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Our Amazing European Adventure! Including 2 cruises and 7 days in Italy!

Our Amazing European Adventure! Including 2 cruises and 7 days in Italy!

Old Aug 5th, 2013, 12:08 PM
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Lesson learned!

I would think you will be able to sell some of your fantastic photos of Europe. At art fairs we always buy note cards that the photographers sell. Just an idea.
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Old Aug 5th, 2013, 12:35 PM
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TPAYT - That's a great idea! I've been considering opening an Etsy store. I just have to research how to do so and the pricing. I think between the shots from this trip and ones I have from various trips to Central America I have a pretty good variety to at least give it a good start!

Also, I don't think most people realize you can actually trade up old camera gear. I spent about a year trying to figure out how I could afford a new camera. Mine was over 6 years old and it just was SLLLLOOOOWWWW!!! I couldn't get shots I wanted in low lighting. This made me crazy when I tried to get Alex during karate events (he's a black belt). He's wearing all white, which is hard enough to shoot - and then moving super fast! I'd get pictures of him and it would look like he had no leg because it would blur right out when he was doing a kick! Or the color was so bad due to the fluorescent lighting and his white uniform! Anyway...I took a photo class this spring and a couple students in the class had cameras similar to what I got and talk about serious camera envy! AGH! So I started doing some real online shopping and found out I could actually sell back my old equipment! Previously I had thought about selling it on ebay, but who would want a 6 year old camera when they could get a decent point and shoot? But then when I priced out what I could sell it to an actual camera store I realized I hit gold! I took it all in and the real payback was in the lenses! Cha ching! It was a little hard to see it go because my old camera served me well, but I knew this new one was going to be so much faster and have such better detail!

If you look you can tell there are a few pictures mixed in taken with my parents camera. Some of the ones that I'm in for example. They're not nearly as crisp. It shows up especially when you look at them on a larger screen and I know if I have them printed anything larger than 5x7 they won't be nearly as bright and the quality won't be as good.
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Old Aug 6th, 2013, 11:29 AM
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bookmarking......think I am booking Bruno's food tour for our trip next May....sounds divine!
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Old Aug 6th, 2013, 02:28 PM
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I am just starting to plan a trip that will include Rome and possibly a cruise. I am so enjoying your day-to-day dialogue! You planned tours, etc., prior to your cruses, were these the ones the cruise lines offered, or did you book other tours privately outside of the cruise offerings? So much fun to be had!
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Old Aug 6th, 2013, 03:09 PM
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Great read, thanks so much!
I love everyone's " we're here, let's enjoy it all" spirit .
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Old Aug 6th, 2013, 07:01 PM
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Adelheid- I think you'll love Bruno's food tour! I know we did!

Jarmnm - thanks! All of our tours were private tours. None were booked through the cruise line. I found some of the tours through cruisecritic.com on the ports of call boards for the various places we'd be visiting, some I found here and others I found just by obsessively researching online! If you are looking for anything specific somewhere, I'd be happy to share information on the guides/companies I used.

Bokhara2 - thanks! Thankfully for the most part everyone really did have the most wonderful attitude about enjoying where we were and enjoying that day. Even the kids. Made all the difference in the world!
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Old Aug 7th, 2013, 06:59 AM
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Shell, what a wonderful trip and great report! What a classy reply to the poster who questioned the expense of your camera!

Travel and photography are also my two passions (well after family and friends) and I'd sure like to fund my hobbies with photography. (Isn't going to happen as that would spoil the fun of photo. for me.) However, I have had some success with photo cards at craft fairs. I rent space with a friend which halves the cost, gives us someone to talk to at dull moments and lets us go off to the loo or get something to eat during the day. I also have given travel talks to clubs and organizations. Some I do for free, others have been paid $25 to $100.
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Old Aug 7th, 2013, 11:33 AM
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irishface - thank you!

I like the idea of the photo cards. And definitely sharing the space with a friend makes a lot of sense. It's something to think about as we enter the Holiday season and craft fairs will start to really become more frequent.
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Old Aug 7th, 2013, 11:52 AM
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Ok....let's get back to the story!

Wednesday, June 26th

Today we are leaving the Epic and heading to Rome! I’m so looking forward to returning to Rome! We had just a short visit when we began this journey and now to end there will be perfect. This time were renting an apartment. So far every part of this trip has been just as planned, hopefully it will continue! Fingers crossed!

I met Mimi and G-pop at Taste, one of the Main Dining Rooms, for our last breakfast on the ship while the kids and Keith slept in for just a little bit longer. Breakfast was pretty good. Nicer than the buffet and we talked about how we enjoyed all of the ports we'd visited so far and how wonderful the cruise portion of this vacation had been.

We again decided to do the self disembark, like we did off the Navigator. Since my parents were on a different deck, we told them we’d meet them off the ship right by the walk way. We had no problems walking off and found them with ease. As I mentioned before, most people seemed to board in Barcelona so in Rome it seemed to be mainly people going into Rome for the day.

We had arranged for a private transfer with Walks of Italy and our driver picked us up promptly at 8:30. He called the owner of our apartment for us to let her know we were on our way and she met us right at the curb to welcome us. Prior to our trip she and I had spoken on the phone and she let me know that since we were arriving a bit early the cleaning crew would still be there. We could come in and drop off our luggage and go out for a few hours, then come back and get the tour and apartment instructions. I told her that would be perfect, as long as we could make it to our 12:30 scheduled tour of the Colosseum we’d be set!

So we arrived just as planned, she took us up to the apartment which was right at Largo Argentina and she showed us where to put our bags and where we could lock up any valuables that maybe we didn’t want to carry around the city (money, passports, etc). We got a whirlwind quick tour – to be done more in depth when we came back. She told us to come back in 2 hours. Allesandra, the owner was very kind, and very thorough. She asked us if we would like a map, or directions to a café before we set out on our way?

By the way, the apartment was absolutely stunning! We’ll get back to that when we have our full tour and instructions, but we rented through Sleep in Italy and the pictures on the website were accurate and we were thoroughly impressed. This would be the perfect home for us for the next three days!

So we headed out, towards really the only way we felt comfortable walking to, the Pantheon. This is where our hotel was on our first night in Rome. We knew it was a short walk and we could stop and get a quick snack and just sit for a bit. Although it may be totally overpriced and touristy – it was fine for our two hours we had. We sat at one of the restaurants in the Piazza della Rotunda and had a light early lunch/snack and just felt so happy to be back in Rome! We enjoyed the time here sipping cappuccino, people watching and finishing it off with a Nutella crepe for Megan and I and a churro for Alex! Who knew you could get a churro in Rome?

We strolled back to the apartment, of course taking some time to check out the cats at Largo Argentina, which we would do every chance we got. We’re big cat people, having four of our own at home! Our apartment is on the 5th floor, but there is a “lift” so we were happy about that! Of course Allesandra told us to only put 3 of us at a time in it – is she trying to tell us something? Nah…it’s old and creaky! We got back and the apartment was sparkling clean. I was apparently elected as the one to take in the incredible amount of instructions. I followed her around from room to room as she went through everything from how to open the windows, turn on the lights using the remotes, the a/c, the wifi, the trash and recycling (aghhhh!), the laundry, the double key system on the locks on the doors, she showed me the terraces – yes – we had TWO terraces! It was a speed class in how everything in this apartment worked! She knew we had a deadline and didn’t want to make us late for our Colosseum tour, so she went fast!

Thankfully she had placed signs everywhere with her instructions written up so I didn’t have to memorize it all!

The apartment was gorgeous. We had 3 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms, and the 2 terraces I mentioned. I had been a little unsure about renting it, but when I posted here about the location and posted the link, I got the go ahead from the fodorites and I owe a HUGE thank you to anyone who encouraged me on our first ever apartment rental! This was the absolute perfect place for us to spread out and relax (ha ha! – did I say relax?) on our last days of our vacation!

Now that we had the lay of the land so to speak, on where we were staying, we knew we didn’t have enough time to walk to the Colosseum for our 12:30 tour with Walks of Italy. So, lucky enough our apartment is right at a taxi stand area. We jumped in a taxi big enough for six and off we went! We found our meeting spot and our guide right on time! Again – I love when a plan comes together! We chose their VIP All Access Tour which includes the Underground Access of the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill.

Our guide’s name was Juvita and she was originally from Poland. She moved to Italy 13 years ago. She was fantastic! We started the tour with a brief overview of the outside of the Colosseum. Then we walked to the Roman Forum. We walked into the Forum and she told us about many of the buildings and what life would have been like during the time.

After the Forum we went to Palatine Hill. Juvita explained the history and told some stories, showing us the major sites. As we were at Palatine Hill a huge black cloud started coming over head. This was actually the first sign of bad weather on our entire trip. But is was dark and it was looming. We started seeing some lightening strikes in the distance. The group voted to start heading towards the Colosseum where we’d be out of the rain and unfortunately our time here was cut a bit short.

We did stop at the Arch of Titus where Juvita gave us a lot of details, all the while the wind was picking up quite a bit. As we walked towards the Colosseum, we stopped at the Arch of Constantine. Here there was so much dust blowing around! It was a serious dust storm!

We made it inside the Colosseum just in time! The rain started just as we got undercover! Once again we were thankful to be there with a guide tour where we had previously arranged tickets. The line looked long and it was now raining! We walked right in!

We started our tour at the arena level. Juvita told us about the Colosseum and its history. Walking out onto that platform was just phenomenal! And amazingly the rain slowed to just a light drizzle! You can just imagine the crowds and the battles! We had time for pictures and to just take it all in.

Next we went down below the arena. To the underground area. Here you had to have an employee of the Colosseum take you down, there is a locked gate that has to be open by her. This is where the animals were kept and the gladiators were sent to wait for battle. We saw the shafts that the elevators would have been that were used to bring the animals and gladiators up to the arena to fight. This was fascinating!

Next we got to go all the way up to the top tier of the Colosseum. My dad didn’t climb all the way up. They said there was an elevator for those who couldn’t walk up the steps, but it was broken. He didn’t want to climb up with his knee. We had a great view of the Colosseum as well as of the surrounding area of Rome.

This tour by Walks of Italy was fantastic! All in all it was about 3 ½ hours long.

After the tour we walked back to our apartment. I would say it was maybe a 20 minute walk. We walked past quite a few street vendors and people posing for pictures. It really was a fun way to get a feel for the city.

For dinner we went back to Pizza Re, this was one of the places on the Food Tour we did on our first night of our trip. Once again, it did not disappoint!

Another fantastic day!

Here is the link to our pictures from our first day back in Rome!

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Old Aug 10th, 2013, 10:53 AM
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Still traveling along with you. Great photos.
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Old Aug 10th, 2013, 12:51 PM
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The apartment is exquisite! Great shots as always.
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Old Aug 12th, 2013, 09:58 AM
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Thursday, June 27th - (Part 1, morning)

It’s Thursday morning and it’s starting to hit me hard that we only have today and tomorrow left of this vacation. I have loved every minute of this trip and am so sad that it’s coming to an end. I’ve traveled a lot, not as much as some, but more than most of my friends and I’ve never felt so comfortable in a place as I’ve felt here in Italy. I’ve loved Europe, but Italy itself has pulled me in. Is it some part of my heritage? Or is it something else? I just don’t know. There are places I’ve been to that I keep returning to, Mexico has been one, Costa Rica another. But that’s different – I go back to those places for a vacation and for the tranquility. But here, well I feel like I belong here – like it’s natural to be here! And while the rest of my family has enjoyed this trip immensely, they are at that point in their vacation where they are ready to go home. Me, I’m feeling rather down. After three weeks, I’m not ready to go home at all. So, today and tomorrow I know are going to be very hard days for me. Very bittersweet! I know I will enjoy them, but I feel like the minutes are ticking away until I have to get on that plane home. I feel like I have to sort of absorb every possible moment as if it's the last one here. I may never get the opportunity to come back! Dramatic right?

On the other hand, my better half, Keith has had enough! I mentioned before that this would not have been the vacation of his choice. While he has enjoyed many things about this vacation for sure, he’s had his fill of ruins, and history and standing all day long. He stands all day at work (he’s a chef) and he needs a break. He didn’t come out and say it, but I could see it in his face yesterday. He hasn’t complained about the tour after tour or the endless history lessons. But I know that for him to have to deal with today’s plan, which was the Vatican, would just possibly push him over the edge.

Last night after dinner I suggested to him that he enjoy the morning alone at our apartment while the rest of us went on our Vatican tour with Walks of Italy. Or that he go out and find some specialty food shops - find those great meats and cheeses that he has been wanting! We had the Pristine Sistine tour booked and we were to be at our meeting spot at 7:30 am! I knew there was no way I wanted to be around him in the crowds at the Vatican if he didn’t want to be there. So he seemed shocked that I suggested he stay back and we agreed he would meet us for our afternoon tour. This turned out to be one of the best decisions I made all trip!

Since we had such an early meeting time, we decided to just use Walks of Italy for transportation to our meeting spot by the Vatican as well. We didn’t want to have to deal with taxis or public transportation at 7:00 am, so we had arranged to be picked up at 7:00 am. Our driver turned out to be the same driver we had from the port the day before! A little familiarity is always nice!

Our designated meeting spot was at a café near the Vatican, which gave us some time to pick up a quick breakfast (pastries, cappuccinos, and water) before our tour was to start. I wonder if they plan this meeting spot with the café? Several different tour groups were meeting here. We were very happy that our guide for today was Juvita again! Our group had about 12 people in it. I forgot to mention yesterday that we decided for all of our tours with Walks of Italy to go with their semi-private tours instead of paying extra for their private tours. They limit their tour sizes to 12 I believe. We figured that since we were six people already that if the start time worked for us, a group of 12 would be a good size. It wouldn’t be worth paying extra for a private tour to just limit the size to only the six of us. This turned out to be a good decision. All of our tours with Walks of Italy were phenomenal. I would highly recommend them. Also, when you book multiple tours, I believe 6, you receive a 10% discount. This includes transfers.

Ok - now that that’s out of the way!

We got our headsets from Juvita and began! We walked a couple of blocks from the café to the Vatican. The Pristine Sistine tour allows your group to enter before the general public is allowed to enter the Vatican. So the only people in the Museum are those with special tour groups. We only had to wait for these groups to be allowed to enter. While we were waiting, maybe 15 minutes or so, Juvita handed us all pictures of the Sistine Chapel ceiling and had some time to go over in detail all of the panels so that when we got into the Chapel we would know what we’d be looking at.

Our first stop of course would be the Sistine Chapel. We walked up and down steps, through winding walks and Juvita told us not to worry – we’d be back through this area we zipped through later. Our mission now was to get to the Chapel!

We arrived and there were maybe 30 or 40 people there? It was amazing. I know, everyone says that. We had our handouts to look at as we looked up at the ceiling. We had maybe 20 minutes to a half hour, virtually alone, or so it seemed, to take it all in.

It was stunning. Now, we’ve seen a lot of ceilings and frescos since this journey started nearly 3 weeks ago! I couldn’t imagine how this could compare! What would make it so special! And then I stood there. Just gazing up and back and forth. Looking over the alter and back to the ceiling. The more I stared the more I could appreciate the work. The size itself for one. The detail. The story and the emotion. The way the more you look at each panel the more the figures seem to be reaching out to you. It was moving. That’s what I felt at the Accademia as well, when I looked at David – that it was moving. I suppose that’s what made Michelangelo so gifted. His work produced a feeling, an emotion. The room was so empty as a matter of fact, there was barely one “SHHHH” from the guards!

After the time in the Chapel, we went through the various parts of the Vatican Museums. Juvita picked out several pieces to go into details about. The longer we stayed the more crowded it became. The vast amount of objects there is stunning! Now, we were there on a Thursday morning in June. Not yet the peak of tourist season, but approaching it. We arrived at 8:00 am, as early as one could be in the museums.

By the time we walked through the Hall of Maps and the tapestries I had almost had enough of the wall to wall people. The crowds were unbearable. It was so crowded you could not take a step on your own – it was the feeling sort of when you are maybe at the most crowded concert and trying to exit with everyone at the same time out of one exit! We walked for nearly an hour this way. And as you can probably tell by now, I’m a very tolerant, patient – go with the flow type of person, but at this point, you couldn’t see anything – so it was just shuffling through to get from point A to point B hoping to not get separated from your group.

Here I just kept thinking, Thank God Keith didn’t come….he could not have tolerated this crowd! Whew!

Anyway – what did we see? Several sculptures, tapestries, paintings, and lots of people’s backs!

I do think, other than the Sistine Chapel, my favorite was the Raphael Rooms. These paintings were so different from the others. We had some space here and Juvita could take some time to really explain the details of some of the paintings and what and who was represented here. I loved the “School of Athens” painting. I found that fascinating!

From here we went back through the Sistine Chapel to get out to St Peter’s Basilica – and I was so thankful that we did the early tour. It was now wall to wall people. It was loud and it was stuffy. It was nothing like when we were there a few hours earlier. We had such a peaceful time there. We tried to make our way through the crowd without pushing anyone, and we went out the door on the side to exit.

Next we went to St Peter’s Basilica. Again, it was very crowded. But we did make it through! The crowds made it difficult for me to “feel” the peace here though. It wasn’t like when we went to the Duomo in Florence when it felt solemn. Or even in St Mark’s in Venice or the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. In my mind it’s supposed to be the church of all churches, but it’s treated the least church like really. Here it was loud and like a spectacle. But it was beautiful and it was large!

The real star though was the Pieta. Again, Michelangelo shines! There is no question of the gift he had. Of course, if you could even get close, it’s now behind glass. But you can’t help but being drawn to this work.

Juvita took us through parts of the Basilica. However in many places our headsets weren’t working well and it was hard to hear her.

After the Basilica, our tour was basically done. She said we could stay here if we wanted and climb, or take the elevator up the dome. Neither my parents nor the kids wanted to, which really disappointed me. I wanted to – but we exited the area before they realized I wanted to.

We went out to St Peter’s Square and walked around a bit, took some pictures and tried to decide what to do next.

I will say that I was extremely glad to have visited the Vatican. I was however very disappointed in the crowd management. We visited so many places this trip and this was the only place that we experienced crowds at this level. Why let so many people in at one time if the crowds get to the point where the visit becomes less enjoyable? Sell timed tickets maybe? I don’t know what the answer is, but we were all glad to be out of the Vatican, and yet at the same time, we knew there was so much more there that we didn’t even scratch the surface!

We were hungry and we had another tour this afternoon! Crypts, Bones and Catacombs! But we had some time before that was to start. We weren’t exactly sure how we’d get from the Vatican to our meeting spot for that tour. But my initial plan was to take the metro. If that didn’t work, a taxi would be plan B.

We wandered a bit right around the Vatican and initially we wanted to stop at Pizzarium, as recommended on Katie Parla’s food app, but we never made it there. My parents were hungry and didn’t feel like trying to find it. Instead we made the mistake of walking into one of the first places we walked by, right near the Vatican. While the food was fine, and the service was also nice, the prices were extremely high! It was basically a self serve cafeteria type place with waiters walking around to see if you “needed anything else”. But for the 5 of us Panini type sandwiches and water or Coke Light’s were close to 90 Euro! Oh, we may have gotten some fruit on the side and fries I think too! But we did get to sit and relax for a bit – there’s the bright side.

So from here, we had some more free time, so we decided to walk to Castel Sant’Angelo. I’m pretty sure we took the most round about walk because as we arrived, we turned around and voila, there was the most perfect view of St Peter’s again! How could that be? Didn’t we just come from there? Although I think we came from a different side…but in any event, we had a nice stroll to get there. Megan and my mom sat on the wall overlooking the Tiber River. Again, here there were so many street vendors selling their goods. It sort of reminded me of a street festival atmosphere, but I would assume this is how it is here daily. My dad, Alex and I walked along the river for a bit.

And here, Alex would get yet another pair of sunglasses to replace the pair that broke yesterday! This would be the final pair! And now that we're home, he’s still wearing these Ray Ban knock offs! I'd call that final pair our best sunglass investment yet!

We took some pictures, and Alex wanted to walk down to the river and walk along the path down below back to Mimi and Megan. Sure…I’ll go with it. My dad walked back up above and Alex and I went down below. Other than some bike riders and joggers, it was pretty quiet down there. I can always count on Alex for doing something just a little bit different when we travel!

Of course by now, we were cutting it a bit close on time, so we had to catch a taxi and quickly get across town to our meeting point for our next tour! And hopefully Keith was able to find our meeting spot as well! He would probably be walking – map in hand. Let’s see how well he was able to navigate the streets of Rome!

I’m pretty sure our taxi driver went the longest way possible! We had to get from the Castel Sant’Angelo to Piazza Barberini. On the map it looked pretty straightforward, but the ride seemed pretty roundabout! But then again, I don’t know which roads are the best to take! We barely arrived on time, but we made it! And Keith was there too! Whew – we did it!

Next up....our afternoon!
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Old Aug 12th, 2013, 11:46 AM
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You are a brilliant woman for giving your husband a morning to himself. Good for you for recognizing and accommodating those unspoken signs of travel fatigue. And lucky for him that he is married to someone like you!

And I must admit that I am a little sad your trip is coming to an end. I've really enjoyed following along each day, and feel like I've kind of gotten to know Alex, Megan, and the rest of the family. Thanks for sharing your journey with us!
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Old Aug 12th, 2013, 01:31 PM
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Love this trip report! Question for you, did you spend any time in Naples proper? if you had more time would you have spent it in the city of Naples? I am trying to decide on Naples proper or an extra day on the Amalfi coast. Any thoughts are welcome!
thanks again for the excellent read.
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Old Aug 12th, 2013, 02:03 PM
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Have so enjoyed reading your trip report! We will be in Italy in 3 weeks time (yay!) and have booked the same Walks of Italy tours to the Colosseum and Vatican. Glad to hear they were worthwhile.
Like msteacher, I feel I've come to know your family and I'm looking forward to going back over your whole report again!
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Old Aug 12th, 2013, 06:25 PM
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BryantCourtney - we didn't spend any time in Naples itself. If we did have more time I would have liked to visit the Archaeological Museum. After having been to Pompeii, it would be great to see! I don't know that I have much interest in spending much more time there other than that. I haven't done much other research on the city itself other than that though.

newgail - I have only positive comments on Walks of Italy! I loved the fact that their group sizes were small, even though the tours weren't specifically private tours. And the guides were not only so knowledgeable, but also so personable! We have one more tour with them coming up! Hopefully I'll get to posting about that one tomorrow! Have a great trip!

msteacher - Thank you! I'm also sad that this trip report is coming to an end! It's been so nice to be able to share and relive our journey here! Hopefully I've been able to give back in helping some others with some tips because I know I got so much useful information here!! This trip wouldn't have been what it was without this board! And it's also so nice to share our experiences with fellow travel enthusiasts! One can only relive our journeys with "real life" friends so often before their eyes glaze over! They just don't have that same passion as so many of us here do in living vicariously through other's travel experiences!
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Old Aug 13th, 2013, 02:03 PM
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Thursday, June 27th continued!

So we left off at our meeting spot for our afternoon tour...

We met up with Keith who was very proud that he had managed to navigate the streets of Rome alone and made it from our apartment to Piazza Barberini on his own! Apparently the map I left him wasn't the most detailed and the people he asked for directions kept pointing him towards the Trevi Fountain when he told them he had to meet at the fountain at Piazza Barberini! But we made it and we were all together and on time!

Once again, our tour was with Walks of Italy and it was their Crypts, Bones and Catacombs Tour! Italy Underground! We were all really looking forward to this one. Something really a bit different! Our guide was Mike and he was awesome!

Unfortunately no pictures were allowed at any of the sites we went to. But if you google each of the places you can pull up images. They are fascinating! Each and every place was unique and incredible!

First we took a van to the Catacombs of Santa Priscilla. This is where the first Christians buried their dead. This was absolutely fascinating! I do have some postcards from here that I could probably scan and post if anyone is interested.

We saw the tombs of the wealthy – which included the “woman in the Robe”, the middle class, and the regular class people.

There were tombs that would have been for children, including infants. It was absolutely incredible!

We also saw an image of what was believed to be the first painting of the Virgin Mary.

Our guide, Mike, was so enthusiastic; he made the place come alive for us. Which I suppose is a bit ironic since it's a burial site!

After the Catacombs, we got back into the van and went to the Capuchin Crypts. This is where the Capuchin Monks decorated the walls of the crypts with the bones of their dead. They had nowhere to bury them. So in order to honor their brothers they positioned their bones in this way. Each crypt has a different symbolic meaning in its arrangement. Again, it was totally fascinating. There is a small museum that you walk through before entering the crypt area.

Our next stop was the Cathedral of San Clemente. This is a Cathedral built in the 12th century, which is built on top of a Cathedral built in the 4th century, which is built on top of a 2nd century structure below! They even believe there may be another structure below that one!

We got to go all the way down to that 2nd century structure! Can you imagine discovering this? It was discovered because the person in the 12th century church kept hearing running water. They dug for it and found the 4th century Cathedral. They still heard running water below that and kept digging and found the 2nd century structure where you can actually still see the running water! There is a natural spring that runs through there!

Mike just kept bringing us deeper and deeper into the ground and telling us the history of this building and what was below each level. He told us the symbolism of the pieces that were found in the 2nd century area. I was hanging on his each and every word!

After visiting the underground areas, we went into the current day Cathedral of San Clemente which is quite pretty. The floor seems to be a bit off level and you wonder as you stand there why it’s not collapsing into the ground that we just walked below!

This was another fantastic tour! Alex talked Mike’s ear off during this tour. It was his kind of afternoon! Bones, underground, and crypts! Mike was a terrific guide!

My parents and Megan decided to take a taxi back to our apartment. This Cathedral was fairly close to the Colosseum so Mike pointed us in the right direction and Keith, Alex and I decided to walk back to the apartment.

We sat out on our balcony with some wine and relaxed a bit before heading to dinner. We ate at a place fairly close to our hotel. It was good. I think it may have been one of the only meals we had where we ate inside though! On the walk back, we stopped for some gelato and called it a day.

Tomorrow is our last day in Italy…we head to Fallo! The purpose of the trip after all! Mimi gets to go to the town where her family came from!

Here are the pictures from today. Of all the pictures, I'd say the ones from today are probably my least favorite. First because the Vatican was so crowded I felt so rushed taking them! And second because I couldn't take pictures of the places I enjoyed the most...The Sistine Chapel or any of the afternoon tour. Not that I don't like the ones I have, but I feel like there's a big gap in today's photos!

ShellD is offline  
Old Aug 13th, 2013, 02:50 PM
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One more day. Darn.
TDudette is offline  
Old Aug 13th, 2013, 07:20 PM
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ShellD, I thoroughly enjoyed your trip report and photos. I've been to Italy twice and it brings back wonderful memories. I agree there is only so much you can share with friends regarding your vacation without boring them to death. LOL. You are so fortunate to be able to share this trip with your children and parents. This is something they will always remember.
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Old Aug 14th, 2013, 01:14 AM
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Having mild claustrophobia, I could barely read about your afternoon adventure but it sounded interesting with major appeal for a teenager. In Rome, in addition to what is all around, you often wonder what you're standing on.

I'm glad I've been twice to the Vatican and St Peter's, once so long ago that the Pietà wasn't behind glass! Two years ago I met a friend in Rome for a week with the understanding that I would go anywhere above ground apart from the Vatican. We arrived the day John Paul II was beatified (second stage or something) so it turned out parts of the Vatican were closed for several days. I just can't handle the crowds.

Have enjoyed your entire report.
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