Sunday, January 31, 2010

Italy Day 6

This was one of Brad's favorite days! As soon as we decided to go to Italy, I requested tickets for the New Year's Day Mass. We are not Catholic, but I knew that it would be a neat experience. And Brad would get to see the pope! The service started at 10, so we got there at 8 so we could get in line and try to get a good seat. This was St. Peter's Square (notice the lack of people).

The view from our seats! We got to sit directly on the aisle.
The pope leaving mass.
We spent the rest of the day visiting different churches. I would guess that we saw 15 churches. It was amazing how ornate they all were.

Italy Day 5

We were exhausted after our first few days, so we decided to sleep in our first day back in Rome. We went to town and got our tickets to New Year's Day mass, ate lunch and then went to the Forum. Now, looking back, I wish I would have read up on what I was looking at, but it was still interesting. I am going to spare you the details on what is in the pictures--mostly because I have no idea.

Then we went to the Colosseum. Like I said before, I thought it was more impressive at night from the outside. Brad was impressed that the basic structure is very similar to stadiums today.

Italy Day 4

We took a full day trip through the Tuscany countryside on our last day of Florence. This was one of the more touristy things we did, but I am so glad we went. It was nice to be on a bus and to get to see several places without lots of walking.

The first stop on our trip was Siena. Here, we met a city guide who showed us the highlights of the city including the square where the Palio horse race is held each year. The city is beautiful and has beautiful churches.

For lunch we stopped outside of San Gimignano at an organic farm and winery. We had a wonderful 4 course meal. We sat family-style and got to sit next to some mother-daughters that were having girl vacations. They were so interesting & made me look forward to taking Neely places!

Next, we stopped at San Gimignano which was my favorite town. It was my favorite small town.
Lots of narrow, winding streets.
Our last stop was Pisa. You are now looking at all there is to do in Pisa. The church there is beautiful (more impressive to me than the Leaning Tower).
We got back to Florence in the evening and took the train back to Rome.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Italy Day 3

We had a morning reservation to go to the Accademia museum. This is the museum that holds David. It is an amazing sculpture in person, but there is not much more than that in the museum, so we were only there for about an hour. Afterwards, we went to the open market and did a little shopping. We went back to the Basilica of Santa Croce. Everyone that knows Brad knows that he LOVES famous people. Dead or Alive! This church is where the tombs of Michelangelo, Galileo, and Machiavelli are. Brad loved it.
Here is the famous Ponte Vecchio bridge. We did a little shopping in this area before we headed to the Uffizi museum.

We enjoyed the museum, but honestly had our fill of art for the trip after 2 museums in one day. We had dinner at another place that the B&B owner recommended. The pasta was the best I had the entire trip--it was ravioli with pears in it (weird but yummy). We had gelato at Grom which is all natural and all organic. It was one of my favorites!

Italy Day 2

On Day 2, we got up early and headed to Florence for 3 days. I had picked out our Bed and Breakfast off of Trip Advisor, so I was a little nervous since I didn't have a personal recommendation. Well, I was worried for nothing because it was WONDERFUL. Probably the best place I have ever stayed. We stayed at La Dimora degli Angeli. It was located in the very center of town--I couldn't have found a better location if I tried. The owner met us and went through the city map and offered to make all of our dinner and museum reservations. Perfect! Here is our room. And the view from our room. This is the Duomo, a huge church in the center of Florence.
Since we arrived on Monday, many of the attractions were closed, but it was such a nice day because we were able to relax. We visited the Duomo and climbed to the top of the bell tower. For those of you that know me, you know I don't exercise. So, this was miserable for me. By the time we got to the top, I was huffing and puffing and swore that I was about to have a heart attack. But the view was great (except that it was overcast).

We went down the street to a coffee shop that had a nice sitting area. I don't drink coffee, so I ordered hot chocolate. DELICIOUS! It was like drinking hot fudge topping.
That night we went to dinner at Transcana's near the Basilica of Santa Croce. The meal was wonderful and the service was great. Here I am in the piazza in front of the church.
After dinner we got gelato (as we did every day in Rome) and walked around the town. Brad was excited to see Tusk!

Italy Day 1

Since we've been snowed in the last couple of days, I've had plenty of time to upload pictures and get caught up on the blog. I know this is almost a month late, but I still want to post about it. I am going to post the days individually because I want to remember what we did and sometimes it all starts to blend together when I don't write it down. Please bear with me...I am not a history or an art person, so my descriptions will be simplistic.

We left the day after Christmas for our trip to Rome. This was the longest amount of time that we have ever left Neely so I was so sad the day we left. We are so thankful to my parents for watching her, because otherwise we would NEVER get to take a trip by ourselves. All along I had planned to sleep on the plane the entire way there so we could get a full day in when we arrived in Rome. Needless to say, neither one of us slept a wink on the plane. So we got to Rome and crashed for 4 hours before we hit the town.

December is usually very rainy & cold, so we were prepared for the worst, but we arrived in Rome to beautiful weather. Wasn't the sky beautiful the first night? We were lucky enough to visit during Christmas so the piazzas still had the Christmas trees up and all the churches had a nativity scene.

This is the Largo de Torre Argentina. Basically this is an area they have excavated that was at one time a Roman Forum, then an 18th century opera house and now a cat sanctuary. It is in the middle of town and has hundreds of cats wandering around.

We took an evening walking tour that night. It was so nice to see all the fountains, squares, and monuments lit up at night and it allowed us to get a great feel of the city. Here is Brad in front of the Trevi Fountain.

Here is the Colosseum at night. I thought it was most impressive from the outside at night.
We had 2 great meals our first day. We had lunch at La Zucca Gialla and it was one of the best meals I had. Then we had dinner at a pizzeria that I can't remember the name of. We were exhausted after our first day, so after dinner we headed home!