10 Days in Italy

October 2023 in Italy from Rome to Florence and Venice.

Day 1 
We skipped the night through the clouds and our view of the stars was clear with Orion directly in site out the window. I felt like a kid with a blanket over my head to dim the interior lights as I gazed out into the dark. We were off to a magical place and I felt open and curious about everything around me.

Arriving at the seaside airport we could see mediterranean waves wash up on the Italian sand. How exciting!

There was a mistake on our names for the pick up driver at the airport so we waited and waited until they sorted it out. We were then delivered ahead of time to check in so we freshened up in the hotel Regio lobby washroom and away we went.
We made our way to the Hop On Hop Off bus pick up to ride around the city and for the first couple of hours it was wow wow wow. Ancient walls, ruins and familiar fountains dot the sunshine day and we quickly become comfortable with the open air double-decker bus for the first of many trips around the city of Rome. We tried to listen to the headset but after awhile I wanted to just take it all in without.

The fountain in Piazza della Repubblica was beautifully captured from this vantage point and the street views took in the tops of the buildings more predominantly than if we were walking. Capturing the detailed and sculpted architectural design was inspiring and I imagine drawing and painting the scenes myself. 
The tour took us to the top of the entrance of Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica and it was from Piazza to Piazza and basilica to basilica that the bus would travel. 

The drive around the Colosseum was amazing and the first glance of the Roman Forum area gave me goosebumps. We are in for a truly epic journey when we start to walk these sites tomorrow. 

Lunch was near the Piazza Barberini with pictures of me by the smaller fountain and our lunch on the busy street leading to it. We walked around a bit and hopped back on the bus for the rest of the day. 
We were looking for a quick and light dinner because we knew sleep was important so let's not stuff ourselves with pasta! We walked down the street from our hotel and found a lovely spot where a huge display of fish was our welcome into the canvas covered tables with divisions of hanging lights. A small charcuterie board and focaccia was the perfect fix while we watched the waiter show off platefuls of fish to the family that followed us in.

With little sleep and the time zone change I was expecting to retire early but we kept going until our usual bedtime and I think it helped to settle us in to a routine. 

Day 2
Familiar with where to go to start our day, we were on the bus with the intention of meeting up with our guide to tour the Vatican after checking out some of the sites on our list.

We see the Bath Houses and the Palazzo della Repubblica with the fountain again. We see the 
Museo Nationale Romano building and the Castro Pretoiro neighbourhood streets tha lead to the 
Palazzo delle Esposizioni with open steps and a statue roofline.

We pass through the Esquilino area streets with 2 triangle buildings and came across armed guards at the entrance to an Embassy building.

Piazza della Bocca della Verita included Tempio di Portuno built beside the oldest stone bridge across the Tiber River and adjacent to the Boarium or cattle market associated with Hercules. A round version must have been for outdoor use. Fountain of the Titans looked dry and I wondered at the expense and organization needed to manage such antiquities we've seen.

Circus Maximus was undergoing a set up for a modern event with workmen constructing huge canopies and temporary buildings. I wonder what event? (We found out later it was for Bruce Springsteen)
Across the Tiber you could see the remains of palatial residences of ruling families years ago. 
We took a happy shot on the steps of the Basilica de Santa Maria in Aracoeli where I have my favourite shot I will try to paint and the shot of Gary on his cell phone with Caesar.
In the centre courtyard of this magnificent palazzo is a bronze of Caesar on his horse and the Fountain of the goddess Roma with other statues of Caesar.

Capitaline Hill and Roman Forum is the name of the area as we could see into the acreage below what would have been bustling with roman energy centuries ago. 
What we could see from the horizon inward was abundant in design, glory and doom. Rows and rows of ruins on the hillside with just enough room for the public road to flow through. The colour of mud and stone layer upon layer with just a spot of red and blue banners. We see it is a group of protesters that would be heard throughout the city later today.
Vittoriano is the name given to the adjacent complex with stairs to platforms that house the statues and views of the city. The Basilica with a ceiling of gold, red and blue like medal shapes and silver grey pillars with gold framed round pictures at the tops was beyond impressive. Everything is beyond what you could imagine.
Slight colour of pink and baby blue with gold and wood alter. Tiny candles burn for Madonna and babe.
The floor is old cross shape with crude stone inlay.
Vittoriana has the the tomb of the unknown soldier and after climbing the multiple stairways the view was exquisite dotted with domes and bell towers.
We exited our stop and walked the bridge over the Tiber with masses of other tourists on the way to the Vatican. The castle was a destination we did not make but marked the residence of royals long ago.
Piazza Pio X11 shot of us in front of the Vatican entrance – It's so massive. Lunch was a delicious quick sandwich before the Vatican in an open local square.
We easily met up with "Simon" our guide and a few other international travellers and with a connected headset we join the line into the Vatican. 
The size of the infamous pine cone statue is grossly overstated and although I wasn't able to touch it I gazed for some time as Simon told stories of old and what to expect here. 
Above is the group of Laocoon and his sons being strangled by sea serpents, an original Hellenistic work of 3 sculptors from the 1st century BC, found in 1506 on the Esquiline Hill. We could not get anywhere near this statue and I had to jump up on to a bench to get this shot.
Another 1st century Hellenistic fragment is the infamous Belvedere Torso. It sits atop a lion skin and was thought to portray Hercules byt he greatest Renaissance artists Michelangelo and Rapheal.