Recently I and a family member visited Italy for 8 (May 2-9) days. We now know why travelers love Italy. Italy has rich history, beautiful landscape and friendly people. We went on Seattle based Rick Steve’s tour. As expected, the tour was well organized by the Europe travel guru Rick Steve and his company. Our tour was called “Heart of Italy” and it covered the eternal city Rome, scenic Tuscany including medieval town Volterra and walled city Lucca, picturesque Cinque Terre and the cradle of renaissance, Florence. A bonus added to the trip was the company of 18 like minded fellow travelers and two guides.There is one disappointment, though. We didn’t have enough time to enjoy each location. However the tour gave us some free time to explore each location on our own and we gained confidence to travel independently in future! I hope to give you the highlights of the trip in a series of albums, starting with Rome.
On the first day, we had orientation about the tour by Rick Steve company guides Nina and Francesco. We also had the introduction of the tour group (19 members) at our hotel which was right across Vatican. Then we proceeded to see Piazza Nivona, Pantheon and Trevi Fountain by walk. An unexpected stop was seeing the talking statues of Rome. For centuries Roman rulers and Popes listened to people by reading their messages posted on to the statues standing on the streets.
On the second day, we walked across to Vatican. It was a memorable day with the local guide Ilara. We saw Vatican museum, Sistine Chapel and St.Peter’s Basilica.It was great to see the works of Michelangelo- Sistine Chapel Ceiling, Last Judgment and the lovely La Pieta. It was even greater to hear about the personality of Michelangelo through our guide Ilara.
On the third day, we were led to Colosseum by our local guide. She went into the details of the amphitheater where 50,000 people watched gladiators fighting wild beasts. Ilara also took us to Roman Forum, considered as the center of the universe by the Roman empire. The ruins of Roman Forum and comparison with the artists conception of old sites in Julius Caesar time convinced us that Rome was indeed an eternal city.
We were very pleased with the city tour. We learnt a lot about the history of Rome through existing monuments and ruins. It was a memorable experience to see the works of Michelangelo, Raphael and their mentors in the original locations. Visit to St.Peter’s Basilica is etched in our memory for eternity.