After a rainy week, the rain has held off enough to get things started. Footings poured and the layout of the building is in place!
The Monreale Cathedral has 6000 square meters of mosaic art works done during the timeframe of William the II, William the good. 1172. Show representations from the Old and New Testimate tales.
Great views of the valley below from the rail behind the church.
We then went to Martorana. Similar mosaics from the Greeks but the church was expanded and updated to be more western rather than eastern with Baroque style paintings in the extend half of the church.
Sean and I explored Palermo after that with our free time. There were musicians in the piazza up from the 4 corners and we sat a listened for about an hour. Oh and there was also free wifi there so maybe that’s why he wanted to stay so long.
That evening we rolled into Agrigento and there was a festival going on. It was like a mini olympic games open parade – all of the different peoples that were in Sicily. China, Romania, Albania, Scottish, etc – They played music, danced, and performed feats all while carrying torches in the evening.
Everytime I looked, they had another level of people in the stack.
Missed a day with a little bum wifi – but we started out the morning by waking the sleeping giants in the valley of the temples, Agrigento.
The temple of Concordia is the most complete because it was converted into a church and still used in the middle ages. The rest were knocked down as temples to the Greek gods was considered no longer proper. Many of the structure have been been partially reassembled into the outline of what they were.
We then went for a authentic Sicilian lunch. Crazy good food and served family style with enough food to feed a group 3 times the size of us. On the way, the hills were filled with German bunkers still sitting where they were left.
The afternoon, we went to a 300 AD hunting lodge where the most complete mosaic floors are available for viewing. Some of these floors are 200 hundred feet long. They tell stories of the animal brought in for hunting, the foods they ate, the activities, games, education, and lifestyles.
Taormina was a beautiful town. We drove to the base on the big bus and then switched to a smaller bus to the a drop off below the city gate. We then climbed to the entry gate of the city and proceeded to the center of town. Here was a site where the Greeks built a coliseum, then the romans built a temple over the corner, and then a church was built over the a portion of both.
They still hold small venue concerts here. We then went to the larger coliseum, yes we climbed because everything is built into the sides of mountains.
The view of the bay from the top fantastic.
We then decide to climb up here, 20 minutes of all stairs.
The church at the top was literally carved out of the stone wall and the ceiling was all jagged rock. The views from the top were breathtaking!
We got up early from our hotel in the hills of Sorrento and wound down the tiny roads to the bay. In the bay, we jumped on a boat and bounced our way to the island of Capri/Anacapri.
We wound up the hills and took a chairlift to the top of the island. What a view! Tiny homes reality show should preview the island. Everything is tiny!
Darn wifi lost most of my stuff – will update later at the hotel. But, here are a couple of pics from the Museum with all of the items from Pompeii.
I was amazed at the amount of statues and the scrolls they were able to recover in perfect shape. They had dental and doctor equipment. We were able to to see the types of food they ate. How it was served. The people that prepared it. It was literally a snapshot in time of the people and things of that time. Mind boggling how much they had already figured out.
Pompeii was unbelievable. The intact roman ruins just kept going on and on. The intact roadways, water and sewage system, and the organization of houses and food preparation is incredible sophisticated for the time.
I think Sean enjoyed this one. There was just so much to see and learn about Roman life. It was literally a snapshot frozen in time. Tomorrow we see the museum that holds all of the artifacts removed from the site.
We saw Naples this morning. Third largest city in Italy. It is big and industrial. We came in on the port to see the castles and here the history that developed off of the ocean. It looked a little rough looking down the alleys. But the hills are filled with beautiful places and another castle.
The afternoon we went to Sorrento. It is a beautiful town with an incredible bay view. Many waterways cut the paths down to see with waterfalls and sometimes roadways dropped down in them. I did drink a little Limoncello when I was here. They are known for there lemons and I assumed this was the best way to consume them.
Since the colosseum was not being used, much of the materials were recycled and used to build other buildings. With the rise in the power of the Pope, much of the white marble was used in the new Churches. Holes were drilled in the rock and the metal pulled out to make armor and swords. Still a great piece of history.
This morning we went to the Vatican and made a pass through the Museum, saw the Sistine Chapel, and St Peter’s Basilica.
The afternoon was the colosseum, exploring Roman ruins, and a hidden gem of a private art collection. Which was a fantastic collection of Baroque artists.
I finished the day with an incredible bottle of wine to celebrate another year of my life ticking by. Saluti!
Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers) is a fountain in the Piazza Navona. Another Bernini. One of the rivers facing the building behind has his head covered. Basically saying he doesn’t like the architect of the building – touche.
Oval shaped was originally used for chariot races. But had many uses including being flooded. The building surrounding are magnificent. Also where I picked up my first gelato and my son proceeded to eat rather than getting his own.
It is raining pretty hard now and we are walking through several Piazzas and passed the Vatican Embassy with the obelisk with the Mary on the top to get to the Trevi Fountain. There is an election now – most Italians don’t want to talk about it. Every corner has something that catches my attention and it is hard to keep up with the pace of the tour group because I want to stop and hear about each one but we only have two days – so we are moving fast.
Three coins in a fountain style toss.
One of the highlights of the afternoon was an excursion to see two locations with paintings by Caravaggio. I have several new favorites. The contrasting light and dark shadows plus the realism of the depictions, I am overwhelmed. I could have stayed for hours.
Some free time to walk around, then up the Spanish Steps – 135 steps, no sleep, and pouring rain. Workout – check!
The view of Rome from the rooftops was spectacular.
Dinner was fantastic in Rome. Then off to try and sleep. Not too great because i have been wide awake since 2 am reading about places we had just visited.
Arriving in the morning of Sunday, we dropped our bags off at the hotel and began our couple of days in Rome. Very tired. Not much sleep happened on the flight over.
Driving into Rome, I was first hit by the remains of the original walls of Rome. Amazing history that just borders the roadside. My first few glances came from the bus window. I knew a fantastic journey was about to begin. We learned about and saw our first obelisk. 8 of these were shipped, taken, from Egypt and transported to Rome.
For example, the Minerveo with the base done by Bernini.
Our first stop was Italian Mass at Chiesa del Gesu. Where else would any Jesuit based high school go first but, to see the church of St Ignatius of Loyola. Also one of the most outstanding examples of Baroque elements and style. Many of the ceiling paintings were almost 3D:trompe l’oeil effect.
What an exciting first experience in Rome. Italian homily plus no sleep – sorry Father but I may have caught a quick nap.
Our next stop was lunch and the Pantheon. I went for linguine and mussels. Sean had pizza. Wow, the artworks are just blowing my mind. I have seen the pictures but in person and with the surrounding pieces – the detail and understanding of the depiction within the theme of the surrounding pieces – mind blown.
Can’t get enough of these streets – so cool the way these buildings flow around like they are following a little stream.
It is now downpouring rain but looking forward to the afternoon.