Italy Highlights

I just got back from an epic two week trip in Italy.  It was absolutely amazing, but it will be awhile before I can get through all the pictures.  For now, here are some of the highlights.

Here we have Ponte Sant’Angelo, a bridge spanning the Tiber river, with Castel Sant’Angelo on the left.  This was an unplanned shot in that I didn’t set out to get it.  We were walking across an adjacent bridge, and I looked over to see this.  It’s an often-photographed scene, so I was lucky the sun and, especially, the clouds played nice and gave me a great view.

Next we’ve got one of my photographic white whales – the Bramante staircase in the gift shop of the Vatican Museums.  This is the modern Bramante staircase, as opposed to the ancient one.  Many thanks go out to Scott Kelby, who unselfishly shared 1) Where this is located, 2) When to photograph it with no people on it, and 3) How to be there at that time.  None of those things are obvious.  Would you expect that a fantastic work of art like this would be in the gift shop?  And this is the exit to the Vatican Museums, so it’s normally got lots of people on it.  We signed up to get into the museums early and, instead of the Sistine Chapel, I went straight to the exit to get this shot.

Our adventure in Italy wasn’t just in Rome.  We started with 5 days there and then spent 3 days in the Tuscan countryside, 3 days in Assisi, and then 3 days on the Amalfi Coast.  All this with two kiddos in car seats and diapers, plus all the baby accouterments.  Just in case we weren’t totally wiped out after all that, we swept through Paris on the way home, spending just 20 hours there.

There were lots of side trips along the way.  Driving from Rome to Buoncovento in Tuscany, we stopped and spent the day in Orvieto.  Here is the facade of the Duomo di Orvieto.

From our home base in Tuscany, one of our day trips was to Siena.  Of course I had to climb the almost-500 steps to the top of the Torre del Mangia to see how the world looked from there.  It looked pretty good.

The main feature you see is the Duomo di Siena (the Siena Cathedral).  More facades there, of course.

Assisi is yet another fabulous hill town.  Although the whole place is interesting, and there are several major features, you can’t help but be drawn to the Basilica di San Francesco d’Assisi (St. Francis of Assisi).  We were there toward the end of the special Jubilee year of Mercy, so there were a lot of people on pilgrimages in addition to the tourists.  The only way to get a shot of this basilica without a bunch of people in it was to show up at dawn.

At this point, it’s still hard for me to get my head around everything we did and saw and experienced.  It’s overwhelming in a good way.  I even started taking notes to keep track of everything.  If you’re curious about some of the details, you can take a look at this:

italy-tour.txt

Those are the running notes I’ve been taking and adding to.  It’s definitely a work-in-progress but gives you some idea of how epic this trip really was.  Time-permitting, I’m planning of putting together a full write-up of all the adventures.  And there were lots of adventures – Very few people speak English there, so I had to learn some Italian; I got stopped by the Carabinieri one night outside of Buoncovento; driving in Italy is totally insane, and I had to do it in a huge 9-passenger van.  Also, in Amalfi, this happened:

Oh yeah – While we were in Rome, we attended a Papal Audience.  This happens every Wednesday while the Pope is staying at the Vatican.  We did everything we could to receive a blessing from Pope Francis for our baby girl Claire and, well . . .

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. . . that’s our girl.  So I’d have to say that out of all the incredible things we saw and photographed, this one is my favorite.

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