Here are some things I loved in Italy that you don’t see every day in Suffield, CT. Of course the art and sculpture and ancient architecture are omnipresent and overwhelming. These are some of the OTHER things that made an impression on me.
(Note: This is a really long post because there are so many things I want to show and because I am having a difficult time posting the photos at anything except full size. My apologies!)
1. DOMES! Looking up from beneath every dome was just amazing.
Glass dome in a marketplace in Milan
The Duomo in Florence, with a dome so large it was thought to be impossible to build until Brunelleschi developed a revolutionary architectural technique.
St. Peters dome, Vatican City
The Pantheon, Rome. Built around 100 AD and still standing strong.
Church in Castel Gandolfo. This might be my favorite because the outside of the church was so unimposing that the fabulous dome came as a stunning surprise.
2. SHOPS! Anything you want. Some of our group shopped everywhere all the time. Others never looked at things to purchase. I may have been among the most frugal, coming home with only a new purse and a belt requested by a friend.
Carnivale mask shop in Venice
Chandeliers in Murano glass shop. Ornate or gaudy, take your pick.
Outdoor produce stall, Bologna. Every city had these great markets.
Meat shop, Florence. Italy is famous for its smoked and specialty meats, yet we rarely saw anything resembling a pasture in the countryside. Our guide said the cattle and hogs are kept indoors all the time!?!
3. STYLE! Italians wear about 85% black, with about 80% of both men and women wearing a scarf knotted loosely around their necks. Lots of conformity there. Here are a few that wore something out of the ordinary.
Swiss Guard at Vatican
Seen in Assisi. I am told this man, a devout follower of St. Francis, had feet which were raw and bleeding.
Water drops, Milan. Your guess is as good as mine!
Crossing guard/police woman, Assisi. Note that the person to the left remarkably not in black is an American.
4. ANIMALS! As a veterinarian I don’t dare NOT show a few of the animals we ran into. My 100’s of dog photos will get their own blog, but here are a few others.
Carriage horse, Florence. There were lots of these in Rome, too.
Family of ducks, Arno River, Florence
A flock of sheep north of Naples
Tuxedo kitty, Castel Gandolfo. Almost every city was paved with this type of block and hardly any grass. City dogs rarely encounter grass or soil.
5. FOOD! Always delicious. Not always photogenic, but here are a few items. I was tempted to repost the photo of my favorite unexpected meal – the fried cheese with mushrooms – but that would be too much.
Related to lemon? From under the citrus arbor at Villa Carlotta, Como
Caprese salad - a favorite everywhere!
Risotto with veggies and crab meat, Milan.
Pizza, of course. Delicious in every city, though supposedly invented in Naples.
Gelato. My favorite flavors were pistachio and cappuccino. I think Annmarie had gelato 3-4 times a day!
Wine, wine and more wine.
6. IN A CATEGORY BY THEMSELVES! These were interesting but don’t fit into any easy box.
This sculpture at Villa Carlotta in Como was covered in small dots. They are measuring points that were used in part to help select properly sized and shaped pieces of marble at the quarries.
These yellow bikes were available all over Milan. Pick them up at one spot, ride them where you need to go, and return them at another yellow bike station.
In Venice, Mary, Laura and I combated Renaissance art fatigue by visiting the Peggy Guggenheim Museum of Modern Art a gem of a small museum overlooking the Grand Canal. In the sculpture garden, Yoko Ono had planted a live olive tree as a wishing tree, with visitors encouraged to write wishes on slips of paper and hang them in the tree. On the left you can see the tree with all the hanging wishes. On the right, my favorite wish!
Speaking of chickens, I saw this poster out of the bus window in Bologna. I don’t really understand what their message is, but I love the graphic!
And speaking of posters, this is the bottom of a framed art poster that was above the beds in our hotel room in Florence, the most renown city for art in Italy. From a gallery in Canton, CT, two towns over? Really?
Outside the Uffizi Gallery, on a walkway overlooking the Arno River, are these interesting chains of padlocks. These are considered “Locks of Love” and suggest that those that place them there will never break up.
Ah Florence! Center for fine leather craftsmen, source of beautiful, timeless shoes, bags and accessories. And then there are these great items. I think either of them should be incorporated in the SVH dress code!
In the most unexpected places we’d find small visual gems. Interesting doorways, lovely window boxes full of flowers, small pieces of sculpture incorporated into buildings. This was on a random building in Assisi.
This logo is as omnipresent in Italy as the Citgo triangle or the Shell Oil shell, rising high above gas stations. Our guide Esther claims that the design of a 6 legged dog stems from honoring the teamwork of dogs (4 legs) and man (2 legs).
You can’t appreciate the wonders of Rome and the Vatican without becoming totally immersed in art, most of it created with themes from the Bible or the lives of Catholic saints. I have photos of all the sights that you can see in every Italian guide-book, and home made duplicates of most of the common postcards. Here are two images that interested me, though perhaps not for the usual reasons.
In the hallways of the Vatican on the way to the amazing Sistine Chapel are endless decorated passages, sculptures, gilded ceilings, etc. I love this one because of its trompe l’oeil, an artistic method of painting on flat surfaces in such a way that they absolutely look 3-D. No matter how long I stared I couldn’t convince my eye that this wasn’t sculpted.
This sculpture is in St. Peters Cathedral, to the left of the apse. It is of St. Veronica, and warranted a photo because she shares her name with one of my favorite nieces. St. Veronica is known for wiping the brow of the suffering Christ after he was lowered from the cross. Hence the flowing fabric in her hands. The sculpture is magnificent but my niece is more beautiful.
With this, the blog on Italy is finished. It was a simply wonderful trip, well planned, full of surprises, and made better by the great group of friends – both new and old – that were along for the ride. I know Mary and I will travel together again somewhere, and I promise that we’ll blog our way through that trip, too. We’re thinking Spain, Gibraltar and Morocco will be next. But maybe, just maybe, these coins, tossed over the left shoulder into the Trevi Fountain, will do their job and bring us back to Italy.
Thank you for joining us on this adventure, and for your great comments on the blog both here and on Facebook!