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Friday, May 31, 2013


May 26 – Sunday – Venice, Italy


May 27 – Monday – Venice, Italy

AHHHhhhhhh, here we are at the end our cruise, and our beautiful home at sea is gone.  What a lovely time we had.  We were rocked to sleep at night and fed all the food we could eat and more.  We were entertained when we wanted to be, quiet when we wanted to be alone and met some new friends.  I would recommend this type of travel to anyone who likes to relax and has hobbies like reading and resting, or those who like running around from town to town when there are ports-of-call.  It can be restful or tiring, your choice.  I like the days at sea best.



Well, here we are in Venice.  Our first day, while still on the ship was spent checking out our future hotel and the train station.  We were going to walk our suitcases from the ship to the hotel and wanted to be sure how far this would be.  It looked pretty easy on the map.  Of course the map looks pretty flat.  Venice has hundreds of little bridges, with many little and sometimes big steps. 


Venice (ItalianVenezia [veˈnɛttsja] VenetianVenexia [veˈnɛsja]; (LatinVenetia)) is a city in northeastern Italy sited on a group of 118 small islands separated by canals and linked by bridges. It is located in the marshyVenetian Lagoon, which stretches along the shoreline between the mouths of the Po and the Piave Rivers. Venice is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. The city in its entirety is listed as a World Heritage Site, along with its lagoon.



Venice is the capital of the Veneto region. In 2009, there were 270,098 people residing in Venice's comune (the population estimate of 272,000 inhabitants includes the population of the whole Comune of Venezia; around 60,000 in the historic city of Venice (Centro storico); 176,000 in Terraferma (the Mainland), mostly in the large frazioni of Mestre and Marghera; 31,000 live on other islands in the lagoon). Together with Padua and Treviso, the city is included in the Padua-Treviso-Venice Metropolitan Area (PATREVE), with a total population of 1,600,000. PATREVE is only a statistical metropolitan area without any degree of autonomy.



The name is derived from the ancient Veneti people who inhabited the region by the 10th century BC. The city historically was the capital of the Venetian Republic. Venice has been known as the "La Dominante", "Serenissima", "Queen of the Adriatic", "City of Water", "City of Masks", "City of Bridges", "The Floating City", and "City of Canals.
Students waiting for their school water bus


The Republic of Venice was a major maritime power during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, and a staging area for the Crusades and the Battle of Lepanto, as well as a very important center of commerce (especially silk, grain, and spice) and art in the 13th century up to the end of the 17th century. This made Venice a wealthy city throughout most of its history. It is also known for its several important artistic movements, especially the Renaissance period. Venice has played an important role in the history of symphonic and operatic music, and it is the birthplace of Antonio Vivaldi.

History, art, beauty and bridges….Venice here we come.  We left the ship on our second day.  In order to get our luggage to the hotel we walked from the ship to the People Mover, then over two fairly medium size Venice type step bridges.  I’ve taken a picture of some of our lighter luggage at the top of one bridge. 
 

John was already dragging the big ones down the other side.  It took us under an hour, but we saved about $150 Euros by not hiring a water taxi for a fifteen minute ride.  We are slowly working off the ship calories!  We are also coming to the reality that we are not in ‘Shipville’ any longer.  Everything here is expensive!






After saying farewell to the ship and getting our luggage to the hotel we finally got to explore the city.  The desk clerk advised that there was a free shuttle to the Murino Glass Factory.  We decided to hop on that first.  We got to watch them blow some beautiful glass and then see the show room.  Sorry no pictures as everything is proprietary. 



We then hopped another water taxi to Saint Marks Square to take in all the must see sights.  Unfortunately, everyone else thought it was a must-see, too.  It was so crowded we could hardly move.  As we stood on the walk bordering the water, a complete wedding party passed right in front of us.  I’ve got a movie of this.  Unbelievable to see so many people in one spot.  The lines to get into the buildings in the area were so long that it would take at least three to four hours just to reach the door.  John and I decided that life is too short.  Both he and I had been there before; thus, we walked on.

We loved our walk wandering back to our hotel.  John had the map and navigated.  Sometimes we were not quite sure where we were going, but my navigator saved the day, and we arrived safely back at the hotel just in time for dinner.  Oh….did I mention that during our wandering we stopped for pizza at a little shop and ate it on a step of one of those many bridges I told you about?

The hotel desk directed us to a restaurant that fed Americans before the rest of the Europeans ate (i.e. about 6 o’clock).  We had the best Ravioli stuffed with cheese and spinach I have ever eaten.  The antipasti was also wonderful.  I could tell you where the restaurant is, but not the name.  I think that you might find a number of good Italian pasta restaurants around the Venice train station from what I saw.  There is also a lot of good souvenir shopping.  I loved looking at the glass beads and the masquerade masks.


Tomorrow we are headed to the train station, and it’s off to Zurich.  I have one more towel animal for you.  Sleep tight and I’ll see you in Zurich.





Travel - May 25 – Saturday – Dubrovnik, Croatia 



The evening before we arrived in Dubrovnik we were treated to two interesting views from our stateroom veranda.  Just before going to bed we saw a beautiful full moon arise over the Croatian coast line.  We later had a terrible thunder storm during the night.  Early the next morning we look out to see a fellow cruise liner pacing us with all of its lights on.  It was quite a site in a pre-dawn sky.  I was lucky enough to get a picture of both the moon and the ship.  I thought I’d share both with you.  



Dubrovnik is a UNESCO site and you can tell it the minute you get off the bus.  Yes, it looks almost like I remembered it, but with a lot more people.  The ship docked between the cruise ship port and the industrial part of the city.  The old fort city is about three to four miles around the sea shore from the port.  We again took a shuttle bus to the old town.   It is a beautiful, old, well-kept town of history.





Dubrovnik (pronounced [dǔbroːʋnik]ItalianRagusaGreekΡαγκούσαRagoùsa) is a city on the Adriatic Sea coast of Croatia, positioned at the terminal end of the Isthmus of Dubrovnik. It is one of the most prominent tourist destinations on the Adriatic, a seaport  the center of Dubrovnik-Neretva county. Its total population is 42,641 (census 2011). In 1979, the city of Dubrovnik joined the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.



The prosperity of the city of Dubrovnik has long been based on maritime trade. In the Middle Ages, as the Republic of Ragusa, also known as a Maritime Republic (together with AmalfiPisaGenoaVenice and other Italian cities), it became the only eastern Adriatic city-state to rival Venice. Supported by its wealth and skilled diplomacy, the city achieved a high level of development, particularly during the 15th and 16th centuries.




The beginning of tourism in Dubrovnik is often associated with the construction of the late 19th-century luxury hotels in Croatia, such as Grand Hotel (1890) in Opatija and the Hotel Imperial (1897) in Dubrovnik According to CNNGo, Dubrovnik is among the 10 best medieval walled cities in the world.  




Although Dubrovnik was demilitarized in the 1970s to protect it from war, in 1991, after the breakup of Yugoslavia, it was besieged by Serb-Montenegrin forces for seven months and received significant shelling damage.  When you look at the walls of the fort you can tell where the damage occurred.  Not from the holes in the wall, but in the areas that have been newly repaired.

There were tourists from everywhere.  If you turned in a circle you could hear at least eight languages being spoken.  There were many Croatian bands and folk singers both inside and outside of the fort walls.  You could tell that they were very proud of their country and history.   There was a singing group willing to pose for as many tourists that could crowd in during a five minute period.  They could have stood there all day and the cameras would have continued to click.




The walls of the fort in some place were so thick that people lived, or they had shops in the base of the walls.  The center of the city area was flat, but many of the side streets had stairs going almost strait up, at least it looked that way.  We never quite made it all the way to the top of the fort wall, but I did see out a small door on the side and the view was breath taking.  It was like being at the top of at least a ten story building that dropped perilously to the sea.  The sea was so clear you could see every rock.


Just like all little towns, residents of this beautiful place have a small market in their plaza areas.  Dubrovnik’s market had lavender sachet, dried fruit, olive oil and other wonderful items from their local region.  Oh…if only there was not a fifty pound weight limit on the airline luggage requirement.  I was already at the limit when I left.  VERY SAD!!! 

 



Well, it’s time to say farewell to Dubrovnik and go on to our final cruise port, Venice.  It is hard to believe that the cruise is almost over.  The time has gone by so quickly.  We do have one night on the boat in Venice so we can slowly break into the idea of being without our ship. 

 Next report will probably be from our hotel in Venice, or from Zurich.  Hang on, we are not finished yet!!  (However, the towel animals are almost at an end.)   



Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Travel - May 24, 2013 - Kerkira, Corfu, Greece



It has been at least thirty years since I last visited Corfu.  I remember walking through an old town on very steep streets with many little shops with olive wood items and other Greek souvenirs.  The town of Kerkira is quite large for a small island “village” and fairly modern. 




John and I elected not to take a formal tour, but did decide to take the shuttle provided by the ship to the largest castle/fort at the end of the city.  I’d never seen it before and the view was fantastic.  Actually from the ship the whole city looked like a series of castles connected by walls.  Some call this area the city of castles.  It really is a beautiful place with a lot of history.




Corfu (GreekΚέρκυραKérkyra[ˈcercira]Ancient Greek: Κέρκυρα or Κόρκυρα; LatinCorcyraItalianCorfù) is a Greek island in the Ionian Sea. It is the second largest of the Ionian Islands, and, including its small satellite islands, forms the edge of the northwestern frontier of Greece. The island is part of the Corfu regional unit, and is administered as a single municipality. The municipality includes the island Corfu and the smaller islands EreikoussaMathraki and Othonoi. The principal city of the island and seat of the municipality (pop. 32,095) is also named Corfu. Corfu is home to the Ionian University.







The island's history is laden with 
battles and conquests. The legacy of these struggles is visible in the form of castles punctuating strategic locations across the island. Two of these castles enclose its capital, which is the only city in Greece to be surrounded in such a way. As a result, Corfu's capital has been officially declared a Kastropolis ("castle city") by the Greek government. Corfu was long controlled by Venice, which repulsed several Turkish sieges, before falling under British rule following the Napoleonic Wars. Corfu was eventually ceded by the British Empire along with the remaining islands of the United States of the Ionian Islands, and unification with modern Greece was concluded in 1864 under the Treaty of London.


In 2007, the city's old city was designated for the UNESCO World Heritage List, following a recommendation by ICOMOS.

Corfu is a very popular tourist destination. Up until the early 20th century, it was mainly visited by the European royals and elites, including Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany and Empress Elisabeth of Austria; today it is also widely visited by middle class families (primarily from the UKScandinavia and Germany), leading to mass tourism. It is still popular with the global elite however, and in the island's northeast the homeowners include members of the Rothschild family and Russian oligarchs.



Most of our activities involved walking around this beautiful hill area looking at shops and taking pictures.  I’ve provided a number of them for you to view here.  It is very evident looking at the conditions of the buildings and residence that the economy is having problems.  As John says, there is not enough money in the world to fix the areas we have visited.  So many old building needing so much repair.  None of the governments have the resources to keep up these beautiful monuments. 



A few of the things I am enjoying taking pictures of are windows, doors, floors and walls.  It is amazing how different these are between countries.  It is also fun to look at the designs and compare them.  I’ll be busy once I get all my pictures home.  I've taken over a thousand.  I’m in heaven!!!


One more stop before Venice and that is Dubrovnik.  I can’t wait, I want to see what differences there are now that it is a new country.  Last time I visited it was in Yugoslavia.  Stay tuned…yes….there is more to come.



Sunday, May 26, 2013

Travel - May 23 – Thursday – Katakolon, Greece Before the cruise John and I decided we would stay on board at Katakolon and do laundry.  When we arrived on board we discovered that there were no “do it yourself” laundry facilities and everything had to be done by the ships laundry.  That freed us up for the day.  We had seen Ancient Olympia and were not really interested in another long bus ride.  The small town of Katakolon beckoned.


Katakolo (GreekΚατάκολο) is a seaside town in the municipality of Pyrgos in western ElisGreece. It is situated on a headland overlooking the Ionian Sea and separating the Gulf of Kyparissia from the rest of the Ionian. It is 11 km west of downtown Pyrgos. The small village of Agios Andreas lies northwest of Katakolo. A railway connects Katakolo with Pyrgos and Olympia, but along with the rest of the rail network in the Peloponnese, services have been suspended since 2011 for economic reasons.



The port of Katakolo is a popular stop for cruise ships, offering an opportunity for passengers to visit the site of Ancient Olympia. Low hills with forests surround Katakolo. The lighthouse of Katakolo was built in 1865.



Going out on a trek always allows for new photos and the possibilities of finding interesting materials to work with.  Katakolon is a port town, in modern times prepared to entertain the tourists.  As we walked along the long break water wall we took many pictures of the port.  Once we arrived in the dock area it was all for the tourists.  Any type of transportation you might want was available, from horse drawn cart to modern tour bus and…taxies galore.  All indicating they would take you to see the sights, from Olympia to a tour of the local villas.



John and I elected to walk the streets of this small port tourist town.  It seemed as though most of the shops were selling jewelry.  The wares ranged from the standard Chinese made fair to the very expensive gold and silver jewelry shipped in from the Middle East and elsewhere.  It is sad that each place we visit has more of the same to offer and less unique to their special area.  So many things are made in China.


We did find one shop that delighted us.  On prior visits to this part of the world I remember seeing stores full of items made with olive wood.  We stumbled across one in Katakolon.  It is the only one we have seen.  While

talking to the shop owner she said that she and her husband decided they would open a shop that wasn’t based on Chinese goods.  We applauded them for their effort.  The shop had beautiful olive wood beads and I had a large bag of them before we left.  We found another gem amoungst the clutter.

If you are ever visiting Katakolon, I’d highly recommend that you stop by 
Aristoteles Olivewood workshop   If you are interested in taking a look at their shop you can find them on Facebook.



We are on our way to Corfu, Greece.  This is one of my favorite places.  I’m looking forward to a new adventure in Corfu.  Stay tuned…there is much more to come.



Friday, May 24, 2013

Travel - May 21 – Tuesday – Cursing the Strait of Messina and Messina Italy 


The Strait of Messina (Stretto di Messina in Italian languageStrittu di Missina in Sicilian) is the narrow passage between the eastern tip of Sicily and the southern tip of Calabria in the south of Italy. It connects the Tyrrhenian Sea with theIonian Sea, within the central Mediterranean. At its narrowest point, it measures 3.1 km (1.9 mi) in width, though near the town of Messina the width is some 5.1 km (3.2 mi) and maximum depth is 250 m (830 ft). 


A ferry service connects Messina on Sicily with the mainland at Villa San Giovanni, which lies several kilometers north of the large city of Reggio Calabria; the ferries hold the cars (carriages) of the mainline train service between Palermo and Naples. There is also a hydrofoil service between Messina and Reggio Calabria. 


The strait is characterized by strong tidal currents, that established a unique marine ecosystem. A natural whirlpool in the Northern portion of the strait has been linked to the Greek legend of Scylla and CharybdisThis Greek myth is worth looking up when you have a moment.  It is about a nymph that is cursed and lives in the straits attacking ships as they pass.  In some circumstances, the mirage of Fata Morgana can be observed when looking at Sicily from Calabria.


In 1957, a 220-kV overhead powerline was built across the Strait of Messina. Its pylons are among the highest in the world. This powerline has since been replaced by a submarine power cable, but the pylons remain and are protected as historical monuments.  



Before getting off the ship around 11 AM, we spent a leisurely morning looking at the busy port activities and doing a bit of research on the MSC Preziosa, a new, huge cruise ship parked next to us.  Google indicates that the ship was originally ordered by one of Gaddafi’s sons.  But when the Gaddafi tribe fell onto hard times, MSC purchased the ship ($700 million plus, 3,500 passengers, maiden voyage Mar 24 of this year) and directed its final stages of construction.  Needless to say, the MSC website makes no reference to the Gaddafi connection.  The Nieuw Amsterdam is certainly no rowboat, but the MSC ship seemed to tower over us.
 



Once off the ship, we walked around the port and part of the old town.  Sicily lives up to its billing as a somewhat neglected part of Italy, but apparently the feeling of separation is not a burden for Sicilians, who are more than proud of their own identity and distance from the rest of Italy.  



We happened to enjoy a small café for refreshments and a crack at a real Italian cannoli.  After pausing for a

moment, the owner indicated – with visible disdain - that he did not have any ricotta (mainland Italy) cheese for cannolis, but he did have a far better dessert made of puff pastry filled with pistachio cream.  And it was absolutely superb!
 



 Messina (pron.: /məˈsnə/; Italian pronunciation: [mesˈsiːna] (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/2/21/Speaker_Icon.svg/13px-Speaker_Icon.svg.png listen), SicilianMissinaLatinMessana) is the capital of the Italian province of Messina and the third largest city on the island of Sicily, with a population of more 240,000 inhabitants in the city proper and about 650,000 in the province. It is located near the northeast corner of Sicily, at the Strait of Messina, opposite Villa San Giovanni on the mainland. 


The city's main resources are its seaports (commercial and military shipyards), and agriculture (wine production and cultivating lemons, orange, mandarin oranges and olives). The city has been a Roman Catholic Archdiocese and Archimandrite seat since 1548 and is home to a locally important international fair.


We departed Messina around 6 PM, cleared the Strait of Messina to the south, and then turned east to start crossing the Ionian Sea.  We’re looking forward to tomorrow and a day at sea to rest tired feet!  Next stop is Katakolon, Greece.  Good night from the Nieuw Amsterdam and Artfully Ann's Adventures. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013


Travel - May 20 – Monday – Naples and Sorrento, Italy


We could tell as John and I stepped off the boat that Naples was a place we were going to have to come back to.  We had arranged for a bus and shopping tour in Sorrento and only saw Naples in the rear-view mirror.  



It has a beautiful harbor and a very interesting history.  Naples (ItalianNapoli [ˈnaːpoli] NeapolitanNapule [ˈnɑːpələ]LatinNeapolisAncient GreekΝεάπολις, meaning "new city") is the capital of Campania and the third-largest municipality in Italy, after Rome and Milan. As of 2012, around 960,000 people live within the city's limits. 


The Naples urban area, covering 1,023 km2 (395 sq mi), has a population of between 3 million and 3.7 million, and is the 8th-most populous urban area in the European Union.Naples is one of the oldest continuously-inhabited cities in the world.  Naples also was the most-bombed Italian city during World War II


Much of the city's 20th-century periphery was constructed under Benito Mussolini's fascist government, and during reconstruction efforts after World War II. In recent decades, Naples has constructed a large business district, the Centro Direzionale, and has developed an advanced transport infrastructure, including an Alta Velocità high-speed rail link to Rome and Salerno, and an expanded subway network, which is planned to eventually cover half of the region. However, Naples is still characterized by political and economic corruption and a thriving black market, and unemployment levels remain high. 



Our bus trip from Naples to Sorrento took about an hour.  Sorrento is just 18 miles across the Bay of Naples, but the roads are very challenging and congested.  After hearing about both of these towns my entire life, it was interesting to actually understand their relative locations.  We passed Mount Vesuvius on the way.  Its top was covered with clouds.  Pompeii was also pointed out as we passed by.



 Vesuvius erupted and covered Pompeii many, many hundreds of years ago.  The stories were interesting.  However, looking at the geography and geology, and the unending urban development on the flanks of the volcano, one wonders if the disasters of the past will inevitably be revisited.  Additionally, some geologists now believe that the entire Bay of Naples may be the caldera of an ancient super-volcano, the same as Yellowstone is now viewed today.



Sorrento, Italy coast line


 Before being turned lose in Sorrento, we were taken first to a cameo factory/showroom to view original pieces of stunning beauty and price.  Italians have definitely not lost their touch for producing spectacular bling!  

We also stopped at a specialty furniture showroom that featured highly refined wood works: music boxes, wall hangings and a mind boggling collection of home furnishings, each made from Italian walnut, mahogany and exotic wood from around the world.  Our favorite was a simple round table of about 40 inches in diameter, made of perfectly matched pieces of Italian walnut, with 4 matching chairs, all for the tidy sum of $19,000.  The price includes shipping and insurance to the US, of course.   



 Sorrento is a charming village perched on limestone cliffs hundreds of feet above the Bay.  In typical European fashion, it has two or three main streets crossed by a maze of secondary streets, many of which allow no cars.  But, where allowed, traffic and “parking” on secondary streets resemble more than anything a vigorous game of bumper cars, spiced up with many hundreds of motor scooters driven by all, from kids to pensioners, each scowling at one another and giving each other typical Italian gestures of reprobation.  J 


We found great espresso and Italian beer and relaxed in a café on the main square of the village.  Tourists everywhere!  Not a native in sight except those forced to be there to take our money.  While a visit to this place is encouraged, you might want to hold off until the month of October or a bit later, or try the first half of April. 


Our next stop is Messina, Italy.  Hang on for the ride!


Good night from Naples!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


Travel - May 18 – Saturday – Livorno, Italy,  and   May 19 – Civitavecchia (Rome)

 


Livorno, our first stop in Italy; Gelato, the world’s best espresso.  YES!  For cruise purposes, the port of Livorno serves to get people off the ship and onto buses for visits to Florence, Pisa and the rest of Tuscany.  We had previously seen this part of Italy so we enjoyed leisure on our own time close to the port and the old part of this city of 160,000.  
Very interesting streets, some attractive architecture and open air markets were a few of the things we enjoyed.



Livorno Harbor


 However, Livorno is just a port city and is fairly shabby with little to offer the normal tourists.  We are not, however, normal tourists and enjoy the little nooks where no one else looks.  Our real find was an Indian owned shop of metal decorations for making jewelry.  We spent a few hours there re-supplying my bench stock for making jewelry items.  What a toy store!  A wall or two of beautiful stones and silver pieces to choose from; I was in heaven!

 

Livorno (Italian: [liˈvorno], English traditionally Leghorn (/lɛɡˈhɔrn//ˈlɛɡ.hɔrn/,/ˈlɛɡɔrn/), is a port city on the Tyrrhenian Sea on the western coast of Tuscany, Italy. It is the capital of the Province of Livorno, having a population of approximately 161,000 residents in 2011.
 Livorno was designed as an "ideal town" during the Italian Renaissance, when it was ruled by the Grand Duke of the Medici family.  Major additions were designed by the architect Bernardo Buontalenti at the end of the 16th century. The Medici port was overlooked and defended by towers and fortresses leading to the town center.  

Civitavecchia Harbor

On Sunday, May 19th , we arrived in Civitavecchia, which is ninety minutes from Rome, yet advertised as Rome’s port.  Not exactly!

 

Civitavecchia [tʃivitaˈvɛkkja] is a town and comune of the province of Rome in the central Italian region of Lazio. A sea port on the Tyrrhenian Sea, it is located 80 kilometres west-north-west of Rome, across the Mignone river. The harbor is formed by two piers and a breakwater, on which is a lighthouse. The name Civitavecchia means "ancient town".  This is about all we can say about Civitavecchia as this is about all we saw of it. 


Anyway, we joined a scrum of about 1,000 other people who boarded about twenty or more buses for the trip into Rome at 7:30 AM.  The driver let us off along the northeast wall of the Vatican around 9 AM.  Trying to get into St. Peter’s Square was almost too tough to handle, and crowds were extra-large in the continuing celebration of Pope Francis.  We are not trained to estimate crowds, but our guess would be that about 150,000 people were present.  We decided to wander outside the Vatican and let the crowd disperse following the Pope’s public remarks at noon.


 


Vatican


Rome is one of those should-see places and the contrasts and variations in texture are profound: imperial but crumbling, polished but squalid, refined but shabby, and wealthy but destitute.

 


Rome (/ˈrm/ItalianRoma pronounced [ˈroːma] ; LatinRōma) is a city and special commune ("Roma Capital") in Italy. Rome is the capital of Italy and also of Lazio (Latin: Latium). With 2.8 million residents in 1,285.3 km2(496.3 sq mi), it is also the country's largest and most populated commune and fifth-most populous city in the European Union by population within city limits. Between 3.2 and 3.8 million people live in the Rome urban and metropolitan area. The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber within the Lazio region of Italy. Rome is referred to as "The Eternal City", a notion expressed by ancient Roman poets and writers. 


Rome's history spans more than two and a half thousand years, since its founding in 753 BC. It is one of the oldest cities in Europe. In the ancient world it was successively the capital city of the Roman Kingdom, the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire, and is regarded as one of the birthplaces of western civilization. Since the 1st century AD, Rome has been considered the seat of the Papacy and in the 8th century it became the capital of the Papal States, which lasted until 1870. In 1871 Rome became the capital of the Kingdom of Italy, and in 1946 that of the Italian Republic.

 


After the Middle Ages, Rome was ruled by popes such as Alexander VI and Leo X, who transformed the city into one of the major centers of the Italian Renaissance, along with Florence. The current version of St Peter's Basilica was built and the Sistine Chapel was painted by Michelangelo. Famous artists and architects, such as BramanteBernini and Raphael resided for some time in Rome, contributing to its Renaissance and Baroque architecture.  The Sistine Chapel was closed for renovation and we were unable to visit this beautiful building.  It is a good thing we had seen it before. 


Monuments and museums such as the Vatican Museums and the Coliseum are among the world's most visited tourist destinations with both locations receiving millions of tourists a year.  It seemed to us as though there were that many tourists there.  Boy, was it crowded.
 


John and I walked around Rome most of the day.  We had lunch at a pretty little restaurant on the Piazza Navona, where many artists display their art for sale. 

Piazza Navona

Then we walked over to the Campo de Fiori where the flowers and vegetables are sold. 


Campo de Fiori


Of course we had our share of gelato, café and pizza.  When in Rome…and we did.  It was my third time back and I still have not seen everything.  The sad thing is that every time I come back it looks a little more run down and sootier. The marble is so hard to keep white.  The slow economy is evident in Italy.  There are many shops closed and people unemployed.  Let’s all hope for better times to come.
 


Tomorrow is Naples, Italy….come join us and share in our adventure!  See you next time!