Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Rome, Tuscany, Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast

This Conference was the SMS or Strategic Management Conference. It actually took place all over Italy but David presented in Rome and so that is where we went. We stayed a couple of extra days and took some day trips. I have been to a lot of European Cities but so far Rome tops them all. I think that is because of one thing- Roman ruins. There are ruins all over the city but concentrated at the Forum, where the Coliseum is and also Constantines arch. We spent some time at the Palatine Hill which was also right there.

Flying into Rome- Anna and Abby loved the flight. They had flown a lot as little children but they didn't really remember those

The St. Anna Hotel. It was a great little boutique hotel that was by the Vatican. Breakfast was included and it was half the price of the Marriott. Plus the Marriott didn't have quad rooms. We loved it and I would highly recommend it to anyone. That is our open window on the top right

We loved the room. It had 12 foot ceilings and was decorated with Roman murals. We loved to sit in the big window and just watch people. Since we were right by the Vatican, we would see lots of Priests and Nuns walk down the street

The views out our window where supurb. There were lots of shops and cafes right there

Breakfast was downstair in a lovely room, and it saved me every day since I am not a huge fan of Italian food.

It was a lovely breakfast with, muesli, eggs, sausages, fruit, cereal, croissants with nutella, breads and cheeses.

There were fantastic doors everywhere and I couldn't resist taking a lot of pictures of them

I didn't mind the pizza too much

Our hotel was one street over from St. Peters and the Vatican. This is where we would catch buses and taxis.

For the first two days we took a hop on hop off bus tour with an open top. I always love these even though I can't really get good pictures from the bus

This is Rome's National Palace. David ate dinner here one night for the conference. I could have gone but it would have cost $150 to get me in and I would have to leave the girls. He said I didn't miss much but the view


The Forum

The Colosseum

Standing at the base of the Colloseum you can see Constantine's Arch, The Forum and the Palatine Hill

There were even some real Romans there

At least they looked like it

We took a tour of the inside of the Colloseum

One of the things that the guide said that struck me was that they had calculated that hundreds of thousands of people, and maybe even a million, had died here. For this small of a space it must be the most concentrated area of death in the world.

All that is left of where the Roman Emperors lived (there are more ruins on top)- Palatine Hill- The word Palace comes from here

Another view of the Forum from the Palatine

Looking at the Forum from the Palantine Hill

The ruins of the Palantine

Palantine Hill

Constantine's Arch

That evening we went to the Spanish Steps. This guy comes up to the girls and says "a gift for you" and hands them the roses. So of course they take them and David has to pay about $8 for them. I guess they haven't traveled much

They made for great props though

Looking Down on the Spanish Steps from the church

Anna loved watching the artists at work at the top of the Steps below the Church

Trevi Fountain at night. It was amazing. It's another sculpture by Bernini

Took some fun night shots from the bus on the way home

The Coliseum

Castel Sant Angelo

St. Peters

Sunday morning we got ready to go to church. Anna did my hair and I loved it

It was funny watching the girls try to walk on the cobblestone in high heels.

Church was an interesting experience. They must have been used to visitors because we got headsets to listen to the meeting translated into English. It was small branch, but a bigger ward came in after us. There were also several different church services in Rome. This one happened to be closest to our hotel

We took a taxi to get to the church but it was far enough out that there were no taxis going back. So we hopped on a bus with a couple of semester abroad students, took the wrong bus, ended up on the other side of town but we had some interesting views, and then finally came across a taxi that took us back to the hotel. It was a fun little adventure

Anna and Abby changed their shoes and since our hop on hop off tours were good for two days we got back on to see the things we missed yesterday

They have 8 ancient Egyptian obelisks in Rome and 5 ancient Roman obelisks. The most in the world. There are only about 6 in Egypt. We were told it was because of Julius Caesar and Cleopatra's little affair. I am sure there is more to it than that

We checked out Navona square which was originally a stadium or a place for games. Bernini sculpted his famous Fountain of the Four Rivers here

The Moor fountain originally by Giacomo della Porta but Bernini added the Moor statue in the middle later.

Public drinking fountains were all over Rome and some were centuries old. Abby drank out of several and never got sick. It is cool, clean water that comes straight from the mountains apparently

This was what I loved about Rome

We went to the Pantheon which was built by Marcus Agrippa as a temple to all Roman Gods in 126 AD. Then in 1700, Pope Clement XI retrofitted it to become a Christian Church.

It was beautiful inside and said to be to oldest, still used building in Rome

It had amazing marble floors

Beautiful statues

The outside was fantastic for taking pictures

Big doors

By now we realized that these same cobblestones were all over the city

A Temple to Venus which was the oldest building still standing in Rome

The Circus Maximus which was the first and largest Chariot racing arena in Rome. It was first built by the Etruscan Kings and is now a park. It is just below the Palatine Hill

That night we had dinner with some of David's colleagues and their wives. It was Abby's 17th birthday

Monday morning we climbed St. Peter's Basilica and took a tour of the Vatican before David had to go to his conference

Climbing to the top had a little different views than down below

The highest spot in Rome- and it had breath-taking views

Overlooking the Vatican

In between the Dome and the Cathedral we took a little break

Abby caught the spirit of it all

Inside St. Peters

The Madonna by Michaelangelo

A member of the Swiss guard that guards the Vatican

I thought it was interesting to see a nun talking on a cell phone- maybe I am thinking of Amish Country

Getting ready to go into the Vatican-

The Vatican gardens where the Pope takes his walk at 7 am every morning. He just happened to be on a trip to England while we were there or we would have gone to hear him speak on Wednesday

TheVatican Museums were founded in 1503 by Pope, Julius II Della Rovere, who placed a statue of Apollo in the internal courtyard of the Belvedere Palace. He brought the statue from the garden of his titular church of St. Peter in Chains. In 1506 the Laocoon was added to the collection, after a farmer discovered it burried on the Esquiline Hill. Giuliano da Sangallo and Michelangelo Buonarotti were sent to check it out.

It turned out to be the real thing but the upper right arm was missing. It was later found at a flea market by chance and restored to the sculpture.

The Torso of Belvedere-unknown sculptor. Michaelangelo was asked to restore it more than once and refused every time saying that he would not attempt to improve upon perfection

There were beautiful mosaic floors- This one happened to have been stolen and brought by the Pope. Don't ask me how you steel a mosaic floor

Nero's Bathtub- Abby thought it was a pretty big bathtub for just one person. We didn't say anything

The Nicholene Chapel

This is one of the few statues left with the eyes intact. This is how they used to look

We saw some beautiful tapestries by Raphael

This is the Gallery of Maps. Detailed maps of Italy line the sides of this room

The Sistene Chapel by Michaelangelo mostly

Real Spaghetti

We headed out to Tuscany one day. We had been given an itinerary for one day from a friend of a friend who lives in Rome and knows Tuscany well. It was amazing! Thanks Helena

There were only cities up on the tops of hills everywhere- it was so gorgeous

We started out going to Montepulciano

When we got there we got out and started taking pictures. It was so fun

I had to take a picture of the public Water Closet

Then we left and realized we hadn't yet made it to Montepulciano. We were in Chianciano

Saw many lovely grape vineyards

Then we made it to Montepulciano

They had some interesting streets

Then we headed over to Sienna

Passed a Castle on the way

Ate Italian at a small cafe in Pienza

Saw lots of fields of Sunflowers but they were not very attractive. I think they were getting ready to be harvested

The most attractive ones were the wild ones

Didn't have time to stop in Sienna but went on to San Gimignano which was our favorite. It was a medieval town set up on a hill. It was popular with the tourists too. This is a view before we go into the city (it was pedestrian only) I wish we had had time to climb the tower but we didn't

lots of quant and rustic alleyways

City Center

I tried some backlighting

Had some fun in the shops

Ate some more Pizza

As it turned out, San Gimignano was on the cover of our Eyewittness Italy book and I wanted to get that same shot but we couldn't see anything like it as we drove on the main road. So, David went to about where he thought it might be and took a dirt road. It was perfect and the only road it could have been taken from. 

We totally scored!

Then we decided that we had time to swing up to Pisa. It was back roads all the way just like I wanted. This is a view of San Gimignano from the backside

Then we made it to Pisa

Doing their best

Another day we went to Castel Sant Angelo while David was at his conference

We climbed to the top first

Saw some incredible views

I love this one with St Peters in the background

St. Peters

The Angel at the top of which the Castle is named

It looks over the Tiber River

It was built about 135 AD by Hadrian as a Mausoleum and he is buried there. It later became a fortress

Right after I took this picture, a bus stopped in front of us and two guys ran up with weapons and waited for the doors to open. Out ran a guy and they tackled him and put handcuffs on him about 3 feet in front of us. At the same time a guy selling tripods on the street just beyond where those people are took off running and hid around the corner. We walked around the commotion and cross the street up ahead and then as we were passing another group of men, they saw a car behind the bus put on a siren and they all took off. It was weird. Abby is very observative, I only saw about half of what happened, she filled me in on the rest.

Driving on the Autostrade in a Mercedes at 110 miles per hour. Actually we got up to 117 once and then slowed down. Multiple cars passed us going faster

I had to buy a cheap TomTom since David sat on his Garmin the day before we went to Tuscany- bad timing

Eating before we head into the ruins of Pompeii

Buying some fresh squeezed orange juice

Pompeii was fantastic

The Basilica- a justice and administration building. At the back is where the magistrates sat

The Forum or the city's main square

Still intact beautiful marble walls

This was the produce market- it is used to house various artifacts from Pompeii including plaster casts of victims of the eruption. Since the bodies were decomposed, they poured plaster into the cavities preserved by the ash and so retrieved the human forms

Leaving the forum you can see Vesuvias with its head in the clouds

You can see the wagon ruts in the rock and cross walks. Notice they built the streets with ... you guess it, volcanic rock. They seemed to have a lot of that lying around.

The house of the small fountain- we felt like we were invading

Beautiful frescoes

You can see how the roof slants inward and rain water was collected in a tub in the floor and then went into a cistern to be used later

It had beautiful mosaic floors

Practicing our statuing? Is there such a word? probably not

The house of the Faun- the largest in Pompeii

House and street names were preserved

Central baths that were not quite completed before the eruption. There were no separate rooms for men and women. Hmm

Great Theatre

A view of the Bay of Naples with Vesuvius in the background

Sorrento, Italy

On the way to Positano


Views from the other side of Positano

On the way to Amalfi we stopped at a cafe with an outstanding view

David had the Salmon and mayo sandwich

The roads were narrow and the hillsides steep. I kept asking myself what do these people do for a living?
Stairways that looked ancient


There were only two ways out over the mountains. We took the first

It must have been forty or fifty miles of switchbacks. At one point we realized we were back over the little bay where we ate dinner

And then again much later. What we didn't know was that it was miles of switch backs on the other side of the mountain going down too. Notice we're driving on those ancient stonewall roads ... next stop down? The Meditteranean.
Anna, Abby and I just switched around books to read during the trip. I got reaquainted with Victoria Holt. I didn't like Mockingjay that much- it was too violent and not very creative. The Mark of the Horse Lord is one of my all time favorites


  1. Wait, I haven't even posted the best yet!

  2. I'm so glad you guys got to go I love the pictures!!!! Can't wait to see the rest!

  3. Amazing photgraphs, Angelyn. You definitely have the eye, the talent and the right camera! Thanks for the tour of Italy. It was better than anything Rick Steeves could do. I felt like I was there.

  4. The clicks are fantastic. I love the pictures. Rome is like heaven with so great weather.For more info you can go to hop on hop off rome bus tour tour.