Friday, August 24, 2012

Cruisin' Italia (Part 1)

Buongiorno!  Bryce and I recently returned from a 7 night Norwegian cruise on the Western Mediterranean.  Naples, Rome, Florence (Italy), Cannes & Marseille (France), and Barcelona (Spain).  It was an absolute whirlwind adventure, to say the least.  We were completely exhausted but very satisfied after each day, knowing we had managed to squeeze in all the major sites and still have some time to enjoy the culture food.  Lasagne, gelato, pizza...  We also learned some interesting facts: for example, did you know the difference between a "trattoria" and a "ristorante"?  Ristorante is a restaurant, with hired employees and kitchen staff.  A trattoria is a family owned eating place - family recipes served up by family members.  Good to know, right?  Also, apparently daVinci is not Leonardo's real last name.  He's from the town "Vinci, Italy" - Leonardo "of Vinci", get it?  Crazy!  Anyway, enough of the random facts - on to the photos!

Our Boat: Norwegian Epic

Naples: Mt. Vesuvius

In Naples, we climbed over the retaining wall and sunbathed on the rocks like the locals.  The sea wasn't very clean, but we swam anyway - a welcome relief from the 40C heat!  Overall, Napoli wasn't a very clean city, but pretty nonetheless, especially from a higher elevation (as you can see above).  And still with the beautiful Italian architecture (that's a shopping mall ceiling in the photo below!)

 Rome and Florence after the jump!

On to Rome!  The Eternal City.  First stop, the Colosseum! 

And St. Peter's Square + Basilica in The Vatican.  See how tiny the people are at the door?  It's HUGE!

The Pope's special balcony.

The Spanish steps!  

View from the top.

The Pantheon.

Trevi Fountain.  As you can see, half was behind the scaffolding for repairs.  In fact, many places had construction going on!  A bit annoying, but at least they cover it tastefully so it's not as distracting from the parts left open.


Florence, Tuscany.  (Amazing!)  We were on a bus tour that took us to Pisa first, and then Florence.  A beautiful drive through the Tuscan countryside.  Birthplace of Leonardo, Michaelangelo, Pinocchio (well, the author of the story), just to name a few.

It really leans!

Florence: home of Lasagne.  This was at a Trattoria, like I mentioned above.

This basilica houses many famous tombs, including Michaelangelo.

This is a replica of David (the line to see the real one would have taken most of the day!  You need to have a reservation).  

This is a famous (and stunning!) view in Florence, from the Ponte Vecchio.  It's a covered bridge, with 25 jewelry shops inside.  The most expensive bridge in the world!  You can see a piece of it in the photo below.

Coming up next: Southern France!

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