Well I thought I’d tell you a bit about my recent overseas trip, as promised. I will start with us landing in Rome,
Sun. Apr 25.
Ian and I arrived at Rome’s Fiumicino airport after a stop over in Dubai. The flight from Aussie to Dubai was 17 hrs and then a further 6hrs to Rome.
We went straight to our hotel, The Buenos Aires, where we met up with Pasquale, the tour director, and the rest of the tour group. There were 40 others in the group, lots of Aussies, so we all hit if off well. Pasquale turned out to be fantastic at his job, he kept us in fits of laughter most of the time.
That afternoon we were taken out on a free tour of the city of Rome.
Rome is amazing; 2500+ year old monuments, Roman walls and architecture intermingle with modern day car parks, shops and advertising billboards. The Romans go about their everyday business seemingly oblivious to the ancient history all around them.
The walking tour takes us to the 'Spanish Steps' at the Piazza di Spagna. Sinking boat Fountain
Don’t ask me what they looked like, I couldn’t see them for bodies; hundreds of bodies!
It was a public holiday and I think the whole of Rome’s 2.8 million inhabitants had turned out to lie around on the Spanish steps sun baking.
At the foot of the steps is the early Baroque ‘Sinking Boat Fountain’- Fontana Della Barcaccia which was built by Pietro Bernini. (It’s also swarming with people- they remind me of ants).
Next stop; the Trevi Fountain with its winged horse. People throw coins into the fountain to assure a return visit to Rome.
The sun drops behind the hills and we continue our bus tour around the streets of Rome, by night.
As we hurtle around the large central square, I can see through the front window of the bus; the Colosseum looms before me. The archways are lit by an eerie, soft light and I’m transported back in time. The history of the Colosseum is of course horrendous but the skill of the architecture is amazing. I look for Russell (Crowe that is) but can't see him anywhere.
View of the Colosseum taken from the bus window at great speed!
Other sites we see that night include the Vatican City, St Peter's Square and Piazza Novona. We see more of Rome at the end of the 15 day tour when we return there for a few days.
Pasquale manages to direct his jet lagged bunch to a local ‘Resturante’ where we attack a five course meal with great gusto. If you don’t like pasta don’t go to Italy.
Later that night we collapse into our bed, exhausted but excited – we are in Rome! My life long dream has come true.
Tour Day 2 Mon. Apr 26
Sees us leave Rome and head for Tuscany and the wine growing region of Castellina.
We stay at the Toscana Ambassadore in Poggibonsi.
This day we visited Orvietto with its large Gothic style Duomo (Cathedral). Constructed from black basalt and yellow limestone and dating from 1330AD in the Piazze del Duomo.
Beautiful mosaics decorate the outer wall of which I take some close up photos. They are so perfect in design. Inside the Duomo frescoes by Signorelli decorate the walls, and feature the Apocalypse.
I sit outside on the steps and sketch in my visual diary, trying to capture the locals and a bit of their life. I feel the hot sun burning the back of my neck, but it’s nice the sit and rest my sore feet. I take another swig of water from my bottle.
Later we walk through the cobbled streets looking for lunch and coffee. Ian and I find the ‘Blue Bar’. A wonderful, little intimate bar in a back street operated by Anthony, an Italian speaking Frenchman. He is charming and very well mannered. A taste of what we surprisingly find on our tour in France later in the trip.
Anthony is intrigued by Australia, especially Sydney, we trade business cards and I promise to find him on Twitter.
Day 3 Tues. Apr 27
Today we jump back on the coach and head for San Gimignana, another medieval town with 13 towers dating back to 1330’s. Narrow winding streets and ancient shops take me back in time. Wild Boar and Saffron are on the menu here!
Next stop, Siena… You know, where they that have that famous Palio horse race around the town square, Piazza del Campo.
We sit in the square with the locals and tourists, we eat apples and bananas that we have brought with us. It’s getting hotter and I have no hat. My feet are still swollen from the flights. Time for a gelato.
The colours of the buildings inspire me; Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna and a Cobalt blue sky. My mind is already conjuring up a painting series based on the colours and textures of Tuscany.
A gypsy roams the street, a baby on her hip, begging for money from the tourists. They are expert pickpockets ( the gypsy not the baby) I feel sorry for Bubs, it’s sooo hot.
The Duomo is Siena is decorated with art and statues by Michelangelo and Bernini.
I like Siena, it reminds me of 'Under the Tuscan Sun'. I buy more postcards just like in the movie.
I'll be back tomorrow with more…
Ciao for now,
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