Apr 172008

Graffiti found by our friend, Mandi, while walking the Via dell’ Amore (Path of Love) between Riomaggiore and Manarola in Italy (Cinque Terre):

Anna <3 Chris

It makes me wonder if there is also a padlock on the guard rail with our names on it, and a key in the sea.

Jun 012007

Pisa, Italy Pisa, Italy Pisa, Italy
Photo album of Pisa, Italy

March 30, 2007

Our travel plans hadn’t included Pisa at all. Three and a half weeks only takes you so many places. But our travel ended up taking us through the city on our way to Paris, so we tried to make the best of our half day there. Wandering north from the train station we grabbed a quick bite at the first open café we found. Quiche and tea, not a bad start to the day, and closest thing to breakfast I can hope for. Santa Maria della Spina and the rest of the Arno river buildings were gorgeous in the morning light, which reflected into the river with dramatic clouds.

We reached Campo dei Miracoli, home of Duomo, the baptistery, and the famous leaning tower. It was still early, so there were only a few tour groups there. Wandering around the lawns it seemed everyone else was taking the “support the tower” photos. There was a group of Japanese girls that seemed take about ten photos of different poses, then hand the camera to the next person, and repeat. Thirty minutes later, they had finally run out of batteries or poses, and moved on.

We decided to explore the graveyards to the north and walk along the outer walls to see what else was there. Turns out the graveyards are closed most days, and the outer walls are just outer walls with 60’s apartment buildings on the other side of the street. Not really worth the walk. Walking through the old parts of the city definitely is though. We wandered through the open markets and the various palazzos (like Carovana) before picking a café near the river to have a drink. The people watching was nice, but we eventually had to wander our way back to the train station to leave for France. I wasn’t expecting much from Pisa beyond Campo dei Miracoli, but I found the old city quite charming. I’ll have to return again some time.

May 262007

firenze florence firenze florence firenze florence firenze florence
Photo album of Florence/Firenze, Italy.

March 28-30, 2007

Florence is an amazing city. Of course the art collection is the main draw, but the city itself is also wonderful. The view from Piazzale Michelangelo of the city and Arno river is worth the hike. Sunset gives the whole city a golden glow. The view from the top of Duomo is worth all those stairs. The city was understandably touristy, but not oppressively so. The food was wonderful, of course, though I never got around to trying the tripe sandwiches. David was one of those things that really held up. This is an image that has been with all of us since childhood, yet seeing the sculpture in person still blew my mind. Good to know I’m not quite a cynical old codger yet.

Mar 282007

I think we picked the perfect time to visit. It has been mostly sunny, with a few rain patches. The fruit trees are blooming, and everything is green.

We spent our last two days in Rome exploring more of the ancient ruins, the Vatican, and the Basilica. We are a bit church and bloody-Jesus fatigued, but still really enjoyed our time there. It is easy to see why there are crowds and lines, even in the lower season.

It seemed like every block you walked down had an old and slightly different, but impressive, cathedral or piazza. It is staggering to think how many loads of marble or rock have made their way to this city. As with most ancient sites, there is always a little heart break that go with them. Older sites were mined for their marble or vandalized. Other treasures were just plain plundered from other lands. Our capacity for creation is only matched by our capacity for destruction.

Overall though, the city is in amazing shape. I’m sure a significant chunk of money has gone into restoring and cleaning sites, but with the amount of cash this city must take in, I’m sure there is plenty left over.

We are on the ES* train, headed towards Florence…

Mar 252007

March 25th, Rome

I get the impression a lot of things in Rome will just take time. We waited for bags at the airport for a about 40 minutes. Our “checking-in” took about 40 minutes as well.

It must be spring break back in the US – there seemed to be a lot of english spoken on the train. I also get the impression that the city is pretty easy to get around with english. Even for someone with just enough itailian language to be dangerous, like myself. Initial impression of Rome’s suburbs: TV antennas. They seem to coat every building like cactus needles.

I turn thirty today. I’m not sure if Hostel life ever appealed to me, but it certainly doesn’t right now. I’m not sure if it is the actual facilities, or the people they attract. The folks in our location seem to be fine for the most part, but we only had to head to the laundromat down the street before someone showed up talking about stabbing pickpockets, and finishing with yelling and swearing at the laundry/internet place owner over a 1E minimum charge per half hour. On the other hand, the pizza place down the street is fantastic. Traditional pizza, sold by weight. Great stuff.

We wandered around today with our mouths open. My feet are sore, and my camera full – Rome really is pretty fantastic. I’ve seen plenty of pictures of the pantheon, but it still blew my mind. The piazzas, fountains, and sheer number of interesting buildings means you would have to be pretty jaded to not enjoy this city. Stopping for gelato every few hours, we hit most of the central city sites and walked along the river. I’ve really been enjoying the non-smoking in cafes and restaurants, you feel and smell so much cleaner.

Off to the Vatican or the ruins tomorrow…