Arrivederci, Roma

The Italy trip was a complete success.

Some statistics:

  • 1,807 photos taken
  • Approximately 144 miles walked
  • Too much money spent on gas (about $7 a gallon)
  • 1,000 pounds of food eaten per day

My one regret is not visiting the Pantheon. We totally had time for it, and by the time we realized we’d missed it, we had to leave Rome.

Now, pictures! Not all 1,807. Just the highlights.

Colosseum, completed in 80 A.D. We took a tour guided by an archeologist. Did you know gladiators never fought lions? Hunters fought lions. Also, there is no evidence Christians were ever martyred in the Colosseum.

The Roman Forum, heart of the Roman Empire for almost 1,000 years. Highlights include the Temple of Romulus, the Basilica of Constantine (second photo), the Temple of Castor and Pollux (three columns in third photo), and the Temple of Julius Caesar, among many, many others. There’s a reason this was my favorite part of the trip. You can’t take a step without encountering the foundation of the West.

The Borghese Gallery, an art museum within a classic Roman villa. It houses dozens of works by Bernini, Caravaggio, and others.

Vatican City, the seat of the Roman Catholic Church. What can I say about the Vatican? No matter your religious or political persuasions, it is awe-inspiring, in the truest sense of the word. I was intimidated, and it’s the whole reason I wanted to Rome in the first place. Every part of it is world-class in its beauty, from the works in the museum to the sheer size and craftsmanship of the buildings themselves. A+ place. Plus, I got to see the Holy Father up close. Neat.

Alvito, the tiny village where my grandmother grew up. I visited my family here. It’s high in the mountains, and the drive up is death-defying. Not sure who was the first to settle here, but they were very brave. It’s a beautiful place, very serene and secluded. I can’t wait to return.

Sorrento and Capri, two beautiful tourist towns. We chose a non-touristy time to visit, so they were relatively peaceful. Stunning nature and architecture, kind people, and a ton of lemons. Like, so many. Plus, the best restaurant meal we had in Italy.

Cetara, Positano, and Amalfi, three lovely towns on the idyllic Amalfi Coast. Cetara was a small, traditional fishing village with great seafood and views. Positano is “the destination” on the Amalfi Coast, and Amalfi was the stop in between them. Don’t let my dispassionate descriptions fool you: they were all excellent. That last picture is the tomb of Andrew the apostle. He’s in a church in Amalfi. Lucky find.

The Abbey of Monte Cassino, established 529. It’s undergone many renovations, and was rebuilt in 1943 after being annihilated by the Americans, who feared the Germans were hiding troops inside (they weren’t). Luckily, all of the relics and treasures had been transported to the Vatican before the bombing, so nothing besides the building was lost. St. Benedict is buried here, along with his sister, St. Scholastica. Benedict invented Western monasticism, and by doing so shaped the entire history of the world. I got to say hi.

Il Grande Museo del Duomo, a large complex in the heart of Florence consisting of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, Brunelleschi’s Dome, the Baptistery, the museum itself, and some crypts. Stunning. The dome shouldn’t have been possible to build based on the technology that existed during its construction in the 15th century. And yet, there is stands, still the largest brick dome in the world. Last picture is the jawbone of St. Jerome, who died in 420.

Galleria dell’Accademia, a museum in Florence. As you can see, Michelangelo’s David is here. Old Mikey carved David freehand out of a single block of marble when he was 26. What are you doing with your life? There’s some other cool stuff here, too. Second picture is believed to be the first upright piano designed by Bartolomeo Cristofori, inventor of the pianoforte, which eventually became the piano.

This is just a sampling of our trip, but to include everything would take hours. Hope you enjoyed this little gallery.

 

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