Italy, Vatican · 16 Days · 212 Moments · June 2017

Graham's voyage in Italy

26 June 2017

'Flying Tiger' from Denmark. Great shop!
Have to say it with the accent!
Looks like a good read
Contrary to Myrtles belief - they do have snacks in sale in Europe!!
Lunch at Exquisitaly after saying goodbye to Joy at the Station
A symbolic last beer!😫
Scary exchange rates offered - thanks to our friend Jacob
Cleaning the fountain at Piazza Barberini
A nice walk through Villa Borghese gardens
Memorial to 'Umberto' With the ICE AGE squirrel on his head!
Fancy hotels up near American Embassy and Villa Borghese. Great idea for a low fence!!
Orange Trees on some of the main streets!
Finally - packing up - our camp in Rome - what a great time it has been. Our abiding memory - walking and sweating in the incredible heat!!

25 June 2017

These have been the best shoes EVER. The ONLY footwear I have had for the past 3weeks. ! Note to self - bring slops too next time!!
Back to the Hotel for a shower, then off to Via Nazionale for supper and a show - young opera singers at Chiesa di San Paulo. Worth seeing - but was very tired at the end! Then a short walk back to the Hotel
A couple of Joy's pictures
Oh - a late edition G&M on the Spanish Steps
Saw this restaurant on my map - so had to go and find it!! Emma's
Spanish steps again... better sun angle in the afternoon
Some great views over Rome
A road runs under it!
The gardens of Villa Borghese
More of the Museum
And some of its treasures!
Then stumbled across a great find! - the Museum of 'Modern Art' ....seemed to start around the beginning of the 19th Century!
Cards in the park on a Sunday afternoon.
Something tells me that this sidewalk is not used by many!
Etruscan Museum. was trying to get to the Nortjern edge of the Villa Borghese gardens. Not easy! Very hot, and a few dead ends
The edge of the river very shabby as you go North
Beautiful museum by Richard Meier. Didn't go in though. Exhibition on 'Spartacus'
We all split up after lunch to go and do our own thing . I walked Northwards, and then along the River
And so to lunch at Piazza del Fiore!
Went to a '5D' 'TIME' experience show about Rome and its history. A little - underwhelming!
Just wandering down Via Nazionale
Santa Maria dealing Angeli e dei Martiri, and Piazza del Republica
Sunday morning breakfast at Adora Suite 2. An Amelia Apple!!

24 June 2017

And a great wander-around after supper
Our supper at a wonderful place ! Deep fried artichoke - divine!!!
Then on to the Trastevere district for supper
The poor sisters of mercy!!
Outside the Basilica
The Swiss guards
In the tombs of all of Popes - a beautiful picture - presumably a Pope?
More of St Peters. Dome by Michelangelo who died before it was finished. He was inspired by Brunelleschi's Duomo in Florence.
Awe-inspiring St Peter's Basilica! We visited the Sistine Chapel - but no photos allowed. The whole ceiling was cleaned up over a period of 12 years in the 80's/90's. they left a couple of small squares I cleaned so that you could see the difference. The squares just looked black!
These are the steps that all visiting dignitaries use when visiting the Pope - like Donald Trump!!
A hall full of maps - wish I had more time to study them in relation to modern maps
The last picture is just a painting over the door - really looks like it is in 3D!!
More of the Vatican museum
Okay now we're on the tour of the Vatican Museums. We bumped into Linda's brother, David, in the gardens while listening to our guide!!! What an amazing wealth of art and sculpture... think twice before leaving money on the collection plate next time!!!!
Waiting around for the tour to start
A quick lunch to fortify our mortal spirits for the tour!!
A nice walk along the Tiber river, and across the bridge to Castel Sant' Angelo
Other things you can buy
A beautiful rubber stand for drying glasses
Beautiful 4 storey H&M store
Spanish steps and the shops
We had a booking for a 'skip the line' tour at 2pm at the Vatican. (Paid through the nose! - €50 each!!!) so had a morning to fill. Walked to the Spanish steps and the shopping district adjacent to it, but a slight diversion here into all the funny little cars spotted along the way!
Waking up to a new morning in 'Little Lagos' Luckily, I speak the language!

23 June 2017

View from the room at about 10pm
And the view this evening. They moved us up to the 3rd floor - where we had originally booked to start with!
And so to our new hotel room and then for dinner for Joys Birthday!
The HEAT at 6pm!!
Beautiful Trevi fountain and its thousands of visitors
More crazy little cars!
A walk to the Pantheon
And then back across the Tiber
Trasteverre district - NICE! Would like to go back there for a meal!
A picnic lunch sitting on the edge of the River Tiber under the Ponte Pallatino. Very frustrating: - both my PolarGPS and my google maos failed me today! Had to go back to a paper map!
Car started burning at the bottom of the steps to the Campidoglio.
Nice tour of Colloseum, followed by tour of the Forum with a wonderful Canadian guide, Elaine. Really interesting, and awe-inspiring .
Okay - so today, Friday started with breakfast in our bedroom (?) ( no dining area) followed by a brisk walk down to the Colloseum to set up our tour.
The view from our hotel window this morning!

22 June 2017

I've never taken so few photos in one day on this whole trip!
Myrtle doing her usual bus-tour thing!!
Today we woke up in Assisi in our little piece of heaven and had another great breakfast provided by our wonderful host Mila. We said goodbye and set off for Rome. It was about 2 and a half hours drive down the autostrada, with allowance for a bit of a 'TomTom moment'! Was quite nervous about dropping car at airport etc. but no problems. The place i booked in Rome is almost right outside the main Railway Station. It is a slightly dodgy area - pretty much knew it was going to be from the guide books. Anyway, booked in, then went to get some lunch in the station and figure out a bit of an itinerary. We had decided to definitely do a red bus tour first to get our bearings. But boy - I think there are at least 5 different companies, and each have about 7 different alternatives!!! Took us a lot longer than anticipated to just figure out what would be most economical and best. We eventually decided on the afternoon tour for €11 each (the cheapest option)

21 June 2017

Fresh juice after seeing the monastery
Off to explore Assisi!
Some pictures of our place 'San francesca'
Breakfast at our wonderful place in Assisi. Our host , Miele , is so sweet - she can't do enough for us
When we arrived in Siena, we found a car park, fouled the nearest trattoria with wifi, got lunch, and figured where we should spend the last 2 nights before Rome. Decided on Assisi in Umbria. Spent a while checking on Airbnb and and finally all agreed on a place and booked it. Then after a hot and tiring tour of Siena, set the Tom Tom for Assisi. Huge traffic jam at Perugia- added another 45 minutes to the trip. When we finally got there - it was magnificent!!
Wednesday morning 21st June - waking up to this!

20 June 2017

Went down the hill to a restaurant recommended by our very sweet and friendly host 'Miele'. It was Ristourante Belle View. Absolutely no view, but great food, and at the best price we have had in Italy!
The view from our bedroom window!!!
An interesting chocolate shop
The Duomo - unfinished!
The beautiful Piazza del Campo. Searingly hot though!!!
Some more narrow sloping streets in Siena
Then onto the road again - gps locked in Siena. Tom Tom definitely had a bit of a dizzy spell - took us off the highway onto some dodgy narrow windy roads for a while!!
And of course the leaning tower. One Architect/Engineer's mistake has made so much for that town!
La Spezia on the road down to it - big cruise liner in the Harbour. It looked like a very nice city. Managed to get the Tom Tom settings altered so that it would consider using the autostradas instead of every single back route it could find!! Set for Pisa tower parking lot!
Tuesday 20th - early morning view from our bedroom - we were above the clouds! We could see Corsica the day before!

19 June 2017

And back to our wonderful hotel room! Dark at almost 10pm!!
The cemetery on the hill above town
Got off at Romaggiore and found a place for supper. Nice fish!
Met a couple of young South Africans from CT on the ferry and talked all the way back!
And down to the Harbour where we arrived before schedule to meet Myrtle at the ferry stop. ( we agreed on 5pm, but got there 4:30.) bought tickets for the last ferry out at 5:30pm.
Glimpse of a marvelous hotel terrace on the way down
Nice path along the top
A special little 'cat village' on the way up! Not so friendly resident!
Onwards and upwards
Myrtle decided to take the train again to the final destination: Monterosso. So if we went - right up the road to the top of the town, left onto the path, which promptly took us back down to the Harbour before turning upwards again!
Went through the town right down to the sea. Little Harbour and beach on one side, and through a little 'tunnel' to a pebbly beach on the other side. Had a magnificent swim in the azure blue sea.
Down down down
Up up up then along and then down again. Beautiful place serving fresh orange and lemon juice on the way down
Myrtle joined us for the next part of the walk - from Corniglia to Vernazza
Met Myrtle and went for some breakfast
And along nice shady trails after Volterra before descending into Corniglia
Up up up
And then a very steep descent down into Manarola. We bought some water here, then Myrtle decided to skip the next leg: straight uphill to Volastra, then straight down to Corniglia. She had a look around the town and then took the train to Corniglia. We agreed to meet at 10:30, but totally underestimated the time we would need - only got there at 11:30! We had agreed to meet at the railway station, which is close to sea level. Fortunately Myrtle walked up the path from the station, and waited for us where it met the road from the town. Corniglia is quite high up on a cliff.
So today the 19th, we decided to do the walk from Riomaggiore to each of the other 4 cinqueterre towns along the walking trail. We asked the hotel owner, Luca, if he could give us a lift to Riomaggiore at 7:40am to start. So I guess we probably started just after 8am. It was just one massive climb up out of the place!

18 June 2017

A couple more pictures in Lucca
On the way back up the hill to catch the shuttle back to our hotel 'due Gemelli '
More cinqueterre
And - after a frustrating drive to Cinqueterre- supper in Riomaggiore
And a climb up the famous tower with trees on top
Artisanal beers
Cycling for the family - seemed a bit clunky and unwieldy!!
An amazing egg-shaped square following the line of the original Roman Arena
A stroll through the second hand/ antique market
And so to Lucca - another beautiful walled medieval town
Best toilet view in Tuscany!
And so to breakfast
A view of the the Manhattan of Tuscany from our farm
And so the 18th June dawns in our wonderful place near San Gimignano

17 June 2017

And a couple of pictures from the day taken by Joy
San Gimignano as the sun goes down
And on to San Gimignano - a mediaeval walled hilltop city with about 16 towers - very impressive. They had a festival on with mediaeval entertainment
Castigliani in Chianti- cherry trees; and a walk along the base of the castle wall with windows glimpsing the view every so often
On the road again- Volterra to Castigliani in Chianti
More Volterra
About an hours drive after breakfast to Volterra - a beautiful hilltop town
And a 6th century BC Etruscan tomb

16 June 2017

Dinner overlooking the hills of Tuscany!!
And about an hours drive to 'Fattoria Voltrona'
And finally a taxi to the airport to pick up hire-car. Hot hot hot!!! Took forever to do all the paperwork!! Finally drove off in a black Fiat 500L
Beautiful views back over Florence
Then up the hill to Michelangelo Piazza
Then onto Santa Croce area and some lunch
And on to Uffizzi
Myrtle managed to sell the tickets - so then another wander-about until 10:15 - our booking to see the uffizzi gallery.
This morning at our rooms. Had to be up fairly early to get to Fumo to try and sell tickets!

15 June 2017

And then a 'fashion performance' at Palazzo Pitti. Viewed from the third floor
A good supper at 'Casalinga' just around the corner from our rooms.
Bumped in to David at Academia
Ponte Vecchio
Some more walking around. It was INCREDIBLY hot!
Then the baptistery, then the museo
Some nasty cracks in the dome!
Rosella was a great guide, - we learnt a lot about the history and frescoes. Then we started the climb up to the top. The guide only takes you to the base of the dome, then takes her leave. Myrtle wasn't keen to go any further as she was worried about being claustrophobic. So Joy and I carried on. Various glimpses through windows on the way up the stair.
When we arrived for the walking tour, the lady told us it was a tour of the Duomo! We rushed back in to the ticket office to see if we could cancel tomorrow's tickets - 'sorry - not possible!' Anyway, they were busy tracing the floor so that they could replace some of the mosaics
Okay - Thursday morning in Florence. But first: last nights arrival: the train was delayed by half an hour due to works on the line. It goes through a continuous tunnel for about the last half hour of the journey. A beautiful high speed train. There was a huge queue for taxis when we got out of the station - one hour later! - finally got a taxi. They are all electric or hybrid . The streets are SO narrow! Our rooms were at soggiorno Pitti, right opposite the Pitti Palace. Ground floor facing a tiny little courtyard. Had supper at Cafe Pitti right outside. In the morning went straight to the Duomo to book tickets to go around it. The ticket office said it was all sold out for Thursday, so we had to book for Friday on the ticket machine. (Which we did - €15 each) We then saw that there was a walking tour of Florence which was available on Thursday so decided to book for that (€30 each!) We then had to kill some time - so went and had a cappuccino and Croissant and then a walk around.
Some shop windows

14 June 2017

Seasoned travelers know when to take their rest!!
Just before leaving - the skies opened up!!
Well it did!! Somehow got the platform wrong!! Got onto train, schlepped our huge cases onto the overhead rack and sat down in our numbered seats and started making Journi entries!!!! Guy came along and told us we were on the wrong train. Quickly hot off , ran down platform and saw it was supposed to be 7, and not 2. Ran there, but it was gone (due to leave 16:35; it was now 16:40. Went to ticket office . They said we just had to buy new tickets for the 16:25. Cost €50 each! The tickets we had to throw away were €25 each!! SO frustrating!! Anyway - chilling out now on the train!!
Nice wander about, then back on the Vaporetto to the station. Nice and early just so nothing could go wrong!!!!
Had a late breakfast - the hotel has wonderful curtains that completely cut out the light - so had a long sleep. Checked out and Trundled suitcases to bus stop. #4L Bus back into Venice again! Cases up and over pedestrian bridge to station. Left cases at left luggage. Then took an amble through Cannareggio district .

13 June 2017

Met up again with Joy and went to Giudecca for supper. Overpriced as usual!!
Went in to several Bienale exhibitions - mostly rubbish! Went into a nice gallery with Klimt, and several beautiful turn of the century artists. A whole exhibition of ancient oriental craft - very good, but so hot on the top floor!
Lunch at a beautiful little Trattoria
At the fresh food market by Rialto Bridge
So clever these Venetians. They built every building on mud, using timber piles. Because the timber has never been in contact with air, it has not degenerated, and is actually becoming fossilized. How did they get fresh water? Well, on every square they constructed a big deep basin the size of the whole square, using an impervious material. (Clay?) then they built a well with pervious walls right in the centre - the deepest point. Then they filled the whole basin up with sand to act as a filter. Then they captured the rainwater from the gutters and the paved square ( with several drain points into the sand layer below dotted around the square) the sand filtered out all the bad stuff. You see these well on every square. Each well-head has a little bowl carved into the stone at ground level. They would pit fresh water in this very morning for the cats. Cats were very popular for getting rid of rats etc.
Another great day in Venice . We booked for a walking tour of the Basilica San Marco on line the previous night with Viator starting 11:10am. We spent a bit longer than normal at breakfast, and then saying goodbye to Mike, and then we went to the station to see if we could change our ticket to Florence the following day to an earlier time. Unfortunately, because it was such a cheap ticket that I had booked on line - no changes were allowed. Anyway after all the queueing etc. we realized we only had about 45mins to get to Saint Marks . We got on the 'vaparetto' that we thought would get us there fastest. .......... it took quite a while / we only got off at about 11:10. Ran around like a chicken without a head to find our guides starting point. Anyway - made it just as he was about to start , thank goodness! What a wonderful tour it was!!! Totally blown away by the history of the place etc. no photos inside unfortunately.

12 June 2017

And back along the Grand Canal
Some evening window shopping
And back in to Venice for supper
Water bus to The airport to meet my darling!!
Murano to see all the glass shops with Joy.

11 June 2017

NOT a tourist!