We actually pulled into Civitavecchia, Italy, but we're going to spend most of our time on a Rome, Pisa, and Florence trip. So I didn't follow my typical convention and name this one "Civitavecchia." By the way, it is pronounced Chee-vee-ta-veh-kee-ah, said rather quickly, with the accent on the "veh."
Our first glimpse of Italy was of its "heel;" the "back" part of the boot that appears on our map to be the most eastern part of Italy.
The next glimpse came when we got to the "toe" of Italy, with the Italian island of Sicily on the left and mainland Italy on the right. This is the shot toward the west, Sicily
And on the right was mainland extreme South Italy, which is the Callabria region where my Dad's family originated. Our course took us right between the "toe" and the "ball" that you see on maps and globes.
A closer look at the Callabria region. At full zoom, it was almost possible to see inside the windows of those houses.
A closer look at Sicily.
Innovations abound back on board ship, where Deborah Byrnes has Lauren and Elizabeth painting on their backs, to have an idea of how Michelangelo felt painting the Sistine Chapel! This exercise really helped Lauren feel excited seeing it in real life!
A general announcement between classes told us that we were about to pass by the world's most active volcano on the island of Stromboli.
As we got closer, we could see that there are houses (lower left)! The captain headed straight for the island and seemed to curve around it to give us a close up view.
Religious studies professor Becky Kasper surveys the sunrise, Civitavecchia, and the long, long walk to the gate. This one makes Dubrovnik's hike look like a short stroll! Initially we felt happy that there was a shuttle bus that made a trip every 20 minutes, but the shuttle bus seemed to be on its own very erratic schedule, which didn't seem to coincide with ours!
One of the first things we did was to board a bus, of course! We made a 1-hour trip to Roma ("Rome" to Americans). One of the first things we did was stop at a hill overlooking the grand city. Just minutes after posing for this shot, we heard a loud explosion. It seems that every day at noon, a loud cannon shot is fired, just feet below us, to signal to the entire town that it is time for some great pasta!
Another thing we did was get a little sightseeing in between stops, as usual from a speeding bus! This is Circus Maximus, the site of Ben Hur. Our guide said that lots of Christians were slain at this chariot site.
The next stop was the Coliseum, a well-known attraction. It was odd that it was in the middle of an urban area!
Lauren found the Coliseum to be very interesting, as the kids had studied it in Kid Core.
Inside, the Coliseum was very interesting, and not plain as I had thought. The floor even had an area that held the participants and lions!
Once we finished our tour of the Coliseum, we were all ready for a great Italian lunch with pasta and great Italian bread (8 on my scale). Here are (name coming soon), Karen Burns, and Amy Martin, enjoying the feast.
After lunch, we visited the Vatican, a separate country located entirely within Rome. St. Peters Basilica was indeed majestic, and it was indeed inspiring to know that the bones buried under the Altar are most likely those of St. Peter.
Although we did not have an opportunity to see the Pope, we did what looked like wisps of smoke swirling around in Raiders of the Lost Arc. It was indeed an eerie sight, and adding to the experience were strange noises echoing all around the Vatican's main Square. I found out later that the "smoke" was actually groups of swallows flying around, and the sounds were actually repair workers.
Also in the Vatican, there were priceless works of art like this one by Michelangelo. Video and/or photography was not allowed in the Sistine Chapel, and it was dark for our walking tour of Rome. So I didn't make much further use of my fully-charged camcorder battery that night.
The next stop was Pisa. You know what's there, right? This crooked bell tower!
We couldn't resist goofing around in front of the camera!
Pisa was a brief stop (less than an hour), and we moved on to Firenza (Florence). We did a walking tour and saw this massive church, called St. Mary of the Flowers.
Here's another view of St. Mary of the Flowers.
Inside St. Mary of the Flowers, we saw an interesting clock that counted the number of hours of daylight left until darkness fell. This was a guide for traveling to Rome. Yes, the clock turned counter-clockwise!
Another interesting sight was this contrast of technologies: a horse and a cellular phone!
Nearby, there was a sign that none of us could fully believe. Not only was there no smoking, but several other forbidden activities! No guitars or umbrellas?
We visited the famous, but small, Bargello museum in Florence where we saw dozens of sculptures of Michelangelo and other Renaissance artists. We also were truly amazed to see colleagues Bob Glass and Iris Vessey (of Indiana), making their way around Italy! They just happened to be at the same museum, in the same city, and the same country, at the same time were were there! It is a small world indeed! Here we are posing in front of Michaelangelo's Bacchus sculpture.
We went to a museum and saw what is considered to be the first sculpture of the Renaissance: Donatello's statue of David.
In another museum (the Academy), we saw Michelangelo's sculpture of David. An interesting contrast to Donatello's. Lauren was especially taken by the hands in this piece.
Here's a self-portrait along with part of David in the background. My thanks to Peter Polak for fixing the picture so that it looked more natural, making up for my lack of a flood light.
The next day included a lunch in a palace! Here are Matt Maccalla, Bill Bailey, Michelle Kerulis, Josh Lavers, John Jacobus, Meegan LeMott, (name forthcoming), and Ian Unterman posing after our Risoto, chicken, and tiromisu lunch cooked to perfection.
Lauren and Michelle Kerulis are said to look like sisters. Here they are in one of their cuddly moments!
Christy loved shopping in Florence! This was her favorite shopping area, an outdoor market. She's posing with her new leather jacket.
She also posed back at the hotel in her new jacket along with some new shoes and a new scarf, too.
We went to see a performance called Sister Act I & II, which was more like a concert by some musicians from Virginia and North Carolina. Here we are upon our return. Everyone's dressed up except for me!
Our Rome, Pisa, and Florence trip was a success! We returned safely thanks to the driving of Sandro, and we returned happy thanks to the guide, Theresa.
On our last day in Italy, we again took a trip to Roma. We had been planning to get together with Father Brian Welding, whom we met in Pittsburgh only a couple of weeks before leaving on the trip. Luckily, we were able to meet him for a few hours! Here he is telling us about the Spanish Steps.
He took us on an interesting walk around Roma, and we were able to get more background on what we saw. He was an excellent tour guide! The fact that he is working on his doctorate made him exceptionally knowledgeable about Roma. He filled us in on some of the missing details and even the misconceptions of the tour guides.
Father Brian does his work from the Ponitifical North American College, pictured here. We entered what he described as a typical square, which insulates the inhabitants from the urban outside. Here we are surveying their goldfish-stocked fountain in the midst of orange trees and an olive tree. The olive tree is the silvery-green one touching the upper left of the frame.
We took a walk to a beautiful church, where a wedding just happened to be under way. The bride and groom are just above a few peoples' heads near the lower right corner of the photo. Notice the beautiful mosaic dominating the picture.
On the way back, we passed the hill where Julius and Augustus Cesare lived long, long ago. In the foreground, there are some new excavations going on, and new ruins (why are they called ruins? They are treasures!) are being discovered all the time.
The excavation is extensive. Here is another view, showing the Roman Forum.
In this shot, you can see where the history books indicate the likely location of some of the Apostles who were kept imprisoned.
It was entertaining to see people posing with these "Roman gladiators," for a fee, of course!
We went with Father Brian to an excellent restaurant for some actual Italian spaghetti! Father Brian is the one in the center who is nearly blocked by my soda glass. We didn't like saying goodbye to Italy, my favorite port so far. I somehow felt a strong connection with my ancestors' home land.

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Photos copyright 1999, Dennis F. Galletta