Italy Adventure

Our 2008 Italy adventure began April 20th, and included visits to Lugano Switzerland, and the Vatican. This was another Trafalgar tour, the 'Italian Glory' tour. We booked it through the Minneapolis AAA travel office. On a Trafalgar tour, it is very likely that many of your fellow travelers will be from Australia. Most Aussies I have met are interesting to talk with and know how to have a good time. Our tour guide, Maria T., surely the patron saint of tour guides, took excellent care of her flock. Driver Claudio moved our coach through the narrow roads with amazing skill and precision. Words alone can not describe the Italian driving experience on the Amalfi coast road. To quote Maria, who rode in a jump-seat next to Claudio, "MAM-MA MIA!!!"

I like to read local classical literature when I travel. On this trip, I read parts of Boccaccio's Decameron, and will read Dante's Inferno later.

The history and culture of Italy are interesting. Egypt and India have older ruins and art. Still, much of the western history and art that I was taught has roots in Italy. I had flashbacks to my high school Latin class and teacher, and saw many of the sites portrayed in my textbook.

There are many church bells in Italy. Seems like they are all used, several times each day.

Bread, my favorite food group, is very good in Italy, especially in paninis and pizzas. Red wine, the second food group in the Mediterranean diet, was plentiful and good.

I think spring or fall are the best times to visit Italy, because of moderate temperatures. Itinerary, links, and pictures are below. We booked every available optional tour, except one.


4/20 Sunday: Departed MSP to Atlanta.
4/21 M. Arrived Milan. Transferred to hotel at Como, then Lake Como excursion by coach and boat to Bellagio. Rained all day. The weather was great for the rest of the tour.
4/22 Tu. Pear yogurt. Lugano, Switzerland excursion, for chocolate and other goodies. Milan tour, including da Vinci's Last Supper, and Michelangelo's Pieta #4. Saw the inside of La Scala opera house. Dinner at McDonalds.
4/23 W. Como to Verano to Venice(***** Hotel on Lido Island). Juliet's balcony in Verano.
4/24 Th. Venice tours & Murano Glass workshop. Incredible glass. St. Mark's Square. Tour of St. Mark's Basilica, and the Doge's palace, including the Bridge of Sighs. Gondola Seranade on the Grand Canal.
4/25 F. Liberation Day Holiday. Venice walking tour and market. Seafood lunch on Burano.
4/26 Sa. Venice to Ferrara to Florence. Florence walking tour, and Michelangelo's David in the Accademia di Belle Arti Firenze ("Academy of Fine Arts, Florence").
4/27 Su. Florence sightseeing. Ann went shopping for leather. Excursion to Santa Gimignano, one of several medieval fortress towns.
4/28 M. Florence to Amalfi coast. (500 km) Side trip to Leaning Tower of Pisa. Bad bus-car accident. Narrow, narrow, winding roads on Amalfi coast.
4/29 Tu. Excursion to Ravello Church and Villa. Amalfi town excursion, by boat.
4/30 W. Isle of C-aaah-pri excursion. Pompeii excursion.
5/01 Th. Labor Day Holiday. Amalfi to Rome. Trevi Fountain. Rome sightseeing, at night.
5/02 F. Vatican, Sistine Chapel, Colosseum, Spanish Steps, Pantheon, fountains, columns, obelisks, and crowds.
5/03 Sa. Depart Rome for home. After 2 courses of pasta most nights, we are tired of pasta for a while. Delta only got our luggage as far as Atlanta today, but did deliver it to our house on Sunday, for which we are thankful.

Grand Canal view from the Rialto Bridge.
Grand Canal from the Rialto Bridge
Venice, Murano Island.
A small sample of the creations of the Murano glass blowers. The glass furnaces were moved from Venice to Murano Island to reduce the fire danger for Venice.
Murano glass blowers
Venice shopping.
Venice shopping, Pinocchio
Venice shopping.
Italian dragon panties.
Venice Dragon panties
Venice shopping.
Salvador Dali's Limp Clock,
also called a melting clock.
Venice shopping. Dali's Limp Clock
Cathedral. Notice the similarity to the Palace of the Winds in Jaipur, India.
Milan Cathedral
Michelangelo's Pieta #4. Uncompleted.
Michelangelo's most famous Pieta is in
St. Peter's Basilica, in Rome
Pieta #4
Even the manhole covers are artful.
Florence manhole cover
Leaning tower of Pisa. Leaning tower of Pisa
Trafalgar Bus.
Many roads seemed only as wide as this bus. Our highly skilled driver, Claudio, always got us through, with no dents or scratches. The process seems to require a fair amount of vocalization, hand gestures, and horn honking.
Trafalgar bus
It was a surprise to see a requirement for chains 5 months a year, near the Amalfi coast, south of Naples. Chains
Terraced spaces for lemon trees and other crops. Terraced spaces for lemon trees
Mending nets at Maiori harbor. Mending nets
Convertible 4-door taxis
on the Isle of Capri.
Convertible 4-door taxis on Capri
Roman wheel ruts.
Pompeii, Roman wheel ruts
Roman ceramic floor tile.
Pompeii, Roman ceramic floor tile
Roman mural.
Pompeii, Roman mural
Roman lead pipe.
Pompeii, Roman lead pipe
Roman fast food shop.
Pompeii, Roman fast food shop
Roman 1.
Pompeii, Roman 1
Roman 2.
Pompeii, Roman 2
Roman 3.
Pompeii, Roman 3
Pompeii, Dog
St. Peter's Basilica.
St. Peter's Basilica
St. Peter's Basilica at night.
St. Peter's Basilica at night
The Pope is working late tonight.
Pope's apartment
Sistine Chapel.
Michelangelo's The Creation of Adam.
Sistine Chapel
Papal Swiss guards.
Swiss guards at the Vatican
Trevi Fountain is often crowded.
Trevi Fountain
Colosseum at night.
Colosseum at night
Spanish Steps.
Spanish Steps
Pantheon. Claustrophobic getting in and out.
Graffiti has overrun Italy,
and most is ugly.
Solar cell providing parking shade. Solar shade
Something new.
Rotel Tours from Germany tows a capsule hotel trailer behind the tour coach, to keep costs down. Also includes a kitchen.
Rotel tours
Pressurized fast-fill refueling through bumper, like an aircraft. Refueling like an aircraft
Mercedes/SwatchSmart Car.
Petrol has been $5.50 per gallon in Europe for years. Scooters and these sub-sub-compacts are much more common now. They can be parked either way.

Italy Country Information

Tourist Stuff