Friday, September 30, 2011


Thursday - Our journey ends

We got up at 4:45 a.m. Our "limo" in the Ford Taurus was coming at 5:15. The desk person made us Cappuccino. We would be flying to London together and then Judy flying off to Arizona. We spent three hours together between flights. We played Scrabble (on the IPad) and looked at pictures of our trip. Between the three of us we could usually remember where we were when we took it, but not always.

This trip has changed us. We have a new appreciation for art, religion, Italians, travel, but especially each other. There are things we did right and things we would change. We all agreed the Rick's bags need wheels. We would choose the smaller cities with not so many people.

We had such good luck with our reservations. We caught all trains, boats and airplanes. We had no pickpockets. We are no longer bound to money belts or things around our necks. We met some interesting people from all areas of the world. We are home safe and back to our realities. We are grateful for being able to have this experience and know our parents were with us on our journey.

We hope you have enjoyed this experience with us.


Reflections from us:

Smaller cars
Efficient toilets - big and small flushes
Most bathrooms have bidets
No one carries around their coffee cup
We have seen many relics but we are confused by the Church's wishes for bodies to be buried intact
Italians take good care of their country - cleaning the streets and no trash
People don't seem obsessed with having to be connected to their phone or ipod.
Lots of carbs but still thinner
Portion sizes are smaller
Drinking wine earlier in the day but we have not seen anyone drunk
Fathers seem very engaged in playing and raising the children
Eating isn't rushed no matter how busy they are
Water - gas or flat?
Not many birds except pigeons
Old stone houses with solar panels
Lots and lots of steps,no building code in 500AD but still withstanding million of people
Driving is crazy and exciting with cars and motor scooters all merging together but it works
Scarves are fashionable even for the men
Appreciate the natural beauty of the people, along with their simple but classy fashion
Many buildings fooled us on the outside but once inside pure beauty
Trains were on time, schedules easy to read, and pleasurable
Shutters and metal rolling shades are mystery to us. Closed during much of the day
Fun conversation with many travelers all over the world
We didn't have a bad meal here, all fresh,tasty, and scrumptious. We will always evaluate each Italian meals in the states against these meals .......and the wine!!!
Cappuccino (our latte) is to be savored with a little dusting of chocolate in a proper cup

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Tuesday and Wednesday

Tuesday and Wednesday - Rome

We left the convent to go to a new hotel and WOW the place is nice. We are ending with a big hurray. It is in a different area of town so we will be seeing different things. We went walking and went into another old church,

St Maria deli Angeli

Again the outside is looking like it is crumbling and the inside is incredible. This church's architect was Michelangelo. (So I didn't have good info when I said he died in his 70's. ) He was 85 when he worked on this church. We stayed for mass. There was work of Galileo in this church. Can you just imagine? Two great minds. Joan

We headed by bus to the catacombs. We had a guide that lead us down under. It was good to have a guide as there are no written signs. There were tombs from 1700 years ago still there. But most remains were moved to churches etc. This was one of the oldest in the old section of Rome. Over 40,000 were buried there with respect. 4 levels with tunnels like the mines in the states. A wealthy woman, Pricilla, donated her estate to the church so christians and others could be buried and the sites protected from grave robbers. They wrapped the bodies with cloth and then put lime on them for decomposing. The air was good so they knew about ventilation. Worth seeing. Judy

Our last day here we got up later. The breakfast here was really good. We don't have a lot planned. We headed out to see the Spanish Steps. They are the longest and widest steps in Europe. Next we headed to Trevi Fountain, one of the most stunning fountains in the world with the Baroque architecture.


Next we walked to the Borghese Galleria.

It was a cardinal's mansion with a large park surrounding it. The lines were not bad. It houses a great art museum. Bernini's David and his statue of Apollo chasing Daphne is there.there were paintings by Raphael,Rubens,Caravaggio, etc. They only let you stay two hours but we were satiated within 1.5 hr. This was hard to imagine that people lived here though they did not have all the art works there. Is it possible to see too much art?
Now we are preparing for heading home with a wake up call for 5:30 am. Got to go. Judy

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Monday Rome

Monday Rome

After a long day of sightseeing, I will write a little.

We began our day by walking to the Vatican Museum. We waited in line for just a half hour because Eileen had reserved a 10 o clock time for us. She has been great getting these reserved times.

The museum leads into the Sistine Chapel. We were excited to see the Chapel. Rick tells us in his audio that this is 4 1/2 miles of walking.

The work of Michelangelo in the chapel took four years. He was 33. We have seen so much of his work in our travels. He continued working in his 70s. Eileen keeps saying how could he do so much? It was truly wonderful. There were so many people in the chapel that it actually took away from the magnificence.

Siesta! Then we were on our way by bus to the Colosseum. Joan

We were able again to catch the 64 bus and get off at the right place. We are noticing that we seem to be the only ones validating bus tickets. Maybe the rest have passes.
Rain looks threatening and sure enough it thunders a bit with a "trace" of rain. But that seems to thin the crowd a bit.

This structure is magnificent, though crumbling. See pictures. They say that over 60,000 could be seated and food was prepared and sold during events. The events were animals killing animals, killing people and men killing men. Of course later Christians were killed here. Doesn't sound like something I would like to see. It was stated that perfume was sprinkled after a killing to keep the smell down.

There is lots of work being down discovering what is beneath this structure. We also took in a bit of the Palatine Hill area but soon tired out. Found a cafe and then headed back to the convent. Judy

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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Saturday. Rome

Saturday - Rome

We left Sorrento and said good bye to Sister Monica by catching a city bus to the port. We got tickets to catch a boat to Naples. We had a little wait but it was very pleasant by the water.

It was only a 35 minute ride to Naples.

The weather was great and we got to see the coast line. We caught a city bus in Naples to the train station getting the express train for Rome. Arriving in Rome, We grabbed a cab to the convent. After settling in, we walked to Vatican Square and toured the Basilica.

The line at the Basilica was not very long, so we went in. You can take photos but the dress code is strict. It is hard to describe the feeling to be in this church. We decided to go up into the dome by elevator - 7 euros. At the rim of the dome, you can walk around it.

We could see mass being said while we were there. Don't think it counts as attending. Amazing! (see photo) From here there is a stairway to the top of the dome. Of course, in Italian, there is a sign and who knows what it says. We thought it was an exit but , no it was to the top. We should know the word for exit by this time. We are followers, not leaders. Later we realized it is 300 steps in a very narrow stairwell with a solid line of people going up with no way out except at the top. This was hard for me (claustrophobic) and others. No railings for most of the way and it slanted toward the dome at the top. Also a rope for a railing at the last part.

Eileen later said there should be a notice or a medical monitor at the beginning so as to limit possible problems. We did see a box labeled SOS on the way up but cannot imagine how medics could assist If needed.
At the top you have a great view and of course Judy was the only one taking photos and moving around much. We can say we did it.

Later, we had a great meal. Wine, of course, was needed after our excitement and we also had oxtail, tripe, lasagna, salad, brusshetta. It seems that Rome is a little more

expensive for everything. We did so much today. We will sleep well. Joan

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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Thursday and Friday

Thursday and Friday - Sorrento

We left Assisi on the train about 11:30 headed toward Rome, then Naples and ending in Sorrento in one day. Sorrento is on the southern Italy coast. The train to Rome was a very fast train to Naples. We sat (assigned seats) close to a mother with two active children who spilled water everywhere but they were fun. In Naples we had to transfer to a regional train. We had to go down to a lower level for tickets and another train. The loud speaker continually stated "there are pickpockets" and here is the free police number if you re a victim. When our train came it was mostly locals traveling from work and a few travelers. This train traveled through some poorer areas and stopped at every little town. It was hot and crowded. We were entertained by a little band soliciting for money. We were glad we had arrived and began looking for an alternative way back to Naples.

We had reservations at a convent. We lugged the bags across the town (according to Rick's map) and then lugged them back the other way because the map was not clear. Of all the places we traveled, we have not experienced such traffic. Lots (cars, buses and motorbikes) going in both direction and extremely fast. The sidewalk was very narrow. We were not impressed. We found the convent late that night. We took our life in our hands again and went to the nearest pizzeria where we were delighted with pizza, local wine, anti pasta and just out-of-the-oven pizza rolls - 30 euros.! What a deal.

The convent is very old and some parts very run down but it did have old age charm. The young nun (Sister Monica) that helped us was great. There are four nuns that run the place (one is 96). We took a picture of the nuns fixing our toilet. The breakfasts were very good. The younger nun showed us their studio where they are working on several paintings with much gold leaf to send to their mission for their church. The view of the coast from our room and the terrace is


The next day we walked into town. Eileen took a local bus around and Judy and I walked around and took a train seeing some of the sights. Sorrento is the home of Saint Anthony. It is also known for it's lemons. There are many tourists. While we did laundry in the evening, we had dinner at a place a few doors down. We had spaghetti with clams, local wine, roasted zucchini and eggplant, tomato salad, and chocolate torte - 35 euros. It was fabulous. Food is good and inexpensive.

Tomorrow we head for Rome, our last city. Joan

We had mixed feelings about this city. The noise and traffic we hated. The sites are beautiful. The experience at the convent with the nuns was so nice. We felt like we could have an extended restful time here.

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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Wed. Assisi


We left Siena at 8 am. This was a long train day. We were on three different trains. They were all nice and not crowded. We had hour lay overs in two little cities - Chiusi and terontola. These two little towns were cute and clean. got to see lots of countryside. We saw many fields of sunflowers and corn along with the vineyards.

We arrived here about 1:30 pm. We took a taxi to the hotel. As the taxi wound up the hill toward the huge churches, we knew we were going to have another perfect location to sight see. The hotel is old but quite grand.

The view from our room is great.

We are off to see the sights. We are able to walk to several churches. One that we were looking forward to was the church that St Francis' body is buried. We seem to know more about him from our school days.

It is very big but more simple without so much gold and statutes. We saw three other churches too. Judy had said at the beginning of the trip we should limit ourselves to one church a day. We sure have not stuck to that. It is hard to imagine how there could be so many churches in such close vicinity. So grand and so old.

Some have asked about the wine.

We are drinking white,local and house wines. All have been good without much effect.Eileen likes to take pictures of them so she can try to find them when we get home.

We were not going to come here because of the added time and expense but now we are glad we did. This has been a very good experience. The area is wonderful, our room and breakfast was a wonderful European buffet. We love our cappuccinos.

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Others from Siena

More pictures from Siena


From the tower

The Square

Nun's chapel


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