In October 2010, we finally made our long anticipated trip to Italy. Rome, Venice, and Florence were the usual tourist highlights, but the most enjoyable part was a week in a villa in the Cortona region of Tuscany. But first some Italian facts.
Population of Italy - 58,103,033 (July 2005 est.)
Capital of Italy - Rome (Pop 2,718,768 )
Currency in Italy - Euro (EUR) = approx $1.34 CDN.
To quickly access our descriptions of the various cities/regions we visited, just click on their name in the following list :
We departed Ottawa on the 14th of October and arrived in Rome, after a stop in Frankfurt, on the morning of the 15th, a long 9 hour flight, but with good meals and movies. We spent 3 nights in Rome, departing by train (1st Class) for Bologna on the morning of the 18th.
Rome Airport is approximately 20 km from the city and we thought a bus might be appropriate. But after collecting our bags we exited the terminal to find a line up of taxis all vying for our business. We joined a vanload of tourists after determining that the driver could deliver us safely to our hotel at a reasonable fare. The trip into Rome was enjoyable as the driver also acted as a tour guide and pointed out many of the fabled features of Italy's capital such as the coliseum (right) and providing us with helpful information to make our 'Roman Holiday' more interesting.
Italy's capital, Rome, was for centuries the political centre of Western civilization as the capital of the Roman Empire. After its decline, Italy would endure numerous invasions by foreign peoples, from Germanic tribes such as the Lombards and Ostrogoths, to the Byzantines and later, the Normans, among others. Centuries later, Italy would become the birthplace of the Renaissance, an immensely fruitful intellectual movement that would prove to be integral in shaping the subsequent course of European thought.
The city is overflowing with historical sites we had become familiar with from books, pictures and movies. We did our best to see as much as we could, but there were some unforeseen events that restricted our sightseeing. For example, we wanted to see the Vatican complex, and took a sightseeing, double-decker tour bus which allowed tourists to get on and off all around Rome. BUT, on that particular day several saints were being canonized, including Brother André of Quebec. As can be seen at left, the crowd surrounding the Vatican was immense and this was as close as the bus could get! So we had to forego the experience of viewing the religious opulence of this catholic icon, as it just would have taken too much of our limited time!
Regardless, there were many things we did get to do, such as enjoying the incredible gourmet offerings from the plethora of restaurants, and, of course Garry's favourite, the Gelaterias. The following are some examples of the delicious choices available.
a pasta shaped like tiny peas!
At left we are finishing a delicious meal on an outdoor restaurant patio about 5 minutes walking distance from our hotel. This was our first meal in the city so we had fun trying to figure out what was on the menu, but were assisted by a charming waiter whom we joked with during the meal. When dessert time arrived, I suggested a calorie-free dessert would be appropriate for me. He returned with this calorie-loaded one complete with a happy face which he said would void the calories!
We had another wonderful meal at this restaurant, this time inside, on our last evening in Rome, as the weather was getting a bit chilly, even for Canadians!
so many choices, so little time!!!
Please note: Where there is no accompanying title or description, it is because I haven't the foggiest idea what it's called, but rest assured it is in Rome!
First, the Coliseum:
Although I'd seen many photos of this well known edifice, I truly wasn't aware of how huge it was! It boggles the imagination to consider the labour that went into its construction.
As can be seen, it is a very busy tourist location - the crowd was huge even considering that this was late October.
This shot is of the Coliseum entrance, but we didn't go in as the waiting period was estimated to be at least two hours, and we had much, much more of Rome to see.
Such as the very impressive Forum viewed from the bus,
---from up close as we wandered through the historic site.
The Fabulous Trevi Fountain
What an amazing work of art!
And so is the fountain!
with an older masterpiece in front.
The Pantheon was under repair, but still very impressive!
complete with a regally attired guard.
The Spanish Steps climb a steep slope between the Piazza di Spagna at the base and Piazza Trinità dei Monti, dominated by the Trinità dei Monti church at the top. The Scalinata is the widest staircase in Europe.
Now off by train north to Bologna on the 18th of October. A very comfortable way to travel - especially first class. The only problem was determining which track the train was scheduled to leave from, but this was sorted out in short order. (According to Judy, I worried too much!)
We checked into our modern hotel in the early afternoon, and with the idea of wandering the city on foot. The collage photo below was taken from Wikipedia and shows some of the sights that we planned to see. (BTW, Bologna has a population of 372,256.)
The hotel desk staff were eager to advise us of things to see and their location. So-o-o, off we set down the main street and walked on ... and on ... and on - it seems we took a wrong turn somewhere and all we saw was an abundance of generic suburban convenience stores and shops. Disappointing!!!
At right is the view from our hotel room window. Far off in the distance is where we wanted to go to see all the famous Bologna Towers.
Regardless, our room was very comfortable and we enjoyed an excellent meal that evening in the hotel dining room.
Next morning, off again, first class train to Venice. Just click on the Venice coat-of-arms below to be magically teleported to our incredibly ornate and technically perfect Venice web page (actually just a mouse click away).