Saturday, November 27, 2010

Parting Shots

For the third day in the last four days, main roads have been closed due to protests. Since I really stink at understanding italian, I don't know what the protests are about, but they don't look like the same groups of people. Anyway, because the bus routes are abbreviated, it gave me the opportunity to walk around and around. This is the second day of beautiful, though chilly, weather. As long as there's no rain, I'm happy.

There is no rhyme nor reason to these photographs. I just walked around, shopped, ate, checked everything out, etc. and snapped a picture whenever something caught my eye.

So just take them for what they are - parting shots of Rome. My way of saying goodbye....... until next year?!

I walked around some of my favorite places and went to a couple parts of the city that I'd not yet seen. Sort of a variety. The first thing I did, though, was walk to St. Peter's. Yep, that's right...... you understood me. I left my apartment, and just strolled on over to the largest cathedral in the world. How cool is that? (Didn't take a picture, though, just appreciated.)

Then I walked around town; some busy sections and some quiet vicolos. I walked along the river Tiber and crossed a couple of bridges. I do so love, love being able to walk and walk without running out of sites to see or people to watch.

Thanks for checking in with me during my stay here in Italy. I'll drop a link if something else interesting happens in my life. Until next time..........


My 4 weeks in Rome have come to an end. This is a look back. The things I did right:

  • The month transportation pass was great because it gave me the freedom to move about Rome without concern knowing I could always find a bus or metro to get me back to an area I knew. A definite plus.
  • The train pass saved me 50% on train fare. It worked because I took many one day trips in which I was required to only use one day of the pass. Definitely something to look into in the future - but watch the reservation fees that aren't included.
  • Trastevere is a great location in Rome. It's within walking or bus distance of anything I want to see, but it an established neighborhood full of shops, restaurants, and colorful folk. I like staying a bit away from the tourist-y areas.
  • Choosing a place that has its own computer/internet. Such a bonus to not have to lug my computer on the plane or look for internet cafes throughout the city. I loved having my own little office already set up for me.

Things I could have done better:

  • I have missed my slippers every single day here. Don't leave home without them.
  • I had to buy a rolling backpack to take home purchases. Either stop shopping while here (not gonna happen) or bring a large carry-on to take care of that.

Last Day in Rome

How is it possible that 4 weeks have gone by so quickly? I just saw my brother off at the train station and it was sad to see him go because I enjoyed his company, but also because it means that I leave tomorrow. My time here has been magical and I don't at all regret staying this long. I have visited a local language school in hopes of returning next year for 4 weeks of language training -- I am very determined to learn this language! The owners of this apartment and I have also spoken about my renting it again next November, sooooooo........... Who knows what a year will bring, but perhaps I will return next year.

This first picture was taken by Michael the day after I left Florence. He went high up into a tower to take a picture of this overview of the city. Since it rained the entire time I was there I like seeing the city in a better light. I knew the beauty was in there!

Last night while walking around "my" neighborhood we were treated to this great street musician. He was the whole package --- eccentric, personable, and really a good musician. He was funny and played to the crowd. While it looks like a hodgepodge of instruments, it all worked together to be quite entertaining. A group of college students began clapping and dancing, so he got right on in it, pulled out a train whistle, and made train music while they all marched around. It really was fun and I realize I will miss the colorful assortment of people here.

I've cheated with this last picture because I wasn't there. Michael went to Cinque Terre (a group of 5 sea towns) and took this shot. The entire area is gorgeous. It is one of my incentives to return and a reminder that there is much I have yet to experience in Italy.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Venice during high tide

Venice at high tide. What an experience. I can only imagine what it's like to deal with this every day. Rubber boots are certainly the fashion. This first picture is just outisde of our hotel about 45 minutes after high tide. The hotel is in a part of the city that doesn't flood as much as other areas. Can you believe that?

I invented a new word in Rome and now one in Venice. In Rome, when women wear narrow heels on the cobblestones, they become "hobblestones". In venice they put out these raised walkways during hightide and I've named them "tidewalks". Get it? Sidewalks used during high tide. I'm so clever, aren't I?

I love these next two photographs. Along Piazza S. Marco are many nice restaurants. Not letting high tide affect business, you can still sit outside and enjoy your morning caffe' and pastry. Simply put on your rubber (or as some tourists use: baggie) boots, pull up a chair at a nice table, and well dressed waiters wearing boots will serve you. Ingenious, no? It is a testament to the determination of the italian people to continue with living full lives in spite of the circumstances.

You have to remember that this is a daily experience. Life must go on. People have to get to work, children to school, shopping, eating, laundry, etc. You have to be careful where you walk so you don't walk off the flood sidewalk into the canal. I was grateful to have my rain boots with me while we were there, although my boots are only rubber to the ankles and, as you can see, much of the water is above ankle depth so, while meeting Michael at S. Marco, the water did flood into my boots. They and my socks dried much quicker in rain boots than in my leather walking shoes.
It is an experience not to be missed. Too fun.


Venice is truly an amazing city. The canals, the boats, the quiet streets without any cars, the views..... just everything was amazing. We were blessed with fabulous weather even though the forecast called for rain. It is a city that I would enjoy spending more than 2 days exploring. Michael's hotel was wonderful. It was well maintained, beautiful, and had an amazing bathroom complete with bathtub which means room to shower without elbowing the walls!

Piazza S. Marco is quite large and has many restaurants and shops along both sides. The church, like much of Italy, was under renovation so the scaffolds took a little away from the beauty. Just a little.

We walked along the streets and over many, many bridges while we explored Venice. It has a feeling of tranquility when you get away from the main tourist areas. The hotel was in an area of town far away from the touristy sites, so it gave us a starting point to explore. Michael was staying another day and 2 nights, so I'm sure he saw places we didn't have time to see. The last picture is what I think of when I think of Venice. Isn't it like a postcard? Venice gets 2 blog entries because I've added one just for Venice during high tide. That, in itself, is quite an experience. Be sure to check it out.

Friday, November 19, 2010


It's almost midnight here and I just returned from a 3 day trip to Milan and Venice. I was pleasantly surprised by how spotlessly clean Milan is. After so much time in Rome, I didn't expect that. My first stop was the Duomo, a 14th century cathedral that took 400 years to complete. It has 135 spires on the roof area and over 3400 statues. Michael and I climbed the over 200 stairs to the roof area for a spectacular view of, not only the city of Milan, but the

intricate work on the outside of the Duomo. I was amazed that each statue and spire are different. I didn't realize there could be so many variations of shapes, faces, animals, etc. It was pretty amazing. We

were blessed with good weather for a portion of the day and certainly took advantage of it. The colors of the marble used for the construction of the cathedral shone various hues in the sunlight. Many other people took advantage of the opportunity to climb to the top and it was a little strange to see so many people walking and sitting on the massive roof.

After visiting the Duomo, we ventured just across the street to walk through the Vittorio Emanuele II shopping mall. It's actually open aired on all sides, but covered with a glass roof. It was built in the 1870's and houses many designer (read that really expensive) shops. One can easily spend the better portion of a year's wages in just one or two shops.

Sforza Castle is a Renaissance palace. It was actually lived in. The oldest section was began in 1360 and finished 10 years later. Other towers and areas were added later. There is a huge park area behing the castle that, to my understanding, used to be a garden area that is connected to the castle by underground tunnels so that, during seige, soldiers could still have access to fresh produce. Pretty smart, no?

Our final stop that night was a reservation at Santa Marie delle Grazie for a viewing of the original Last Supper painting by Leonardo da Vinci (no photos allowed). To be honest, this wasn't high on my list of things to see. I mean, I've seen pictures of it many times, however it was a highlight of my visit to Milan. It was originally painted on the back wall of the church's dining hall and is 15' x 29'. The church has been bombed, destroyed, pillaged, and the wall was used for target practice. But the painting, though faded and restored, remains. Seeing it in person helped me understand why such a big deal is made of it, not only because of the subject matter, but the actual brilliance of the painting. First of all, da Vinci depicts the moment when Jesus tells the disciples one will betray him and it shows the various reactions. (Other paintings of the last supper have focused on Judas dipping his bread - showing him to be the traitor.) Secondly, it actually looks 3 dimensional. The shading and composition are truly amazing..... and I know next to nothing about art appreciation. I am grateful that Michael took it upon himself to get us tickets to the viewing.
Tune in tomorrow when I will fill you in on our 2 days in Venice.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Rainy Rome

It was another rainy beginning of the day followed by a clear, warmish afternoon. Today is an early day for me because I will rise early tomorrow to catch the train to Milan. I won't have the opportunity to post again until

Saturday but I promise some wonderful, albeit wet, photos of Milan and Venice. I was able to wear my flea market inexpensive rain boots today and am pleased to report that my feet remained dry - no wet toes or soggy socks. I am sure they will be my main attire for the next few days as the weather forecast calls for a relatively dry day in Milan followed by two wet days in Venice.

I am looking forward to seeing my brother tomorrow morning, hopefully at the train station when I arrive at 9:30 after a 3 hour train journey. Check back Saturday for an update of this little side journey of my trip to Italy.