Sunday, October 16, 2016

Italy 2016 - Day 9

How much is there to see in Rome?  A TON!!!  (And we took a shot at seeing most of it!).  The incredible Colosseum tour, the Forum, the Pantheon, the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain, the Piazza Novona, Piazza di Spagna (and many other piazzas) and tons of churches (everywhere we turned!)

 An amazing day in a wonderful city!  Tonight we had to our Farewell Dinner and then tomorrow we had home with new friends and wonderful memories.  Viva Italia!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Italy 2016 - Day 8

Some of us began our day walking with Fr. Gribble to see the Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore.  It as spectacular. Plus, there was a Mass in a side chapel and a choir offering hymns in a second - a magical moment.
Then we headed out to see Vatican City.  The impressive St. Peter’s Square, the Basilica (including the Sistine Chapel), and the magnificent Vatican Museum – totally amazing!  And, while there were no sightings of Pope Francis, his spirit certainly filled the area.  Plus, the square was set up for the canonization service for new saints.  Our guide Paola was so knowledgeable and kind - and able to maneuver us through the crowds relatively intact!!

Many of us returned to the hotel and (after vacating the hotel bar area) enjoyed a Picnic a la Roma on the steps outside.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Italy 2016 - Day 7

How could a week have gone by so quickly?!

Today we checked out of our hotel in Sorrento, boarded the bus and headed to Rome.  Along the way we stopped at the incredible Herculaneum, which was also buried by the Mt. Vesuvius eruption that destroyed Pompeii in 79AD.  It was a wealthier town than Pompeii and is better preserved. Despite having been rediscovered in the 1700s, 75% of the town is still buried, but what has been uncovered is amazing.

We also travelled through the Miglio d’Oro (Golden Mile) where the wealthy had their villas along a stretch of the Corsa Resina. We toured the Villa Camolieto which was beautiful and had incredible views of the Bay of Naples. And met our newest friend, the former mayor!

Sadly we had to say goodbye to he wonderful local guide Bernadetta before departing for Rome.  We then arrived in Rome and checked into the Grand Hotel Palatino, which will serve as our home for three nights.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Italy 2026 - Day 6

Today we visited the excavations of the lost city of Pompeii, which was buried by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79AD (after being founded in 6BC or 7BC). Its population was estimated at 11,000 people, and the city had a complex water system, an amphitheatre, gymnasium, and a port.
The objects that lay beneath the city have been preserved for centuries because of the lack of air and moisture. These artefacts provide an extraordinarily detailed insight into the life of a city during the Pax Romana. During the excavation, plaster was used to fill in the voids in the ash layers that once held human bodies. This allowed archaeologists to see the exact position the person was in when he or she died.

Pompeii has been a tourist destination for over 250 years. Today it has UNESCO World Heritage Site status and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Italy, with approximately 2.5 million visitors every year.

After lunch we headed to Naples for a city tour and saw the seaside castle, Castel dell’Ovo, the impressive Galleria Umberto, the Piazza del Plebiscito and the world-famous opera house, Teatro di San Carlo.  After a long day of seeing some extraordinary sites, we headed back to Sorrento for dinner and some relaxing.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Italy 2016 - Day 5

Another amazing day!!!

Today we travelled to Paestum for a guided tour of this former Greek colony, whose treasures are world renowned.  The Temple of Poseidon was certainly a highlight!  It is one of the best preserved Greek temples in the world and was constructed between 470-460 BC.

On the bus, Fr. Gribble spoke to us about 'little-known facts' about the Bible.  It was very informative and sparked conversation among those of us who were on the previous trip to Greece and visited Ephesus and Patmos.

 After lunch we visited Salerno, which was originally Etruscan before becoming a Roman principality under the Lombards. It is famous for its university, the oldest public university in world, which was founded in 1224.  Many of us saw the cathedral and others ventured to the seashore for amazing views.

We ended the day being stuck in traffic due to an accident - but many laughs were had.  Upon return to the hotel a few travelers organized a cocktail hour (brig your own snacks) party which was terrific.  Some of us went to a musical performance back in the museum from Day 1 and report that it was outstanding!!!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Italy - Day 4

The weather caught up to us - a little rain did not slow us down though.....   Our tour director Anna and local guide Bernadette are being kept busy!
After breakfast we boarded the coach and headed to one of the most scenic roads in the world – Amalfi Drive!


Our first stop was in Positano, a famous and elegant resort town. We continued our drive  to the town Amalfi and were able to visit the beautiful Cathedral of St. Andrew.  It is a 9th-century Roman Catholic cathedral in the Piazza del Duomo in Amalfi. It is dedicated to the Apostle Saint Andrew whose relics are kept here.


Monday, October 10, 2016

Italy 2016 - Day 3

Holy smokes - we are lucking out in the weather dept!!!!  Picture perfect day!!

The Island of Capri is a beautiful and popular resort destination on the south side of the Gulf of Naples.

The city of Capri has been inhabited since early times. Evidence of human settlement was discovered during the Roman era; according to Suetonius, when the foundations for the villa of Augustus were being excavated, giant bones and 'weapons of stone' were discovered. The emperor ordered these to be displayed in the garden of his main residence, the Sea Palace. Modern excavations have shown that human presence on the island can be dated to the Neolithic and the Bronze Age. Augustus developed Capri; he built temples, villas, aqueducts, and planted gardens so he could enjoy his private paradise. We were able to see the gardens first-hand!

Augustus' successor Tiberius built a series of villas at Capri, the most famous of which is the Villa Jovis, one of the best-preserved Roman villas in Italy. In 27 AD, Tiberius permanently moved to Capri, running the Empire from there until his death in 37 AD.