Saturday, April 24, 2010

Internet service is pretty darn expensive here and I have had little time to get on. We have been to Florence, Pisa and Venice in the past few days. Florence was pretty and we saw the famous Duomo (photo) and I saw only 2 street painters. The have a street painting group and have to pay a fee to the government annually as a group to be able to paint. Their "leader" decides who paints and on what days. I spoke to one of the painters Johnny who told me Kelly was sick, but we ended up finding her. We went to another area to paint and to make sure we were not fined, we did not do anything big and we did not put put a container to collect money. I was happy though to say I painted in Italy - even if it was just an hour and a half.

We headed to Pisa and saw the famous Leaning tower of Pisa. It was smaller that I thought it would be. It is also right in the city of Pisa so there is a lot around it.

Last night we did a night time tour of Venice. It was cold and rainy but we winded our way through the streets to have dinner. Today we returned to Venice for a fill day of touring which was starting with a demonstration of glass blowing in the Murano glass factory, followed by a tour of the areas where all the Venitian glass is sold. Then my cousin and I toured the streets. Some people took gondola rides and then we took a boat tour to the islands and stopped in Burbano and shopped. Neat place with lots of colored buildings and they specialize in making lace. Tomorrow is a long day on the bus back to Rome with a couple stops. Ciao!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

It has been 2 days. I have been so busy I have had no time to update. Yesterday we travelled to the village of Orvieto and then on to Sienna. Both wonderful little villages. Last night we took a taxi back into Sienna and had a traditional Italian meal at a small family owned restaurant. I even tried wild boar (that my cousin had ordered). Our group joined with another tour and we are now 22 and will add 15 more that were finally able to get to Italy this morning. Unfortunately, the additiona 15 are part of the other tour group. Our group from Michigan was unable to make it - most of them anyway. Everything is bellisimo and I am molto bene! Ciao! (Pictures would not post - try later!)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Up at 6:15am and headed to St. Peter's Basilica for 9am mass. I got a kick out of the nun in front of us who pulled her cell phone out of the pocket of her skirt to make sure it was turned off before the start of mass. The art and scultpures in and around the basilica were absolutely incredible! We then proceeded down the street and saw the Castel Sant Angelo, Piazza Navona and the Pantheon. We lunched at Caffe Barocco and then headed back to the hotel. We have dinner and a night tour starting in 30 minutes. Ciao!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

April 16: Left Orlando at 2:45pm and flew to Philadelphia. Our flight from Philly to Rome was delayed about an hour. We sat - 20th in line to depart - for about 50 minutes, so they even turned off the engines to conserve fuel! The 8 hour and 45 minute flight seemed to go by quickly.
April 17th: My first impression of Italy was "WOW", as we were flying in along the west coast and seeing all the beautiful buildings and mountains. When we got closer the Rome and were landing, the area looked much like any other place I have flown into.
We all herded into a 9 person bus and Sergio whipped in and out of traffic for the 45 minute ride to the Grand Hotel Fleming. The cars get literally inches from each other and motorcycles drive wherever they fit, passing cars on the left constantly - even if it means being head on with oncoming traffic! At least it is a law to wear a helmet.
There are tiny cars everywhere. Smart cars are the most popular and all the major auto manufacturers mini models. People park all directions - however they fit...they park.

There are lots and lots of high rise apartment buildings and lots of plants and flowers. We explored the area around the hotel until check-in time, which included shops and a min-market. My BFF and I headed to Cafe Fiochetti after lunch for Cappuccino and cookies - nap time, dinner and relaxing. Tomorrow we head into the major historical areas of Rome. Ciao!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

I am packing for Italy and getting more and more excited by the minute. I just heard from my friend Kathy who put this trip together and all those travelling from Michigan are flying through Paris. They will not know if they are delayed because of the ash from the volcano, until tomorrow some time. If they are delayed, they will join up with us Sunday afternoon instead of Saturday evening. Cia0!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Leaving for Italy in roughly 63 hours.