A photo travel diary, documenting a trip across Italy, from Milan to Venice to Rome and everything in betwen.

A photo travel diary, documenting a trip across Italy, from Milan to Venice to Rome and everything in betwen.


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Liz Hixon

Copyrighted Material


Copyright © 2020 Red Airplane Design LLC

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, used or transmitted in

any manner without prior written permission of the publisher, except for the inclusion of

brief quotations in a book review.

Editing by Renata Alexander

All photographs by Liz Hixon, except photo on page 4 (Pam Hudson)

Illustrations & book design by Liz Hixon

Printed by Lulu xPress in the United States of America

Published by Red Airplane Design LLC



Written, illustrated and photographed by Liz Hixon





For my awesome uncle and aunt, Brian and Pam. Thanks for the amazing

trip to Italy. Glad I could be your “tour guide” even though I didn’t really do any

tour guiding outside of sniffing out all the delicious hole-in-the-wall kebab. Brian, thanks

for trusting me to get us safely back to port through the winding Venice streets – and for

tearing it up on the dance floor with me. Pam, thanks for ditching Brian with me to go

window shopping – and for convincing me to buy that pretty little black dress.


6Day 1 | Milan

Duomo di Milano (Milan Duomo)


An enchanting city, Milan is renowned as the fashion

and design capital of the world. The romantic city is

home to alluring night life, gripping history, monumental

architecture and stunning art.

The historic home of Leonardo da Vinci, Milan is famed as

the city of his Last Supper. The Duomo cathedral, towering

impressively over the famous piazza, and the famed highend

shopping mall of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II draw

more than eight million visitors each year.

During World War II, Milan was the target of heavy bombing

between 1940 and 1945. An estimated 2,200 people lost

their lives, almost half a million were displaced and nearly

one third of the city’s buildings were destroyed. Bombers

focused heavily on the city center in an attempt to destroy

Milan’s cultural and artistic artifacts. Three-fourths of the

historic buildings, such as the Duomo and other churches –

including the one where the Last Supper is housed – the

Sforza Castle, La Scala and the Galleria, suffered damage to

8Day 1 | Milan

varying degrees. Italy was quick to commence reconstruction

efforts, but the devastating effects of war can still be

witnessed today.

Milan is a true metropolis: strong and fearless

but welcoming too. Little by little, I came to realize

that I could become someone here.”

—Giorgio Armani


Day 1 | Milan



Upon arriving in Milan and checking into our

hotel, located at the heart of the city, we

conducted our own mini tour of the city center.

Our meanderings led us past the Duomo and through the

Galleria. Though not the height of tourist season, there

were still clusters of people enjoying the beautiful weather

and impressionable architecture. We dined at a small

restaurant and experienced our first Italian meal of the

trip – fresh vegetables, warm pasta, perfectly cooked tender

meat; cuisine in Italy is truly unparalleled!


Day 2 | Milan


Castello Sforzesco (Sforza Castle)


Exploring Milan

Our first full day in Milan began with a tour

of the magnificent Duomo cathedral in the

city center of Milan. It is quite fitting that the Duomo

served as the foundation for our trip as it also serves as the

cornerstone around which the city is built. In many a sense,

the phrase “all roads lead to the Duomo” would not at all

be an understatement. Quite literally, the map of Milan

resembles a multi-spoked wheel with the Duomo resting at

the hub. A visitor cannot be lost long in the meandering

Day 2 | Milan


streets of Milan before catching a glimpse of the cathedral’s

magnificent spires.

The largest church in Italy (keep in mind that Saint Peter’s

is located in Vatican City), Milan’s Duomo is an impressive

sight to behold, both inside and out. Built across a span

of nearly six centuries, the magnificent façade was not

completed until the early 1960s.

After observing the ornate exterior, we entered the

Duomo to marvel at the modern wonder of the

impressive Gothic architecture and the gemstone colors

of the towering stained-glass windows. Throughout

the interior, we acknowledged the impressive artistic

works contained therein, most notably Saint Bartholomew

Skinned by sculptor Marco d’Agrate. The statue portrays

Bartholomew draped in his own skin, each of his

muscles and veins rendered in perfect anatomical detail.

While visually depicting the manner of the martyr’s

torture, the figure is also a brilliant exercise in human

anatomy and is significantly representative of the

Renaissance period, during which the study of anatomy,

for both medical and artistic purposes, flourished.

tiled floor displays the Turin coat of Arms, to deftly

stomp on the testicles of the mosaic bull – a sure way

to summon good luck!

We stopped into the Savini, a lovely café situated at the

end of one wing of the Galleria. The friendly wait staff

served us a deliciously appetizing platter of biscotti

alongside our orders of cappuccino and espresso.

The great hall of the Galleria connects the Piazza del

Duomo to the Piazza della Scala, where we exited to see

the Statua di Leonardo da Vinci, a larger-than-life sculpture

celebrating the famed artist and inventor who spent

much of his early life in the city of Milan. We crossed

the square and came to face the Teatro alla Scala, Milan’s

renowned opera house, built in the late 1700s and

inaugurated in the year 1778. Designed by architect

Giuseppe Piermarini, the Teatro alla Scala is the most

significant work by which he is remembered.

Between us and the theatre stretched the Via Santa

Margherita, a portion of the route for the Mille Miglia, a

world-renowned motorsport tour featuring more than

four hundred classic European automobiles. This happened

to be the day the vehicles were passing through

the city of Milan on the last leg of the tour, which

stretches from Brescia to Rome and back. Our group

and hundreds of other tourists and locals lined the sidewalks,

snapping photos as each shiny vehicle rolled past.

Exiting the magnificent church, we crossed the Piazza

del Duomo and entered the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II,

the oldest shopping mall in the world, famed for its

luxurious designer brands. The large archways of the

Galleria funnel millions of visitors each year into the

haute couture shops of luxury retailers such as Prada,

Armani, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Swarovski and more.

Many visitors also flock to the Galleria for a fine dining

experience at one of the many upscale restaurants

located beneath its grandiose glass arches.

On this day, thousands of visitors milled about, many

stopping near the mall’s center, where the intricately


Day 2 | Milan


Mille Miglia

In the early 1900s, the Mille Miglia was an open-road endurance

auto race that attracted an estimated five million

spectators from across Italy and the world. The race took place

twenty-four times between the years of 1927 and 1957 with a break

during World War II. Many luxury car brands of today including

Maserati, Porsche, Alfa Romeo, BMW and Ferrari owe their fame to

the famous race.

The first Mille Miglia, which translates to “one thousand miles,” included

seventy-seven Italian vehicles, fifty-one of which reached the finish line.

During the years of the race, Italian autos strongly dominated. Rarely

did foreign manufacturers’ cars roll across the finish line in first place.

The rigid competition brought about amazing innovations in the world

of automotive manufacturing. However, as newer cars became faster

and more powerful, the race became increasingly dangerous. In 1957, a

Ferrari fatally crashed, killing two drivers and ten spectators and bringing

about the halting of the race for good.

The year 1977 saw the rebirth of the race as a commemorative event.

Since then, it is an annual ritual that celebrates the nostalgic history of

European automobiles.


After watching the procession for a bit, we proceeded to

the Sforza Castle, originally built in the fifteenth century by

Francesco Sforza, Duke of Milan. During the sixteenth and

seventeenth centuries, it served as one of the largest citadels

across all of Europe. It was largely rebuilt by Milanese

architect Luca Beltrami, known for his architectural restoration

work. Today, the castle houses historical and artistic

collections, most notably Michelangelo’s Rondanini Pietà, his

final work of sculpture, left unfinished at his death.

Our next stop was the church, Santa Maria delle Grazie, which

houses the world-famous Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci.

Over the years, the painting has deteriorated significantly

and has undergone numerous restoration efforts. At the

time when Leonardo painted the scene, he had no experience

with murals and the fresco method commonly used

at the time. Whereas frescoes were made by mixing dye

directly into the wet plaster, Leonardo created this painting

by applying pigments over the dry plaster. Unlike frescoes

that exist from the same time period and exhibit strikingly

vivid colors, the Last Supper has not fared so well.

In an attempt to preserve the masterpiece, today,

the room is temperature controlled, flash photography

is forbidden and the number of visitors who enter the room

– and the amount of time they can gaze upon

Day 2 | Milan


the work – is strictly limited.

After concluding our sweeping tour of the major sights in

Milan, we made the decision to venture out and mount the

rooftop of the magnificent Duomo. We went halfway up


via the elevators, then took to the stairs for the remainder.

Nearing the top, the view of Milan became more and more

comprehensive, bringing new life to the phrase, “you could

see for miles.”

The rooftop afforded a panoramic view of the entire city,

a splendid spectacle to behold. Red terracotta roofs dotted

the landscape for miles on end. In the distance, the metropolitan

sector boasted glass-encased skyscrapers that chased

each other into the clouds. Through the haze of cloud

cover, we could just begin to make out the blurry shapes

of the distant Italian Alps.

We were also allowed a closer inspection of the elegant

ornamentation and detailed masonry of the structure. A

grandiose 3,400 statues – in addition to 135 gargoyles and

700 figures carved in relief – adorn the exterior of the

Gothic-style cathedral. Even as we climbed to the rooftop, it

was nearly impossible to comprehend the sheer magnitude

of the church and the detail that was afforded by the adept

craftsmen privileged enough to lend their skills to

the distinguished landmark.

Descending the monument, we made our way to the

hotel, ready for rest yet anticipating the remainder of the

trip, having just whet our appetites for the amazing sights,

Day 2 | Milan

sounds, smells and tastes of Italy.



Day 2 | Milan


At last, a forest of graceful needles, shimmering in the amber sunlight, rose slowly above the

pygmy housetops, as one sometimes sees, in the far horizon, a gilded and pinnacled mass of cloud

lift itself above the waste of waves, at sea, – the Cathedral! We knew it in a moment.

Half of that night, and all of the next day, this architectural autocrat was our sole object of interest.

What a wonder it is! So grand, so solemn, so vast! And yet so delicate, so airy, so graceful! A very

world of solid weight, and yet it seems in the soft moonlight only a fairy delusion of frost-work

that might vanish with a breath! How sharply its pinnacled angles and its wilderness of spires

were cut against the sky, and how richly their shadows fell upon its snowy roof! It was a

vision! – a miracle! – an anthem sung in stone, a poem wrought in marble!

Howsoever you look at the great cathedral, it is noble, it is beautiful! Wherever you stand in Milan

or within seven miles of Milan, it is visible and when it is visible, no other object can chain your

whole attention. Leave your eyes unfettered by your will but a single instant and they will surely

turn to seek it. It is the first thing you look for when you rise in the morning, and the last your

lingering gaze rests upon at night. Surely it must be the princeliest creation that ever brain

of man conceived.”

—Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad


Day 3 | Verona, Valpolicella



Located along the Adige River, Verona is

known as the setting for Shakespeare’s Romeo and

Juliet, making the city a major destination for tourists, especially

romantics. Verona is also home to a large amphitheatre,

which resembles the Colosseum in Rome. However,

unlike the Colosseum, Verona’s arena is largely intact and

is, in fact, still used for grandiose shows and opera performances

which are well attended by theater lovers from

Day 3 | Verona, Valpolicella

around the world. The city boasts a rich cultural history,

as told especially by the architecture, as ancient Roman

structures live harmoniously alongside edifices constructed

in the Middle Ages.


Romeo and Juliet

While William Shakespeare’s famous

tragedy, Romeo and Juliet, is indeed fictional,

the characters and setting of the story are

largely true to life. While there is some debate among

scholars, the Montague and Capulet families are believed

to have been prominent political families in Verona, recognized

for constant squabbling. The Montecchi and Capuleti

families were also mentioned by Dante in his Divine Comedy.

Interestingly, while most scholars agree that Shakespeare

likely never visited Verona and may never have been to

Italy at all, Verona is the setting for not just one, but two,

of his plays. The home formerly inhabited by the Capulet

family has gained fame as Juliet’s house, with the 2010 film

Letters to Juliet only adding momentum to the legend.

So, while the story surrounding Juliet’s house is merely

fictitious, Shakespeare’s drama is so shrouded in legend

that each year, millions make the pilgrimage to Verona to

celebrate love. Passageways leading to the courtyard are

covered in scribbled graffiti of initials, hearts and wishes.

Visitors crowd the statue of Juliet in the courtyard, touching

her right breast for good fortune in love. Guests can also

enter the house to stand on the legendary balcony, mimicking

the famed scene as they call out to loved ones below.


City of Legend

We awoke the following morning and

boarded the bus bound for Venice by way

of Verona and Valpolicella. Upon reaching the outskirts

of historic Verona, we disembarked and crossed

the Ponte della Vittoria (Victory Bridge) on foot, leading us

into the heart of the ancient town.

Our first stop was to admire the Porta Borsari, a Roman

Day 3 | Verona, Valpolicella


gate that dates back to the 1st century AD. Historically, its

grand arches marked the main entrance to the city and was

therefore lavishly decorated.

Continuing our trek, we paid a brief visit to the massive

Verona Arena, an ancient Roman amphitheatre, built

around the year AD 30 and still in use today as an

internationally prominent venue for large opera performances.

On this particular morning, the square in

front of the structure was occupied by a mass of people

assembled for the Verona marathon. Due to the crowds,

we didn’t marvel long at the ancient wonder, but continued

on after snapping a few photos.

We proceeded toward the Piazza dei Signori, the main

city center of historic Verona. We slowly made our way

through the increasingly crowded streets toward the

legendary home of Shakespeare’s Juliet.

Large crowds were gathered in the passageways leading

toward the bronze statue of Juliet. Many stood in line to

enter the house so they could climb to the balcony and

reenact the famous balcony scene with loved ones below.

After taking our photos and gazing at the legendary

scene, we pushed ourselves back out to the main streets

to escape the throngs.

The remainder of our morning was spent exploring

the nooks and crannies of Verona’s city center.

Naturally, we found a quaint gelato shop and savored

our sweet frozen treats as we wandered, shopped and

took photographs of the historical architecture.

ROMEO: Is love a tender thing? It is too

rough, too rude, too boisterous, and it pricks

like thorn.

MERCUTIO: If love be rough with you, be

rough with love. Prick love for pricking, and

you beat love down.

―William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

to her home, and the courtyard beneath the famous

balcony was a solid mass of tourists, pressing their way



Ah, the verdant vineyards! Stretching out for miles on

end, rows upon rows of lush grapevines adorn the

countryside hills. The Valpolicella region is esteemed for its

red wine production. Historically, the wine produced in the

area was referred to as recioto, a flavorful dessert wine made

from grapes that have been specially dried to concentrate

the sugars. The rich dry wine Amarone is another variety

produced in the region. Amarone, which translates to “the

Day 3 | Verona, Valpolicella

great bitter,” was so named to distinguish it from the sweet

recioto. In the wine-making process, these two wines are

quite similar, the primary difference being that grapes used

for Amarone are allowed a longer fermentation period.



Wine & Dine

Departing from Verona, we traveled to

Valpolicella for a fine dining experience at

the Serego Alighieri vineyard. Stepping out of the

coach, we were transported to a fairytale scene. Organized

rows of grapevines rolled away from us in every direction.

Perfectly kempt pathways lined with foliage summoned us

toward the winery. We dined on a three-course meal, each

section exquisitely paired with a delectable house wine.

Day 3 | Verona, Valpolicella

After a delicious and filling meal and a guided tour of the

winery, we resumed our seats on the bus for the remainder

of our journey to Venice.



Day 4 | Venice


Basilica San Marco (Saint Mark’s Basilica)

Venezia Venice

Venice was built around 400 AD as coastal inhabitants

sought refuge from mainland barbarian

invaders. The magical floating city that now consists

of 118 tiny islands separated by a lattice of canals and

bridges began as refugees flocked to the swampy islands.

Canals were dug, wooden posts were pounded deep

into the marshy soil and foundations were built. Thus,

Venice was formed.

The Venetian Republic was born in 697, founded as a

safe haven for refugees escaping mainland persecution.

A coastal trade hub inhabited by immigrants, Venice

boasted a spectacular diversity of culture. While flaunting

the traditional earmarks of the Italian Gothic style,

Venetian art and architecture clearly exhibit Byzantine,

Moorish and Muslim influences.

The Republic, ruled by the Doge and a parliament,

prospered for hundreds of years up until the early seventeenth

century when various conflicts began to arise

among religious entities and other empires. Turmoil

Though the final years of the Republic were turbulent,

Venice’s legacy is one of glory, having boasted a model

system of government and an enduring heritage of art,

music, architecture and culture. After the Napoleonic

Wars, Venice was declared a part of Austria until 1866

when it was transferred to the Kingdom of Italy.

Historically, Venice was praised for its intricate glasswork,

a tradition that continues as modern shoppers

enjoy an array of locally made glassware and tours of

glass factories. Sadly, the enchanting city is facing many

challenges including sinking, due to rising tides and its

marshy foundation; progressive damage caused by enormous

ocean liner cruise ships and economic difficulties.

Despite adversity, Venice continues to transport tourists

to an earlier time in history. Unlike most European cities,

the Venetian islands resist the contemporary touch

of modernization. Free of any motored vehicles, visitors

maneuver about the city on foot. Handsome gondoliers

serenade their passengers through the city’s mysterious

Day 4 | Venice

reigned for much of the seventeenth and eighteenth

centuries until, in 1797, French troops under Napoleon

occupied the province, forcing the Doge to surrender

watery passages. One could easily argue that a more

romantic city does not exist.


and ending the Republic.

To build a city where it is impossible to build a city is

madness in itself, but to build there one of the most elegant

and grandest of cities is the madness of genius.”

―Alexander Herzen


Day 4 | Venice


A Thousand Bridges

Upon arriving in Venice, we were warmly

welcomed aboard the River Countess, the

out various political dramas that took place within

the walls of the palace.

many prisoners had considered their last. Entering the

New Prisons, we noted that the cells were more spacious,

small river cruise ship that would serve as our

floating hotel for the following week. After settling

in, the ship departed from the main port and made

its way to the southeastern side of the fish-shaped city

where we docked for the night.

After touring the chambers of the Doge’s Palace, we

were led into the old dungeon, located on the eastern

side of the palace. Eighteen cells were referred to as

the Pozzi or “wells” which had offered unspeakable conditions.

Located above the Pozzi were the Piombi, which

though naturally far from luxurious.

Completing our tour of the Doge’s Palace, Susan led us

back to the ship by way of the meandering city streets,

allowing us ample time to stop and admire the exquisite

sights Venice affords.

The following morning, we disembarked, led by our

were primarily reserved for upper-class hostages.

gracious guide for the day, Susan Steer, a remarkable

art historian. Susan led us adeptly through the

twisting alleys and across the numerous bridges that

crisscross the abundant winding canals that separate

the patchwork of tiny islands. She guided us to the

Piazza San Marco and into the grandiose Doge’s Palace.

The elaborate architecture boasted ceilings graced

by opulent gilded gold, magnificent figures carved in

relief, walls wrapped with rich paintings and colorful

marble-adorned doorways and columns.

Susan was a remarkable storyteller, bringing to life

the colorful – and somewhat fiery – history of the

magnificent palace. She led us into the past, drawing

our imaginations into the ancient stories. She spoke of

Titian, the renowned Venetian painter, and she played

Susan skillfully narrated the colorful story of Giacomo

Casanova, famed for his fantastical escape from the

Piombi, which he accomplished by engaging the aid of

fellow prisoner, Father Balbi.

Located across the canal from the Doge’s Palace, the

New Prisons were built in the late 1500s as an attempt

to improve conditions for inmates. In 1600, the New

Prisons were linked to the palace by the famous Ponte

dei Sospiri or “Bridge of Sighs,” so named as prisoners,

being led across the bridge to their confinement, would

sigh upon beholding their final glimpse of Venice

through the two small windows whose thick limestone

panes stamped a heavy floral latice over the city. As we

crossed the memorable bridge, we paused to peer out

the slatted windows at the same view of Venice that

A realist, in Venice, would become a romantic

by mere faithfulness to what he saw before him.”

―Arthur Symons

After a tasty lunch in the ship’s lovely dining room, we

set sail aboard the River Countess for a scenic cruise

around the islands of Venice. Most passengers climbed

to the rooftop sun deck, enjoying cocktails as the picturesque

shorelines of quaint Murano and colorful Burano

floated past.

We drifted by the small enclosed island of San Michele,

which has served as the Venetian burial grounds for

centuries, ever since burial on the primary Venetian

islands was outlawed as unsanitary during French occupation.

In years past, bodies were carried from Venice


Day 4 | Venice


to San Michele in a procession of funerary gondolas.

As we sailed on, one particularly notable sight was

colored water creating gentle laughing waves as the

Today, the island is still employed as a cemetery for

the leaning bell tower on the playfully colorful island

pleasant breeze and other seafaring vessels passed over

Venetian residents.

of Burano. Belonging to Saint Martin’s church, the

it. Inhabitants and tourists alike smiled and waved from

Murano, historically known for glassmaking, was

the next island we drifted past. Late in the thirteenth

century, the Venetian Republic declared glassmaking a

fire hazard, fearful of the potential devastation it could

cause on the main islands. Glass makers were relocated

to the outlying island of Murano. Until the late sixteenth

century, Murano’s glassmaking techniques were

refined far beyond any other manufacturers. Today,

Murano artisans still fabricate beautiful glasswork and

tower, built in the 1600s, began to lean in 1774 when

it was heightened by ten meters to satisfy new architectural

tastes. The architect had failed to consider

the impact that the additional weight would have upon

a foundation of mud. In the late 1900s, the lean of the

tower was accelerated, alarming nearby residents and

requiring preventative measures be put in place to avert

disaster. Though permanently anchored now, the tower

retains it’s cockeyed angle.

the shorelines of the various islands as they spotted our

ship passing gracefully by.

Following a hearty dinner on board, we set out again –

this time by water taxi – toward the Piazza San Marco

for a private after-hours tour of the magnificent basilica.

The view of San Marco from the Piazza is incredible,

a spectacle of artistry and engineering. Yet as the

gleaming domes tower toward the skies and the fading

evening sunlight reflects off glistening golden mosaics

the colorful shop displays pull window shoppers in with

their inviting vivid hues.

The return voyage to our docking station at the main

Venetian islands was a peaceful trip, the cerulean

that adorn the façade, the exterior splendor cannot

compare to that of the inside.


Susan, our guide and narrator, brought to life the biblical

account in the gleaming mosaics that adorn the ceilings.

Behind the altar, we viewed the bejeweled Pala d’Oro, an

ostentatious Byzantine masterpiece, wrought in gold and

enameled with precious jewels. Though a site to behold,

the extravagance is a bit too excessive to consider the piece

particularly beautiful.

We were then led into the crypt, which offers a stark contrast

from the lavish upper floor. Bare brick and stone make

up the oldest portion of the basilica, constructed in the mid

eleventh century. Susan guided us through the history of

the crypt, which serves as the foundation on which the rest

of the basilica stands.

Leaving the crypt, we slowly made our way back out

onto the bustling piazza. The walk back to the ship was a

meandering one, enjoying the twinkling night life, exploring

shops and restaurants that remained open and stopping to

photograph the magnificent sites.

Day 4 | Venice


And off in the far distance, the gold on the wings of

the angel atop the bell tower of San Marco flashed in

the sun, bathing the entire city in its glistening benediction.”

―Donna Leon, Death in a Strange Country


Day 4 | Venice


San Marco’s Biblical Narrative

The 46,000 square feet of colorful mosaics

that crown the ceiling of the magnificent

basilica serve to guide worshipers through the

Gospel story. As the basilica was built and illustrated,

a largely illiterate society relied on spoken word and

visual imagery to educate their Christian faith.

Upon entering the atrium, the sparkling mosaics

navigate viewers through the Old Testament, beginning

with Creation and including the Flood, the story of

Joseph and the Exodus. Just as these ancient biblical

events paved the way for the coming of Christ, the

vibrant mosaics serve as preparation for the visuals in

the nave of the church where the life of Christ becomes

the dazzling focal point.

In the central nave, prophets portrayed with scrolls

inscribed with Old Testament passages foretell of

Christ. The narrative of His life is detailed in glittering

color from His birth, miracles, crucifixion and resurrection,

to – at the crowning apex of the central golden

dome – His glorious ascension.

mosaic on the eastern wall. Beneath His figure is a

window that bathes the interior with sparkles as the

sun rises each morning. The sunlight seems to emanate

from the portrait of Christ, symbolizing Christ as the

light of the world. As the sun sets, the west windows

stream light across the dome, illuminating Christ’s

kingly figure, visually echoing the encouragement of the

Psalmist, “From the rising of the sun to its setting, the

name of the Lord is to be praised.”

Clearly, with each carefully laid stone and the placement

of each mosaic image, the architects had the

biblical narrative in mind, calling the faithful to praise

as they enter the lofty heaven-reaching structure.

Praise the LORD! Praise, O servants of the

LORD, Praise the name of the LORD. Blessed be

the name of the LORD

from this time forth and

forever. From the rising of the sun to its setting

the name of the LORD

is to be praised.”

—Psalm 113: 1–3 (NASB)

Facing the altar, worshipers can’t help but notice the

central image of Christ as Ruler, displayed in rich


Day 5 | Padua


Caffé Pedrocchi

Day 5 | Padua


Padova Padua


small picturesque town, Padova, or “Padua,” is home

to a rich and colorful history, evidenced through

numerous renowned works of art and architecture. The

famous Giotto painted the beautiful frescoes inside the

Cappella degli Scrovegni or “Scrovegni Chapel.” Padua also

features an eclectically-constructed eighteenth-century

coffee shop, the esteemed University of Padua – the second-oldest

university in Italy (founded in 1222 as a school

of law) – the Basilica Pontificia di Sant’Antonio di Padova, or

“Basilica of Saint Anthony of Padua,” and other notable

works of art, sculpture and architecture.


Roaming Historic Streets

Early the following morning, we set off by

coach for Padua, located on the Italian mainland

to the west of Venice. Dreary gray raindrops did

not prevent us from making the most of our day in Padua.

We began our tour of the quaint town by stopping into

the Caffé Pedrocchi, a three-hundred-year-old coffee shop,

noted for its eclectic architecture – as well as its public

[free] restrooms. Since its origins in the eighteenth century,

the Pedrocchi Café welcomed people of all social classes,

from the rich down to the very poor.

Day 5 | Padua


The coffee shop contains three rooms, labeled by the colors

of the Italian flag. Historically, the Green Room served as

the common room where patrons could rest undisturbed by

waiters – even if they weren’t dining at the establishment.

This room became a place for the poor to stay dry and

get warm, or for college students to study with their

classmates. The green room today is still a place where

tourists can rest without being bothered by the waiter

and, as previously stated, visitors are welcome to use

the facilities free of charge – a hot commodity in Italy!

At the opposite end of the café lies the White Room,

a more formal space, where lunch and dinner are

served. In 1848, students in the café were attacked by

Austrian troops in an attempt to stamp out resistance to

Hapsburg rule. Today, the walls of the White Room still

exhibit bullet holes that resulted from the ruckus.

Between the Green and White Rooms is the Red Room,

the largest of the coffeehouse spaces where the historic

coffee bar is located. Each room is furnished tastefully

in a manner respective to its name.

Featuring a fascinating amalgamation of architectural

styles that include Romanesque, Gothic, Byzantine,

Renaissance and Baroque, the choicest words to

describe the interior are “eclectic” and “chaotic.”

The various rooms seem to have no affiliation with

each other. While the room in which lies Saint

Anthony’s body is lavishly embellished in the fanciful

and quite gaudy Baroque style, the central nave exhibits

simplistic bi-colored Romanesque arches – yet even

these have the unique twist of being pointed arches

rather than rounded, owing to Gothic influences. Far

from artistically lovely, the basilica is at least a multifaceted

testament to the diverse influences that contributed

to the local art and architecture.

After touring the basilica and the adjacent abbey, we

made our way back to the main square outside the

Pedrocchi Café. From there, we wandered about

the city center, grabbing a delicious lunch at a hole-inthe-wall

kebab restaurant. Unfortunately, the popular

Scrovegni Chapel was closed on this particular day, so

a visit to the gift shop to pour through books containing

Giotto’s beautiful artwork was all we could afford.

Leaving the café, we wound through the narrow streets,

visiting various historical sites and architectural splendors.

Walking through the large city market, we viewed

the Palazzo della Ragione, the medieval town hall, built

during the thirteenth century and known in Europe for

having the largest roof without supporting columns.

We meandered through the rainy brick streets, eventually

finding ourselves facing the Basilica of Saint

Anthony of Padua. The patron saint of lost items, Saint

Anthony’s church hosts more than five million pilgrims

each year.


Day 6 | Ferrara


Cattedrale di San Giorgio (Saint George Cathedral)


Located along the Po di Volano, a branch of the Po

River, Ferrara is a small town with a rich Medieval

and Renaissance history. Due to its situation adjacent to

the river, the region surrounding the town is quite lush,

providing a fertile ecosystem with a diverse array of plant

and animal life.

The Castello Estense, a moated medieval castle, is the dominant

landmark of the town. Additionally, Ferrara is home

to the Duomo di Ferrara, a large Catholic cathedral dedicated

Day 6 | Ferrara

to Saint George. A more simplistic Romanesque design,

this cathedral lacks the opulent extravagance of many others

built around the same time and is actually quite lovely.


Italy’s Natural History

Our ship had departed from Venice and was

now cruising up the Po River, so we set out

to explore a nearby city on the Italian mainland,

opting for an excursion to Ferrara. Upon arriving, I

decided to take off on my own. As the rest of the

group was guided through historic sites in Ferrara, I pinned

down the Museo Civico di Storia Naturale (Natural History

Museum) on the map and set off to find it.

Exploring the museum, I was thoroughly amazed by the

vast array of local flora and fauna on display and the

exhibits of various ecosystems represented in the Province

of Ferrara. Additionally, the museum housed a phenomenal

collection of minerals and fossils from around the world.

My time limit of two hours was not nearly enough to thoroughly

explore all the museum had to offer.

After meeting back up with Pam and Brian, we found a

small Middle Eastern shop serving delicious kebab. After

a generous portion of meat-on-a-stick, we wandered the

alleys of Ferrara, ducking into shops offering colorful wares

of jewelry, textiles and trinkets until we were ready to head

back to the ship.


Day 7 | Chioggia, Venice



Just to the south of Venice lies the small island town

of Chioggia. The town has no particular historical

significance. In fact, much of its history has faded into

obscurity, leaving behind little but speculation. However,

the town has a quaint historical feel to it and is quite often

referred to as “Little Venice,” owing to its few canals and

similar architecture.

In current day, Chioggia’s economy flourishes as a fishing

Day 7 | Chioggia, Venice


community, with additional revenue driven by a thriving

textile market, brickmaking and steel. In print, Chioggia

may seem to be but a boring little town, yet in visiting,

you’ll find it to be not only quite colorful, but also graciously



Shopping, Shopping

We spent our morning in Chioggia

enjoying the sites and sounds – and of

course, the thrilling shopping opportunities –

of the bustling open-air market. Racks upon racks

of stylish clothing, bins of vibrant scarves, tables of

beads and textiles and jewelry… As our meanderings

through the market led us near the port, the scent

of freshly caught fish greeted our nostrils. The town,

known for its saltwater offerings, displayed its catches

on tables of ice beneath colorful awnings.

Reaching the end of the market, our group walked

along the canals, making our way to the coach. We

embarked and were returned to the islands of Venice

where we boarded the ship again. After a refreshing

lunch in the dining room and a climb to the ship’s

rooftop for a charming view of Venice as its shoreline

waved past, we docked at a different Venetian port.

Day 7 | Chioggia, Venice

While some remained on board to explore the ship

or enjoy cocktails in the lounge, Pam and I ventured

out into Venice’s lively streets to explore and do some

shopping for ourselves.



Samuel Rogers, Italy

There is a glorious city in the sea.

The sea is in the broad, the narrow streets,

Ebbing and flowing; and the salt sea-weed

Clings to the marble of her palaces.

No track of men, no footsteps to and fro,

Lead to her gates. The path lies o’er the sea,

Invisible; and from the land we went,

As to a floating city, – steering in,

And gliding up her streets as in a dream,

So smoothly, silently, – by many a dome,

Mosque-like, and many a stately portico,

The statues ranged along an azure sky;

By many a pile in more than Eastern pride,

Of old the residence of merchant-kings;

The fronts of some, though time had

shattered them,

Still glowing with the richest hues of art,

As though the wealth within them had run o’er.

Day 7 | Chioggia, Venice



Day 8 | Venice


Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace)

Day 8 | Venice


Lost in Venice

Torn between touring Venice’s historical

islands and exploring its main complex

on our own, we parted ways. While Brian remained

aboard the ship to see the islands, Pam and I set out on

foot to explore the hundreds of vibrant little Venetian

shops offering colorful assortments of local glass, fanciful

masks, rich textiles and art.

Upon concluding our quest for souvenirs, we trekked

to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice’s famous

modern art museum. Credited with discovering

South, East from West, yet to still magically find oneself

facing a remarkable landmark. And somehow, you

always manage to find your way out.

Our evening was spent on the ship’s deck, enjoying a

screening of The Tourist, featuring Johnny Depp and

Angelina Jolie maneuvering Venice’s mysterious canals

on a quest to bring down a ring of mobsters. The feature

had certain spellbinding appeal as we floated atop

the very waters where it was filmed, the lively lights of

Venice twinkling around us.

and financing the work of Jackson Pollock, the late

Peggy Guggenheim, niece of mining mogul Solomon

Guggenheim, invested a great deal of her fortune in

art. Her impressive collection, consisting of works by

many notable artists – including Pablo Picasso, Jackson

Pollock, Salvador Dalí, Max Ernst, Marcel Duchamp

and numerous others – is housed in the Palazzo Venier dei

Leoni, an eighteenth century palace, located along the

Grand Canal, where Peggy resided for thirty years.

Rejoining Brian, we spent the afternoon wandering.

The enchanting thing about Venice is that it affords one

the freedom to become completely lost in its winding

streets, without the ability to distinguish North from

Venice is like being in a strange, decadent

dream – the Moorish architecture; the striped

pilons with their peeling paint, which the

gondolas are tied to; the water slapping against

the buildings; the tiny alleys that always feel

a bit wet. I like that little hint of exotic – it

stirs my bones.”

—Iris Apfel, Iris Apfel: Accidental Icon


Day 8 | Venice



Day 9 | Venice


Ponte di Rialto (Rialto Bridge)

Rooftop Views

On our last full day in Venice, we began

our morning by taking a water taxi to

the vicinity of the historic Rialto Bridge. We disembarked

not far from the famous bridge and walked

to the nearby Fondaco dei Tedeschi, seeking to take in its

rooftop views.

The historic Fondaco dei Tedeschi, situated along Venice’s

Grand Canal, is one of the city’s largest buildings. It

was originally constructed in 1228, but was rebuilt

in 1508 after being destroyed by fire. Historically a

prominent fixture of commerce, the Fondaco served as

a warehouse and trading post as well as living quarters

for many of its merchants.

Recently, the large square building was privatized,

renovated and transformed into a large shopping

other iconic works of architecture, we spotted many

famous domes scattered across Venice’s skyline, including

those of Saint Mark’s basilica.

We returned to the ship for lunch before setting out as

a group to one of the large glassblowing factories for

a demonstration. Before our eyes, the skilled artisan

displayed his mastery of the craft, quickly and deftly

bringing a glass horse to life from inside the glowing

crimson-orange furnace. At the completion of the

demonstration, we entered the vast and extravagant

show rooms where dazzling gemstone hues sparkled,

reaching out to tickle our eyes and our fancies.

That evening, back on the ship, we all dressed to the

nines and enjoyed a delectable formal dinner for our

final night aboard the ship.

Day 9 | Venice


center in keeping with the historic theme of trade.

The transformed building opened in October of 2016

and is now a major attraction in Venice. Despite the

luxurious interior and famous brands, the most attractive

feature is definitely the rooftop, which serves as an

event space and overlook of Venice.

Taking a lift to the roof, we admired the spectacular

panoramic view of Venice the terrace affords. Among


Day 10 | Florence


Michelangelo’s David

Firenze Florence

Quaint and picturesque, the landscape and architecture

of Florence are a beautiful sight to behold.

Capital of the Tuscany region, Florence is located in

central Italy along the Arno River and is surrounded by

the Apennines Mountains.

Established by Julius Caesar as part of the Roman Empire

in the first century BC, Florence has thrived across millennia

as a blooming metropolitan city. Dubbed the birthplace

of the Italian Renaissance, the historic town is renowned

for its art, architecture and history.

It would take more than a few paragraphs to list the

many famous individuals who contributed to Florence’s

fame. Of note is the powerful Medici family, which played

a significant role in Florence’s political sphere throughout

the Middle Ages. Florence was also home to a great

number of artists and poets including Filippo Brunelleschi,

Michelangelo, Dante, Giotto and Leonardo da Vinci.

Day 10 | Florence

Gelato is one of the highlights of a trip to Italy,

every bit as important as seeing The David.”

—Author Unknown


A city-size shrine to the Renaissance, Florence offers frescoes,

sculptures, churches, palaces and other monuments from the

richest cultural flowering the world has known.”

—National Geographic


Admiring Michelangelo

Leaving Venice, we departed by bus for

Florence. On our way to the famous city, we

stopped at a vineyard and enjoyed a relaxing three-course

meal in the garden, serenaded with the light, cheery notes

of classical Italian ballads.

After the savory meal, we continued to Florence, where

our first stop was the Galleria dell’Accademia in which

Michelangelo’s remarkable statue of David is located.

While the museum houses a number of significant works by

great Italian artists such as Sandro Botticelli and Domenico

Ghirlandaio, Michelangelo’s David is undeniably the

masterpiece. Though a sight to behold from afar, the statue

becomes even more impressive as one approaches and perceives

its true monumental size. Visitors are able to circle

the masterpiece, admiring it from all sides. We spent a great

deal of time marveling at the magnificent work.

As it was already late afternoon by the time we departed

the Galleria, we called it a day and proceeded to our hotel

Day 10 | Florence

where we checked in and got settled before setting out on

our own to find dinner.


Michelangelo’s David

Michelangelo was only twenty-six years old when

he began this sculpture in 1501. Significantly, he had

already sculpted the Pietà in Rome. Upon its completion

in 1504, David was placed in the public square outside the

Palazzo Vecchio, Florence’s government building. The sculpture

remained there until 1873 when it was moved to the

Galleria dell’Accademia where it stands today.

This statue of David, one of the most famous works

of sculpture in the world, embodies the ideals of the

Renaissance period. During this time, art, architecture

and ideas were revived from antiquity, specifically Ancient

Rome. The Renaissance signified a revisiting of humanistic

thought; man is central to his own narrative in an almost

supernatural sense. Michelangelo carved this

worldview into the fourteen-foot sculpture, portraying

David as larger than life, heroic, the ideal form of a man.

When most earlier depictions of the biblical hero portrayed

the young boy victorious, often holding the head of the

conquered Goliath, Michelangelo’s David is preparing for

the battle, determined, confident in his own strength. In

contrast to the biblical narrative, Michelangelo rejected

the Christian view of man as subject to God and placed

emphasis on the strength and power of man himself.


Day 11 | Florence


Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore (Florence Cathedral)

Art and Architecture

in Florence

Waking up the following morning, we set

out for a walking tour of the remarkable

city of Florence. We made our way along the

Arno River to the Piazza della Signoria, the large plaza

facing the Palazzo Vecchio, Florence’s historic town hall.

Adjacent to the palace is the renowned Galleria degli

Uffizi – or the Uffizi Gallery – a prominent museum

dedicated to Italian art, particularly from the time of

the Renaissance. We admired the attached Loggia dei

Lanzi, which serves, in a sense, as an open-air gallery

of Renaissance sculpture.

From the Piazza, we exited back out to the main road

It is quite impossible to imagine Florence’s picturesque

skyline without the magnificent red-orange dome of

its fabulous cathedral. The Cattedrale di Santa Maria del

Fiore isn’t just overwhelming in name, but in structure.

Standing before it, the building seems behemoth, dwarfing

everything around it, including the beholder.

And when I thought of Florence, it was like a

miracle city embalmed and like a corolla, because

it was called the city of lilies and its cathedral,

St. Mary of the Flowers.”

—Marcel Proust, Swann’s Way

Day 11 | Florence


along the Arno River to find ourselves near the picturesque

Ponte Vecchio, noted for the many shops built along

it. Though it was historically common to build shops

along highly trafficked bridges, the Ponte Vecchio is one

of few that remains. Originally constructed as butcher

shops, most of the huts are now occupied by goldsmiths.

Winding our way through the city’s narrow streets, we

took a scenic route to the Piazza del Duomo – the square

over which looms the impressively ornate Florence

Cathedral – stopping to admire other significant works

of architecture on our way.

While the façcade alone towers above all other

surrounding structures, the grand cathedral’s magnificent

dome stretches even higher toward the sky. This

dome is the great masterpiece of Italian architect and

designer, Filippo Brunelleschi, a man who continues

to stun the modern world with his artistic and architectural

innovations which include the discovery of

linear perspective, creation of inventive machinery

and ingenious feats of architecture. Even five hundred

years after its construction, the cathedral’s dome


Day 11 | Florence


remains the largest masonry dome ever built – and it is

a mystery to modern architects and engineers alike.

Facing the great cathedral is the splendid Florence

Baptistery. A beautiful example of Romanesque

architecture, the baptistery is one of the oldest buildings

in the city, constructed in the late eleventh century. In

keeping with the standard construction of other baptisteries

of the period, the structure is octagonal. A contrast

of dark and light marble creates a stunning visual

effect upon the arches and columns of the building.

The baptistery is also famous for its gilded bronze doors

on the east featuring the Gates of Paradise, designed by

Brunelleschi’s rival Lorenzo Ghiberti.

Having concluded our guided tour of the city’s significant

architecture, we spread out to navigate the web

of streets offering small leather boutiques, gelato shops

and trinket and souvenir stores.


Day 12 | Florence, Rome


Day 12 | Florence, Rome


A Day of Remembrance

Leaving Florence, we began the journey toward

our final destination city of Rome. Making

its way uphill, our bus wound through the foothills of the

surrounding Apennines to the Piazzale Michelangelo, which

affords a panoramic view of Florence and the blue-gray

mountains that gently encompass the city. We stopped to

admire the terracotta rooftops stretching out before us, a

monotone sea of red-brown hues, interrupted by the behemoth

mass of the Florence Cathedral. After a few short

minutes of snapping photos and gazing upon the fairytale-like

view, we reboarded the bus to continue our journey

toward the famous and historic city of Rome.

Being the day after Memorial Day, our guide surprised

us with an impromptu visit to the Florence American

Cemetery, which happened to be en route. The cemetery

serves as the burial site for nearly five thousand American

troops killed during World War II in fighting that took

place in Rome and the Apennines Mountains. At the crown

of the hillside adorned with thousands of bright white

crosses, is a stone memorial listing the names of fourteen

hundred soldiers missing in action. The atmosphere and

attitude were contemplative and reverent as we again

boarded the bus.


We enjoyed a guided tour and a peaceful lunch at the

Castello di Verrazzano, a lovely vineyard known for its organic

production of Chianti Classico in the Chianti region in

Tuscany. Dating back more than one thousand years,

the vineyard is one of the most ancient currently functioning

vineyards in the area.

Arriving in Rome, we checked into our hotel, decorated in

a slightly avant garde style. After some rest, we ventured

Day 12 | Florence, Rome

out into the nearby streets to find an easy bite for dinner.

Locating a small modern café, we tucked ourselves into a

corner and enjoyed some light snacks before heading back

to the hotel for some much-needed sleep prior to trekking

across the city of Rome the following day.



Day 13 | Rome


Il Colosseo (Colosseum)

Day 13 | Rome


Roma Rome


city praised for its history, architecture and

romanticism, Rome is one of the most popular

destinations in the world. Across a history of more than

twenty-eight centuries, Rome served as a metropolis

of Western Civilization. Many great philosophers,

artists, poets, sculptors, architects, inventors and mathematicians

walked its streets, carving their mark upon

the world. Included on the list of these history-inspiring

individuals are the likes of ruler Julius Caesar, orator

and writer Cicero, mathematician Ptolemy, emperor

Constantine, artist Michelangelo, painter Raphael,

architect Brunelleschi and sculptors Donatello and

Bernini to name only a few.

Located in the central western area of the Italian peninsula,

Rome is situated along the shores of the Tiber

River, which winds its way into the nearby Tyrrhenian

Sea. Within the city’s interior lies the independent country

of Vatican City State, hub of Roman Catholicism

and home to Saint Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel

and of course, the pope.

The great city of Rome is wrapped in a shroud of

legend and mythological splendor. Though originally

inhabited nearly ten thousand years ago, Roman

mythology anchors its beginnings in eight century BC.

The city’s name is attributed to its first king, Romulus,

who was crowned following a fatal altercation with his

twin Remus that resulted in his brother’s death.

Rome boasts a rich and unparalleled historical and

cultural experience. In contrast to many destination

cities, a majority of Rome’s ancient, Renaissance

and Baroque wonders reside at the heart of city,

putting must-see attractions within easy walking distance

of each other.

With nearly ten million international travelers flocking

to the city each year, tourists, students and academics

flood the ticket counters of Rome’s famous attractions

and esteemed museums as religious pilgrims pay their

faithful dues at Saint Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican

City. Some of the most popular destinations include

the famous Colosseum and Roman Forum, the Trevi

Fountain, the Pantheon and the Spanish Steps.

Rome is not like any other city. It’s a big

museum, a living room that shall be crossed

on one’s toes.”

—Alberto Sordi


Rome’s Ancient Splendors

Day one in Rome consisted of a walking

overview of its famed must-see sites. After

spending the morning wandering about the lesser known

sites near the hotel, which included a visit to the church

Santa Maria della Vittoria to view Bernini’s masterpiece, the

Ecstasy of Saint Theresa, our group lunched together at a

private loft on the Isola Tiberina, a magical little island in the

middle of the Tiber River at the southern end of historic

Rome. A vintage structure that had been featured in the

1960 Italian film, L’Avventura, the loft boasted fascinating

architecture consisting of domed doorways and walls. The

rooms were tastefully and airily decorated with simple, yet

elegant, modern elements.

After an excellent three-course Italian meal, we began our

trek through historic Rome. The first significant landmark

was the Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II, an

enormous monument towering over the Piazza Venezia, the

central hub of Rome. Superfluous and imposing, this work

of architecture was dedicated to the first king of unified

Day 13 | Rome


Italy, Victor Emmanuel II. Despite your location in the city,

the shining white structure, elevated by an unattractive base

of square pearly marble is hard to miss, its two crowning

statues to the goddess Victoria keeping watch over the city.

The Colosseum was our next stop. We admired its gran-

plaza today. Seating areas became the foundations for

each corner, symbolizing the four continents over which

diose exterior before entering the ancient wonder to

new structures such as churches, schools and shops,

the papacy had authority. The Danube River represents

gawk at its sheer size, wondering in amazement at the

many of which remain today in some form.

Europe; the Nile, Africa; the Ganges, Asia; and the Río

masterminds behind such a spectacular feat. Standing

atop the structure, it’s easy to imagine the dramatic

scenes this behemoth structure had seen play out on

its sweeping floor. However, the missing floor, which

reveals the ruins of the basement below, and an overall

state of disrepair make it difficult to imagine how the

Colosseum once stood in its former glory.

Rome was a poem pressed into service as a city.”

—Anatole Broyard

At the center of the plaza stands the famous Fontana dei

Quattro Fiumi, or Fountain of the Four Rivers, commissioned

by Pope Innocent X and designed by the great

de la Plata, the Americas.

From the Piazza, we walked the short distance to

the nearby Pantheon, built early in the second century

AD as a temple to the gods. With a circular layout,

the diameter of the interior space equals the height

such that the spherical dome could be extended to

create a perfect sphere inside the building. Nearly two

Moving on from the Colosseum, we made our way

Baroque sculptor and architect, Gian Lorenzo Bernini.

thousand years after its construction, the roof remains

to the Piazza Navona, built over the first century AD

The tallest standing Egyptian obelisk in the world, taken

the world’s largest unenforced concrete dome. At the

Stadium of Domitian. In the fifteenth century, a floor

was installed over the central area and serves as the

from Egypt after the Roman conquest, rises from the

center of the fountain with four river gods stationed at

top of the dome is a large oculus that lets sunlight in,

creating a reverse sundial effect. Having been used


Day 13 | Rome


The Roman Colosseum

A magnificent ancient structure, the colossal

amphitheatre is the most visited attraction in

Rome. Originally opened in the first century AD,

the Colosseum has survived nearly two thousand years.

With an estimate of more than seven million visitors

each year, the Colosseum is figured to be the most

visited tourist attraction in the world.

While many similar Roman amphitheatres exist, some

of which are in far superior condition and still serve

as backdrops for events such as bullfights, operas and

ballets, the Colosseum in Rome is significant because

it was the largest amphitheatre ever built. Additionally,

as Rome was the capitol of the Roman Empire, the

Colosseum and neighboring Roman Forum were the

stages upon which much of Rome’s political history

was played out.

Construction of the Colosseum, also known as the

Flavian Amphitheatre, was begun in AD 72 by the

emperor Vespasian and completed by his successor

Titus in AD 80. These two emperors also constructed

a similar amphitheatre the coastal city of Pozzuoli,

located about two hundred fifty kilometers south of

Rome. Shortly after the completion of the Colosseum,

the emperor Domitian also made modifications to

the structure during his reign. These three emperors –

Vespasian, Titus and Domitian – made up the Flavian

dynasty and the amphitheatre was given its Latin

name, Amphitheatrum Flavium, thusly. The common name,

“Colosseum,” was likely derived from the Colossus of

Nero, a 100-foot-tall statue of Nero that stood nearby.

Constructed of travertine, volcanic tuff and Roman

concrete, the Colosseum was the stage for gladiatorial

contests, animal hunts, public executions and staged

dramas. It is estimated that the arena could seat up to

eighty thousand people.

In the fifth century, the Colosseum was neglected as an

scene for entertainment and fell into disrepair. Through

the eighteenth century, the structure was transformed

into a quarry of sorts, becoming a source of marble,

brick and other materials for building projects throughout

the city.

Though the Colosseum may not reflect the splendor

of what it once was, it still stands as an icon of the once

glorious, nearly omnipotent Roman Empire.


consistently since its construction, the Pantheon has been

better preserved than most Ancient Roman buildings.

Notably, the famous painter Raphael is entombed in

the Pantheon.

Wandering past various street performers, we made

our way to the Trevi Fountain, one of the most famous

fountains in the world. Constructed in 1762 and standing

eighty-six feet high, the Trevi Fountain is the largest

Baroque fountain in Rome. Oceanus, god of the mythological

River Okeanos, is the fountain’s central figure.

Traditionally, coins should be tossed into the fountain over

the left shoulder using the right hand. Legend holds that

tossing a coin into the fountain guarantees a return trip

to Rome someday.

After completing our walking tour of Rome, we spent

our evening experiencing the city by taste. We tasted

delicious wines and cheeses at a small shop off the beaten

path, dined on fried zucchinis and artichokes in the Jewish

Ghetto, stuffed ourselves with personal pizzas and beers at

a hole-in-the-wall eatery and concluded our evening with

authentic mouth-watering gelato.

With full stomachs, we trekked back to our hotel and tucked

ourselves in for a night of rest before venturing out again

Day 13 | Rome


the next morning.

Men did not love Rome because she was great.

She was great because they had loved her.”

—G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy


Day 14 | Vatican City


Basilica di San Pietro

Città Vaticano

Vatican del City


small city-state encircled by the city of Rome, the

Vatican was established in 1929 as a result of the

Lateran Treaty. Though its independent status is relatively

recent, the history of its authority, the Holy See, dates back

to early Christianity.

Saint Peter’s Basilica stands near the site of the first century

AD Circus of Nero. In front of the famous church, a tow-

ering obelisk, seized from Egypt by Emperor Augustus

and erected in the Circus by Caligula, now stands as

the sole remnant of Nero’s Circus where it is believed Saint

Peter was crucified upside down.

Capitol of the Roman Catholic Church, Vatican City State

is known for being the location of Saint Peter’s Basilica, the

Sistine Chapel and a treasure trove of other architectural

and artistic wonders, including Michelangelo’s famous

Pietà. The impressive Vatican Museums contain a remarkable

collection of Roman sculpture and Renaissance art,

Day 14 | Vatican City


compiled over centuries by the popes. With fifty-four galleries

in total, tours of the museums culminate in entrance to

the Sistine Chapel, where visitors are repeatedly encouraged

to maintain reverent silence as they crane their necks

to gawk at Michelangelo’s vivid illustrations that adorn

the ceiling above.

Many believe – and I believe –

that I have been designated for

this work by God. In spite of my

old age, I do not want to give it up;

I work out of love for God and I

put all my hope in Him.”



Day 14 | Vatican City


Artistic Wonders

of Vatican City State

Arriving inside Vatican City, we pressed our

way through the crowds to enter the Vatican

Museums. After passing through the metal detectors, we

joined the stream of people winding their way through

the vast galleries to see the historic works. The hallways

were extraordinarily packed with onlookers admiring

the assortment of sculpture, paintings and tapestries.

Our visit to the galleries concluded in the glorious Sistine

Chapel. We took our time, gaping at the wonder of

Michelangelo’s brush upon ceiling above us, admiring

vivid colors and intricate details. No allotment of time is

sufficient to thoroughly take in its full magnificence. Yet,

we slowly migrated to the exit and made our way to Saint

Peter’s Basilica, another famous site in Vatican City.

One of many domes rising above the desert of earthen-

colored rooftops, Saint Peter’s is easily recognized as the

tallest peak of the historic city center – and one of the

most recognizable structures adorning Rome’s picturesque

skyline. The remarkable dome was designed by the great

Michelangelo, a project which he started at the ripe age

of seventy-one. Though he dedicated the rest of his life to

its construction, it was not completed until twenty-six years

after his death.


Day 14 | Vatican City


While the dome and façade are impressive from the exterior,

the colors and enormity are even more striking from the

inside. The sheer size of the beautiful building is enough

to make a visitor feel like a tiny speck. While lofty and grandiose,

Saint Peter’s, unlike other Catholic churches, feels

light and airy, as sunlight streams in and reflects off

the bright golden interior.

Every beauty which is seen here by persons of

perception resembles more than anything else that

celestial source from which we all are come.”


That afternoon, I rested at the hotel while Pam and Brian

set out to visit the Roman Forum, the ancient ruins of the

Roman Republic’s government buildings. Our last evening

as a group was spent at a lovely modern restaurant. We

enjoyed our final meal of pasta and wine together before

bidding adieu to each other at the hotel.


Day 15 | Rome


Fontana della Barcaccia, Scalinata di Trinità dei Monti


On our final day in Rome, we set out to

find our must-see sites that hadn’t been

included in the group tour. The first marker on

our map was the Basilica di San Clemente, a church

known for the layers of history upon which it was

built. Excavations beneath the church have exposed

a fourth century. Below this are the remains of a third

century pagan temple and further down are ruins of

a first century home, likely belonging to Titus Flavius

Clemens, where early Christians worshiped secretly

as Christianity was outlawed in Rome.

Unfortunately, the excavations were closed when we

visited due to electrical outages in the city. Though

disappointed to miss the site we’d hiked so far to see,

we were able to enter the modern San Clemente church

to marvel at the stunning golden mosaics adorning the

apse and to gawk at the eclectic blend of architecture

boasting both Early Christian and Baroque elements.

Leaving San Clemente, we wandered our way through

I found Rome a city of bricks and left it a

city of marble.”

—Emperor Augustus

toward the Spanish Steps, a steep set of stairs linking

the Piazza di Spagna at the bottom with the Piazza Trinità

dei Monti at their summit. We approached the steps from

the top and carefully descended the slippery marble to

reach the Piazza below.

At the base of the stairs in the center of the Piazza

is the Fontana della Barcaccia, or Fountain of the Boat,

designed by Pietro Bernini, father of famed sculptor

and architect, Gian Lorenzo Bernini. The fountain’s

primary sculpture is a half sunken ship, water spraying

upwards and overflowing its sides.

We slowly climbed our way back to the crown of the

stairs, sitting to rest at the top and take in the beautiful

panorama of the square below us.

and Maserati vehicles. We stepped inside to marvel at

the luxurious cars, thus concluding our sightseeing tour

of Rome, not with its ancient wonders, but with Italy’s

most modern ones.

For someone who has never seen Rome, it is

hard to believe how beautiful life can be.”


That evening, we packed up our clothes and souvenirs

before a short night of sleep. The following morning,

we made sure to grab our passports as we left the room,

closing the door behind us and bidding a sincere arrivederci

to the beautiful country of Italy.

Day 15 | Rome


the historical streets back toward the city center. We

stopped near the Colosseum for a hearty pasta lunch,

one of our final authentic Italian meals of the trip.

Passing the Colosseum and Roman Forum, we hiked

Making our way back to the hotel – via the scenic route

of course – to pack and get some rest before our long

journey, we meandered past the old city wall to find a

shop called Samocar, a small dealership of luxury Ferrari


Italy land that I love. Italy land of my dreams.

Italy where the art of Florence is quite a sight.

Italy land where the isle of Capri shines bright.

Italy where the cities of Milan and Naples do bustle.

Italy land where the gondolas of Venice still hustle.

Italy where Rome and the Coliseum stand majestic.

Italy land where the vineyards and countryside of Tuscany

are beautifully rustic.

Italy where the Leaning Tower of Pisa still stands.

Italy land where Sicily and its people are grand.

Italy where pasta, wine, and cappuccino are the norm.

Italy land where opera is sung and new fashions are born.

Italy land that I love. Italy land of my dreams.

Viva Italia!”

—Roy Whitman




Copy in this book was set using 9-point Baskerville type, a

serif typeface designed by British designer John Baskerville in the

1750s. His designs were then cut into metal by a punchcutter. A

transitional typeface, Baskerville increased the then-standard contrast

between thick and thin letter strokes. The letterforms were influenced

by John Baskerville’s early training in calligraphy.

Headers were set using Gotham with the

decorative Edwardian Script as ornamentation.

Originally commissioned by GQ magazine, Gotham was

developed by American type designer Tobias Frere-Jones in the year

2000 and is licensed by the type foundry Hoefler & Co. Inspired by

architectural signage, the letterforms look beautiful in large

sizes, yet are extremely legible at small sizes.

Edwardian Script was designed by Edward Benguiat, a

New York-based type designer and calligrapher. The script,

based upon hand writing with a steel pointed pen,

was published by ITC in 1994.


Fotografie Photographs

Front Cover: Roof of the Galleria (looking upwards); Galleria, Milan

Back Cover: Dome of Saint Peter’s; Saint Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City State


Page 4: Brian, Liz and Pam overlooking Venice; Palazzo Fondaco dei Tedeschi, Venice.

Photo: Pam Hudson

Day 1: Milan

Page 8: Duomo façade; Milan

Page 9: Galleria and Milan; Duomo rooftop, Milan

Page 10–11: Roof of the Galleria (looking upwards); Galleria, Milan

Day 2: Milan

Page 14: Stained glass window; Duomo, Milan

Page 15: Interior of the Galleria; Milan

Pages 16–17: Vehicles in the Mille Miglia; Via Santa Margherita, Milan

Page 18: Sforza Castle, Milan

Page 19: The Last Supper; Santa Maria delle Grazie church,Milan

Pages 20–21: View of statues on the Duomo and the Milan skyline; Duomo rooftop, Milan

Page 22: Duomo detail; Duomo rooftop, Milan

Day 3: Verona, Valpolicella

Page 26: Campanile; Verona

Page 27: View of the balcony; Juliet’s house, Verona

Page 28: 1st century AD Roman gate, Porta Borsari; Verona

Page 29: Renaissance frescoes on Verona houses; Verona

Pages 30–31: Courtyard view of the winery; Serego Alighieri vineyard, Valpolicella

Page 32: Rose wall; Serego Alighieri vineyard, Valpolicella

Page 33: Table settings; Serego Alighieri vineyard, Valpolicella



Day 4: Venice

Pages 36–37: View of Venice at twilight; Riva San Biagio, Venice

Page 38: Tintoretto’s Paradise; Sala del Maggior Consiglio (Hall of the Great Council), Doge’s Palace, Venice

Page 40: A prisoner’s final view of Venice; Ponte dei Sospiri (Bridge of Sighs), Doge’s Palace, Venice

Page 41: Colorful buildings; Burano, Venice

Page 42: San Marco façade, main door, Last Judgment by Liborio Salandri, Horses of Saint Mark; San Marco, Venice

Page 43: San Marco Basilica; Piazza del San Marco, Venice

Page 44–46: Mosaic above the San Alipio door on San Marco’s façade; San Marco, Venice

Day 5: Padua

Pages 48–49: Equestrian Statue of Gattamelata by Renaissance artist Donatello; Piazza del Santo, Padua

Page 50: Caffé Pedrocchi; Padua

Page 51: Basilica Pontificia di Sant’Antonio di Padova; Padua

Day 6: Ferrara

Pages 54–55: Castello Estense; Ferrara

Day 7: Chioggia and Venice

Pages 58–59: Boats docked along the canal; Canale Perottolo, Chioggia

Page 60: Decorative window; corner of Calle Pedrocchi and Riva dei Sette Martiri, Venice

Page 61: Hotel Londra Palace; Venice

Pages 62–63: Western entrance to the Grand Canal; Venice

Day 8: Venice

Pages 66–67: Gondola station; Venice

Pages 68–69: Glass sculptures based on sketches by Picasso, by Egidio Costantini; Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice

Day 9: Venice

Pages 72–73: Panoramic view of Venice; Fondacco dei Tedeschi, Venice


Day 10: Florence

Page 76: Detail of Michelangelo’s David; Galleria dell’Accademia, Florence, Italy

Page 77: Panoramic view of Florence; Piazzale Michelangelo, Florence

Page 78: The Young Slave, one of Michelangelo’s slaves; Galleria dell’Accademia, Florence, Italy

Page 79: Michelangelo’s David; Galleria dell’Accademia, Florence, Italy

Day 11: Florence

Page 82–83: Façade of the Florence Cathedral; Florence

Page 84: Florence Cathedral, Florence

Page 85: Panel portraying the story of Noah from Ghiberti’s Gates of Paradise; Baptistery, Florence

Day 12: Florence

Page 88: Florence American Cemetery, Florence

Page 89: Headstone of an unknown soldier; Florence American Cemetery, Florence

Pages 90 – 91: View from a terrace at the Castello di Verrazzano; Chianti

Day 13: Rome

Pages 94–95: Colosseum; Rome

Pages 96: Street performer; Rome

Page 97: Panoramic view of Rome; Pincian Hill, Villa Borghese Park, Rome

Pages 98–99: Colosseum; Rome

Pages 100–101: Trevi Fountain; Rome

Day 14: Rome

Pages 104–105: Saint Peter’s Basilica; Saint Peter’s Square, Vatican City State

Page 106: Michelangelo’s Pietà; Saint Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City State

Page 107: Baldacchino di San Pietro/Altar of Bernini beneath Saint Peter’s dome; Saint Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City State

Pages 108–109: Dome of Saint Peter’s; Saint Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City State

Day 15: Rome

Page 113: Overlooking the Roman Forum from the northwest side of the Colosseum; Rome

Page 115: Temple of Antoninus and Faustina; Roman Forum, Rome




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