North America, Europe ·
9 Days ·
9 Moments ·
3 May 2017
Il Papa ~ Pope Francis!!
We started the the morning with a lovely surprise from our tour captain Steve from Story Land & Sea: he arranged a limo from our hotel to and from the Vatican for the Papal Audience today!!! We were thrilled!
The Papal Audience was a once in a lifetime experience...we arrived at 7:30 am for a 10:00 audience. We were fortunate to get seats on the fence and were treated to being so near Pope Francis, we could have touched the Pope mobile! His speech was about peace and unity and given in 8 different languages. It was a very powerful morning and we were happy to share it!
We then had lunch, packed, napped, and headed out for a "foodie" tour of Tratevere, the Jewish Ghetto, and Campo di Fiori Market. Our guide was really fun and energetic and.....she had on a Bruce Springsteen t-shirt! We were soul sisters immediately! We walked, talked, learned, and ate! A fun way to end a magical week in Italy!!
Off to the airport in the am and home to the USA!
2 May 2017
ROMA! ROMA! ROMA!
2000+ years of history witnessed in 1 day! We began with a tour of St. Peter's Basilica including the Sistine Chapel. Another example of where the word "awesome" truly fits. Trying to imagine Michelangelo on the scaffolding makes my neck and back sore just thinking about it.
St. Peter's.........HUGE!! The sheer size of it is unbelievable. Pictures just don't do it justice. The feeling of being in the presence of the Holy Spirit was palpable.
Our tour company provided us with a delicious lunch on the rooftop terrace before we began our journey back to ancient Roma. I was taken aback by the area that the forums covered and the fact that we were walking in places where people walked, worked, and lived 2000 years ago. Humbling.
We ended the night with a private dinner on the rooftop of an apartment in Rome at sunset. Incredible. Story Land & Sea has treated us to the trio of a lifetime!
One last day & a visit with the Pope tomorrow and we'll be headed home.
1 May 2017
Roma! How do you explain the ancient beauty of this city? It is crowded, loud, a little dirty and yet it's ancient beauty and sense of its 2000 year history is unbelievable!
We began with a walking tour of our area including the Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, a walk across the Ponte Umberto ll bridge to catch a view of St. Peter's and the Castel St. Angelo. Then we went our separate ways.
Deb and I explored Gesu Church, St. Ignatiius Loyola, and had gelato for lunch! Let's see, I've added, chocolate, vanilla, tirimisu, and amaretto!
Now we're enjoying some prosecco on the roof top bar at our hotel with a view of the Victor Emmanuel monument!! Life is good🥂❗️
30 April 2017
Arrivederci Cortona e Buongiorno Roma!
After spending 20 minutes walking in circles trying to find the church that was "just around the corner", we decided to ask forgiveness and go to breakfast instead. We so enjoyed the beautiful hill town of Cortona.....especially the passagiata, or evening stroll, the night before. Enchanting!
We drove to Assisi and stayed there a short 2 1/2 hours, but honestly could have stayed all day. The town itself was gorgeous and very medieval. But.....the church was spectacular! In a very different way. No gold, no statues, just beautiful frescoes on every wall. It really conveyed the peace that is St. Francis. Loved it!!
Drove to Rome and got settled in our hotel. After a quick orientation walk we had a scrumptious dinner with good food and lots of laughter! Looking forward to discovering the ancient parts of Rome and the Vatican!! Ciao!
29 April 2017
Busy day! We left Florence and made a stop at the American Cemetery, where soldiers from WWll are buried. Humbling to say the least.
Next stop, San Gimingano where we spent a lovely morning stolling and enjoying this beautiful hill town. More gelato here!!
We then made our way to a winery that produces Chianti Classico wine. What a treat!!!!! Wine tasting and fabulous food! But equally fantastic was our wine educator Andrea.......Debbie dumped David for Andrea as her new boyfriend! A wise choice as you will see in the pics 😍.
We then made our to Cortona where we spent the night. If you've ever seen "Under the Tuscan Sun", this is the town it was set in. Very old world. Our hotel is 500 years old and our room was the chapel of the family who originally lived here. There restored frescoes are so beautiful. We are really in "heaven"!
28 April 2017
Our full day in Florence. We started out with a trip to the Accademia to see Michelangelo 's incredible Statue of David. He quickly became Debbie's new "boyfriend" as we saw the original, replicas, and tons of trinkets with David's likeness. Her comment by the end of the night was and I quote "If I have to see one more penis tonight I'm going to die". 😂😂. We had another guided tour in the morning and then had the afternoon to explore. We went to the Basilica of Santa Croce, which in addition to being beautiful, holds the crypts of Michelangelo, Dante, Rossini, and Galileo. Unbelievable!
We found the best gelato place, according to our guide, and enjoyed it tremendously! 🍧 So far I've had stracchiatella (choc chip), melon, pistachio, hazelnut, and cinnamon. All fabulous and we're not even half way through the trip😬! We ended the day with a taxi ride to Piazza Michelangelo and witnessed a beautiful sunset over the city. Off to Cortona tomorrow!
27 April 2017
Arrivederci Venezia e Buongiorno Firenze!
We left Venice by train and arrived in Florence about 2 1/2 hours later. Although it is cloudy and rained a bit, it looks to be clearing soon. We enjoyed walking around and orienting with our tour captain and it was all we could do not to trip and fall as we were looking up at the spectacular scenery! The Duomo......how do you describe it? Breath takingly ornate on the exterior; the interior was a bit underwhelming yet still amazing in terms of architecture.
Next stop was the Medici palace were we saw the "fake" statue of David outside. We'll see the real one tomorrow😄! Stopped at. Tratorria for a quick bite and then on to a Florentine leather shop. 👀😳! The sights and smells were fantastic. Debbie and I were both holding each other back from spending too much$$!
Resting a bit at the hotel and then out for some gelato and dinner tonight!!
26 April 2017
The day began with rain and ended with rain, but that did not keep us from enjoying Venice! We had a tour of the Doges Palace and St. Mark's Cathedral. Both were beautiful and filled with so much history, but St. Mark's won the day for inspiration. Such a differently ornate church. The gold mosaic itty bitty tiles, make the ceiling seem to glitter. Unbelievable!
We then took a water taxi out to the island of Murano for a glass blowing demo and of course shopping afterward. I could feel my credit card heating up as we walked through the gift shop😬!
We lunched on our own and I had gnocchi which was every bit as delicious as my grandmother's!
We followed that with our first taste of gelato, not to be the last by any means!!
Dinner tonight and then on to Florence. Buon a Notte!
24 April 2017
Arrivederci USA e Buongiorno Venezia!
We left DTW on 4-24-17 and after an over night flight to Amsterdam, a connecting flight to Venice, and a water taxi ride we glimpsed our first view of this magical city. No cars, lots of water, and so many types of boats make this a very unique lifestyle! The cloudy skies cleared and after storing our bags we explored a little on our own. Ape 25 is a special day as it is the feast day of St. Mark, the patron saint of Venice, and it is Liberation Day in celebration of when the Americans liberated Italy in 1944.
We began the evening with a gondola ride, complete with an accordion and vocal serenade in our boat. I know it sounds a bit cheesy, but it was really calming and serene.
We ended the evening with a fabulous welcome dinner where we met our tour captain and 8 additional travelers. Looks like it will be a fun filled vacation!