DiNapoli Family Trip to Italy
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DiNapoli Family Trip to Italy

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DiNapoli Family Trip to Italy DiNapoli Family Trip to Italy Presentation Transcript

  • A trip to Remember
  •  The ash clouds from the volcano eruption in Iceland threatened our trip, with Heathrow closed on the days prior to our scheduled departure while a British Airways cabin & grounds crew strike threatened our return, ending the day before we were to leave. All in all we were very lucky.
  •  We drove down to New Orleans on May 17th where we stayed overnight with Robin‟s mother. Early on the 18th her sister Carole picked us up and drove us to Louis Armstrong Int‟l Airport for the flight to Chicago‟s O‟Hare. From there we connected with a British Airways flight to London. The overnight flight was a long one but very comfortable and enjoyable. No complaints at all!  The only problem we had was at Heathrow, where we had only an hour or so to catch the connection to Venice. Though we arrived and departed from the same terminal we nonetheless had to pass through security again – along with what looked liked hundreds of others international travelers.  When we finally made it through, we heard our names called out over the PA system: “Last call for the DiNapoli family”. With still 20 or so departure gates to go, I told Ben to RUN as fast as he could and let them know we were following. Luckily he made it in the nick of time, thanks in no small measure to the years he ran cross-country and track at Episcopal. First leg of our trip
  •  In Venice we were met at the airport by a young woman whom our travel agent had contracted to take us by private boat to our hotel: the Violino d‟oro across from the Hotel  Bauer.
  •  Ben woke up our second day in Venice with one of the worst cases of hives we‟d ever seen. We went to a pharmacy not far from the hotel and the pharmacist gave us some pills to take – 1 three times a day (as I understood it) and 1 a day for three days (as Ben thought he‟d heard). As just one example of how nice every Italian we met was, the hotel clerk walked down to the pharmacy to clear the confusion up: Ben was right! After only a single dose his hives cleared up completely.
  • Robin‟s fascination with some of Venice‟s delicacies!
  • Robin & Ben by St. Mark‟s, surprisingly away from the hoards of tourists seen everywhere else.
  • On our first trip to Italy 22 years ago, Robin & I celebrated my birthday at a small restaurant we‟d come across near our hotel*: “Al Gondolieri” . On that night back in 1988 the restaurant was celebrating a kind of birthday of its own: a 6 month anniversary of its opening. Only family and friends had been invited, but when we asked about a table, adding it was my birthday, they invited us to join in which we did. The menu had been pre-determined and consisted of 4-5 courses, along with various wines and dessert. So on this trip we decided to find the restaurant again, which we did. Not having made reservations we weren‟t sure we‟d get a table, but when we told the waiters our story and showed them a photo we‟d taken back in „88 they assured us they‟d reserve us a table. In fact one of the waiters had worked there on that night so long ago and couldn‟t believe we‟d remembered the evening for so many years. *Hotel Messner (which we also found again).
  • Robin and Tom – 22 years later. The Hotel Messner, greatly updated, since we stayed there in 1988. Today it looks an awfully lot different – but then again, so do we! It‟s a short walk from the hotel to the Al Gondolieri restaurant.
  • Now and Then The grainy photo on the right shows Tom outside the Goldonieri on his birthday back in 1988.
  •  Not far from the restaurant was the Peggy Guggenheim Museum of Modern Art.
  •  From St. Mark‟s Square we took a promotional ride out to the Murano glass works for a demonstration of the glass- blowing for which the island‟s famous.
  • Ravenna by Car After several jam-packed days in Venice we were picked up at the hotel and taken by boat to the “Piazzalle Roma” where we picked up a rental car – a five speed Peugeot 207
  •  The hotel was a modern one on the outskirts of Ravenna. To get into the heart of the city we had to take a bus, though that wasn‟t really a problem at all. On our second day though a problem did arise – with the minibar or “frigobar” in our room. It wasn‟t working when we arrived and we were assured it‟d be fixed. When we got back from the city and opened our door the ammonia fumes in the room were overwhelming. Apparently in making repairs, the refrigerant leaked which resulted in the noxious odor. The manager was very understanding about it though and moved us to another room – on another floor! That night in the hotel restaurant, Robin found a rusty screw in her food, which was traced back to the kitchen‟s salami slicer. Nonetheless we didn‟t let these two incidents dampen our enthusiasm for Ravenna and its famous mosaics.
  • Ben relaxing
  •  Ben suffered a really bad nosebleed on the road to Assisi. Though he‟s had numerous nosebleeds since he was very young, this one just wouldn‟t stop. So for 2-2 ½ hours it bled with little we could do. When we got to the outskirts of Assisi I stopped at a fire-station in part to ask directions to the hotel, but also hoping they might be able to help. They gave us the name of something they said would help stop the bleeding, so our next stop was a pharmacy. Not having it on hand, the young woman called over to another pharmacy and about 10 minutes later a man drove up with the medication, which while helping didn‟t completely solve the problem.
  •  Unable to check into our hotel which was closed when we arrived, I found someone who told me there was a walk-in clinic a short distance from the hotel. We took Ben there where his blood pressure and temperature were taken – both normal. But unable to slow the bleeding, the doctor felt we should bring him to a hospital. Since we clearly didn‟t know our way around the city, the doctor offered to drive him & Robin there herself, with me following along in the rental car.  At the hospital doctors saw him quickly and felt the situation was more or less under control and didn‟t require admission, so we were “discharged”, paying only 25€ for the emergency room care. Robin offered to give the doctor who drove us to the hospital some money but she absolutely refused to accept it – another example of how kind and helpful everyone we met was to us.
  • Ben at the Basilica of St. Francis
  • Panorama from the Basilica of St. Francis
  • Enjoying a calzone at an outdoor café in Assisi
  •  Bent on avoiding the autostrada so as to see as much as possible in the small towns along the way, Ben asked “Garmina” – the name we‟d given our seductive GPS guide – to pick out the shortest rather than the fastest route, which she did. The route she chose took us on what she referred to as an “unpaved” road -- an understatement. It was a windy, steep dirt road (path?) no wider than our car over the mountains. I had to constantly shift back and forth between 1st and 2nd gears throughout the hour-and- a-half trek before finally reaching a paved road. Throughout the drive, we didn‟t see a single human being and only occasionally a single farmhouse in the distance. We did see a large roadrunner-like bird and a flock of sheep, but little else. My fear was the road would just dead-end and we‟d have to backtrack. Fortunately that didn‟t happen and we all – including Garmina and the Peugeot – survived the shortcut through the hills.
  • The only living creatures seen on the 1 ½ hour trek
  • This was the view from our hotel at night. The lighted area at the bottom right was a soccer field.
  •  A city within a city. That's what is hidden under Orvieto. A series of tunnels, caves and wells, about 1200, that wind beneath the city. These tunnels and caves were built by the Etruscans in the sixth century BC (about 2600 years ago!!!). The holes in the walls (see next slide) were used for pigeons, important at that time, for money and food. The Etruscans created “pigeon holes” where pigeons could reproduce and eat. The pigeons' owners were rich because they could sell them or eat them. The pigeon is currently a traditional dish of Orvieto.
  •  Cortona was one of our favorite towns. We stayed at the beautiful Hotel “San Michele”, which was located about the middle of a steep, narrow cobble-stone street leading up to the main plaza.
  •  We‟d learned that the University of Georgia had a school in Cortona, as it turns out mainly for students interested in art and Italian. After running into a group of UGA students who told us where the school was, we made our way up there and even got a brief tour of the studio. UGA also has a program in Verona, which offers a wider selection of courses.
  •  Cortona, Italy Studies Abroad Science Maymester
  •  It was at the hotel that Robin found a Carnelian necklace she liked and Ben found a beautiful hand-made bracelet for Kloe. The jewelry maker, his brother and father own a small shop off the plaza, run by his American wife from Kansas.
  •  These are the steps where we met the UGA students studying in Cortona.
  • Ben and a very tired Tom awaiting lunch
  • Ben & Robin enjoying lunch
  • The unexpectedly fascinating Museum of Torture in Siena!
  •  “Pallio” poster
  •  Street artist in Siena
  •  Initially sorry we had only allotted 2 days near Florence, but after bussing down into the city from Fiesole where our hotel was, we were grateful that we hadn‟t stayed in Florence, given the absolute hoards of tourists throughout the city, especially around the main attractions such as the Ponte Vecchio, the Duomo, and the Uffizi Gallery. Robin & I had been there 22 years ago when it was a pleasure to walk around and visit all the historic sites without having to wait in lines for hours.
  • View of Florence with the Duomo in the center right, taken from Fiesole
  • Another view of the city below
  •  Villa: Il Trebbiolo
  • Tom and Robin on the grounds of Il Trebbiolo
  • Ben relaxing on the villa’s patio
  • Ben at the Roman amphitheater in Fiesole. He was especially taken with the modern sculptures, most of hands, having worked on a similar art project at his high school.
  • View of Fiesole taken on the walk up to the Church of St. Francis along with a photo of Robin in the garden of the Church of St. Francis
  • Florence The only place we didn’t see any tourists was in the river!
  • Feeding pigeons in Florence while waiting for the bus back to Fiesole: one of Robin’s favorite activities!
  • Back yard view of the small bed & breakfast we stayed in called the “Hotel la Corte dei Folletti”.
  • Called the Inn of the Fairies, the B&B was decorated inside and out with theme-related objects and pictures
  • Robin at the garden pool watching for frogs!
  • Robin on a walk along the walls of Lucca. On her walk she and a German bicyclist collided, fortunately with neither hurt seriously.
  • The famous old restaurant Robin found for us to eat at in Lucca, said to have been frequented by the town‟s most famous resident, the composer Giacomo Puccini.
  •  After leaving Lucca, we drove to La Spezia to drop off the car and pick up the train to Cinque Terre, actually to the first of the five towns: Riomaggiore. I was thrilled to finally return the car even though it served us well, given the stress involved at times. We took a taxi to the station where we boarded a train for the 8 minute ride to Riomaggiore. There we stayed at the Hotel La Zorza, located right outside the tunnel that leads into the town from the station.
  • Map showing the five towns of Cinque Terre Note: It was in the city of La Spezia that we returned our trusty Peugeot 207
  •  Robin in the window--
  • Procession to evening Mass on Sunday
  • The trail along the cliffs from Riomaggiore to the second of the five towns –Manarola is called the Via Dell'Amore ("Love Walk") and hikers leave locks in every possible location to symbolize it.
  • One of the checkpoints along the trail. Tickets were required to hike between the five towns – also valid for the buses and the local trains.
  • Ben relaxing in Vernazza,With Robin in the background, next to the boat.
  • Monterosso: the last of the five towns of Cinque Terre. The walk from here back to Vernazza took us about 2 hours.
  •  We departed Riomaggiore on June 8th by train for Sestri Levante, where we picked up the train to Milan. Sharing our compartment was a professor of Italian from the College of Charleston and his daughter, both in his hometown for a summer program he directed. Arriving in Milan it took a while before determining we needed to take a taxi to our hotel – Ibis Milano Centro, since it was much too far to walk, especially with luggage.  It was about a 10-15 minute ride, costing only  6 €.
  •  With only a day and a half to see the city, we made the most of it, leaving immediately after checking in to walk to the main attractions: the Duomo, the La Scala Opera House, and the world‟s first shopping mall. The entire next day was spent walking around the city.
  • The magnificent Duomo Note: this is not a photo any of us took.
  • The Last Supper Given the fact that reservations were required, made months in advance, to see Leonardo da Vinci‟s “Last Supper” we weren‟t able to do that, and so enjoyed instead our own “last supper” in a wonderful small restaurant near our hotel.
  •  We got up very early – around 4 –  to await our arranged for ride to the Milan airport. At 5:15 or so, our driver met us in the lobby of the hotel and drove us to Milan‟s international airport Malpensa. The ride took about an hour, during which the driver chatted with us about a number of topics from the oil spill in the gulf to the volcanic ash clouds over Europe that stranded travelers, some of whom he was hired to drive them from Milan to destinations in Germany, Belgium, Switzerland or France.
  •  We left Milan on schedule at 7:55 and arrived in London at 9. Fortunately this time we had more than enough time to make our connection to Dallas, which left at 11:40. As with the trip over, this overnight flight too was very comfortable. Arriving in Dallas at 3:40 and having several hours before the flight to New Orleans, we enjoyed a relaxing meal at the DFW TGI Fridays
  • Carole met us at the airport and drove us back to Mimi’s. Since we’d all been up a minimum of 24 hours we chatted only half an hour or so before crashing. Next morning we left for home, having spent three tiring but wonderful unforgettable weeks in Italy!