Saturday, May 28, 2011


We left Rome on Day 3 (I'm already getting confused by the order of all of this!) and headed toward our next overnight destination, Assisi. But on the way, we stopped at another medieval hilltop town, Spello. It was populated by the Umbrian people and became a Roman colony in the 1st century B.C. Yes, I am getting all my info from Wikipedia because I can't remember anything.

You can see Spello on top of the hills as you're approaching it, and it is surrounded by an ancient wall. The thing that struck me the most about this place is how densely built it is. The streets are barely wide enough to accomodate a Fiat or Smartcar and when you hear an approaching car, you have to back up against the stone walls of a building or duck into the nearest alleyway to avoid getting hit. And everything is built on a hill. Walking the streets and pathways feels like you're navigating a labyrinth and there are so many twists and turns that you can only see a few yards in front of you at a time. It seriously felt like something out of a movie, I couldn't believe it existed in real life. 

Yes, cars fly up and down roads like this. 

The residents put out lots of potted plants everywhere and the whole place feels like a garden.

Olive Tree

The view of Umbria

Church of Santa Maria Maggiore

Wood carving on the doors of the church

Interior of the church

Friday, May 27, 2011

Tivoli Gardens

On our second day in Rome, we took the tour bus to a little ancient town outside of Rome, Tivoli. We were there to see the amazing Villa d'Este and its beautiful gardens. It is a villa that was built in 1549 for a cardinal. Inside the villa are amazing frescoes, but the real draw are the breathtaking gardens and views of countryside. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Roma! Photo extravaganza

I'm just going to jump into this post without too much thought, because if I give it any more though, I probably won't post again for another month (bad blogger. . . .)

When I was in college, I took a Renaissance Art History class and I fell in love with it. I'm not a religious person, but give me a million paintings from a thousand years ago of the same ten scenes of Jesus' life? Yes please. The class was intense, anyone who wasn't passionate about the art would probably think of it as torture. The exams were 1.5 hours of slides, which you had to label with artist names, dates, location, and title. I decided that one day I WOULD go to Italy, particularly Florence, to see all the masterpieces that I loved. When Frank proposed four years ago, I told him that I would marry him with one stipulation: We WOULD go to Florence before we had kids.

So fast forward four years, we finally had the money (holler) and the time to go, so I didn't take no for an answer. I actually paid for the trip from some freelance jobs, which made me feel super proud. We decided to go with a guided tour. There were several "tiers" of tour companies, and we decided to go with the more expensive one. We're hotel snobs and we figured it would be a once in a lifetime thing, so we wanted to make sure we were comfortable and had hotels close to all the sights.

So no more explanations, here's the first leg of the trip, Rome.

First night there, gelato, STAT.

The next morning, we went to go so Michaelangelo's David, which you can't take photos of (because they want you to buy the postcards!) But here's a picture from the internet in case you can't remember what he looks like :)

The Spanish Steps (yes, we had perfect weather almost the whole trip!)

The Trevi fountain was stunning:

If I see a horse, obviously I'm going to need to pet it and get a picture with it. My doppleganger had the same idea, apparently.

We happened to be in Rome on the day of the beatification of Pope John Paul. One million extra visitors to Rome, on top of the normal tourists? No big deal. There were tons of groups of people from all different countries who basically camped out on the streets for this. This picture was taken inside the Pantheon.

The altar inside the Pantheon:

Tiny cars everywhere, driving crazy!

Palazzo Venezia:

The ruins of Circus Maximus, where the chariot races were held:

Fountain of the Four Rivers, by Bernini, in Piazza Navona

FOOD! We went out to dinner with a friend of ours that lives in Rome. He went to high school with Frank, but after college decided he wanted to be a priest (we didn't see that coming at all!) So now he's in seminary in Rome.

Don't ask about the hair cut. He got it before we left because he thought it was "euro". Side eye . . .

Steelers bar in Rome that we had to go into for a drink. I can't get away from it anywhere . . .

I look thrilled, right?

The next day, we woke up bright and early to get on the tour bus and go to the Sistine Chapel. It was the most crazy fast-paced tour ever. Think mandatory wake-up calls at 5:30 am. We needed a vacation when we came back from our vacation. There aren't any photos from inside the actual Sistine Chapel (not allowed) but these photos are from the hallways and rooms leading up to it.

In some courtyard at the Vatican (I'm so knowledgeable)

We're so grown up and mature. Did I mention we were the youngest people in our tour group, by at least 20 years, in most cases, much more?

And this is just leading UP to the Sistine Chapel. Crazy.

And if you can't remember what the Sistine Chapel looks like, here's a photo I found:

More to come!