Monday, December 31, 2012

Genoa, Milan, and Switzerland

 We left early from Camp Darby to make our way to our last resting place outside of Milan.  We took the drive up the Italian coast tand made a stop in Genoa.  This was some of our scenery on our drive!
 We made it to Genoa and it was a gorgeous city!
 The city sits on a hill and goes down to the coast!
 As we got to the city, we were in need of some lunch.  Marilyn asked a local where a good restaurant was and she took us to a VERY authentic Genoan restaurant.  
She walked us down some really cool streets to get there!
 This restaurant served Farinata.  It is a cake of ground chick peas.
 We all (except Ethan) really enjoyed it!
 Mixed plate of Farinata.
 We weaved our way back through tiny streets!  It was so cool!
 We stopped by Christopher Columbus' alleged house.  The guide books say that it can't be proved.
 Marilyn believes it's real!  :)
 We drove up to Milan.  I was sad to leave Genoa.  It was exactly what I pictured of Italy!
 Good-bye Genoa!
 Our only stop in Milan was the Cathedral.  The square still had their Christmas Market up.  I think every person in Milan was in the square!
The gargoyles were so detailed!
 There were lots of people in the square!

 Nate was super happy to get his last bit of gelato!  
 We left the next morning and were super happy that there was no fog on our drive back!  
Switzerland is much prettier without fog!
We enjoyed blue skies right up to the German border.  
Of course, gray skies welcomed us back to Germany!   
I didn't mind one bit!  It was nice to be home!  I missed my comfy bed!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Florence and Pisa

We started the next day off on a few buses.  We bused from Camp Darby (Pisa) to Florence!  Then, we hopped on a hop on/hop off bus tour.  
We had learned so much about Michaelangelo from Rome.  We had to stop in St. Croce church to see where he was buried.  
 Machiavelli was buried here.
 Michaelangelo was from Florence, so he was buried here.
 Galileo was also buried here!  

 Here is another illegal photo. It seems this trip was full of them.  Wayyyyyy behind the gang you can see the Statue of David.  I keep saying it, but it was breathtaking!  I had no idea how large it was!  Michaelangelo sculpted it when he was in his 20s.  
 Our bus took us up on the hillside of Florence.  It is a gorgeous city.
Our bus got us back to Camp Darby around 5:30.  It was dark and we had to stop by to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa. 
 It was so cool to see something you have seen in pictures!
The ball of light on the left is the moon!  It was out and FULL!

Vatican Tour

 We started our Vatican Tour day off in the fog.  It seems the fog followed us throughout this trip.
 We had a young tour guide on this trip.  There were so many people at the Vatican.  We had headphones and our tour guide wore a microphone so we could hear her.  She was full of information, but she made me laugh because everything was "special."  This is the "special" pinecone.
 This is the "special" globe.  Since there was no talking during our tour of the Sistine Chapel, everyone meets out in this square and the tour guides give you all the 
Sistine Chapel information you could ever need.  
 We went back in the Vatican Museum and walked down the hall of antiquities.  Remember how the Vatican took a lot of valuables from the ancient ruins?  They displayed a lot of them in the museum.
 There were SOOOOO many people.  You can see our tour guide way to the right with her green umbrella.  The ceilings were beautiful.
 The Raphael rooms were awesome.  I have seen these paintings in so many art classes.  
 I can't tell you have many times I have seen this (Raphael is peeking at us) in classes and books.  It was cool to see in person.
They told us over and over that there was no talking or photography.  I can assure you there was both!
 You HAVE to take a picture!  I took a few, but apparently one man took way too many.  He was standing next to us and got kicked out!  
We left Sistine Chapel and made our way to St. Peter's Basilica.
 Michaelangelo's Pieta was gorgeous.  It was behind glass because a crazy man in the 70s took a hammer to it.  
 Pope John Paul II's tomb.
 Many people were standing in line to rub Peter's feet.
 Soooo this is where the Pope was during Christmas Eve Mass.....ahhhh!!
 I also learned that this is the largest church in the world.  Lincoln took our picture!
This is close to where Nate and I were standing for mass....minus the 60,000 people!  Our tour ended about 1:00 pm and we took a train ride home + a three hour drive to Camp Darby to stay the night.  

Ancient Rome USO Tour

 Meet Angela, our USO tour Ancient Rome Tour Guide.  She was FANTASTIC and super knowledgeable!
 We were all in awe of how old the ruins were!  We were standing around many ruins from BC time.  Archeologists dug up many layers and stopped.  There were many more layers to go, but they stopped there.  
 Most of these ruins were adorned with marble and bronze.  Most of the valuable items were taken for the Vatican.  You can see the chain marks on the columns.  The pope decided he wanted these pilars for the Vatican, but when they pulled on them they wouldn't budge.  He then said that Mother Mary didn't want them to be moved!

 This was Palatine Hill.  Inside were the homes of many ancient rulers including Caesar Augustus.
 Here Angela is telling us that we are standing on a ancient Roman road!  
These are the bottom layer rocks.  
 This is the Arch of Titus!  It was so pretty.  My picture does not do it justice.
 It was a special treat for us to be allowed back to a room from Caesar Augustus' house.  You can see the original fresco painted walls.  Angela said this is usually not open.
Behind me is an ancient gym for a ruler.  
Just some more ancient ruins.  I was snapping pictures and didn't catch what this was!  :)

 They are all three walking the same way!
Finally!  The Coliseum!
The line was super, super, super long!  However, Angela took us right to the FRONT!
Did you know that the bottom layer of the coliseum is a series of 28 elevators for trap doors?

It was definitely the highlight of the tour.
This tour was amazing!  If you are going to Rome, look it up!