Friday, June 27, 2008

corrections and other housework

In my blog about Civita - I said that at one point the monks were 'air lifted' in a wicker basket. Camillo says that is wrong - 'that I never told you that' 'that you are confusing it with someplace in Greece' - where we have never traveled - but that he may have said, ' this is like..." and I didn't catch the qualifier - it is really possible that this is the case so we looked, and read, and debated, and came to the conclusion that I am wrong in my memory of what Camillo told me over 16 years ago. There was never a (documented) wicker basket episode for Civita! There was a natural land bridge that at several points over time was destroyed by earthquakes, landslides and other natural geological disasters, and was rebuilt by man several times to keep the city accessible, including the current bridge shown in my photos. I can see that Marissa did not get her detailed, scientific characteristics from me - possibly her mother? (Earthquakes - they don't just stop do they?? They keep reoccurring?? to this little town set atop a very little peak???)
I want to talk about culture - but will wait a bit - after five days in Rio I am still groggy and tired. I have been in my past very judgemental when older people I know quit traveling ... 'you have to go, go, go until you can't'. Now I have to admit that I am beginning to understand. The cost of everything seems way too expensive, the distances from plane to train or taxi seem way too long, the changes, adjustments, delays are almost insurmountable, and it takes too much energy to recover from the trip (not the sightseeing) home. I begin to see that my travel experiences are finite.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Back home - but with memories

I know you know I am back in Brazil
but there are a few follow up comments I want to make. My old feet encased in practical boots (which were great by the way, but hot) and Marissa's feet shed of tennis shoes and in more fashionable slides, were both showing signs of fatigue. This was reflected in our frequent stops for sodas, on a park bench, under shade trees.

On our last - extra gifted day - we went back to the Spanish Steps, walked around all the surrounding streets, looking but not going into the very posh stores. Then a climb up the steps and a short walk to the lookouts at Villa Borghese to view the city one more time, and then after lunch near the hotel, a nap and a shower,

another walk to see the Cathedral - Santa Maria Maggiore , - You think you have seen everything - the most beautiful - the most inspiring and then you find another secret place. When we arrived around five on Saturday afternoon, the church was open to the public (tourists) but was having a service. Swelled with tourists, and the devout from the neighborhood this service was --- Beautiful. The choir and one of the Priest were singing the last of service. The haunting sounds echoed through the church - tingled - starting in the back of my head and traveling all the way down to my tired feet. If I lived close, I would go every Saturday at five just to hear this music. I've said it before and will again I am sure but - FANTASTIC!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Home again!

I can't say that the trip back to Brazil was uneventful. There was confusion in Italy setting up Marissa's flying as an unaccompanied minor. No one seemed to know the rules and there was total chaos in the area where the children are held until travel time. We ended up having terrible connections in order to travel to Paris with her, and then found that she had to be under airline control from start to finish. The Paris airport is a HUGE, unwieldy monster. Someone with all the right intentions designed it but it is confusing and focused on moving the masses not on helping the individual. What a mess.
Upon arrival in Rio at 5:30 in the morning, one of our bags did not arrive - in fact about 12 people did not have some of their luggage. Apparently there is a process to xray incoming baggage and, of course, no one is told. When there is a question about your bag - they pull it aside and set it inside customs, of course, no one is told. You stand at the conveyor belt and watch bag after bag circle around, for an hour and a half, then when you start asking questions they say get in line (by then forty miles long) and when you get up to customs ask about your bag..... what a mess - bottom line arrival at 5:30 - out of customs at 8:30 - home and in the shower by 9am. Even with all the things needed to be adjusted to, and accepted, in my opinion the trip was a success and it is good to be home.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Final day in Italy

As far as I know tonight we will be on our way home tomorrow.
Today we went for two short walks and ate very lightly in preparation for the long day tomorrow. No matter where we have been or plan to go next, Italy for me is one of the most beautiful places you can visit. There is family, and food and around every corner, down the next street you will find another pleasure, something new to see that will please your senses and make you wish for another week, or a month or even a small apartment to call your own. GingerV

Friday, June 20, 2008

Curse or Blessing

Whether we want it or not, we will have an extra day in Rome. Apparently the Italian air traffic controllers are on strike tomorrow. Why not wait until Sunday when we would have been home safe and sound...? NO it has to be on Saturday. Yes, we are getting an extra day but jeez no one is paying for the hotel, the food, the transportation or the LAUNDRY that we will have to stay just one more day. (You can't even imagine the cost of a load of laundry in Europe) Today, as it was to be our last day, we had another special meal with Camillo's sister Mirella, popped the cork on the last bottle of champagne, had the last special wild strawberry desert, visited the last ruins on VIA Appia Antica - and now - we will have to walk one more street, eat one more delicous Italian dinner see one more interesting sight - like the police Chariots at the train station - is this delay a blessing or a curse?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

More information and bit and pieces

I promised you more information about Civita when back in Rome - and we are back in Rome. Can you believe we have only one more full day. The time here has gone very fast. Civita di Bagnoregio (reading from an Italian guide book) dating back as far as 396 BC (before Christ) - is situated between Viterbo and Orvieto not very far from the famous hill top city of Montefiascone (est, est, est). (two 1/2 hour drive north of Rome's center) Now there is a walkway but back in 'the old days' the monks were lifted up in wicker baskets. If you can find you way there it is well worth the effort. Do both Montefiascone and Civita in one day.

Now on to Venice. Marissa says this is her favorite and of all the places we have seen she wants to go back there. Can you imagine no cars, buses, motorcycles - just people - thousands and thousands of people. One day I counted 3 large cruise ships - you know those 4 or 5 deckers - they come for the day and belch out tour groups and individuals - wandering, eating, shopping and generally getting in the way (my way of course) - I got up at 7 am to get out and take photos before the 8 am crowds began. Marissa was supposed to join me but she slept through the alarm....
As we often do we do not make reservations for Hotels. This leaves us able to change plans along the way. We take the trains (another story) and when we arrive, we go to tourist information and get a hotel. This sometimes backfires and we end up with too expensive or just barely comfortable but this time in Venice we ended up at the Concorda. Comfortable rooms, good location, good breakfast, a little stuffy (full of themselves) but (for Italy) mid priced, and a pleasure. The gave us a snack and a coffee while waiting for the room.... this says it all.
We are all a little tired, but our next stop is Florence

Monday, June 16, 2008

The missing days

To remind you of what has already happened in Italy - first day - the tomb of the unknown solder, Colosseum, walking, walking, walking, Trevi fountain and dinner -- second day - the Vatican, Sistine Chapel, the Castle of st. Anglo, the Pantheon, more food, more walking. Third day - the Spanish steps, Piazza di Popolo, and the villa Borghese, more walking and more food. Fourth day - Frascati AND MORE WALKING AND MORE FOOD. Now to the missing days -
Fifth day - tour to Pompeii - I hate tours and this one did nothing to change my mind. We paid god awful prices to be taken to Pompeii - we were gone for 11 hours and spent only 2 1/2 HOURS rushing around in Pompeii - actually only two hours walking the ruins and another 30 minutes waiting for people to buy ice cream and take a toilet break or two. The trip from Rome to Pompeii is about 2.5 hours each way - plus the 2.5 hours in Pompeii is a total of 7.5 hours -- that means four hours were wasted picking up and delivering the 'local guide', stopping at junk sales shops and 'touring' the docks of Naples. I hate tours.

Day 6 - Camillo, Marissa, Mirella and I drove to Civita (I will have to give you the full name when I am back in Rome and have all my notes with me) - I guess I should say Mirella drove and we rode, making it a very nice trip for us and maybe a little hard on Mirella.
Every time we go to Italy we make a point of visiting the little mountain top village. It is beautifully preserved medieval town with a long and very interesting history.
(Seems Marissa is getting a bit worn out - wonder why?)
yep! that is the walk up to the city. then an hour to walk around all the little side streets, have lunch in anyone of a dozen little bars and restaurants - then back to Rome. This is off the beaten trail, usually not crowded with 'tourists' and very much worth the drive there and back, if Mirella is driving, of course.

Day 7 - a four hour trip by EuroStar to Venice. time for a nap before dinner - more about the train and Venice tomorrow. GingerV

Friday, June 13, 2008

Frascati and other family gatherings

Yesterday, (note that I am behind by several days because it is hard, and expensive to be on Internet) we spent the day with Camillo's family. We visited Frascati where Camillo went to high school, had his first sweetheart (s) and lived through an Allied (USA) bombing of the city. September 8, 1943 the Allied bombers flew over, dropping hundreds of bombs in an attempt to wipe out the local German headquarters - that building still stands today. The rest of the city lay in ruins. Camillo, his little sister, his brother and his parents survived, 6000 other innocents died(total population at the time 12K). I never read about this action in an American History book. Frascati is a charming little town - not overrun with tourists, and of course, no ancient ruins. But bakeries and meat markets still operated by the mothers, fathers, and grandmothers. About 5 KM above the city is Tuscolo - an archaeological site, still being uncovered by students from Rome's universities - for your enjoyment - another photo of my beautiful granddaughter.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Wednesday - Thursday and onward

I now have some sore spots on my feet - I can't imagine how many miles we have walked - though I know I have earned them. Wednesday we walked from the hotel (the train station just as a reference for you) to the Spanish steps to the People's square (Piazza del Popolo) through the Villa Borghese - walking around the Temple of Diana to Borghese to the museum and out the back side - over a hill or two (which mean down and up several times) and back to the hotel. Lets see, we left the hotel before 9:30 and arrived back before 4:30 - six hours? if you take out lunch and a stop for Marissa's power- something- drink. You all realize that Rome was built on 7 hills. and that if you walk down a street you either have to walk up another or take some stairs to change levels.