Nearly 5 weeks in Italy Fantastico!

Old Nov 16th, 2019, 04:26 AM
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Dayle,
Sfoglia Rina is a popular lunch place! We tried to go at lunchtime one day, but the line was too long for us and they don't take reservations. But it was great for early dinner. Of course, there are limited options left at the end of the day, but that was fine for us.

Pacngo, glad you find this worth coming back to!

Paule
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Old Nov 16th, 2019, 04:37 AM
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This trip was subtitled, "The Greatest Hits" trip, as we saw many of those Very Important Sights in Italy that had been on my years-long list. Ravenna was one of those places. And we were so glad we finally got there - it was amazing to see the stunning mosaics in the churches and other monuments that make Ravenna an important World Heritage site.

We'd gone back and forth as to whether we do it as a day trip or an overnight, and in the end, we opted to make it a day trip from Bologna. While there is no wrong choice here, we were glad to get back to Bologna at the end of the day and it's a very easy trip by regional train.

What can I say about the mosaics except that they are unbelievably beautiful to see, and to see so many in one place is like a very rich dessert. And our entire trip to Italy felt like many rich desserts!
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Old Nov 16th, 2019, 04:49 AM
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The mosaics:
Basilica di San Vitale












Last edited by progol; Nov 16th, 2019 at 04:58 AM.
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Old Nov 16th, 2019, 05:06 AM
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Multiple locations:

Mausoleum of Galla Placidia






Archiepiscopal Chapel


Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo








Arian Baptistry



Last edited by progol; Nov 16th, 2019 at 05:21 AM.
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Old Nov 16th, 2019, 03:06 PM
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Im really enjoying your trip report. Thank you for including all the pictures. They are lovely and its so nice to see real photographs! How was the town of Ravenna from an aesthetic viewpoint? And was it lively? I am planning a month in Italy or France next September and am looking for the perfect large bustling town to settle in and live like locals. Ravenna was one of those suggested to me, as was Verona and Sorrento. Im looking forward to reading about Sorrento as well!
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Old Nov 17th, 2019, 05:11 AM
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Hi, Irice,
We were only in Ravenna for a half day, and while I was thrilled to see the mosaics, I wouldn’t call it a large and bustling town. I know there are some folks that enjoyed staying the night, but during the day, it was rather subdued and one of the towns we found less interesting to walk through - other than the amazing churches and other monuments!

I’m not sure what you’re looking for as far as a month’s stay - to me, Bologna would fit that perfectly. It’s a wonderful city with a great energy and lots to see and do.

I couldn’t imagine spending a month in Sorrento for a month! While it’s a pretty town and well-located for touring the ancient sites and the Amalfi coast, it’s also extraordinarily touristy, and that can get pretty tiring.
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Old Nov 18th, 2019, 01:59 AM
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Irice, of the three cities you seem to be considering now (Ravenna, Sorrento, and Verona), Verona would stand out for me as the best choice. It's a very pretty town, and also rather lively, with good possibilities for day trips.
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Old Nov 18th, 2019, 05:02 PM
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Wow! Your photos from Ravenna are incredible. While I have read about Ravenna from various guidebooks and travel magazines, for no particular reason it never really registered with me - until now.
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Old Nov 18th, 2019, 07:36 PM
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Love your photos of the mosaics in Ravenna!
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Old Nov 19th, 2019, 06:30 AM
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tripplanner and KarenWoo, thank you so much! These photos only hint at the extraordinary beauty of the mosaics. They are mindbogglingly beautiful!

tp, there is so much to see in Italy! I think this is our 4th visit and we finally made it to Ravenna.

I see that the photos alone don't quite make a trip report so I'll make a serious attempt to write some more description as well. Now that I'm retired, I seem to have less time to write than I did when I was working!!! Or maybe because I'm too busy planning more trips!
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Old Nov 19th, 2019, 04:26 PM
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Planning more trips is always a good thing. What do you have on the docket?
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Old Nov 19th, 2019, 04:43 PM
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"Is it my imagination, or are the Italians unusually fascinated by this kind of stuff? Maybe it's just happenstance, but it seems Italy is the only country we've visited where these sorts of exhibits abound."

"I've no idea, but this exhibit was remarkable! Though as I think about it, it wasn't that the display was gruesome, but it was remarkable for its use in medical training. That it's now a museum exhibit is due to the incredible skill with which these objects were created. I mean, Venerina is wearing pearls!!!"

We stumbled on these rooms/exhibits by chance and spent some time totally fascinated and occasionally repelled. At one point an older gentleman asked if we were physicians, as if lay people wouldn't have any interest in anatomy.
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Old Nov 20th, 2019, 03:11 AM
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tripplanner, we have a trip to China in the works for the spring! Now that will be a completely different kind of trip (though it will certainly be a “greatest hits” trip in different ways. I’m also planning another European trip for the fall - Paris (sigh) and Greece (Peloponnese and Central Greece).

Jean, funny story of your visit to the Palazzo Poggi! Definitely one of the more memorable museum exhibits we’ve seen!
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Old Nov 20th, 2019, 03:27 AM
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Seems to me the fascination with anatomy has a lot to do with the evolution of Italian art. One of the most compelling museums I've ever visited is the national museum of science and technology in Milan, which features hundreds of Leonardo da Vinci's drawings, often anatomical, but the museum is full of other curiosities as well. The website is oddly chaotic, but here it is: Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia "Leonardo da Vinci"

If you go and find yourselves, as we did, so boggled we couldn't tear ourselves away, there's a little food cart in the courtyard where you can stoke up on coffee and a snack before you dive back in.
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Old Nov 20th, 2019, 05:18 AM
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For several centuries, at least, the Catholic Church forbade the dissection of cadavers, so models of some sort were necessary for the instruction of medical students. (Of course, one wonders how the models were contructed without dissecting a cadaver.)

The Museum of Natural History "La Specola" in Florence has a fascinating display of anatomical models in wax that were used to instruct medical students. The detail is incredible. There was one family who for generations made these models. There are over 1000 models, not all of which are exhibited. Some models date back to the late 18th century. There is even a cadaver of a person who died of bubonic plague.

This museum page has a photo of one of the models; I advise not opening the link at meal time.

Museo La Specola di Firenze: descrizione, orari di apertura e prezzi

The museum is over 250 years old, founded by one of the Medicis. It has many other fascinating collections. They have skeletons of hundreds of animals, some now extinct, for example, the African Wild Ass. There was an astromnomical observatory on the roof,

If anyone has had their full of Renaissance art in Florence, I highly recommend this museum. It should also be interesting to doctors and teenagers.
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Old Nov 20th, 2019, 07:10 AM
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I had heard of La Specola in Florence... Despite many visits to Florence, it's one of the (many) things we haven't seen. I think it's currently closed for renovation.
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Old Nov 28th, 2019, 04:55 AM
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Too many trips, too little time.... I'm now busy planning the next 2 trips (see what retirement brings!) and have been neglectful of this one. But now, on a beautiful Thanksgiving morning (wishing you all who celebrate an enjoyable one!), I'll catch up a bit!

I was truly sad to leave Bologna - it was, in many ways, one of the biggest surprises for both of us, as we had no real expectations of the city, and yet, we found it to be one of the most overall enjoyable stays. A perfect place -- not too big or too small, with lots of activity and sights, great food, lovely ambience. I could easily see staying here for a longer visit.

From Bologna, we drove to Spello for 3 nights, and to Orvieto for one night, where we dropped our car. In my overall planning, this was my "transition" to Naples and the south. I'd always wanted to visit Spello and this part of Umbria, and it worked well for us. We'd been to Orvieto before so stayed only one night here (though worthy of a longer stay) because I was able to take a direct train from Orvieto to Naples without having to change in Rome.

I rented through AutoEurope, and Hertz was the agency. It wasn't hard to find the office in Bologna, and the staff there were extremely helpful. As it turned out, we had a slight delay as we happened to arrive just as a "Greta Thunberg" march was occurring! We had to wait until the march passed the street, and then we were on our way.

The roughly 3-hour drive through the hills was beautiful, and at last, we arrived in Spello. I had some concerns about staying here, as I have some difficulties with walking up and down hills, but I found it very manageable. We stayed in the Palazzo Bocci, which we really enjoyed. It's a slightly faded palazzo, but perfectly located near the central square and free parking in the lot near the hotel. What made it especially lovely were the staff, who were warm and as helpful as can be. I had considered renting an apartment, but am glad that we stayed here, as most of the apartments were further up the hill and I suspect that would've been more difficult for me.


Walkway leading toward the shared terrace at Palazzo Bocci


View from the terrace
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Old Nov 28th, 2019, 05:38 AM
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Happy Thanksgiving progol! Glad to see you following up on this TR. How did you like Spello? I stayed at Palazzo Bocci back in 2005 and really liked it! I am returning to Spello for a short revisit in May. Staying at a bnb this time because Palazzo Bocci never answered my emails for a reservation. Strange, but oh well.
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Old Nov 28th, 2019, 05:45 AM
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Progol, I've been eagerly anticipating this part of your trip! if you ever return to Spello, I'd be happy to share a link to the apartment we've now rented three times. It's at the bottom of the hill, just inside the town gate. The owners live next door and have become dear friends.
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Old Nov 28th, 2019, 06:06 AM
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Hi, Dayle and indyhiker! Happy Thanksgiving to you both!

Dayle, we really enjoyed staying at the Palazzo Bocci - it worked really well for us, and I liked the staff. I'm pretty sure I booked it though booking.com, so if you're still interested in staying there, then try that app. And today there is a 40% discount on bookings through Groupon (though I think the discount is through the end of March).

indyhiker, when I was looking to book, I did look at your apartment and considered it! I'm not sure that we'll get back there anytime soon, but I'll let you know if we do return. Thanks for the offer.
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