Bologna (Italy)

After our tour ended, we had a few days left before we had to board a flight from Malpensa back to the States. Outside of an extra day in Rome, we chose Bologna as our one and only destination before Milan. One big reason for coming here was its sometimes designation as the "food capital... Continue Reading →

Palatine and Roman Forum (Rome, Italy)

From the Colosseum, our guide led us on a walk through the Roman Forum, an area between the Palatine and Capitoline hills that served as ancient Rome's commercial area. All the buildings now lay in ruins, with only pediments, partial columns, arches and fragments of floors remaining after 2,000 years. The state of the ruins,... Continue Reading →

The Colosseum (Rome, Italy)

It was our first stop of the day, the tour led by a special guide who later led us through the Roman Forum. Considered the greatest example of ancient Roman engineering, the Colosseum still largely stands in the center of Rome, even after several major earthquakes and the ravages of time took their toll. There were... Continue Reading →

Pantheon (Rome, Italy)

Walking through the Piazza della Rotonda in Rome, all we could see of the Pantheon was the portico with classic Corinthian columns that fronted a large, gray circular structure. As we stepped inside the building through the original bronze doors, we were awestruck by the sheer size of the interior, its immense and lofty dome,... Continue Reading →

St. Peter’s Basilica (Vatican, Italy)

After dinner, the tour group returned to Vatican City to see arguably the most famous church in all of Christendom. Huge throngs of people were already flooding St. Peter's Square. Burial site for its namesake and numerous popes as well as papal basilica, St. Peter's Basilica is not only a destination for the Catholic faithful... Continue Reading →

The Sistine Chapel (Vatican, Italy)

The Sistine Chapel, whose ceiling is adorned with the fresco masterpieces painted by Michelangelo, outside of being the site of Papal conclaves, is more than a destination for tourists. It is arguably one of the great achievements of Renaissance art, even more remarkable for the fact that Michelangelo really didn't want to do it even... Continue Reading →

Sienese Ricciarelli

Panforte is Siena's contribution to the confectionary world. Somewhat like a fruitcake (though nothing like the American kind), it is dense and chewy, containing nuts, fruits and spices and is sweetened with honey. But, for our money, we much preferred the cookie known as ricciarelli, a heavenly combination of almonds, honey, confectioners' sugar and egg... Continue Reading →

Siena Duomo (Italy)

The most striking and imposing architecture in Siena is its Duomo. We were taken there by our guide Annalisa. After some background information, she left us there to explore it on our own. Like any religious structure of this size, it took many years to complete. It's difficult not to be impressed by its scale,... Continue Reading →

Arrival in Siena (Italy)

We arrived in Siena around 4:30pm. The bus had to drop us off outside the city walls from where we walked to our hotel, only 15 minutes away. Siena is a medieval city. Many of its old buildings have been preserved and its streets are lined with reddish brick (sienna). There are very few automobiles to... Continue Reading →

San Gigmignano (Italy)

Our tour made a brief stop in the town of San Gimignano, noted for the preservation of 14 medieval towers that have survived the ravages of war and other calamities. These efforts have earned it the designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Their original construction date to the 11th to 13th centuries. The town... Continue Reading →

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