Blogs from Italy, Europe


Europe » Italy » Campania » Naples January 11th 2024

Feeling worse and worse so made the decision to head home tomorrow. I called Road Scholar, as they made the initial plane reservations for us, and got reservations for Friday. Immediately felt better about things. Went to a deli for lunch and a men's store for Mike to buy a beautiful sweater jacket. The 'landlord' reserved a taxi for us in the morning, very kind of him. Our original plan had been to go to New Year's Eve in Florence and a few days in Rome; that was accomplished and we enjoyed ourselves!... read more
Gorgeous Jade plants
A real butcher!

Europe » Italy » Lazio » Rome January 10th 2024

We’ve had a couple recent cab drivers try to get us to pay with cash. Last night’s ride to the cooking class actually sat in the square waiting after we said we didn’t have enough euro. So, we gave him a 10 euro and 3 american dollars. That showed him! After class, the tour guide, Lisa, called a cab for us and told him that we would be using a card. No argument. Today, we used FreeNow, which is already tied to a card. No option. That worked well. Another nice train ride, taxi driver quite chatty (wanted cash but I prevailed). His mother-in-law's sister was married to an American sailor and lived in Virginia Beach for 20 years! Small world. Sunny here but very windy! Checked into our airbnb but our colds are getting worse ... read more

Europe » Italy » Lazio » Rome January 9th 2024

We both had colds and were exhausted from the Tour on Monday, so I went and got sandwiches and we took a day of rest. We had a class, Cooking in the Jewish Ghetto, scheduled in the evening. It was a great class--history of the Ghetto along with making pasta, stuffed zucchini flower. We made Pasta Amatriciana (a typical dish of Roman but originally from Amatrice, in the providence of Rieti; the basic ingredients are tomatoes, guanciale (salt-cured pork cheek,) pecorino romano cheese, and pepperoncini) cacio e pepe ((pronounced: kaa-chee-ow ee peh-pay) is made with just three ingredients: aged pecorino Romano cheese, freshly ground black pepper, and pasta). Then, the fun part—packing to head to Naples tomorrow!... read more
Turtle Fountain
Broader view of the Piazza
At our stations

Europe » Italy » Lazio » Rome January 7th 2024

We had breakfast at the American restaurant, Homebaked. Lots of bacon (real), pancakes, eggs, etc., on the menu. Lots of Americans eating that breakfast. Mike had avacado toast which he loved. Walked over to St. Peter’s Square for Angelus and blessing. Square was packed today, as opposed to yesterday afternoon. We had tickets for the Rome Hop On Hop Off bus but had to walk to the other side of the Tiber to get to a stop. Mike had picked up a cold and was feeling crumby, and it was raining off and on. We got on the bus and rode the full cycle. ‘Saw’ the coliseum and Circus Maximus but most of the sites were a walk after leaving the bus so we stayed on and listened to the narration. When we got off, we ... read more
Pope addresses the crown
Close-up, on screens around the square
Tiber and Castle S’Antangelo

Europe » Italy » Veneto » Venice January 6th 2024

Bcc:​Janell Morillo VP;​Cole14822;​rkmm_79;​sluoni1956;​jwsfpe16;​gerrytraveler;​fennag2;​moore-j;​+57 others​​​​​​​​​​​​Sat 1/6/2024 8:50 AMimg= read more
Time to pis?
St Basil's at Red Square

Europe » Italy » Lazio » Rome January 6th 2024

Our hotel was very close to the train station so we walked over. Knowing where to enter and getting up the stairs was a bit of an issue. I’m sure there was an entry with ramps but we made it in. Figured out the departures board, got a cappuccino (Mike) and, since we were over an hour early, found a place to sit and people-watch. When our train to Rome had a platform assigned, we headed down, found our car (on the tickets) and seats. We had chosen them when we bought the tickets. Fast train and they meant it! Quiet, clean, luggage racks at front and back of car. Off the train in Rome, found the taxi stand and went to Airbnb. The owner was waiting for us and showed us in, down an elevator ... read more
Waiting for our train
On the train.
View from the train

Europe » Italy » Umbria » Assisi January 5th 2024

This morning was the last official day of the Road Scholar program. About half of the group left the hotel at 4 am for the airport. Since we were going on to Rome and the Airbnb I found wasn’t available until the 6th, we booked a day trip to Assisi and through CiaoFirenze. Ended up being a private driver which was good. Valentin was great. The office staff worked with us in advance to arrange driver, entry to Basilica, lunch, travel to Montepulciano, and return to Florence. We booked a wine tasting and tour of the deRizzi wine caves on our own; Valentin got us there in time and gave us directions. San Francesco Basilica— who knew there were this many levels and steps in a church (just wait till we get to the Sisteen Chapel)? ... read more
View from the old city to the newer one
Assisi Town Entrance

Europe » Italy » Tuscany » Florence January 4th 2024

The David! And a number of other pieces. We were intrigued by The Prisoners, appearing to be caught in the marble. After lunch at Rosso Crudo, we walked over to Santa Croce. The basilica of Santa Croce is the largest Franciscan church in the world. Its most notable features are its sixteen chapels, many of them decorated with frescoes by Giotto and his pupils, and its tombs and cenotaphs. Legend says that Santa Croce was founded by St Francis Himself. The church floor plan uses his Tau or T shape. Then we wandered around the neighborhood on the way back to hotel. We were trying to find a market of leather goods recommended to us by the guide. We got to the place and there was the covered market building, Mercator del Porcellino, (tall, built in ... read more
Model for the original
Lid for a hope chest

Europe » Italy » Tuscany » Florence January 3rd 2024

After a talk about Florentine sculpture, we walked to the Bargello and toured with the guide, learning how the approach to art and thus the artwork changed. The Museo Nazionale del Bargello is located in Florence’s historic Palazzo del Podestà. It was established by royal decree on June 22, 1865—Italy’s first national museum—and is dedicated to sculpture. After a look at San Lorenzo exterior, we had lunch at Ciro and Sons (not the one in Harrisonburg!). I had a Lynsey Salad which was excellent—butter lettuce, Granny Smith apple slices, almonds and raisins dressed with just olive oil. The opposite (vinegar usually) flavor was supplied by the tart apples. On the way home, we toured Santa Maria Novella, with glorious stained glass and frescoes. A few of us stopped for a glass of wine at a cafe ... read more
Frescoes under the arches
And sculptures

Europe » Italy » Tuscany » Florence January 2nd 2024

Pitti Palace: Built by the Pitti family but they never lived there because they made the mistake of taking part in an unsuccessful insurrection against the Medici, and were bankrupted. Purchased in 1550 by the Medicis, the Palace was chosen by Cosimo I de‘Medici and his wife Eleanor of Toledo as the new Grand Ducal residence, and it soon became the new symbol of the Medici’s power over Tuscany. Eleanor‘s renovations took two years. It also housed the Court of two other dynasties: the House of Hapsburg-Lorraine (after the Medici from 1737) and the Kings of Italy from the House of Savoy, from 1865. The palace still bears the name of the original owner, banker Luca Pitti, who started construction in the mid-1400s. The guide wasn’t impressed by the changes made by the Hapsburg and commented ... read more
Mike on way to Pitti
Sue, Ponte Vecchio in background
Palazzo Pitti

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