Sunday, June 24, 2012

Good-bye to Italy

Trey is sad to say good-bye to Italy ("but my favorite city is still LA!") but eager to see his mommy again! We get up early and walk around watching the city wake up before we have to take our water taxi to the airport...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Water Bus Strike!

There was a water bus strike today, which thwarted our trips to Moreno Island (more glass blowing, which Trey really found fascinating!) and Boreno Island (lace making). Trey declared it "rhyming day" so we began the day with "Water buses all on strike: now we have to swim or hike!". There was an alternative, however: we took the hotel shuttle to their "sister hotel" about half an hour away where they have both a pool and a beach. Here's a view of San Marcos Square as we speed off on the hotel shuttle:

Trey spent a very HOT and humid day in the pool and at the beach, rock climbing and getting wet in the Adriatic Sea. And he was delighted to experience, amongst the mostly American tourists, his first European woman sunbathing topless (no picture!)!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Exploring Venice

We spent the morning doing "classic Venice" - learning about glass blowing and mask making! We went first to the Moreno Showroom for a brief glass blowing demonstration (we'll see more tomorrow when we go to Moreno Island). Pretty impressive!

Then off to the oldest mask makers in the city: the business has been handed down father-to-son for generations.

Naturally Trey has to try on some masks! Too big to fit in our suitcases, though!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Elegance to Classic

We said good-bye to our elegant hotel (The St. Regis) in Florence... Trey was pleased to leave it behind, for, in spite of its detailed ambiance, he didn't like the frescoes on the walls of our room: "I feel like the people's antes are watching me when I sleep, and there is a horse's butt over my head!". (more to the point: the hotel lacked a swimming pool for cooling off and burning up that accumulated energy in the late afternoon!)

We took the bullet train to Venice, and went by water taxi from the train station to our hotel on San Marcos Square. What we lose in elegance ( and those ever-watchful eyes staring down from the wall frescoes!) we more than make up for in location!

And, of course, we must take a gondola ride! The musicians joined us on our gondola and serenaded us through the canals!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Florence to Venice

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Pizza School

Tonight we went to Pizza School - although it was a challenge getting there! Madonna (according to Trey, " older and shorter") and her entourage had taken over the lobby and front of the hotel, and we couldn't get out! Over and over again someone would prime the crowds outside, they would scream on cue, Madonna would emerge from the hotel (out the same doors from which they would not let us exit!), the music would start, and there would be about 10 - 15 seconds of activity/filming, which included getting in a car, then they would cut, whisk her back into the hotel, and re-do her hair and make-up, and start all over again... And again... And again! FINALLY the hotel staff got us out a side door, and we got to the Pizza School where a good time was had by all!


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad



Italian law makes it very difficult to get a driver's license - and, if you fail your driver's test three times, you must undergo a mandatory psych eval! However, ANYONE can ( and, it would appear, does - even or especially those who flunk the psych eval!) drive a motorcycle, and they are everywhere!

We spent the morning at the Uffizi Gallery (pictures strictly forbidden) but here is a nice shot of the Arno from the top floor....

And, enroute, to the museum, this church of Charlemagne (the guide said "conse rated by..." but somehow I don't think a political leader could consecrate a church even in those days!)

And here is Trey, with his second gelato off the morning - this one in exchange for a promise to take a shower before we leave for Venice!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPa


Monday, June 18, 2012


After a lecture (excellent!) by an art historian, we were off to Pisa, whose walls and city gates are pictured here...

The leaning tower is quite impressive - now stabilized because the people of Pisa say they don't want to give the Florentines the satisfaction of having it fall!

And, of course, we have to have that "trick shot" of Trey holding everything together!

The baptistry in front of the cathedral (unlike Spain, they have quite an impressive baptistry!) was built in the 12th century and is quite impressive! We also heard a demonstration of its "echo" - someone sings a long note and then harmonies with the various echoes which come back? Fun!

Not in Pisa, but just for fun: here are a couple of views from our hotel in Florence:

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Sunday, June 17, 2012


We left Rome early and made our way to Orvieto, the site of an ancient Etruscan settlement somewhere between Rome and Florence.

The town is on top of cliffs, and prepared itself to withstand sieges by picking out wells deep down to the water table and chiseling out caves in which they could raise pigeons to serve as a source of food...

Since then, these caves have found use as wine cellars or sites for pressing olive oil, and - during WW2 - as bomb shelters!

Trey loved this church (the Duomo) in Orvieta! Unfortunately we couldn't see the inside as it was closed...

Tonight - Florence! Our hotel is crazy-crowded because Madonna is staying here with her "low life entourage in baggy pants" as someone said. We haven't seen her (not that I would recognize her if we did!) but apparently there are a lot of people who are eager for a glimpse!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Saturday, June 16, 2012

An aesthetic High!

Grey has been on sensory overload all day! He is so excited to see all the beauty, and so full of questions about everything ("Why is the Vatican a separate state?" "Why did they call all the babies in Jerusalem?". (in response to Rafael's "Slaughter of the Innocents" tapestries) "how do they end wars? When you go to war and it just goes on and on, to people at least get lunch breaks?" etc...

We began our day at St. peter's Basicilica -with Trey gasping in amazement as we entered... He of course was fascinated by the dome andnthenPieta - he really loves all things Michaelangelo! - and intrigued by the "stained glass window". (really very thinly cut alabaster) behind the altar, and kept asking me to take pictures of this or that...

After an afternoon break of pizza and swimming, we went out again this evening to an after-hours tour of the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel... I first saw the Sistine Chapel in about '52 or '53... There was no one there, but it was prior to the restoration, so it was very dark. I saw it again about five years ago - post restoration - but it was so crowded I could hardly see or appreciate it - it felt like being a part of a big cattle call, with hoardes of people shuffling through, guards yelling, "Be quiet!" "Hurry up!" "No pictures!" tonight there was no one there but our group, and we could take our time (and even a few pictures) and really appreciate it! It was amazing! Trey was so excited!

Late dinner and to bed because
tomorrow is another full day! When he heard it included plans to see the Michaelangelo David, he said, "Yes!"

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Vatican City

How You Know You're in Rome

Tray has a special formula for how you know you are in Rome:
You eat outside on the sidewalk, with a beautiful (old!) building on one side and a narrow cobblestone street on the other, with a few plants only partially hiding the many motorcycles and cars... There are smokers. And the food is amazing!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Friday, June 15, 2012

Hello from Rome!

To start: Alatalia sinks to the bottom of my list of airlines! Hot, crowded, aisles so narrow even Trey couldn't walk them without brushing against people on either side! We arrived in Rome sleepless, but excited! All attempts to stay up the first night and adjust to the time change disappeared when we fell asleep at 6 p.m. - and, of course, found ourselves wide awake at 3 a.m.!

All that having been said, the day has been filled with grand adventure, the morning structured according to Trey's wished: the Pantheon ("I love temples!") and the Michaelangelo Moses... With an ice cream break outside the Colosseum...

The afternoon we joined up with the tour and explored the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, and the Palatine...

Trey's comment: "Rome is really old on the outside, but on the inside it's pretty normal!"
And the learnings:
Economics: "Why when I gave them $100 did I get only $70 euros? And why did they charge you $6 to make the exchange? Why don't all countries just use the same money?"
Electricity: how to keep the lights on in your room (keep the key card in the slot); how to charge your iPad (use a converter and an adapter!)
Narrow streets, smokers, people driving and parking on sidewalks, lots of motorcycles...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad