Archive for the ‘Italy’ Category

Naples & Herculaneum – 10/16/2014

Thursday, October 16th, 2014

Naples & its Churches

We walked the streets of Naples to visit a number of ancient Catholic Churches. These churches were memorials to early martyrs.

We attended an all italian mass inside the Cathedral of Naples. We visited 2 churches known as the old Jesus and the new Jesus Churches. We also walked down a street of shops dedicated to making and selling Christmas Nativity scenes and pieces.

We found the parts of the city we traversed to be full of graffiti and not very clean.

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The Ruins of Herculaneum

Herculaneum was a small city outside of Naples. It was buried by the eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79 in a different way than Pompeii. Volcanic material travelled down the volcano mountain and hit the city at high speed and very high temperatures. The city was covered by meters of volcanic material. This sealed and preserved it so that even organic materials survive.

It was very informative to have guide walk us through these city ruins. You actually got a feel for what it was like to live there in this roman city about the time of Christ.

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St Peter’s Basilica & Vatican Museum Tours – 10/2/2014

Friday, October 3rd, 2014

St Peter’s Basilica

We got up early.  We took metro and walked about 15 minutes to get to St Peters Square. We were suppose to be early for 9 am tour but office meeting point didn’t open until 9 am.

St Peter’s is a very spectacular place! Going up to the dome was a real treat! We got to go right up to the Apostles Statues that start the ring around the St Peter’s Square! The views with got of the Vatican Gardens and other views made our day. We also got to see the Mass in process from on high just like we were in heaven. The pictures tell the story.

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 Vatican Museum

After lunch we went back to wait for our next skip the line  tour of the Vatican which was to start at 1 pm. We met a Mormon couple from France whom we spent the waiting time. Our conversation was interesting.

It was a rather long walk along the vatican walls to get to the Vatican Museum entrance. Once we got inside, it was extremely crowded with people everywhere. The guide left us at the door. Other people were inside with guided tours. All these tours added to the chaos as they were in large groups and started and stopped interrupting the flow. There was even some fun christian pushing and shoving going on particularly in the long hallways.

By the end of the Vatican Museum tour, Fred and Milly were really dragging. It was a long, long day. Our feet were killing us! We went back to room, showered and took naps. We got up and out to dinner at 8 pm.

Response code is 404



Papal Audience, Castel S.Angelo, Pantheon, St Ignatius Church 10/1/2014

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014

Papal Audience

We were up at 6:30 am to catch Metro to St Peters to meet our guide for Papal Audience.

When we got there, everywhere people were in long lines. It was overwhelming! We had directions that got us to the edge of St Peters but it was unclear exactly where our meeting point was. An intern with the tourist group doing our tour spotted us looking at maps. She asked what we were looking for. She brought us to the meeting point. We met a couple from England that we ended up sitting with. It was one big mob scene getting into the square. The guards took our water from our packs. These were two new jugs specially purchased for our trip, Caput!

My impressions of St Peters Square were mixed. It seemed smaller than I expected. Milly thought it what she expected.  Maybe I didn’t realize that St Peter’s was nestled between a lot of rather huge buildings.

I enjoyed getting to see the Pope do his ride among the people. I don’t think one would enjoy being Pope. There were a huge number of people there all pressing to see or touch him. The whole square was full and this scene repeats every Wednesday.

The guide was very good at discussing where St Peter’s was and what was happening. She left as the Pope appeared. He spoke in Italian. Italians liked what he had to say. He even joked a few times. We listened to the laughter and wondered what he said. It was not a very spirit filled experience on the surface. It did impress you this vast array of people from all over the world, most of whom were Catholics.

I am glad I came to be at the papal audience. I am not sure I would come again.  We did get a few views of the Pope. He really makes a few passes at various directions through the crowd. I am sure all got a glimpse of him at some point. Pope Francis is a great pope for the people and they know it.

 Castel S.Angelo

We found out that there was a transit workers strike. It must have started at 9 am since we took the metro in the morning to go to St Peters. While waiting at the audience, we took out maps and planned to visit different sites than orginally planned. It turned out that the Hop on/off buses were running to our relief. The other buses appeared to start up again at 3 pm.

Castel S. Angelo was originally built by Andrian to be his tomb. The Christians turned it first into a fortress and then a home for the Popes before St Peter’s was built in 15th and 16th centuries. Thus, there was quite a set of history revealed in this Castle and museum. There were also excellent views of Rome.

Pantheon, Plaza Navona & St Ignatius Church

Our Hop Bus driver suggested we get to the Pantheon after visiting Plaza Navona for lunch. We has some pizza and salad at an excellent restaurant in he plaza. The music rang though the air as our waiter help us through the menu. Pizza was great!

We got lost looking for the Pantheon. It took us a long time to find it. A group of four helped us by walking us to the right place!.

The Pantheon is certainly a wonderful site and not to be missed.

A friend of ours suggested that we had to see St Ignatius Church. In June, he had found the church by accident and it was a hidden gem! This also attracted me since I was Jesuit trained in high school and college. What he found by accident took us a long, long time to find on purpose! We saw it on maps but we always seemed to get lost. Finally we did find it. It was indeed quite impressive.

After visiting the church, we headed home, took showers and Fred took a nap. We were exhausted. Fred took a nap before we went to dinner.

We found a small restaurant in a basement a few blocks away. We had no recommendations just a hunch. We had a variety of foods. Fred had spaghetti carbonara and veal steak while Milly opted for sliced pork with fried potatoes. We shared vegetables for starter and with our meal. We had trouble finishing he liter of house red wine that was very good.

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First Day in Rome – Hop on/off Tour & Colosseum 9/30/2014

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014

Found finding addresses difficult in Rome

We purchased on the web before we left a 3 day Omnia Pass that provided 3 days of transportation and lines free entrance  to Vatican sites and Rome tourist sites. It  included the Roma Pass. On our 1st morning, we bought a train ticket on Metro to get to St. John Lateran’s Basilica. We had directions from there to pick up our Omnia pass . However, it  was  a very frustrating experience. Finding street names was a chore. We felt lost. One fellow sent us the opposite way. We did find people who would help you. It took us an inordinate amount of time to find the office. Once we got there, we had to wait patiently in line while the attendant explained all the benefits of the pass to each purchaser. We thought we would start our Hop On/Off bus tour about 9:30 am  but didn’t start  until 11:30 am.

Hop On/Off Bus tour – Visit to Colosseum

We decided to take the Hop On/Off bus on its full route through Ancient Rome. We took a few pictures as we passed the various sites, many of which we planned on visiting shortly. This took about an hour and a half.

Then, we entered the Colosseum. It was as spectacular as you had imagined. The views of the surrounding areas from the 2nd level were nice. The pictures tell the story.

When we left the Colosseum and marched up to the Forum, we were told with many others that the Forum was closed and come back tomorrow. It seems there was a strike in process. We learned a little about the Italian ways!

We did walk around the Forum area and tried all the entrances. Our pass let us in the Colosseum and the Forum on the same day. We have an itinerary for Rome that may now preclude us from seeing the rest of the Forum. We will see.

We were tired and took a 1.5 hour nap when we got back to the Beehive. When we got up at 7:30 pm, we selected a restaurant by comparing Yelp with Beehive recommended restaurants in the area. Beehive has a Rome Guide which we downloaded to our ipad kindle reader. We had an excellent meal at Meid in Nepols, about 4 blocks from the Beehive. We had to wait 15 minutes since we didn’t have a reservation. Fred had an excellent Fettuccine dish with sausage and mushrooms  as well as a Veal Stew. Milly had breaded veal and a potato gnocchi.  We both shared an assorted vegetable platter as a starter. Of course, we had table wine; red for Fred and white for Milly. We have found the tables wines excellent!

We slept well but had to awake at 6:15 AM to get to St Peters to meet out Papal Audience guide at 7:30 am.

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Ist Stop – New York City/Long Beach LI – Arrive in Rome 9/29/2014

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

Unplanned events happen on all trips… We got up the morning of our Europe trip. About 7:30 am we got a call from American Airlines that our flight had been cancelled. The good news was that they were rerouting us on United Air. We would get to NYC about a half hour late. When we got to NYC (JFK), our Son, Bill Hostetter was suppose to pick us up. When we arrived, there was no Bill. When we called him , we found out his car had broken down. He also had to get it fixed by morning for his business – dry cleaning delivery. We took a taxi to his room and made ourselves comfortable. What a way to start a trip!

Saturday afternoon, Bill and Fred went for a long swim in the surf in front of his “home”. He lives on the top floor of his business partner’s condo  (Kevin). They share the kitchen. Bill and Fred had a long talk about Bill’s GoGreen Dry Cleaning business status. It has an immediate need to more funds to get them through the winter. Sandy Storm has reduced the numbers living in Long Beach and the severe Winter Snow closed businesses for 9 days. The new Garden City Store revenue hasn’t started up as quickly as originally planned.

On Sunday, Milly and I joined with our grandchildren William and Theodore to assist their Dad’s employees in participating in Garden City Street fair in front of his new store. We were provided donuts, coffee and a closing Pizza to keep us productive!

On Sunday Sept 28th, Bill dropped us off at JFK for our flight to Madrid and onto Rome. We flew on Air Europa. We were impressed. We arrived in Rome after a 3 hour layover in Madrid.

While in Madrid, Fred tries using a ATM machine. He couldn’t get it to work. He looked up how to operate an ATM machine in spanish via googling. He went back to ATM. He surmised that the Machine was out of cash or broken. When we got to Rome airport we were able to use an ATM there to get EUROS.

We found out quickly that we have left America and our english speaking ways. First we experienced that babble of spanish in Madrid. Then, we got to Rome and we heard the italian babble. We did find everyone we talked to was very kind so far in putting up with our english only approach..

Our friends at the Beehive in Rome were very gracious on our arrival here in Rome at about 7:30 PM. We took an express train from airport to Termini Train station in downtown Rome. The Beehive in about 4 blocks from train station. Steve, the BeeHive owner gave us a suggestion for a place to eat around the corner. We had a full Italian dinner with wine for 35 euros. It was excellent. Good start. Its about 6 am on the first morning here in Rome. Now the fun begins.

Response code is 404