebenserwartung der Betroffenen um mehrere Jahre verkurzt.
Obwohl die Endometriose eine der am weitesten verbreiteten Frauenkrankheiten ist, bleibt sie haufig lange unentdeckt. Planen Sie Schritt fur Schritt, wer Sie medizinisch auf Ihrem Behandlungspfad versorgen soll - von der Vorsorge uber die ambulante Behandlung bis hin zur stationaren Versorgung und anschlie?ender Rehabilitation. Erfahren Sie mehr daruber, wie unsere Texte entstehen, wie die Daten gepruft werden und wie sich das Portal finanziert. All passengers casually look up at a large electronic tote board that lists gate assignments.
I could see the white cliffs of Dover as we crossed over the English channel and flew across to France. It seems that they had left an entire baggage cart, from our flight, at Heathrow during one of the a€?beat the clock a€? scenarios. Sounds of French, Italian, Spanish and several other languages swam around our ears as we sat musing about where we were. At the top of the steps, we crossed a small terrace and looked down into the elegant rubble that is the remains of the Roman Forum.
Its several tiers, all filled with open arches, even now reminds me of the many sports arenas we had visited. Then, we set out over the very pricey Via Condotti, browsing the windows of Bvlgari, Gucci, Ferragamo and a score of other trendy shops.
We were tempted to enter the a€?Tre Scalinia€? and order a€?Tartuffo,a€? that wonderful roman delight that is a€?fried ice cream,a€? but passed on the opportunity in the interests of fitting into our clothes.
We wandered the back alleys, consulting our trusty map and once asking a merchant for directions.The trouble with asking questions in passable Italian is that the hearer assumes you speak the language fluently and rattles off a response in rapid fashion. We showered and prepped for the day.NCL was putting on a buffet breakfast in the hotel for the early cruise ship passengers. Three hundred and fifty cruise passengers had booked a few days in Rome and were expected this morning. We sought out and found the a€?Aa€? line that would take us up to the Vatican and the Chiesa San Pietro (St.
We could see the walls of Vatican city up ahead of us and the huge dome of Saint Petera€™s against the skyline. Petera€™s held a long line of pilgrims, school children on holiday and other penitents from the four corners of the globe. We were debating where we would head next, when we noticed that the line had lessened for St. Petera€? stand in their wooded splendor, for all the world like an outsized throne for some race of giants.
We sat through the mass understanding much and received communion, saying a prayer for Brothera€™s Paddya€™s repose.
I said a brief prayer for all of those whom we had lost and moved on to the marbled hallway.
It is a circular and high walled fortress that has served in different eras as a castle for the Caesara€™s, a prison, a church and now a stone monument to antiquity. A small pile of stone cannonballs lay next to what must have been the remains of a medieval catapult, used to bomb the attackers with. A few tug boats and a single scull, powered by a lone oarsman, were all that broke the surface of this venerable and storied river. We slowly climbed the winding steps, to its heights, noting the occasional bum sleeping in the park bushes. We walked along the parkway, dodging the odd service truck, and admired the imposing bulk of the Villa Borghese, sitting on a hill above us. A group of Spanish school kids were singing happy birthday to one of their group amidst much laughter. I signed up for an hour with the hotels internet station ( 20 euros) and sent a number of messages to friends and relatives across the ether of cyberspace. Then, we settled in with paninis, chips,acqua minerale con gassata and a good bottle of Chianti, while we read our books and got ready to join The Norwegian Dream for an itinerary we had long anticipated. On deck #12, aft, we found the a€?Sports Bara€? a small buffet-style restaurant that served all three meals daily.
Like all liners, the boat is equipped with motorized, ocean-going tenders that are wholly enclosed and hold up to 128 passengers when full. It was followed with a nice spinach salad, a grilled tuna steak and a delightful cannolli and decaf cappuccino.
Its most famous Saint, Catherine of Siena, had been a dominican nun who was a a€?close associatea€? of the reigning pope in Avignon. Then, we walked into the small piazza that holds the most prized treasure in Siena, the Duomo Santa Maria da€™ Assumption. We fell in with and enjoyed the company of two colorful residents of Celebration, Florida, Pat and John McGoldrick, former Beantown (Boston) residents and fellow Irish Americans. Ensconced within are all of the original statuary and murals from the exterior of the church.As the marble became worn, throughout the centuries, artisans had replicated the original statuary and remounted them on the facade. We elected to choose again the Trattoria for dinner, where we were seated with Ray and Sarah from Atlanta. Geographically, the rocky headland of Porto Fino separates the gulfs of Tivuglio and Paradisio. We enjoyed the colorful front street of nice hotels, shops and restaurants, as we exited the bus in the rain. The harbor area rings a small marina, with wonderful sailing yachts scattered amidst the smaller craft. Christiana took us through the commercial center of Genoa , stopping at the central a€?Piazza venti septembre, 1870a€? which commemorates the date of the Italian unification. A light rain and a 42 degree chill greeted us, as we stood topside to watch the Dream get underway. The Mediterranean Sea sparkled a dazzling blue against the bright sun and lighter blue of the sheltering sky. Francois Grimaldi, the founder of the line, came to the area in 1297, with a small army of soldiers, all disguised as monks. We followed a nicely trimmed walkway to the a€?Rochea€? (rock) area, so named because it had literally been carved from the cliffside rock. The crenelated battlement of the original castle had been added to over the generations to produce an odd hybrid. Along the roadside, at several intersections, sit scale, bronzed models of Le Mans race cars, denoting the world famous auto race that roars through the streets of Monaco every May.
We skipped breakfast and had coffee topside, admiring the Marseilles harbor and the surrounding mountains, in the bright, Easter-morning sun. It is now the second largest city and largest commercial port in France, with one million people living in the metropolitan area.
We set off from the port area, stopping first at the a€?Old Cathedrala€? in the a€?vieux port a€? area of the harbor. A score or so of fishermen were minding stalls that sold fresh fish, everything from whole squid and lobsters, to eels. The kind and elderly woman, perhaps a nun in mufti, helped clean the wound, put antiseptic ointment on it and dressed it in gauze. The city had erected three separate, exterior walls, for defensive purposes, as the city evolved over the centuries. Unfortunately , Antonio Gaudi was killed, in a traffic accident, at a young age and construction was interrupted. Built for a 1929 world exposition, this elegant structure and plaza is now an art museum. The theme for the evening was a€?American Presidents and their favorite foods.a€? We chose a Gerald Ford, Norwegian, salmon appetizer. Marya€™s sister Joanne and husband Jack were going to take us to the airport at Noon.We had a definite sense of anticipation for our long awaited Italian adventure. We read our books and passed the time as well as we could for the 7 hours that it took us to reach Milana€™s Malpensa Airport.
Next, we set out in search of the Central Holidays Tour guide who was scheduled to meet us.
Off in the distance you could see the snow covered Alps.Garlands of dirty gray clouds, pregnant with rain, ringed the mountain peaks like ringers tossed in a carnival game.


From the towering mountains nature had gouged out , like the four fingers of a hand, a deep and scenic glacial lake.
We stopped by the famous Swiss Jeweler Bucherer and admired their pricey wares.The jeweler gave us a silver spoon as a memento.
We noticed a sign for the pool(Piscina) and headed down to the basement for a relaxing swim.The water was heated and we luxuriated in its warmth. Night had fallen and the lake shore was atwinkle with illumination beneath the ponderous shadows of the towering mountains around us.
Inside, Emmanuella our guide gave us a narrated tour of the opera house and accompanying museum.
The shops lined a cross shaped and tiled arcade that was covered high above by a peaked glass roof.The four corners of the cross were open to the air and a fountain gurgled at the join of the cross arms.
The roof line is a series of spires each topped by a small statue, perhaps a wealthy patron or friend of the Viscontia€™s. Along the way, we stopped at an a€?Autogrilla€? for Zuppe, panne and mineral water (26K-L). He had apparently formed a rather strong dislike for the famous Operatic Tenor Pavarotti and referred to him often as a€?The barking dog.a€? The Streets of Verona are narrow and picturesque.
You must first cross a paved causeway, stretching from the mainland for a mile, to reach this island city. Mahogany bannisters and woodwork, Venetian glass fixtures and fabric print wall paper give the hotel an ambiance of quiet elegance. Like most tours and cruises, meals are the less harried periods of the day and the time to share impressions and experiences of the day before. Arched pedestrian bridges crossed the many small canals as we made our way to the center of Venice,The Piazza San Marco.
This building and all of Venice is built upon pilings sunk into the bottom of the lagoon.Minor tremors and other earth movements often shift the surface below. After a brief demonstration in glass blowing, an army of sales people descended upon us to show us the many colored and world famous Venetian glassware. At 12 Noon, we met up with our group for a Gondola ride down the many small canals of Venice. Later that afternoon we set out along the narrow alleyways to find the Academia Art Museum.
We had eggplant with grilled tomato and vegetables, pasta with clams, sole, insalata, and tiramisu all washed down with Soave Bolla and Mineral Water. Then, we had a quick breakfast with the Meads and browsed the streets near the hotel one last time. The taxi dropped us off at the head of the causeway where we boarded our Central Holidays bus and set off for the one hour drive to Padua.
The School was hundreds of years ahead of the rest of Europe in dissecting cadavers for research purposes. Groves of olive trees are clustered everywhere along the hillsides.No arable land appears to be wasted.
The brick buildings here are more of an a€?ochera€? color.Each city appears to have a distinct and uniform a€?colora€? to the brick buildings in its area We skirted the city center and drove past many splendid Tuscan villas to reach a€?Michelangelo Squarea€?.
Allora, we did our a€?Chevy Chasea€? look and remounted the bus for the ride into Florence. The streets were impossibly narrow and lined with cars and the ever present and annoying motor bikes.
There stood another wonderfully sculpted water fountain, a casting of David and a few other Greco Roman figures and a covered portico of sorts with a large array of statuary including the famous a€?Rape of the Sabine Women.a€?. We learned later that hundreds of international volunteers, affectionately dubbed a€?mud peoplea€? by the locals, had come to Italy after the flood to help restore the frescos and objects da€™art.
The windows are open to the light and you can look out, from one end of the upper gallery, to the Arno River below. The Europeans seem to consciously expose their children to art and literature and culture on a much greater scale than we do.
We ordered(16K) and chatted with the bar tender in our best Italian and enjoyed the ambiance of the place.
The Villa is a pale- yellow, two -story Italianate mansion sitting amidst sculpted floral gardens and overlooking the Tuscan countryside. The waiters served us courses of Insalata, Risotto, pasta con mushrooms, Potatoes with cheese and peas and a lemon torte for desert.
It always seemed like a carnival and it was enjoyable just to stop and watch the swirl of people and events. After a quick shower, we met the Meads and the Lyncha€™s in the hotel dining room for breakfast, before our 8 A.M. As we passed the beautiful shore of Lake Trebbiano, Lucio explained the significance of this sight in Roman History.
Hannibal and his Carthaginian invaders sat undiscovered at the head of the narrow defile along the lake that we now traversed. Two mighty armies and peoples had pounded upon the granite slate of history with waxen mallets,their impressions all too soon faded and worn by the fibrous and scouring sands of time. We and hundreds of others listened to the Mass in Italian and sat respectfully in this historic old church. We saw Berninia€™s famous a€?four riversa€? fountain and the many swirls of tourists that gather here nightly.
We sought Cena(dinner) at a place nearby that Lucio had recommended .It was one of the few restaurants open on Easter Night. As we wandered around and tried to imagine the cheering throngs that once sat here, I could hear in my minda€™s ear the savage cries and the roar of the crowd. It was here that the victorious Roman Generals marched in triumph to the Forum, to receives accolades from the Roman Senate.
The store offered various packages of reliquary that could be sent over to the Vatican to be blessed and delivered later to your hotel room. Hundreds of times I have seen this square on television, as a Papal address was given or more dramatically, when a new pope is elected. Mass was being said at the main altar and priests from many nations were giving confession in a dozen languages.
You could feel the hurt in her eyes and sense the forlorn helplessness of a mother whose child had been taken from her. We walked from the hotel, across the Tiber, up the Via Corso and across the Via Condotti to the Spanish Steps. Most seemed to be Italian families out for the day on a€? Pasquitaa€? or a€?little Eastera€? holiday. Built by Pope Sixtus IV as a private Chapel, the church was divided into an inner and outer chapel, separated by a 12 foot, ornate, wrought-iron screen.
The first fifteen feet are painted as purple velvet curtains.The texture of the work leads you, from a distance, to watch the curtains lest they move. Marie saw a nice leather coat in a small store and bought it The shop owner formerly had a girl friend that lived in Buffalo.He had even visited once,small world. Pagan, Christian or other, it is a place designed for quiet contemplation and harmony with the elements of nature.
It had been at various times the tomb of an emperor, a fortification,a prison and is now a museum. As we sat in anticipation, the strolling minstrels played the Mandolin,.picollo, and folk guitar in nostalgic Italian folk songs. It was pleasant to walk amidst the Roman night and remember all that we had seen and done in one of the most ancient of European capitols. It is the avenue North from Naples and the major reason the Allies had landed at Sorrento in WW II.
It is named for the Spanish Ambassador at a time when the Kingdom of Naples was a part of Spain. We watched the trained artisans etch and carve the medallions, rings and various pieces of jewelry from the shells. The weight of the ash had collapsed all of the ceilings and the effect looked like a scene from a WWII movie after an aerial bombardment. They and the mural in the vestibule, with the outsized priasmic phallus, drew the most snickers from the tourists.
Soon we came to the small coastal town of Sorrento, where we were to stay for the next three nights. The bus carried us back to the hotel where we read ,caught up with journal entries and surrendered to a conversation with ozzie nelson. The lemon and orange trees were swaying gently and the birds were singing happily in the rain. The topic of conversation was whether or not the jet foil trip to Capri was still a go for today.
We rolled side to side and jumped the occasional roller.If you werena€™t holding on tight, you would go rolling down the aisle of the sleek jet-boat like a tumbleweed in the wind.
Roberta shepherded us to the funicular that would take us up the hillside to the lower village of Capri.
We gazed out across the deep blue Mediterranean, admiring the two massive rock formations in the harbor. The sun was shining and we had a gorgeous view of the bay and mountains along the shoreline. We stopped for ice cream at a small stand and watched the shoppers come and go.It was one of those sunny Mediterranean afternoons that give the area its magic and allure. After a shower and breakfast in a€?Re Artu.a€? we boarded our bus for the daya€™s excursion, the main feature of which was to be a drive along the scenic Amalfi Coast. The sales rep gave us a demo of the various types of woods used and the process involved in making the elaborately in-laid and finely crafted furniture. Mussolini had first built the original stretch in the 1930a€™s.It had since been widened but is still a narrow two lanes, traversed by a monstrous crush of tour buses and traffic.
We were lucky too have so able a pilot steering us safely over roads as potenially treacherous as these.
Tour buses were only allowed in the Southbound direction along the Amalfi drive, because of the hairpin turns and narrow passageways. We followed a series of five miles of winding and heart stopping switch backs, rising some 1200 feet from the valley floor,.to this magnificently reconstructed white limestone edifice. Here, a central green space is dominated by statuary depicting the dying St.Benedict, upheld by two monks supporting the sainta€™s lifeless form.
It was she who had started the custom, followed to date, of including a library and chapel in every Benedictine monastery. Each in his own way had looked after the interests of the order, perhaps in a time of great need for the brothers.
It is covered with lustrous marble and trimmed in gold.The bronze candelabra sparkled in the dim light and I could feel one of those time-warping mind blinks forming.
They were the last twenty or so remaining monks in the complex, an unbroken monastic chain stretching from antiquity. Like most Monestaries during the dark ages , the Abbes were centers of learning and repositories for artwork .Perhaps it explains why they were so often sacked by the marauding barbarians. It was sunny, cool and in the 50a€™s out.The Via Condotti and environs were as crowded as usual, with their weekend visitors. We ran into Bill and Marie Mead along the way and decided o take a last look at St .Petera€™s and the Vatican.
It seemed like we had the known the Meads for a very long time and were casually comfortable in their presence. We stopped for a time and said a prayer at one of the small altars, thinking ourselves privileged to do so. Inscribed upon it is the lineal array of the Popes form Peter, in the upper left hand corner, to Jean Paulus I in the lower right hand corner.It is an unbroken chain of some of the most important and powerful men in History. The room was circular with a high and vaulted ceiling Fluted doric columns supported the walls and the large floor to ceiling windows gave the aura of a private garden in a Roman Villa.
At times like these, you can only pretend not to know the person involved and run for the door. Unlike many other peoples in the world, the Italians rarely boast of their nationa€™s many accomplishments in Literature, the arts, sciences and a dozen other fields of study.
Wenn eine Diat nicht mehr ausreicht, um die uberschussigen Pfunde loszuwerden, kann eine Operation den Betroffenen helfen.
Lassen Sie sich dafur die in der Datenbank enthaltenen Einrichtungen in der Region Berlin-Brandenburg anzeigen, die diese Erkrankung behandeln. We had finished packing the evening before, so we had time to stop at a nearby restaurant and had bagels and coffee, while reading the paper. Traffic was light, at the peace bridge and on the Queen Elizabeth Expressway, so we breezed into Torontoa€™s Pearson airport in 90 minutes, well in time for all of us to relax and check in for our afternoon flights. The plane was a€?sro,a€? every seat was filled.A few of the piccolo mostro (little monsters) squawked a bit during the flight but it went quickly enough.
The neatly outlined farms, of the French country side, flashed below us in a well ordered array. Once, this small area had been graced with rows of gleaming white marble structures, the business, commerce and affairs of much of the western world had been waged here daily. We dodged their insistent sales pitches and walked out onto the Via Imperiali, walking towards the Vittorio Emmanuel II monument. The fascination of Rome is that you stumble upon these grand and ancient monuments so casually when you turn a street corner.
We were headed in the distance towards the Fiume Tiber and the Piazza Navona, another famous gathering place and site of three majestic Bernini fountains. We smiled, strained to understand and thanked the man for a€?su aiutoa€? (his help) As a parenthetical, I dona€™t know that we have ever found a people as gracious, patient and willing to help as we have the Italians. It has classic greek columns in the front and a large dome that has at its center and open a€?occulia€? that lets light enter the dimly lit church. You got so your ear could hear them approach and you knew you had to run like hell to get out of their way.
We relaxed in the room, wrote up our notes and then went for an invigorating swim in the hotela€™s pool. Four blocks over, we spilled into one of the most famous squares in the modern world.The Piazza San Pietro was already crowded with pilgrims by mid morning. We walked about the piazza enjoying the semi-circle of the grand columns with their statues of popes and saints standing atop them. A line was gathered near a tombed figure with an open, glass side, so we stood patiently in line to see what drew the attention.
The frescoes on the walls, the gilded and painted windows and the wealth of two thousand years held us in awe. I figured a mass and a lighted candle at the Vatican might give him some juice in the far beyond.
For 5 euros each, we entered and walked around the inside periphery of this two thousand year old castle. Off the courtyard lies a circular verandah that overlooks all of Rome.We sat for a bit and enjoyed the view, then found a tiny cafe where we had a cappuccino with other pilgrims who visiting the fortress. We retraced our path, down the circular ramp, and exited onto the esplanade along the Tiber, replete with cadres of africans hawking all manner of souvenirs. It is a functioning museum, with a collection of intersting sculptures and art works, but we were tiring with the day and wanted to push on. A swirl of languages provided an auditory bath for our ears, as we walked amid the crowds, enjoying the life and laughter of so many around us. We had to ask how the Italian key board works, to find the ampersand symbol that is used in e-mail addresses. The lobby was awash with businessmen, attending some conference or other, and hundreds of other cruise-ship passengers wandering about. The surrounding countryside was devoted mainly to agriculture, with many vineyards running along the coast.
The papal states took possession of the harbor in the 14th century and it had evolved into the chief commercial port of Rome during unification in 1870. We stood in our orange life vests, with whistle and water activated light, and listened patiently to the crew member assigned to us. It is our custom, when cruising, to have a drink at the topside bar and watch the ship leave port.
We were seated at a small table for two and ordered a bottle of Meridian Merlot from a Ukranian wine steward named a€?Igor.a€? We exchanged several comments in Russian and enjoyed the conversation with him. Siena is south and east of Florence, a beautiful city of art and culture that we had already visited and enjoyed on a previous trip.
We stopped in the Piazza Tolomei, the home of the aforementioned banking syndicate, Monte Dei Pasche. Finished in the late 1300a€™s, this Romanesque, white and green striped, marble epiphany, with roseate trim, is impressive.
A lively lunch, well seasoned with several flagons of the local Chianti, consisted of pasta and mushrooms in sauce, asparagus risotto, (no carne for four), cheese, green beans and salad,finished off with a ricotta cheese desert that was wonderful and accompanied throughout with aqua frizzante. Looking at these originals gives you an appreciation for the odd seven hundred years that the place had been around. A huge, victory-arch framed three floral gardens that are dedicated to Christobal Colon (Columbus) and his three ships on their voyage of discovery to the Americas in 1492. The lights, of the whole amphitheater of Genoa, were twinkling in the dark as we eased from the harbor and set off Westward along the Ligurian Coast. We drove down the grand boulevard, Avenue Crossette and viewed the huge hotels, the site of the international film festival and even a statuesque column to the emperor, Napoleon. They attacked the surprised Genoese defenders and overwhelmed them, taking possession of the area and declaring it the Principality of Monaco. We walked along the Boulevard San Martin, passing two pricey homes that housed the royal daughters, and stopped to visit the Church of the Immaculate Conception. Reluctantly, we left the a€?Rochea€? area, with its palace and fairy tales, and returned to the bus. We parked at another huge garage and took the elevators and escalators up to a small plaza that houses the Monaco Opera house. Parked out front today, were an Aston Martin, two lamberghinia€™s, several Jaguars, the odd couple of lesser Mercedes and a row of other luxury cars, with an attendant to watch over them. Czar Nicholas of Russia, and Queen Victoria of England, and scores of lesser roalty, had been frequent visitors to the area. It is of green and white striped marble construction, like the church in Siena, but much less ornate. We watched as several fishermen worked around their small fishing dories, cleaning and mending nets.
By now, I was recovering a bit and managed to remember enough French to thank her and say that she was a€?very kind for helping me.a€? I kept my hand elevated, in a position of a€?The french salute, but with the wrong finger,a€? as we walked around the grounds of the cathedral. Was this not the land from whence the phrase had originated a€?waiting for Godot?a€? We stopped by the a€?slop chutea€? for a salad and then sat topside for a bit, admiring the harbor on such a bright and sunny day. Mary took over the job of transcribing my travel notes and agreed to take notes on the next few days tours, until I could manage to grip a pen well enough to write. Portions of all three still existed and had been added to architecturally over the years in something the guide called a€?architectural lasagna.a€? It is a nIce turn of phrase.
The a€?newer sectionsa€? of Barcelona are laid out in a geometrical grid, with broad boulevards and more green spaces. The streets in the area have ornamental wrought iron lamp posts and the buildings are adorned with ornate metal floral designs. Originally planned as a 60 residence housing project for the wealthy, only two homes were ever built. It is flanked by a lovely parkland that stretches along the edge of this hillside and looks out over the city and harbor.
We squeezed into a table with two charming Southern Belles from Kentucky, Sandy and JoQuetta. We were bouncing messages off satellites, all over the world, and in instant communication with friends five thousand miles away.
The new European Community is in the process of dismantling all of the cumbersome customs checks between its member states.
We walked along the Lake promenade and noted with interest the statues of George Washington and the Swiss hero, William Tell. It was too high for me.The last few hundred yards of the journey looked almost vertical in its ascent. We settled in with Bill and Marie Mead for courses of pasta, salad, omelet(for me) and finally a Torte with cafea€™ for desert.
We saw musical scores and various mementos from operas created by the Italian masters Puccini,Verdi and Donizetti. It was rebuilt according to original specifications, by the Italian Government, after the War.
The imposing Soave Castle could be seen far off in the distance, dominating a hilltop and commanding the region.
We walked them and admired the architecture.Off one small lane we entered a courtyard,that of the Capuletti (small hat) family.
From the terminus of the causeway we boarded motor launches, for the 20 minute ride along the picturesque Grand Canal, to a landing area near our hotel, the 800 year old a€?Saturnia.a€? Another motor launch had been hired to carry our luggage to the hotel. Alessandro informed us that on 100 days of the year the square is entirely submerged in the waters of the nearby Adriatic. In this way, the Venetians insured a reasonable turnover in their chief executives.The average Doge ruled for 9 years. The Venetians had developed the techniques for making transparent glass in the 16th century and later the technique for making glass mirrors by adding silver to one side of transparent glass. These vessels are sleek, ebony, highly -decorated canoe -like structures that operate with one large oar working off a stern mounted fulcrum and a hearty gondolier to propel them.
After some exploring, we came upon the Museum but did not want to fight the hordes of students and tourists already occupying the place.We continued walking along the quaint back alleys and passed by the renowned a€?Peggy Guggenheima€? Museum of Modern Art.
How were we going to get across without retracing our steps to the nearest bridge far behind us? Mariea€™s nephew Michael and girlfriend Jennifer were able to join us for dinner and we enjoyed their company.
Around his altar and tomb are pictures, letters and mementos from people who had their prayers answered by St. Many of its streets are lined with a colonade-type of walkway created by an overhanging second story of the buildings. My own brother Mike had attended this Universitya€™s Perugia Campus, so we took a few pictures for him. It is a wonderful old trattoria that is a favorite of students and revelers.We descended into a basement that could well have been found in Bavaria. We checked into room # 334, unpacked, wrote some journal entries and tried to relax before dinner. It is faced with green marble and trimmed in both red and white marble.Next to it and somewhat asymmetrical is the Agiotto bell tower, faced in the same marble motif.
Along the hallways, almost casually placed, are scores of Greco Roman statuary salvaged from private villas, public buildings and many other sources throughout the empire.
The Florentines had ordered all of the gold merchants to center here in the middle ages.They and many jewelers still plied their trades along this venerable bridge over the Arno.
Even the rain could not dampen the splendor of the place.Three fire places were ablaze as we entered the cozy villa. We washed down this magnificent repast with both red and white wine and mineral water as a musical group played Italian folk songs.
We had breakfast with Tom and Nancy Martenis, from Vermont , and then set off walking the narrow streets of Florence. The Piazza Duomo was, as always, awash in tourists.We briefly admired the church, bell tower and Baptistry before continuing on. The sidewalk vendors performed a continual ballet of cat and mouse with the Carabinieri who shooed them away whenever they came upon them.The Ponte Veccio was similarly awash in people. It stands 8 levels high and has that delightful a€?wedding cake a€? appearance so prominent in the Romanesque style. The baptistry is similarly styled and the three building are harmoniously attractive architecturally as a grouping.The a€?leana€? of the bell tower makes a delightful photograph against the granite solidity of the other two structures. The Romans, thinking perhaps to catch the Carthaginians unawares, started their march in the predawn hours into the narrow defile. Curiously, scores of tourists still filed down the side aisles headed for the tomb of St.Francis on the lower level, economics I suppose. The storied and very expensive Hotel Hassler stands at the top of the stairs awaiting the well heeled. It was properly titled as a€?La Vigna dei Papia€? or the Vineyard of the Pope, but to us, it became the a€?Popea€™s Deli.a€? We had a wonderful minestrone zuppa, insalata, vegetables with desert, mineral water and several flagons of a tasty red wine, all for the modest sum of 75k Lire( for 2).
Made of brown brick and originally faced with white marble, it now stands as a crumbling reminder to the glory that was Rome. Much like our own football and baseball stadia, the fans scurried to their seats cursing the traffic and hoping not to miss the thrill of the first contact and the approving roar of the mob. Nuns and priests from the far flung regions of the world wide church walked respectfully and purposefully amidst the sprawl of tourists from as many countries. Even were it not religious, this carved block of marble would inspire awe and appreciation.
It was sunny and warm out and the area was a throng of people.We sat by the fountain and watched the ebb and flow of the tourists as they took pictures, drank from the fountain(ugh) and milled about, not realizing that the principle activity was to sit and watch the others.
A nice desert and all washed down with mineral water and liberal quantities of Abruzzi wine . We had an early 7:15 bus to see one of the worlda€™s most renowned masterpieces, The Sistine Chapel. She told us that the normal wait could be up to two hours with a line winding back a mile or so into St.Petera€™s square.
Trump La€™oeil paintings along the ceiling gave us the impression of three dimensional sculptures hovering above us. It seems Michailangelo wasna€™t above a fit of pique ,depicting a troublesome Vatican secretary as a horned devil in hell. It was windy and cool out as we returned to the hotel to pack for our departure tomorrow morning and prepare for dinner. The area Commander, American Mark Clark, resisted at destroying an Italian National Monument. Italy long ago must have been a pyrotechnic land shaking with continuous earth tremors , the skies covered with ash from the erupting volcanoes.
It certainly puts everyone on notice to consider well what others will find and view in your home after your passing.
The mind blink was warping in and out as images of ancient people inter phased with the modern tourists walking the lanes. It faces the bay with two wings of four stories of rooms.Five outdoor pools empty into one another on a second and lower terrace A Grand central lobby, with bars and restaurant to the sides, faces out onto a broad patio that overlooks the Bay of Naples. Still who could complain?The lemon and sour orange trees abounded in the hotel garden, the sweeping bay was gorgeous and the warm air wafted over us with the scent of lemon and orange.It worked for me. Traversing roads that were higher and narrower than those around a€?Big Sur.a€? in California. We stopped for pictures at a scenic overlook and fruit stand in Positano, the birth place of Sophia Loren. It was a delightful repast .The restauranta€™s hard earned reputation for great food and pleasant surroundings is well justified . We returned to our rooms to pack for departure and sleep, tired with the long and busy day. Finally, a massive earthquake had leveled the place in the 1300a€™s Now here it stood, pristine and formidable, a monument to the staying power of a remarkable and at times very powerful order of Monks. The real estate here abouts is consecrated in the blood of many fine young men from lands far and near. On the whole we had found Italian merchants to be uniformly pleasant, inordinately honest and genuinely helpful and patient especially with the exasperating antics of the army of multi lingual tourists. We milled for a time amidst the crowd, enjoying as always people watching and the diversity of the crowd We did not know when we would walk this way again. We viewed and admired again Michaelangeloa€™s Pieta by ourselves and then walked slowly and respectfully around the floor of the most famous and spectacular church in Christendom. Then, we had a lighting 12 minute breakfast with the Meads and ran to catch the bus for the airport. At that instant, the entire passenger compliment, for that flight, drops what they are doing and sprints for the assigned gate, some as far as a 15 minute walk away. Then, the Italian Alps crowded the skyline.They are hills of the craggy and black granite variety, much like our own Rocky Mountains. The line was long and passengers were annoyed,some engaging in delightful histrionics, replete with loud voices and wild gestures.
My minds eye could picture the parade of legions and cornucopia of other traffic that had passed this way before us in the 2700 years of Romea€™s history. Now, it took an active imagination to look into the dustbin of history and see what once was mighty Rome.
The Coliseum looked majestic, as we looked over our shoulders, like some ancient mirage that would vanish the moment we stopped looking. We were headed to the most famous meeting spot in all of Rome, The a€?Spanish Steps.a€? They are a series of broad stone stairways that lead from the Piazza Espanga to the five-star Hotel Hassler, once the site of the Villa Medici, with its distinctive twin towers. We sat in a small park on the Piazza Venezia and looked out over the monument with its huge Italian flags wafting in the afternoon breeze. It was busy with flight crews coming and going and scores of other travelers from everywhere.The airport location is ideal for weary passengers arriving from all points of the globe. We sat down with a couple from Toronto and had a pleasant conversation.He is a retired fire fighter and she works in food service. Long lines waited to get into the Vatican museum and its moist desired visual prize, the Sistina Chapella (Sistine Chapel).
The appeared for all the world like a semi circle of stone hawkers calling forth the faithful to come in and see what was cooking inside.
We jumped into line and soon were admitted into the venerable wonder that is the church of St. We scurried over to the entrance to the underground crypt, thankful for the empty bellies of the many pilgrims who now donned the noon feedbag.
A long marble hallway, opened every few yards into a grotto with a marble sarcoughogus that housed the remains of another Pope. The stone work had been mended throughout the years, but reflected differing styles of stones and means of repair from the many eras of its menders. The ornate facade of the Palace of Justice, just up ahead, looks like something from 19th century Paris, in its dirty-gray limestone majesty. Part of the ancient wall of Rome, with its standing city gate, frames the North side of the piazza.
At its peak, we looked out over the Piazza del Poppolo and enjoyed the view of much of Rome. We found the subway entrance nearby and walked down into the bowels of Rome, to catch the a€?Aa€? train back to the terminal. At 9 A,M, we walked through the lobby and again dined at the buffet breakfast put on by NCL in the hotel.
The cabin was compact, but included a small sitting area, sliding doors onto a balcony and a small bathroom and shower.It was to be our home for the next twelve days. If you ever needed this sucker, in an emergency, it might well pay to know how to hell to get on board the craft. The powerful tug a€?Eduardo Roacea€? helped nudge the dream in a 180 degree pivot, so she was bow first and able to steam more ably from the congested harbor area. He was to be one of several of the mostly Phillipino and eastern European wait staff with whom we were to interact. After dinner, we strolled the decks and now open shops (they close when in port) and enjoyed the comings and goings of the passengers in the lounges.
The Pisamonte range hemmed the flat coastal plain into a narrow strip of tillable land, where farmers grew large commercial crops of grapes, sunflower seeds, olives and wheat.
She had been so venerated by the church, that when the Sienese wanted her body interred in the Chiesa San Domingo, Rome had only sent her head and a finger to be buried there, retaining the rest of her remains for veneration in Rome. We enjoyed the McGoldricka€™s company and were half lit from the Chianti when we emerged into the central piazza some 90 minutes later. I am not much taken by religious art, but had to admire the pure artistry in stone so casually laid before us.
We were high in the hills and caught pictorial visages of the valleys surrounding Siena, San Gimiano and the nearby towns.
Topside, we looked out and viewed the amphitheater of Genoa, that surrounds the busy commercial port.
A land road now reaches Porto Fino, but in the early part of the century, it had only been accessible by boat, increasing its attraction for those looking to a€?get awaya€? from it all. We saw a sign with an arrow for a€?Castello Browna€? and walked the steep and terraced steps leading above the village. It is impressive enough, but the real treasure, for Americans, is to walk by a simple grave stone, amidst ancient Monagasque royalty, embedded in the floor near the main altar. We were having lunch in a€?La Chaumiere,a€? a picturesque, mountainside restaurant with a killer view of all of Monaco and the mediteranean beyond. Cap Da€™antibe, and the sparkling blue Mediterranean, are things you could look at all day. Along the waterfront, pricey hotels dominate the grand boulevard for a stretch of seven kilometers.
We much enjoyed the Martina€™s company and talked long enough for us to be the last ones in the Trattoria. We had the option of a full day tour in Provence, but had decided that too many full day tours were wearing us a little thin. Byzantine in style, like sacre Coeur in Paris, it sits on the site of a much older church first established there in 1100 A.D.
Elaborate gates , with decorative iron works guarded the palais.Three marble lions strode atop the impressive gates. It stands high on the summit of a hill, and features a huge gold tinted statue of a€?Notre Dame,a€? Mary, the mother of Christ. It was the McGoldricks 24th wedding anniversary and we had been looking forward to joining them. My right hand was swollen, black and blue but felt well enough to get through the daya€™s tour. It is apparently the local custom for Godfathers to purchase ornate cakes for their godchildren on this day. The impression we got was of a very clean and well ordered city, with little graffiti, litter or urban blight. The three other facades of the church are radically different in design, all reflecting the dynamics of the Spanish church and government in different periods of the cathedrals construction. The ship gathered speed and we reluctantly waived farewell to a beautiful and unique city in Catalonia. Calamari, risotto with shrimp, penne pasta, cannoli and decaf cappuccino all accompanied a Mondavi Merlot. The stitches and wound looked icky, but the tissue was already showing signs it might grow back together.
I uncorked a bottle of champagne, that the cruise line had given us, and we toasted our good fortune at being here with each other.
The plane, a wide-bodied monster, was packed to the gunwales with passengers of all types.We spotted a few Central Holidays carry on bags and wondered if these folks would be on the tour with us.
Lucio pointed out the a€?CHa€? designation on the license plates of the Swiss automobiles.It stands for Confederation Helveticorum, the Roman and official name of Switzerland. It has a wonderful pedestrian promenade lined with sycamores and Cherry trees that were just starting to bloom. In the performance hall, the audience seating is constructed in a a€?Ua€? shape facing the enormous stage. Historians credit Marini for making popular the use of macadam for the roads surrounding the facility.The soft material quieted somewhat the noise made by the metal wheels of the many carriages passing by and enhanced the acoustical enjoyment of the house. There, on the second level, is what is thought to be the balcony featured so prominently in Shakespearea€™s a€?Romeo and Juliet.a€? If it isna€™t the real one, it should be. The Gondoliers and their gondolas competed for space with the water taxis and work boats along the many narrow side canals. Fettucini with Tuna, salad, Dover sole,risotto with cockles and shrimp,ice cream and coffee, accompanied by red wine and mineral water presented us with a memorable repast.
The fourth side is the wonderful Byzantine Masterpiece,the Church of St.Mark , from which the area takes its name. We had a new appreciation for the ornate glassware that we previously thought somewhat tacky. The effect is a vaulted and arched colonnade lined with shops, and safe form the elements.
Off in the distance we could see the distinctive shapes of the Duomo with its majestic bell tower and the Chiesa Santa Croce (Church of the Holy Cross) Mark Twain was a frequent visitor to the area and once remarked that the Arno would a€?be a credible river if someone would pump some water into it .a€? It wasna€™t Twaina€™s Mississippi but it was scenic and pastoral.
The hands are brutish and large and I wondered at the contrast to the graceful lines of the whole.The eyes look unfocused and stare off into the distance. Opposite both of these structures is the domelike a€?Baptistrya€? with its fabled 15 foot high doors of gold.The golden portals had been replaced by bronze ones, the originals placed in a museum. A massive swirl of tourists, from everywhere, window-shopped for gold and jewelry along both sides of the the bridge. We had Campari and soda and chatted with our fellow travelers while admiring the casual splendor of the formerly private Villa.


We found the Via Turnabuoni and window-shopped the many pricey stores like Gucci, Bvlgari and Cartier. We walked by the a€?Church of the Medicia€™sa€?.It is now surrounded by what is called the a€?straw marketa€?, rows of vendors and merchants selling cheap leather goods and souvenirs. The tower leans about 14 feet off center and is now counter balanced with steel cables and 900 tons of concrete.
We took a last walk to the Arno River sensing that it would be a long time before we walked this way again.
As they marched into the rising sun they could see only the swirling lake and mountain mists above them.They marched confidently and unknowingly into the grinding maw of a killing machine waiting on the slopes above them. We sat for a time thawing out and awaiting the luncheon that the hotel was putting on for us. We surveyed, for a time, the swarm of people walking and sitting along the length of the stairs and decided it was time to head back. We laughed heartily about the two sets of Spanish steps and enjoyed the camaraderie and the enjoyment of being in the Eternal City.The heavens opened while we were inside and we felt grateful to the elements for holding off until we were undercover. I could look above to the Papal balcony, now draped in flowers for the Easter address in 48 languages. Nora shepherded us through the entrance way and via the elegantly paneled elevators, to the second floor level of the Vatican Museum.
Three are the works of the master, Botticelli, the others by Perugino and his school, depicting biblical scenes and medieval Italy. His Intelligence section had informed him that the Germans were not occupying the Abbe or using it as a defensive position.Churchill intervened with Eisenhower, who acceded to the New Zealandera€™s plea.
One wonders, like Thornton Wildera€™s a€?Bridge of San Luis Reya€?, what quirk of fate brought these people to this unfortunate time and place.
We read for a while and then, to the faint odor of lemon and orange blossoms, drifted off to sleep.
Our tour company had been thoughtful enough to get one, so we inched into the sea side parking area where some forty other tour buses sat in rows awaiting their camera clicking occupants.
The Moorish arches in the colonnade, along the front vestibule, were visually pleasing and a nice adaptation of another integrated architectural style. There were 5 star resort hotels like the a€?Grotto Emeraldaa€? and the a€?Santa Caterinaa€? along the way, but they passed in a swirl of mist.Without so daring and capable a wheel man we may well have been sitting in a cafe someplace waiting for the weather to clear. There was even a sign, posted outside the rest stop in Italian, warning of shady characters offering items for sale, with cartoon like bad guys depicted. The Abbe, and the La Scala opera house in Milan, had been the two national monuments reconstructed by the Italian Government immediately following the war. There should be a novel in here some place.It was cold and windy out with a light rain spattering around us, as we approached the rising entrance of this fortesslike Abbe. A short hallway behind the main chapel leads to a grotto of sorts below the main altar.I could see light reflecting from a rather magnificent chamber tiled in deep blue and gold ceramic tiles. They too had hammered upon the granite slate of history, but with a more hardened mallet whose imprint still remains, alive and vital.Only time and winsome fate will determine the duration of its impression. It was a meal worthy of a Roman Senator and a fitting finalea€™ to a gustatory onslaught that would be long remembered by all of us. For hundreds of years they were a bellicose and fearsome people who dominated, civilized and even terrorized the known world. Jeder Mensch hat ein Grundrauschen im Ohr – doch normalerweise blendet das Gehirn es aus. The Caribbean flights all fly out of Toronto in the early hours of the day and the European flights in the early evening hours. The hills were laden with snow beneath us as we soared over them.They looked cold, jagged and forbidding.
We had decided to eat at the Hotela€™s a€?Taverna,a€? rather than risk ramming around the area when we were this tired. We collapsed into a dreamless sleep of crowds, noisy children and the other bugaboos of travel crowding our heads. We dressed for the day and walked the half mile over to the airport terminal.Throngs of people were scurrying about. The remaining spaces are crowded by large brick apartment complexes, stretching all along the train line that runs from the airport to Rome. The painted frescoes and saints statues had replaced the many ancient and pagan deities that had once adorned the niches in the walls. We sat in the Antico cafe and enjoyed a cappuccino, looking out over the ancient Theater Marcello, another gracious ruin where the Caesars had enjoyed theater productions. The train was just about to leave the station, so we sprinted down the track and jumped on board just as the conductor gave the engineer the wave off. Complexes of brick condos and apartments signaled the arrival of the local stations, which we breezed through without stopping. We had already viewed this wonder on a previous visit and were not ungrateful that we didna€™t have to stand in the two-hour long line. He had loomed large in my child hood and now I was here staring at his elegantly clad remains, like some rural Russian first encountering Lenina€™s tomb in Red Square in Moscow. A 60 foot high cliff, with grecian columned buildings, marks the eastern edge of the Villa Borghese and frame much of the remainder of the piazza. Then, we came upon the top of the Spanish steps and the storied Hotel Hassler and a few other four star and elegant small hotels. The winds were freshening and the waves were splashing high above the seawall, as we glided from port, waving by to Roma until we could return once again. It is from these small range of mountains that the world-famous Cararra marble is quarried.
The olive trees took thirty years to mature enough to yield sufficient fruit for a pressing. Many were small walled villages from the middle ages, replete with castle walls, church and bell tower.
Nearby Florence and the beautiful walled village of San Gimiano also sit on this road and prospered from the pilgrims and commercial traffic that flowed along its length. It all sounds a bit grisly to us now, but it was the time-honored custom of the medieval church in Italy.
One large center and two smaller flanking triangles, of painted Murano glass, project colorful scenes of the Virgin Mary. The Piazza is cobbled, and slanted to funnel into a flat area just in front of the Siena City Hall. Oysters Rockerfeller, salad, lobster tails and peach cobbler, with merlot and cappuccino, were wonderful. The Norwegian Dream would motor 118 miles North, to Genoa this evening, arriving by early morning.
The city is shaped like an alluvial amphitheater and carved from the surrounding mountains, like Naples far to the South.
The bus traversed several large tunnels, through the surrounding mountains, in our passage south to the Ligurian coast. The coastal hills rose steeply, behind the narrow strip of road, as we motored past the Porto Fino headland and coasted towards the small harbor area that is Porto Fino.
Bougainvillea and other flowers were in bloom here and gave an aura of color and warmth even in the rain. Flagons of Chianti and a soft, white wine accompanied fried mushrooms, pasta in pesto sauce, seafood lasagna, fried fish cakes (for the vegetarians.) Strawberries in lemon ice, with Decaf cappuccinos finished this tasty repast.
It is glass walled and occupies three terraces and the entire rear of the ship on deck # 9. It would be a long day for us, so we headed to the cabin to read and retire from another hard day of touristing. The wholea€? countrya€? is carved from the cliffa€™s side, with terraced sections up and down the mountain. It reads a€?Gratia Patriciaa€? and houses the remains of Philadelphia-born film star, Grace Kelly. I smiled momentarily, remembering an episode from the Television series, a€?The Sopranos.a€? The main character had unknowingly parroted a remark he hard from his shrink, referring to a€?Captain Tebesa€? as an elegant place to visit.
Across the roadway , from the hotel and along the seaside, run a similar lengthy of beaches.
Mary and I reversed course and walked along the marina and haborside, into the main square of Canne. The waiter was too polite to ask us to leave, but I had been thrown out of enough places already to recognize the imminent nature of the a€?buma€™s rush.a€? We made our goodnights and returned to the cabin, to read and relax. The guide wasna€™t doing any hand flips over the architectural style and there didna€™t appear to be any large crowds around on this, an Easter morning.
Andre Dumas, a native of Marseilles, had written the a€?Man in the Iron maska€? using these prisons as his locale. Strollers, tourists and shoppers were already out and about the small a€?old harbor.a€? The restaurants were open, and the chairs put out, for the coffee drinkers. My hand was throbbing to beat the band, but hey, no one likes a whiner, so we went and were glad we did. A former Roman outpost, from the first century, Barcelona is now the heart of the Catalonia region of Spain.
Gaudi offers a unique marriage of art and architecture that is elegant in composition and a delight to the eyes. The front facade rises in four towering and conical spires of dark brown sandstone, that narrow into tapered and brown-stone, laced pillars.
I could write several chapters on this elegant sandstone epiphany, but suffice it to say that it is a conceptual marriage of architect Antonio Gaudi, and painter Salvatore Dali.
A large fountain, floral gardens and a well-ordered square complete and compliment this lovely square.
I managed, in my best high school German, to tell the Germans that a set of my mothera€™s grand parents had come from Munich and that Buffalo has a sister-city relationship with Dortmund, a mid sized city near Dusseldorf. It appeared to us that the majority of the flight was filled with Italian nationals returning home from a visit to the United States.
The trees were first planted by the Romans and named a€?Cherrya€? after the Roman word a€?Cherazza.a€? The term is a truncation of a region in Turkey where the Romans had found the tree in abundance.
It was delicious and set well the stage for the ensuing caloric tide that was to pleasantly engulf us over the next two weeks.The food here is wonderful.
Private boxes rise six levels along the a€?U.a€? The interior floor level of the a€?Ua€? is filled with seating as well.
Regions like the Po river valley make up the remainder and are heavily involved in agriculture and grape production. This marble covered and gilded apparition is an architectural delight.The soaring bell tower next to it dominates Venice. I had never experienced Varonese or Tintoretto on such a grand scale before and enjoyed immensely the sweeping saga in oil that lay before us. When dried,it is saturated with vegetable oil three times yearly and buffed to a high finish.The result is marble in appearance, yet vibrant and giving to the various strains of the building.
How they manage to steer these fragile craft around the narrow turns and in and out of the crowded boat traffic is a mystery to me, but they did. We saw some energetic young men oaring a sleek black gondola across the choppy waters of the Grand Canal.
We sat for a while in the Piazza to watch the crowds swirl and then Mary and I headed back to the Piazza Signorini to enter one of the worlda€™s more renowned art museums,The a€?Uffizzia€? Gallery.
The municipal workers were sweeping the sidewalks with old fashioned besom-style brooms.Then the modern street sweeper and sprinkler would come by and finish the process. I am not sure the haughty Medicis would have approved, but then maybe that was the point of it all. Unable to maneuver in the narrow valley and outmatched by superior cavalry, the Roman legion was ground to pieces against the Carthaginian phalanx.
In a bright and high- windowed room, over looking the valley below,we were served Pasta, vegetables(for me) ,cream puffs, white wine, mineral water and cafea€™latte.
We walked on in the night admiring the lighted splendor of the Vittorio Emmanuel Monument, through the Piazza Venezia and along the busy Via Corso to the upscale Via Condotti and finally to the most famous gathering point in Rome, The Spanish Steps , named after the former residence of the Spanish Ambassador. It was a family outing in ancient Rome.The language had evolved to English for us, but the thirst for blood and the animal frenzy of the crowd remain with us even today. The victorious general, driven in an ornate and ceremonial chariot ,nodded approvingly at the tumultuous cheers from the Roman people.
My minda€™s ear heard the cheer of the teeming throngs who often packed the square to hear the Papal address a€?il Papaa€? they chanted. Nora was taking us directly to the Sistine Chapel, bypassing the rest of the museum in order to give us time to better enjoy the chapel unhurriedly. There are more interior Corinthian columns, along the circular walls and supporting the circular and convex dome whose center is open to the elements. Toasts of a€?Arrivederci Romaa€? and a€?Salutea€? passed back and forth.It was a wonderful farewell party for those leaving Italy tomorrow.
The Abbe was bombed and completely leveled, much to the anger of the Italians then and now. Outside, we got a delicious Italian treat from a small pushcart vendor,lemon ice(2k) .It was delicious. In front of the 5 star Hotel Quisianna, playground of the well heeled, Roberta cut us loose for a few hours to have lunch and do some shopping.
Someone actually did approach me, but unknownst to him I hadna€™t a clue as to what he was saying in his staccato burst of Italian.
Yet today, they are a gentle, good-hearted and decent nation who love family and the quiet enjoyments of food, wine and music. It was here that we encountered the curious version of what we were to call a€?beat the clock.a€? Terminal # 1 is the jump site for many of the shorter European flights from London.
How the heck the luggage guys can figure this out and bring the right baggage to the quickly assigned gate appeared to be problematic, as we were to find out.
We waited resignedly for our turn and then filled out the appropriate forms, with the besieged agent at the desk.
We recognized the bleary look in some of their eyes and knew that they had just flown in from far away.
Throngs of tourists, from all over the globe, swirled around us in a multi-cultural sea that was dizzying to the ear. The Romans had staged sea battles, gladiator contests and all manner of spectator sports in these halls.
It was one of those magical moments when you are very glad to be alive and with a loved one. After our swim, we read our books and soon fell into the arms of Morpheus, where we slept like dead alligators in a swamp, for a blissful eight hours.
We crossed over the Tiber River and smaller streams, noting the unique triangular, truss-supports on some of the more rural bridges. We hung on to over head straps and looked out into the gloomy subway, eyes unseeing like the most veteran romans. We had purchased rosaries on a previous trip and wondered again at the whole a€?blessed at the vaticana€? scam.
I looked on amused and amazed at what i was seeing, as the temporal veil of two thousand years of recent history raced through my mind.
Inside, we followed the circular walkway that rose gradually up the 90 some feet into the air, to the castles battlements high above us.The ramp was designed to carry popes and caesars in coaches ,high above us, where they could be walled in from besieging marauders. Twin churches on antiquity, now banks, guard the entrance to the Via Corso to the South, and the rest of Rome.
Further down the parkway we knew lay the hotel Hassler at the top of the imposing Spanish Steps.
We thought about stopping at the Hotel Hassler for coffee or a drink, but were convinced that they would recognize me for a scoundrel and give us the heave ho. We found a spot where we could hang from over head straps and enjoyed the ride back to the Airport. Nazaire France from 1991-1993 for $240 million dollars and originally named the MS Dreamward.
After dinner, the stewards would take whatever portion of the bottle of wine that you consumed and save it for you in a central repository where you could call for it from any of the several restaurants on board.
Michaelangelo had been a frequent visitor in the quarries, to select blocks of marble for his sculptings. This treasured fruit would yield 19 kilograms of oil from every 100 kilograms of olives pressed. I dona€™t think we, as Americansa€™ have much of an appreciation for this a€?quiltwork of principalitiesa€? that made up a region, each warring with the other over the ages.
The Monte Dei Pasche, a commercial banking syndicate of Siena, had also become the bankers for the papal states and collected both interest on their loans and outstanding debts for the popes for centuries. Around its periphery are a series of hotels, trendy shops and restaurants with awnings and chairs for tourists and Sienans to enjoy the Tuscan sun.
A series of large ravines, carved by glacial or ancient river action, were speckled with housing complexes and spanned by lengthy bridges, now loaded with morning traffic.
We could see Castello Brown high above the village.It looks like a medieval fortress, but later proved to be but fhe fancy digs of a former 19th century British ambassador. Afterwards, we walked along the narrow harbor path, looking in the various shops and taverns facing the sea. Meridian Merlot accompanied a three-berry compote, a lemon fruit soup, salmon and risotto, with chocolate cake and decaf cappuccino. Several eighty and hundred-foot power yachts lay at anchor in the upscale marina, attesting to the citya€™s glamourous reputation. The police were cordoning off a route from the Palace to the Church, for the royal family, and clearing traffic from the streets. Several flagons, of a decent , house, red wine, accompanied salad, pasta, cheesecake and cappuccino. We passed on the privilege and watched for a time the ebb and flow of tourists walking in and out. Above the beaches runs an elevated promenade upon which throngs of natives and tourists were walking. It had been a long and enjoyable day, in a fairy-tale setting, that evaporated from our consciousness with the setting sun.
Some places were elaborately laid out, with formal tableware, perhaps in anticipation of Easter Brunches later in the morning. The site had been built to commemorate the arrival of water, in underground pipes, to Marseilles. The sight lines, from the elevated promontory, were gorgeous, but our attention was a bit distracted.
The doctor was away from the ship, so she further cleaned and disinfected the wound and wrapped it in sterile gauge. He didna€™t think much of the tissue would survive, but put five stitches along the underside of my ring finger, disinfected the wound, wrapped it in sterile gauze.
The entire front facade, beneath them, is engraved with images of the life of the Holy Family, the birth of Christ, the adoration of the Magi, the crucifiixtion and death of Christ and the last judgment.
After dinner, we walked the decks for a while enjoying the comings and goings of so diverse a population of passengers.
Her English was better than my German, so we talked for a bit about the usual pleasantries.
Generations of tourists had rubbed her right breast for luck and it sparkled in contrast to the dull sheen of bronze covering the rest of the statue.
Similarly, the floor joists and timbers between floors are constructed all of wood so that thebuilding will give with the stress and strain of frequent movement. Ten panels on the bronze doors ,framed in black marble, depicted various biblical scenes. As we left the Villa Viviani, the skies cleared and a full moon shined over the Tuscan hills.It was the stuff of which tourist brochures are made. Broken swords and bodies littered the scenic landscape for years afterwards.A few of the local village are named a€?pile of bonesa€? or a€?bloody fieldsa€? to memorialize the slaughter. Behind him, in the chariot, stood a slave with a laurel wreath of gold , held over the generala€™s head, whispering in his ear an admonition, the phrase a€?Sic transit gloria.a€? Fame is fleeting. A roseate marble glimmered in the filtered light from the polished walls.There are several small shrines to San Guiseppe and other saints. The irony of the situation is that the Germans took over the rubble of the abbe and made an excellent defensive position of it for the coming battle of Monte Cassino, which I will describe later when we visit the abbe. We arrived uneventfully at the hotel around 4:30 and retired to our rooms to read and relax before dinner. The Apennines extend down the spine of Italy, appearing like some great skeleton on an exhibit, in a natural history museum. We had some decent Chianti, very tasty caesar salads and bread, with cappuccinos afterwards. We watched amused at the scores of a€?smart carsa€? and compacts scurried in and out of the congestion, jockeying for position in the moving metal stream. I could picture the Romans arriving late, complaining of the heavy chariot traffic, as the sat in their assigned seats, waving at acquaintances and craning their necks to see what dignitaries now sat on the elevated dais. The Spanish Ambassador to Italy had once lived in a villa, just off these steps, giving them their name.
We admired the smooth marble and artistic workmanship and pondered for a time the march of civilizations that had come here to worship throughout the centuries, each praying to a a€?goda€? that they held dear.
Then, we were standing in from of a glassed-in sepulcher that reputedly holds the remains of the founder of the catholic church, the rock upon which Christ had built his earthly church, Peter, the fisherman. A tunnel even supposedly exited underground.It ran from the vatican, some blocks over, to the fortress where popes could retreat in times of attack. We sat by the fountain, listening to a musical group playing nearby, and enjoying the whole panoply of activities that swirled around us in this huge meeting place in Rome.
We walked about, enjoying the many artists who were painting alfresco portraits of the tourists, much like the Place du Tetre, behind Sacre Cour, in Paris. The first pressing is the most valued and usually labeled a€?extra virgin oil.a€? A killing frost had destroyed much of the local trees in the 1980a€™s. It gives rise to our fascination with castles, moats and the whole medieval mythology that surrounds such areas. The syndicate was so successful that in later years the Siena City council had mandated that 50% of their annual profits were to be turned over to the city for a€?public improvements.a€? The annual rebate now runs to $150 million a year and funds much of the restoration of the medieval town.
Each year, on July 12 and August 16th, a colorful horse race is run around the periphery of this wide Piazza, with ten especially trained horses and jockeys representing parts of the city. We laughed a lot, enjoyed the food and each othera€™a€™s company and made a nice day from a soggy one. An interesting collection of brick-faced apartments, all shaped in the form of tan pyramids, caught our eye towards the shoreline. Directly in front of the casino, and rising upwards to a level of the city some 50 feet above, are a series of terraced fountains and floral gardens all bedecked in colorful flags and pendants. We noticed that many of the stately older villas,along the roadway, were in some state of decline. The beaches sported colorful names like a€?Miami,a€? and a€?Opera.a€? In the Summers, this place must really rock and roll! It was too chilly to sit in the outdoor cafes, so we walked the length of the area, drinking in the sights and sounds of a place that we would never perhaps return to. A detachment of the French foreign legion had been stationed at this imposing stone edifice.
He told me to a€? take two aspirins and garglea€? and come back in a few days to see how it progressed. The statue was supposedly pointing towards the West and the new world, but somehow, the statues orientation had been turned so he was pointing South. They do things like that in Europe where centuries are relatively much shorter spans of time than in America. The homes, more Spanish style, Hansel and Gretel-type cottages, also feature elegantly tiled exteriors that are in the Dr. We sat for a time in the star dust lounge, but the entertainment was just as lame as our previous encounter. We drove by the 600 year old Visconti Palace, with its imposing tower and battlements.The fortress had once had 132 drawbridges across its formidable moat.
The walls of the stone courtyard are covered with hundred of linked initials in heart shapes, a curious graffiti memorial to young love.
An enterprising photographer took snaps of us in the gondolas when we left and had them developed upon our return. In a mind blink I had traveled across the centuries and now sat looking at a beautiful lake scape where so much death had once occurred.
In any case we much enjoyed our stay as guests in this beautiful land amidst a people that we found both warm and charming.We hope often to return and visit them. We had had the foresight to pack some essential in our carry-ons and werena€™t too disturbed at the loss of our luggage.
The bus let us off on the Piazza Campodoglio, just behind the Vittorio Emmanuel II monument, that enormous a€?wedding cakea€? that seems to dominate all of the Roman skyline. We wondered again at the many parades of conquering armies that had this way trod, dazed captives, strange animals and other trophies of victory shepherded before them, to the delight of the cheering throngs. The Romans had even engineered a means of stretching a huge canvass across the top of the structure, when the high sun of summer was beating down on the arena.
They set out their chairs, under awnings, and wait for the tourists to come and sit in the Roman sun, dining and watching each other. I wonder if any of then considered the similarities of their exercise rather that the dissimilarities? The street was awash with people going to work and throngs more, even at this early hour, headed to the Vatican. We had been here twice before, but stood silently in awe of Michaelangeloa€™s white-marble epiphany.
As in most situations, when you find yourself overwhelmed by what you see, it soon becomes normal.
We always do a double blink when we find ourselves in places like this, to remind us that we are really here and not meandering in some day dream in a place far away. It was getting late in the afternoon and we were thinking about making our way back across the city to the stazione terminal and the train back to the airport Hilton. The newer trees were only now approaching the proper maturity to deliver ripe olives for oil pressing.
On one hilltop, we espied the village of Monteregione, with its village wall and twelve turrets rising above the skyline.It is an outline much known in Italy and used on their former currency.
A column stood in this piazza, atop which is the form of a she wolf, with two infants suckling her.
That was to be the last time we agreed to a€?share a tablea€? with strangers when asked by the various maitre-da€™s. Along the many coastal areas, we noticed the old fishermena€™s homes, that are painted in various bright Mediterranean pastels. We boarded and I stopped by the deck # 9 internet cafe to send a few message into cyber space. We were now on the a€?middle corniche (cliff) road.a€? Most of the coast, in this area, is a very steep hillside that slopes precipitously towards the Mediterranean.
The population of the Monaco is comprised of 10,000 French, 10,000 Italians, 5,000 Monagasque (natives) and a sprinkling of other nationalities.
The sun was shining brightly overhead, the Mediterranean sparkled blue in the distance and a fairy tale changing of the guard was in progress for a fairy tale prince.
We walked about the beautiful parkland, enjoying the flowers, the bright colors and the activity in and around the casino. We wandered its narrow alleys, dodging other tourist who had been game enough for the walk.
It was getting late and cooling off, so we walked back to the dock and stood patiently in the long line for the tender ride back to the ship. Looking out towards the fortress, on the very edge of the harbor, is a large stone arch built to commemorate French soldiers killed in the Orient.
Across the small plaza, from the Cathedral, sits a more modern building with a huge painting by Picasso, on its facade. Reliefs of fruits and vegetables, animals and other symbols of nature display a pantheistic overview of God and creation. It is these chance encounters, with people from everywhere, that really make a cruise enjoyable. Getting a ticket to a performance here is difficult at best,even though the place is enormous. It is one of the pitfalls of travel.The airlines are usually pretty good about getting your lost bags to you in the next 24 hours. Now, throngs of people from everywhere come by daily and sit on the stairs, admiring the view and enjoying the throngs that come to sit by them. We sat for a time near the a€?Four Riversa€? fountain and admired the artistry of the Master Bernini. Sadly, I informed them that it existed now but in their memories from that classic chariot race scene in a€?Ben Hur.a€? What was left was now a large rectangular park area, overlooked by the ancient palaces on the Capitoline Hill. We walked the length of the funeral chamber to its end where thoughtful officials had provided restrooms for the throngs. It is always unnerving to sleep the first night at sea when there are high waves, until you got used to the rhythms of the ship. We stopped at a road side rest station called a€?AGIPa€? where passengers used the facilities and sipped cappuccino for 3 euros each. The entire effect of the cathedral is to catch your breath, at the artistic array of creations inside.Each had been created to show glory to god. Custom had dictated this as a means for the fisherman to espy their dwellings as they approached safe harbor and home. By now, we were puffing with the exertion and wondering how the various workmen got up and down these paths every day.
It is traversed, from East to West, by three roughly parallel roads called appropriately, the a€?Lower cornichea€? (closer to the sea) the middle corniche ( which we now traversed) and the a€?upper cornichea€?, higher above us. This was a Hans Christian Anderson day-dream flashing before us in the brilliant noon day sun.
We found and entered an elegant hostelry called a€?Chateau de la Chevre da€™Or,a€? roughly, the a€?house of the golden goat. Across the river, on the rise of a hill, stands an old stone palace used by the French Royalty at differing times. A smaller green-bronzed statue, of a maiden with her arms raised was erected, in front of the arch, to commemorate the French soldiers killed in North Africa.
The bus driver and a colleague did a credible imitation of the three monkeys, pointing to the church above and saying a€?medicine.a€? We staunched the blood flow with tissues and a few antiseptic hand wipes. My best guess if that the construction crew screwed up, at the installation, and it had been too costly to correct the error. Gaudi intended his creation to have 18 spires, 12 for the apostles, 4 for the evangelists, one each for Mary and Jesus. This hombre had one fertile imagination, that he was able to sculpt into brick and mortar in structures. We could well visualize a hearty rendition of a€?Carmena€? or a€?Aidaa€? performed before enthusiastic and cheering crowds.
We had momentarily mistaken the Capitoline steps for the a€?Spanish Steps,a€? until corrected by a friendly tourist. We walked out into the Piazza San Pietro and immediately noted the colorful costumes of the Swiss Guard, with their razor sharp pikes, standing before the entrance to Vatican city.
Supposedly Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome who had been suckled by a she wolf, had fled Rome and sought sanctuary in Siena.
It sure did keep your attention, as Rita commented quietly on the many artistic and cultural aspects of the works that we were observing.
Residents pay no income taxes, thanks to casino revenues, and are generally well heeled, even by Monagasque standards. I had the presence of mind to think of the huge swelling of tissue to come, and managed to slip the large college ring, from my finger.
Unfortunately for us, both the Dali and the Picasso art museums were closed on that Easter Monday. For the first time, I could picture myself chanting a€?Bravoa€? during a performance and not looking pretentious. Now, it lay like an ancient and broken sign post pointing faintly to a grandeur that once was Rome. Throngs of other tourists from everywhere stood around us, as we too pitched coins backwards over our shoulders in hope of returning to Rome yet again.We had done this twice before and returned each time, so maybe the magic works. These hardy warriors are all trained infantrymen from the Swiss Army, who stand ready to rock and roll, with whatever comes their way, to protect the pope and Vatican City.
They no longer asked for tips in the loo, they had sliding doors that only opened to admit one, if you inserted .60 euros in a slot . From this port, you can access Florence, Pisa and a bit further out, the medieval, walled city of Siena. No one had really ever substantiated the claim, but it made for great symbolism and interest both to the natives and the tourists. Christopher Columbus had been born and raised in these environs before he sailed to the new worlds for Espagna. It was an elegantly manicured parkland from which to stare out over the sapphire blue Mediterranean.
We repaired to our cabin to write up our notes, shower and prep for dinner with the Martins.
Perhaps this was because the allies had bombed the port area back to the middle ages during WW II?
I had visions of sitting in an emergency room, at some French hospital, with the boat sailing away for Barcelona without me. Barcelona had been an interesting melange of Moor, Jew and Spaniard until 1492, that pivotal discovery year. We watched and enjoyed the tourists, from many countries, snapping pictures of the fountain and each other. In past ages, their duty had not been ceremonial in the many times that both Rome and the Vatican had been under siege, from some particularly surly invader bent on plunder and mayhem. Andrea Doria, a middle ages naval admiral, and figure of note in Italian history, had also lived here. The ship had several of the motorized tenders shuttling passengers back and forth from the shore.
As we sipped pricey cappuccino (18 euros),we gazed out over the sapphire blue of the Mediterranean far below.
The doctor offered me pain pills, but i advised that I would probably be drinking several glasses of wine for dinner. Internal religious strife had generated the expulsion of the Moors and the jews from Spain that year. We had an opportunity to stay and visit the Las Ramblas esplanade, but were tiring from today's and the many previous tours we had taken. The buildings all around the piazza are replete with papal insignia and looked impossibly old to us, pilgrims from a land where three hundred years is a long time. We were seated by deferential waiters and ordered, in our best Italian, Minestrone zuppa, pizza, with aqua minerale and cappuccino. The guide mentioned something about him negotiating a treaty with Charles V of Spain, but it was getting a little too deep in Italian history for me to follow. We entered our boat and waited until the craft filled with passengers, then slowly motored into shore, where our bus was waiting. Someone with our surname (Martin) must have either been on the ground floor founding this place or donated half of the land for its creation. Mary espied Phillip, our guide, and insisted that I needed some medical attention immediately.
We lunched at the four seasons, on deck #9 ,and then repaired to our cabin, for a well earned conversation with Mr. We ate slowly and enjoyed our surroundings and each other, never forgetting who we are and how far we had come to be sitting here under the Roman sun.The tab was a reasonable 40 euros.
He walked me into the offices of the cathedral, turned me over to an elderly woman and skittled away, the weasel. Fortunately, we had a very brief time to spend and had to leave before we put the money back into the machines. Far below in the village, a small shed houses two donkeys who used to ferry people and luggage to this pricey Inn, in the mountains above Monaco. I guess it becomes more understandable, of their recent posture towards conflict, in the middle east. It is here, in the village below, that we met and talked to Peter and Julia Martin for the first time.
We had noticed them on a few tours and decided to ask them to join us for dinner this evening. They agreed, perhaps wondering at the forwardness of yankees in soliciting social engagements.
Manners got the better of them though and they agreed to meet us later in the evening for dinner.



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