Classic Italy May 2019 Week One

But 30 min on runway!

Saturday, May 17, 2019

Charlotte to Naples Lufthansa Airlines

Business Class was amazing. Seats went to any position really, Of course I couldn’t sleep, so watched a movie, many choices to choose from. Service was great, food not so great.

Weird, left Charlotte at 6:30pm. Flew into the night, with sunset behind us, but very soon we saw the sun come up again, It was only 11PM, on our watches, but it was getting day light outside!

We were late landing in Munich, with only an hour to get through customs to our next gate to fly to Naples, But all good! Waiting on next flight to Naples!

Our second leg went without a hitch! Even our luggage was the first bags on the belt! Met our driver through the next door, then off for a harrowing 45 drive to Our Hotel in Sorrento! Whew glad we not driving.

Home Next Three Nites

Grand Hotel LaFavorita

Flying into Sorrento, Flying out of Venice 14 days later

Sunday, May 19, 2019

What a day!!! Met “Paula” in the lobby at 7:45 after a fabulous buffet bkf. Finally got some eggs!.. She had a small coach waiting, 16 of us, loaded up went to the docks and got a a boat for a short trip the the Isle of Capri.

Paula was wonderful!

Blue Grotto

We didn’t know what to expect. Paula took us to a place called the Blue Grotto, It’s a cave on one side of the island with a small opening, that small row boats carrying 4 people who are flat on the bottom of the boat because the top of the boat hits the top of the cave opening. The boats can only go in at the correct wave sequence. We waited at least an hour to board the boats. It was harrowing just getting in and out of them. Can’t believe we did this!


Watch the cave opening and you can see the boat coming out and one coming in.


Good lunch on the island. Got to know some of our group. It was a great day. Enjoy some of the pictures! Off to Dinner..............

Water like the Caribbean

Least populated side

He’s not snoozing waiting to shoot the cave!
Capri Watch! Maria couldn’t leave the island until she bought one!
The Roads! OMG
Perfect evening meal with 23 new friends! Yes I slopped my plate with bread!

Monday, May 20, 2019

We boarded our motor coach and drive to Amalfi. The Amalfi Coastal highway is a 30 mile stretch of coastline along the southern edge of Italy’s Sorrentine Peninsula, in the Campania region. It’s a popular holiday destination, with sheer cliffs and a rugged shoreline dotted with small beaches and pastel-colored fishing villages. The coastal road between the port city of Salerno and clifftop Sorrento winds past grand villas, terraced vineyards and cliffside lemon groves.


Along the highway, someone or surely a group of folks built tiny nativity scenes on the side of the road, into the mountain. So detailed! Bible towns!

Ravello Square

Lunch! Homemade by........

This Lady, didn’t catch her name with the red bow! 4 courses! The blond is Anna, our tour director

Some of our group

Drove back over the mountains to Naples and then to Sorrento. A hail storm awaited us, but perfect weather until then.
Beautiful Sunset over the Naples Bay. Off to Rome tomorrow!

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Up EARLY again! We board our coach and travel from Sorrento to Pompeii. This Roman City of 27,000 was completely buried by a volcanic ash, 15 feet deep in 79 AD. All the people suffocated. The city lay dormant for 1700 years. Excavations began in the 18th century and continue today. We walked though the ruins with a local guide. It was AMAZING. They are still finding bodies and artifacts, that changes the story of what happened. The stories from the guide where fascinating.

Bodies were found with their hands covering their mouths. Even food was found in ovens

A Dog

This Roman City was quite advanced. Lots of community, wealth, advanced water systems. 1500 homes have been uncovered. From affluent to common families. Lots of culture.

The streets even had inlaid fluorescent stones that shown in the dark to “fancy” the streets

Pizza was found in this oven!

Flooring in a home

This is a “food bar” Fast food if you will! The more common people didn’t have cooking facilities in their homes

Since excavations began in 1748, Pompeii was gradually revealed – street by street, building by building, room by room – providing an unparalleled record of life in the Roman Empire. I feel so inadequate telling this story. We walked around for an hour and a half, and didn’t cover a fraction of what was there. We saw people working uncovering more ruins. Life in Pompei during that time, wow, very risqué! A lot of the artifacts, the researchers didn’t feel like they could display, so they put them in a locked room in Rome😳!

After Lunch on to Rome

Our home for the next 3 days. Grand Hotel de la Minerve

Among the 5 star luxury hotels in Rome, Grand Hotel de la Minerve, is housed in a magnificent mansion dating from the 1600’s. Set in the historical city centre, the hotel overlooks the Pantheon and is just minutes from Piazza Navona, the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps. Completely renovated to better meet the needs of its modern, sophisticated clientele. (Is that us?!)

This is across the street from our hotel!

Wednesday, May 22, 2019


We got to sleep late!!! Then enjoy a breakfast on the roof of our hotel. Pretty amazing
Our Hotel and our local guide for the day.

We started our day after breakfast with a walking tour of Rome right around our hotel, Across the street is The Pantheon "[temple] of all the gods") is a former Roman temple, now a church, in Rome, Italy, on the site of an earlier temple commissioned by Marcus Agrippa during the reign of Augustus (27 BC – 14 AD).


It is one of the best-preserved of all Ancient Roman buildings, in large part because it has been in continuous use throughout its history and, since the 7th century, The square in front of the Pantheon is called Piazza della Rotonda. The Pantheon is a state property, managed by Italy's Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism through the Polo Museale del Lazio; in 2013 it was visited by over 6 million people

The building now contains the tombs of Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of united Italy, and the Renaissance artist Raphael.

After a short walk around with the local guide, we got on a bus, and were taken to the Colosseum.

The Colosseum or Coliseum also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre. It is an oval amphitheatre in the centre of the city of Rome. Built of travertine, tuff, and brick-faced concrete, it is the largest amphitheatre ever built. Construction began under the emperor Vespasian in AD 72 and was completed in AD 80. This is amazing they can built a structure that long ago with no modern tools in 8 years!

The Colosseum could hold, it is estimated, between 50,000 and 80,000 spectators, having an average audience of some 65,000 it was used for gladiatorial contests and public spectacles such as animal hunts, executions, re-enactments of famous battles, and dramas based on Classical mythology. It is an engineering marvel. But was used for horrible entertainment.

Several levels or tiers

The holes were caused by metal being extracted for weapons in later years

Were the royalty sat
The floor, under it the animals and Christians and Gladiators were kept
Strange a Cross would be there
Whats left of Caesars Palace

Back to our hotel at 2, Then free time until dinner. Dale wanted to go to Harley store for a Rome T-shirt. So we looked at map and figured we could walk. Using GPS on our phones, nothing like the states. The road names aren’t marked on most streets, our signal kept going in and out. But we finally made it. Walking is difficult due to traffic, crowds and cars using the sidewalk as parking.

Our walk path
Made it!
Old City Wall
Spanish Steps
Refreshing! After Long Walk 20K steps today!
Dinner with New Friends
Yum! Dark Choc Gelato covered in chocolate chips

The Vatican Tomorrow! Excited! Good Night!

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Vatican City

This morning we visited the Vatican City and Saint Peter’s Square. I am excited to see some of the world’s amazing art pieces that are housed there.

Vatican City, officially Vatican City State is an independent city-state and country all in one within Rome. Established with the Lateran Treaty in 1929, with an area if 110 acres and a population of about 1,000, it is the smallest sovereign state in the world by both area and population. It is ruled by the Pope, who is also the bishop of Rome and head of the Catholic Church.

Within the Vatican City are religious and cultural sites such as St. Peter's Basilica, the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums. They feature some of the world's most famous paintings and sculptures. The unique economy of Vatican City is supported financially by the sale of postage stamps and souvenirs, fees for admission to museums, and sales of publications. That’s a lot of souvenirs! We bought Vatican Stamps, which apparently is a big deal.

St Peter’s Basilicas

This morning we took minivans to the Vatican and toured St Peter’s Basilica. Word’s cannot describe what we saw. It was simply astonishing!!

I’ll give you some facts.

Designed principally by Donato Bramante, Michelangelo, Carlo Maderno and Gian Lorenzo Bernini, St. Peter's is the most renowned work of Renaissance architecture and the largest church in the world.While it is neither the mother church of the Catholic Church nor the cathedral of the Diocese of Rome, St. Peter's is regarded as one of the holiest Catholic shrines. It has been described as "holding a unique position in the Christian world" and as "the greatest of all churches of Christendom".

St Peter’s covers an area of 5.7 acres and runs the length of two American football fields

Building the basilica was a feat of epic proportions. In fact, it took 219 years, 31 popes, and 10 architects to complete the project.

The Statue of Liberty could fit inside of St Peter’s Basilica, even on her foundation with her torch raised. As a matter of fact, her 305-foot stature would be dwarfed under the towering 450-foot dome of the church.

The four-poster, solid-bronze canopy over the main altar, or the baldacchino of St. Peter’s, appears almost dwarfed by the dome towering right above it. So you might think it’s not that tall. But it is. It’s almost 10 stories tall—it’s just that the dome, above it, is even bigger: 452 feet. (The baldacchino, by the way, also uses no less than 100,000 pounds of bronze). And, If you remember the Pantheon, across from our hotel, The bronze doors were used to make the bronze canopy.

The wingspan of this dove behind the canopy is 6 foot wide!

None of the paintings inside the basilica are actually paintings

Huh? No, really. Although, at first glance, the basilica’s interior appears to be elaborately decorated with paintings—from frescoes in the dome to the huge paintings hanging on the walls—it’s not. Every single one of those “paintings” is actually a mosaic, done with such painstaking detail, and such tiny tesserae (the little pieces of glass making the mosaic up), that they only appear to be paintings.

Rafeal’s Transfiguation Transformed into a Moasic for St Peter’s. It took 20 years to complete

I tried to find our how many “paintings” were in St Peter’s, couldn’t find that number, it must be staggering. I did find that the mosaic paintings covered an area of 6.2 miles.

Because, all paintings are moasic, you can use flash photography in the church, because the quality can never fade.

The Marble is unbelievable in the flooring and walls.

The Pieta, in St. Peter’s Basilica

St. Peter’s Basilica is the home to one of Michelangelo’s most famous masterpieces, the Pietà (which, by the way, he carved when he was only 24 years old). But not everyone’s been a fan of the stunning sculpture. In 1972, a mentally-disturbed man named Laszlo Toth attacked the sculpture with a hammer; he cracked off Mary’s nose and broke off her arm at the elbow. The sculpture was painstakingly restored and returned to St. Peter’s, but now, it’s protected by bullet-proof glass—even as other priceless sculptures in St Peter’s remain out in the open

Some of the Pope’s are displayed in glass coffins. Perfectly preserved Bodies

. The dead bodies of 3 popes and one Russian saint are preserved and kept on display in the basilica. More surprisingly, though, there are 201 popes buried beneath the church!

I dipped my finger in the holy water basin, guarded by 2 cherubs .
Swiss Guards serve 3 years. He didn’t move!

Sistine Chapel Tonight!

The Sistine Chapel is a chapel in the Apostolic Palace, the official residence of the pope, in Vatican City. Originally known as the Cappella Magna ('Great Chapel'), the chapel takes its name from Pope Sixtus IV, who restored it between 1477 and 1480. Since that time, the chapel has served as a place of both religious and functionary papal activity. Today, it is the site of the papal conclave, the process by which a new pope is selected. The fame of the Sistine Chapel lies mainly in the frescos that decorate the interior, most particularly the Sistine Chapel ceiling and The Last Judgment by Michelangelo.

Ever since I read the book Agony and Ectasy as a young adult, I have dreamed of seeing Michelangelo’s work. Tonight it was a dream come true with an exclusive after hours viewing without all the crowds, simply amazing.

The Sistine Chapel is arguably the most visited room in the world. With mass tourism growing, every year some five million people, as many as 25,000 a day enter the chapel and crane their necks upwards. Most are left awestruck. Our trip included a private tour of the chapel at night. There were 2 groups, around 50 people there compared to thousands WOW, Just WOW! After we had a small dinner on the Vatican gounds

Aerial View of Sistine Chapel. This is where they elect the Pope also, with the smoke white or black from the chimney
Waiting for the massive door to open at 7PM
Here we Go!

We went through security, Guards followed our group. We strolled though a museum of sort, looking at tapestries and some art, Then this great hall, with maps painted on the walls and a magnificent ceiling.

This is a photo from the internet, The hall was empty except for our group
The Hall before the Chapel
The Small Entrance Door and our Guide, Richardo

The chapel is about 132 by 44 by 68 feet— reputedly, the dimensions of Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem, which was destroyed in A.D. 70. The chapel’s exterior is simple and unassuming, giving little hint to the splendid decoration inside. By the way there is no picture that shows it!

It’s Really a smaller room than I imagined


At the highest part of the ceiling, Michelangelo depicted nine scenes from Genesis, including "The Separation of Light From Darkness" at the altar end of the chapel to "The Drunkenness of Noah" at the other end. The most famous panels are "The Creation of Adam" and "The Fall of Man and the Expulsion from Paradise." Images of prophets and pagan sibyls surround the panels, and twisting (and originally controversial) male nudes decorate the corners.

'The Creation of Adam' is one of the nine ceiling panels in the Sistine Chapel depicting scenes from the book of Genesis.

The Last Judgment

This fresco depicts the second coming of Christ, who is judging all mankind. The blessed are on the right and heading to heaven, while the damned are on the left and being sent to hell and tortured by demons. Major Biblical and Catholic characters appear in the scene, including Eve and several saints.

Last Judgement
Our Dinner Venu to the top left. We left the Vatican at 9:45PM. Long Day! Bags need to be ready at 7AM, continuing north

Sorry, I feel so inadequate describing this, Pictures or text do not do this trip justice!

Friday, May 24, 2019

Orvieto is a small city perched on a rock cliff in Umbria (meaning green hills) dating from 1290, has a mosaic facade and houses a marble Pietà sculpture. An underground cave network attests to the city’s Etruscan roots.

About 85 miles

In 1263 a German priest, Peter of Prague, stopped at Bolsena while on a pilgrimage to Rome. While celebrating Holy Communion above the tomb of St. Christina (located in the church named for this martyr), he had barely spoken the words of Consecration when blood started to seep from the bread and trickle over his hands onto the altar.

The priest was immediately confused. At first he attempted to hide the blood, but then he interrupted the Mass and asked to be taken to the neighboring city of Orvieto, the city where Pope Ur ban IV was then residing.

The Pope listened to the priest's account and absolved him. He then sent emissaries for an immediate investigation. When all the facts were ascertained, he ordered the Bishop of the diocese to bring to Orvieto the Bread and the linen cloth bearing the stains of blood. With archbishops, cardinals and other Church dignitaries in attendance, the Pope met the procession and, amid great pomp, had the relics placed in the cathedral. The linen corporal bearing the spots of blood is still reverently enshrined and exhibited in the Cathedral of Orvieto since 1263!!!!!!!

The church was built to house this “miracle”

Four times a year. The miracle cloth is taken out of its case and paraded down the street in pomp and pageantry!

After the church tour and a little shopping we had a great lunch at a small restaurant.

Olive Wood Merchant, a real character

Off to our next hotel for 2 nights. Northwest of Rome in Campo, Perugia. Alla Posta dei Donini

It is a renovated historical residence built in mid 1700’s. Out in the country! Much better than the business, crowded Rome. Check out the website above.

Out our window. Classical Music Recital before dinner, getting some culture!

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