Venice – Days Six and Seven

Venice was unlike anything we’ve ever seen! Venice, the world’s longest existing Republic, began with the Venetian lagoon offering a refuge for people fleeing the barabrians who conquered Italy after the fall of the Roman empire. It is a group of 118 small islands separated by canals and linked by bridges. It is located in a lagoon off of the Adriatic Sea. With it’s many bridges and narrow ‘streets’ and no vehicles of any kind at all, it was a really fun experience. We got lost several times but always found our way eventually with our trusty maps. It rained much of the time we were there but that just added to the adventure!
In the water taxi from the train station to the hotel. We also took one the day we left from our hotel to the airport. It was exciting going top speed in the middle of the night through the fog!
We had traveled in Italy by planes, trains, automobiles, and now… boats!
Our hotel. The water taxi dropped us off right at the dock.
St. Mark’s Basilica (Basilica di San Marco) was completed around 1071 and is considered a shining example of Byzantine architecture.
The other side of the basilica (left) and Doge’s Palace (right).
We went up in the Campanile (bell tower) to get a good overview of the city. This is St. Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco) below us.
The gondola docks on the lagoon.
 
The view along the lagoon edge of the city.
A gondola ride with Sergio, our gondolier. He didn’t sing to us but he pointed out the sights along the way.
The Bridge of Sighs. It passes over the Rio di Palazzo and connects the New Prison to the interrogation rooms in the Doge’s Palace. The bridge name, given by Lord Byron in the 19th century, comes from the suggestion that prisoners would sigh at their final view of beautiful Venice through the window before being taken down to their cells.
Cullan didn’t get to sit in the “romantic” seats, but he enjoyed the ride anyway. We marveled at how skilled the gondolier was with taking sharp corners, avoiding the many other gondolas and motor boats, and tipping the gondola sideways to get under very short bridges.
Exploring the streets and canals of the city.
The Ponte dell’Accademia is one of only four bridges in Venice, Italy, to span the Grand Canal. If you look to the left of us, you will see a cluster of padlocks. We saw these on bridges all over Italy. Apparently they are placed by lovers inspired by a fictional novel and have caused problems because of weight and rust.
The Rialto Bridge was completed in 1591, is the oldest bridge across the Grand canal, and was the dividing line for the districts of San Marco and San Polo. (Yes, Marco and Polo!) There are rows of shops on either side of the central portico.
Thanks for looking in on us. We truly had the trip of a lifetime and hope to return to Italy again one day!

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Florence – Days Four and Five

From Rome we took the train to Florence, the capital of the Tuscany region of Italy and the center of the Renaissance period. It was the birthplace of both Michealangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci. If you love art, Florence is overflowing with it! It is beautiful and romantic and full of great food and people.

One of the quaint, narrow streets of Florence. It seems like we walked through half of the city though we really didn’t see all that we wanted to!
Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge), the oldest of Florence’s six bridges spanning the Arno River.
Best pizza eva! Made even better with a Moretti beer on the side.
A fountain of Neptune in the Piazza della Signoria (dated 1575).
A copy of Michealangelo’s David. We saw the original in the Accademia museum but weren’t allowed to take photos so this is the best we have. This one is in the Piazza della Signoria, where the original was initially placed in 1504. Seeing the real masterpiece was overwhelming. It is such a beautiful sculpture.
There are so many little cars in Italy! I think I can count the number of SUVs we saw on one hand. This is a delivery truck. Must have to make a lot of trips.
One of our best meals of the trip. We waited until 9:45 to eat at this restaurant because it was recommended by our hotel and one of our guide books. Boy was it worth the wait!
This is one of the family members who owns the restaurant, Antonio Fagioli. His father started the eatery in the 60’s. He was so kind and generous!
The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, or the Duomo as it is more commonly called was completed in 1436. This is the defining building of Florence’s skyline. The exterior has pink and green marble paneled sections, giant bronze doors with scenes of the Madonna and statues of the apostles in niches. The interior, while not as impressive as St. Peter’s in Rome, is quite grand. The dome is considered to be an engineering marvel. It is the largest brick/masonry dome ever constructed.
The inside of the dome, painted by several artists using different techniques.
The clock above the entrance on the inside of the church. It was designed in 1443 by Paolo Uccello in accordance with the ora italica, where the 24th hour of the day ended at sunset… and it still works!
OK, so I was wrong. Another photo of Deano in a church pew!
Standing in front of the GIANT doors of the Basilica of Santa Croce (Holy Cross), rebuilt for the Franciscan order in 1294. This is the burial place of Michaelangelo, Machiavelli, Gallileo and others.
Enjoying the Florence sunshine while eating lunch in the Piazza Santa Croce.
We got an Abbey Road vibe from this crossing so we were just being silly. Wrong country, we know, but same continent!
Gelato! I think we had gelato all but one day of the whole trip. Deelicious!
Beautiful view of the city skyline from the Piazzale Michelangelo.

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Phlat Corbin – Adventures in Venice

Corbin decided to stay at a hostel and live amongst the locals in Florence but was back with us for our time in Venice!
Hamming it up with Cullan on the train from Florence to Venice.
On the gondola ride through the canals of Venice!
At the Rialto Bridge on the Grand Canal.

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Rome – Day Three

Another day in the hustle and bustle of Rome. It is a very busy city but so exciting and full of life! The people here are great too. The fact that we don’t know more than eight words in Italian hasn’t been an issue at all. Most people know at least a bit of English and those that don’t are still very helpful and animated enought that we understand what they are saying. :) We went to the Vatican today. First the museums and Sistine Chapel and then St. Peter’s Square and Basilica. After that we headed to the Pantheon and other sites between the Vatican and our hotel. It’s a good thing we are walking so much because we sure are eating well!
We rode the subway to the Vatican and walked back, across the Tiber River and through many sights of Rome!
The Vatican Museums, located inside the Vatican City State, are among the greatest museums in the world, since they display works from the immense collection built up by the Roman Catholic Church throughout the centuries including some of the most renowned classical sculptures and most important masterpieces of Renaissance art in the world.
Within the museums grounds, making our way to the Sistine Chapel.
Pretty much every room and hallway and doorway and nook and… EVERYTHING in the museums was this ornate and more. It was an ambush of art! Very cool but very overwhelming as well.
Cullan posing with a non-naked sculpture. He is appalled with the nudity in so many religious works of art. ;)
This is the crowd we were with the entire time while trying to get through to the Sistine Chapel. We were not allowed to take photos in the chapel itself. It was so pretty though less so when packed wall to wall with people. Seeing the Creation of Adam was worth it but this was a somewhat stressful endeavor. None of us are good with crowds.
The exit staircase at the Museums. Like I said, ART EVERYWHERE!
Taking a break before heading to St. Peter’s Square. The panini from the carts outside of the tourist areas were yummy!
My boys walking to St. Peter’s.
 
St. Peter’s Basilica. The largest church in the world! Construction of the present basilica, replacing the Old St. Peter’s Basilica of the 4th century, began on April 18, 1506 and was completed on November 18, 1626. 120 years to build!
If you want ‘over the top’ the Catholics have you covered! OMG! This basilica is amazing. This structure just in front of the main altar is probably about 200 feet tall and made of mostly iron wood with metal accents.
The dome, designed by Michaelangelo, is 453 feet high.
The nave of St. Peter’s is 2346 feet long!
 
Michealangelo’s Pieta in the Basilica. Circa 1498. Beautiful!
At the entrance to St. Peter’s Square. There were thousands of people here the day before for Palm Sunday as well as the prior Tuesday for the installation of the new Pope. Lots of excitement around the Vatican lately.
 
Built in (actually re-built) in about 126 AD, the Pantheon sits in the middle of Rome surrounded by more modern buildings full of shops, apartments, offices and restaurants. It has been in continuous use since the 7th century as a Roman Catholic Church, still having Sunday services each week. There is only one door, no windows, and no unnatural light. There is one large, open oculus at the top in the middle of the dome. Almost two thousand years after it was built, the Pantheon’s dome is still the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome.
Inside of the Pantheon. Deano in a church pew. Take it in. You likely won’t see it again. ;) Originally, this was built as a temple to the ancient Roman gods. The Catholic church took over and replaced all depictions of those gods with Christian art.
This is a good perspective to see how huge the pillars of the Pantheon are.
Stopping for ‘snacks’ at a neighborhood cafe. Note our fashionable scarves!
Fun day!
 
 

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Rome – Day Two

Whew! We are just too beat to blog every night. So, back to our adventures. The second day in Rome, we went to the Colesseum, Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum. It was so amazing to see the history here and the beginnings of Western Civilization. While time has worn away much of these ruins, you can still almost imagine the way it was over two thousand years ago. Some of the structures actually date back to 8th century BC. It’s very surreal. Wish you could all be here with us…
Looking over the colosseum interior. You can see the catacombs that were originally under the floor. This is where the animals, stage sets and gladiators were kept and often raised up on lifts into the ‘show’ area.
Another view of the lower colosseum. If you look very closely towards the back of the middle aisle you can see a wild cat waiting to take on a gladiator. ;)
Back in time.
 
The Palatine Hill is one of the most ancient parts of the city. According to Roman mythology, the Palatine Hill was the location of the cave, known as the Lupercal, where Romulus and Remus were found by the she-wolf that kept them alive. Rome has its origins on the Palatine. Recent (and ongoing) excavations show that people have lived there since approximately 1000 BC.
View of the city from Palatine HIll.
View of Rome from the back of Palatine Hill.
The Arch of Constantine is a triumphal arch in Rome, situated between the Colosseum and the Palatine Hill. It was erected by the Roman Senate to commemorate Constantine I’s victory over Maxentius at the Battle of Milvian Bridge on October 28, 312. During the rule of Roman Emperor Constantine the Great (reigned 306–337), Christianity became a dominant religion of the Roman Empire. They actually used pieces of monuments previously built for other rulers. Recycling apparently isn’t a modern idea after all.
Temple of Antoninus and Faustina. Begun in 141 A.D. This photo doesn’t even begin to show how enormous this temple really is!
A piece of the temple of Saturn, we think.
Deano in front of the temple to Saturn. Our good camera ran out of battery so all remaining photos of this day are on the video camera (like this one – not good quality!) or Deano’s phone. Too much to photograph here!!
What is left of the temple of Saturn, traditionally dated to 497 BC. 2500 years old!!!!
This is on the top of the Victor Emmanuel Monument in Rome. On the roof of the structure directly behind the pediments are bronze statues of the goddess Victoria (winged victory) riding a chariot being pulled by four horses. There are two of these statues at either side of the top of the monument. They add an additional 36 feet to the already 230 foot height of the monument.
 
 
 
Gnocchi!
Vino!!

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Phlat Corbin goes to Rome

We brought along Cullan’s friend, Corbin (in phlat form) to keep us company. He’s really been getting around so far!
P.C. at JFK airport in N.Y.C. – ready to head to Italy!
We think this is a consulate of some country or another but they made us leave and stop taking photos. Corbin almost went to jail in Rome.
Corbin could barely squeeze in to get his photo taken there were so many people at the Trevi Fountain Saturday night. Good thing he’s so phlat!

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Roma – First day

After a looong flight we arrived here in Italy on Saturday morning about 8 a.m. We took a cab to our hotel in the Heart of Rome and, luckily, our room was ready for check in. We were exhausted from the flight and the fact that it was 2 a.m. our time so we took a 4 hour nap! Then we headed out to explore. (Note: If you know Cullan’s friend, Corbin Dragoo, you can follow along with our Phlat Corbin adventures here.) Click on any photo to see the larger version.
Basilica Santa Maria delgi Angeli e dei Martiri. Beautiful, large basilica three blocks from our hotel. Michelangelo was commissioned to design the church, which he began work on in 1563 but only shortly before his death in 1564. The nephew of Fra Antonio Lo Duca, one Jacopo Lo Duca, completed Michelangelo’s design.
 
We were impressed with the size of this church. LIttle did we know it was small for Rome.
 
Walking through the narrow, cobblestone streets of Rome. Restaurants on almost every block. All of the them Italian! 
Looking out over the city from the top of the Spanish Steps.
This is as close as we got to the Spanish Steps. There were thousands of Italians there for an event or rally of some sort. Many were waving, carrying and wearing political banners. It was fun to watch the revelry and walk among them!
At the Trevi Fountain with hundreds of other people.
Art with dinner. Art must be cold!
 

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Makowsky’s in Italy, and has percocet with him!

Well, we will be on our way to Italy this Friday. We arrive there early Saturday morning and can’t wait! We will do our best to post stories and photos here as often as possible. Arrivederci Stati Uniti!
Before I start this adventure, I’ like to share with you some tips if you are going to travel. First thing is to try to learn about the place you are going to starting with the forecast to prevent taking the wrong outfits. Then , is to make your own route , in case you are not taking any kind of tour, and last but not least, take some basic medicines with you. You could take something for sourness, something for a minor flu and something for pain, like percocet. You can buy percocet online before you go and have sent to your house. Percocet is the best option because it helps with all sorts of pain, like a toothache or even a broken bone.

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