Our last day in Italy

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Monday was our last day in Rome and we started the day on the Vatican Museums tour. It would be impossible to see all of the Vatican Museums in just one day. We then decided to limit our tour to the Spiral staircase, Gallery of Tapestries, Gallery of the Geographical maps and of course the famous Sistine Chapel with its magnificent fresco of the Last Judgment by Michelangelo. The tour was one big eye opening event. As soon as one item was viewed another item as beautiful or interesting would appear. The mystery and beauty of the museum was dwarfed by the Sistine Chapel. We were allowed to stay inside the chapel on our own for 25 minutes. We found a place to sit and just looked at the beauty and felt the holiness of the chapel. We left the Vatican tour and went shopping for gifts. Lucky for us, our guide again took us to her special gift shop and we were treated to her now famous sells pitch. Marti and I left this shop and ventured next door were we selected gifts.

With our gifts we returned to the hotel. We laid down for a little rest time and then went out to eat lunch. We found a very pleasant place to eat that was filled with Italian business men. The food here was the best we had in Rome and we had trouble eating all that was presented to us. We returned to the hotel and bragged about the place we found and how good the food was. We were a little tired so we went up to our room to prepare for our exit from Rome the next day. After packing all three suitcases we reviewed our items of dress for the following travel day. We took a short rest and went out for our last enjoyable meal in Rome. We went back to the little family run place across the street from the hotel. This time Marti had the soup and I had antipasto. Ten it was back to our hotel to await our car and driver for Tuesday. I know that I will be sad to leave Italy.

Tuesday, what a day! Our first plane is late by six hours. That of course makes us unable to connect and we find ourselves in Chicago for the night. It would have been nice to be home but is nice to be with Marti for one extra night. We will be home sometime Wednesday.

Sunday in Rome Italy

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Sunday, it was to be our day of rest. We started the day a little later than the other days. We were out of bed by 8:30 am and at breakfast by 9:30am. We went down to the lobby and caught a cab to a section of Rome called “Trastevere”. The cab driver dropped us off at the “Ponte Sisto” a walking bridge to Trastevere. Once in Trastevere we strolled down the old streets and soon came upon the church named “Santa Maria.” This church was one of the most beautiful churches I have seen in all of my travels. The church dates back to the twelve century and is best known because it shows the Holly Mother as an equal to the men in heaven.

The church was so peaceful we stayed for mass. I was very happy that I was able to enjoy mass in Rome and especially in this church. It was made even more exciting because the mass was specially held for individuals with hearing impairments. After mass Marti and I strolled around the plaza and did some shopping.

We selected some fine jewelry at a very quaint shop and were treated as guests by the owner of the shop. We then stopped at a local restaurant and ate a healthy lunch. We had a bread and artichoke starter accompanied by a large plate of vegetables, followed by pasta with egg white, bacon and cream sauce. After lunch we returned to the quaint shop and purchased some additional gifts.

We were then off on our way to explore just a little more of Rome. We crossed over the river Tiber on a bridge for both people and autos. Once over the bridge we stumbled upon the “Theater of Marcellus” and took photos. Just around a bend in the road we arrived at the “Vittorio Emanuele Mounment”. The beauty in the sculptured items was overwhelming. We took photos and after some time spent just enjoying the structure we headed back to the hotel so we could rest before our night out. Just before leaving we looked down a street and saw the Coliseum. We decided not to visit the Coliseum as the lines were very long and we were both getting tired. It was then time to be off in a cab straight to our hotel. We will take the much needed rest before we go to dinner in celebration of Mothers day.

Sue – just for you I dressed in my special dress outfit to go to this dinner with Marti. Shoes, long sleeve shirt and slacks adorned my freshly showered body and with my hair combed we headed to our mothers day dinner. It is nice to know that I was not the only person dressed well, however, there were a few dressed very casual as well. Dinner at this place was the worst meal during our whole vacation. I can hardly remember what we had or how bad it was prepared. Lucky for us it was close to the hotel so we only had to walk a short distance before we were back inside our hotel room.

Rome

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Saturday was the first formal vacation day in Rome. We started the day early and were picked up by the tour company before 8:15 am. Then it was off to see the sights. The first stop was the “Trevi Fountian” a little less crowded than yesterday but still very enjoyable. Yes both Marti and I tossed coins into the Trevi fountain and hope to return to Italy in the future. Next we were off to see The “Piazza Barberina” with the Trident fountain, followed by the “Piazza Nabona”. An interesting point is how many obelisk we found in the city of Rome. It seems that there is one before each main church, an obelisk at the end of major streets and sometimes we could see one just there in front of us. Then we were off to see the Pantheon. It is very special both as a spiritual shrine and as an historical edifice to the early Roman days.

Departing the Pantheon, we were taken to Vatican City. Once inside the Vatican City our first stop was a special gift shop and our guide pointed out the special items carried by this shop. It seemed to me that our guide must do a lot of shopping at this place because she was wearing a lot of the items. In fact, she would remove an item from her body and use it as the subject explaining why each person would consider owning the item. After we finished shopping in this gift shop we were taken to St. Peters Square and allowed to stand in a very long line so we could see both the “Tombs of the Popes” followed by St. Peter’s Basilica. I think we were allowed more time in the gift shop than we were allowed to spend at St. Peters Square. After leaving St. Peter’s Basilica, I needed to stop and enjoy a call of nature and then discovered we had to run out of the square so we could catch the bus. The bus departed soon after we arrived and we were then headed back to the hotel and a much needed rest.

After resting Marti thought it would be fun to walk to the “Spanish Steps”. I can not tell you how much fun I had walking both too and from the Spanish steps. If I thought the mountains were steep and tough, the trek to the Spanish Steps and back to the hotel was a real killer. Lucky for me we made it back to the hotel just before my feet would stop moving forward. Do to my sore feet we were able to enjoy a late night dinner just across the street from the Marcella Royal hotel. We ate outside and I had soup and Marti had ravioli’s. The food and service were excellent! So we were soon back into our room and asleep.

Goodby Positano, Hello Rome

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Friday is the day we start our return trip to the city of Rome, but first we need to stop at just one pottery shop and secure a plate. So up the mountain we had to climb, not just to the main level but to the highest level. Lucky for me, (now know as the mule) we had already packed the suitcases so we were going to have the one plate shipped to the states. Do not be surprised when more than one plate arrives in the USA they were just so beautiful and Marti had trouble trying to decide.

We returned to the room and completed packing and checked out of the hotel. Yes, for us it was one last trip up the mountain. I can not tell you how much this mule was to be leaving the mountain however I was very sad to leave the village of Positano and our beautiful room on the Amalfi coast. Once on top of the mountain, we waited for our car before departing beautiful mountainous Positanio. The ride to the train station was very beautiful. I did not get car sick and was able to enjoy the ride for over ninety minutes. The secret of drinking just a little coke and setting in the front seat did the trick. We arrived at the Napoli train station and were soon off to Rome. Just a little note – a very nice man took my luggage and carried it to my seat on the train I tried to thank him but instead of thanks he wanted three Euros per bag, ok he was not such a nice man.

The train ride was very pleasant and we departed the train and headed to the cabs. Lucky for us we found a very nice cab driver who helped us to his cab and we were off to our Hotel “Marcella Royal”. In less than 10 minutes we arrived at the hotel and lucky for the cab driver it was far enough that we needed a cab but close enough that the minimum charge of 25.00 Euros applied. After paying the cab we checked into the hotel, went up to our room and unpacked.

What a charming room, it may have been just one half the size of our room in Positanio, but the fact that we were in Rome more than made up for its compactness. We rested and read about places in Rome. We choose to eat at a converted church that had been turned into a special Calabrian ristorante “Sacro e Profano”. Before we left for the ristorante we checked with the front desk. They asked if we like spicy food because it was their opinion that all Calabrian food is spicy. We like spicy food so off we went to my special Calabrian ristorante. The food was good, but not outstanding except for the side dish of eggplant. Also, I do not understand why they think Calabriase food is spicy, mine was very bland. We returned to the hotel and went to sleep with excitement about our tour of Rome scheduled for early Saturday morning. Sleep was very restful as the bed was one of the most relaxing beds I have experienced in a very long time.

Back to the village of Amalfi

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Lucky for me it started to rain and it was hard to tell if I was just sweating or if I was just wet from the rain. With small torrents of water rushing down the path we proceeded up the mountain. We stopped at each pottery shop and I soon discovered that my taste in pottery was very poor. Lucky for me Marti’s taste was much better and we soon had a few gifts for my children. Not to just spend time in pottery shops we stopped in a few tourist shops and were happy to purchase additional gifts for the grandchildren and Chris. We were getting a little tired and hungry so we proceed down the mountain only to remember we wanted to view the original paper factory in Amalifi. It was at the top of the hill so we returned to our climb of the mountain to the paper factory. My hunger had left me and we arrived at the paper factory. It was very interesting and I was surprised to learn that paper was made from cloth in the very early days. Today we make paper out of trees or wood products. With some additional gifts and souvenirs we headed down the mountain for lunch.

[There was considerable discussion about what to purchase for Deb and Sue. We finally settled on salt and pepper shakers. Left on my own I would have purchased ceramic burros or touristy tacky aparons]

We stopped at a wonderful little local place for lunch and ordered pasta with mushrooms and stuffed calamaro with a tomato salad. As always the food was grand and we shared everything. After eating we continued our trek down the mountain and were soon on the bus returning to Positano. We boarded a little early and we were both able to sit on the return drive. My arms were very happy and I am sure my heart was pleased that it did not need to disappoint me again. Soon we were back to our hotel and resting on the bed. My feet and legs were very happy.
[linguini al dende with wild mushrooms and cream sauce… not too much. Calamaro stuffed with bread crumbs, capers, a bit of chopped mushrooms, the sauce was light with a bit of tomato chopped, maybe lemon juice, white wine, oil. The tomato salad was simple with wedges of really fresh flavorful tomatoes with a dressing of oil, vinegar and a bit of mustard…. Very good].

After resting we went down to the lobby and sent e-mails and called our children. We were not very hungry so we followed the waiter’s advice and had a snack of fried cheeses, eggplant, vegetables and ravioli. Our idea for just a light snack before heading back to our room for sleep was crushed.
[risotto balls with cheese melted inside, egg plant patties, fried cheese, fried ravioli, fried gnocchi with veggies inside, and fried zucchini and pumpkin sticks… very light batter like tempera. Marti had 3 glasses of local white wine… one glass too many.]

Our Vacation In Italy

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Our first trip was to Italy! May 2010

The excitement started much before the day of departure. However, this report will start as of the first day. The day we leave for Italy.

Lucky for us Sue wanted to drive us to the airport. Do not know if she needed the car or if she just wanted to make sure we were really leaving. After being dropped off at the airport we proceeded to the first class line and received our boarding passes and checked our luggage. We proceeded to security and were passed on to the terminal. Once in the terminal Marti needed to stop for a magazine. Once secured we then proceeded to the Admirals Club. After Marti enjoyed some of the clubs great coffee, I showed her around the club. She liked the coffee very much and liked how quite the club was compared to the terminal. Just prior to boarding we left the club and were able to step right onto our plane. We were in the First Class section and we were treated with care. The flight was perfect and we deplaned at the O’Hara terminal. We went into the Chicago Admirals Club for a tour and then proceeded to the special Flagship Lounge. Our layover was about three hours but the food and services in the Flagship Lounge made me feel that the wait was just a brief moment. We left the lounge and proceeded to our transatlantic airplane. After boarding we were able to trade our business seats with another passenger and soon we were off to Italy sitting side by side.

The flight to Italy was wonderful and the service was grand. On arrival we passed through customs and headed to catch our first train ride from the airline terminal to the Rome Train Station. The Leonardo train was very much like a subway ride in New York. It was packed and the train had very little air to breath. We arrived after a thirty minute ride at the main Rome rail station and it was here we had our first taste of Italy. The Leonardo train dropped us off just outside the main station so we needed to walk to the main station.

With our luggage in hand we departed the Leonardo train and ventured into a very busy main train station. We were looking for our high speed train that would take us to Naples. Once we located the main station we discovered that our train was to arrive at 11:55 am. What we did not know was that that meant that we would not know what track it was going to arrive on. We waited in a very busy snack area and watched all of the people coming and going through the train station. We were approached just two times and asked for money. Lucky for me all I had learned to say in Italian was “no capach”. At 11:47 am we discovered our train was arriving on track number seven. Lucky for us we met a train worker who explained to us that we were trying to board the incorrect train. He said in a very authoritative voice “NO” and pointed for us to leave that side of the track. So we were now on the right side of the track and waiting to board our high speed train to Naples. After joining the mass of people boarding we stored our luggage and found our first class seats. This train ride was much better than the Leonardo train in that we had assigned seats and we were treated with a flow of fresh air. Ridding trains in Italy is an experience one should not miss. It is made even better with tons of luggage.

Lucky for us we were met in Naples with a sign bearing our names by Umberto our driver who was to take us to Positano, Italy. The drive was very scenic however I did become just a little car sick on the way there. On arriving in Positano we were informed that our hotel was just a short walk down the mountain. We were very happy to learn that the town of Positano was built for burros. So since there were no available burros we needed to walk the remaining distance to our hotel the Buca di Bacco. Our luggage was passed on to a local porter who was to transport it via an electric burro to the hotel. We were not allowed on the electric burro as it was considered unsafe. So we were sent to meander down a pleasant path to our quaint hotel and the start of our dream vacation. At this time I considered the path to be very beautiful and very charming. Yes, our stroll was all downhill to the Buca di Bacco.

We walked into the lobby of the hotel and went through the check in process. The hotel provided us a special welcome drink ticket and a very nice young lady took us to our room as soon as it was ready. The room was very beautiful. As you enter the room there was the main part of the room with a large bed, antique chest of drawers, small desk and a fabulous view of the beach and Sea. It had a beautiful bathroom with both a shower and a bathtub, with lots of amenities from toothbrushes and razors, to shampoo and tanning lotion. Much to our surprise the room had its own terrace! We had an area as large as our room with two lounge chairs accompanied by a table and chairs. We were very pleased with the room and the special service the hotel and staff provided to us.

We soon unpacked and took refreshing showers. I stretched out on the bed and was soon asleep for a short nap. Once awake we headed off for dinner. We went to the hotel’s own place and enjoyed a very wonderful dinner. (Just a little note to my daughter Susan – This was one of the best restaurants in all of Positano and I did not need to wear anything other than my shorts and casual shoes.) I had veal (not the best) and Marti had fish (it was outstanding) and we shared some desert. Then we went for a walk and talked about our next day activities.
[sea bass steamed wrapped around asparagus, smashed potatoes.- creamy, veal stew…..sort of tough but sauce was good. Spinach sautéed in oil, garlic and lemon juice. Then tiramisu…. Really good, light amount of sponge cake dradged in booze, pastry cream and whipped cream and powdered chocolate on top]
Tuesday was my second day of vacation. My muscles were just getting over the pain of transporting our very bulky luggage onto and off of two different trains, when much to my surprise we were off on a walking tour of beautiful Positano.