Thursday, December 29, 2011

Merry & Bright (and the Vatican)

Your holidays that is. And I hope they were. Are. Have been.

Fa ra ra ra ra and all that. (name that movie!)

After our busy morning tour of Rome, we headed for the Vatican.

The side gate (actually the exit):

Entering the Museum of the Vatican (with the hoards of people. HOARDS.)

In, and up you go

I'm almost speechless (type-less?) trying to sort through the photos to figure out what to share. There was just so much!

Gorgeous marble pieces like these in the animal room:

These incredible reliefs

This gigantic urn. or small swimming pool

The painted ceilings (if I remember correctly, this is the raising of Lazarus)

and the tile mosaics on the floor

ginormous tapestries from the beginning of time

By far the most popular piece of art in the Vatican is the Sistine Chapel. Where you can't take pictures. Or talk (it's supposed to be a reverent place - but lots of people are talking softly).

So here's the signs outside in the courtyard explaining the ceilings of the Sistine Chapel:

And the entrance

Then we stood inside the Sistine Chapel, packed in line semi-silent sardines, looking up.

And it was amazing. So beautiful I didn't want to speak. I could only look around in wonder.

We then went into St. Peter's Cathedral. Equally beautiful. And where the Sistine Chapel is small and intimate, St. Peter's is huge.

The front altar

And a bit spooky - because this is where many of the former popes are (buried). Their bodies I mean. Some of them are displayed (according to each Pope's wish).

We then wandered into St Peter's Square to meet up with the rest of our group. Since we happened to be visiting during the Beatification of St. Paul, the Pope had actually addressed the crowd earlier in the day. His quarters are in the building on the far right, and we were told he makes his appearances from the top floor, 3rd window from the right. I think. I barely remember... (sorry!)

And the obligatory pic of the Vatican guards in their elaborate, traditional uniforms

I will confess that my interest in the Vatican was more about the landmarks from the book (and later the movie) The Da Vinci Code. And yet, you don't dare utter those words (or "Dan Brown") in the Vatican walls.

All in all, the Vatican is an amazing place. The museums are endless, and full of incredible antiquities and riches. My recommendation is to skip the museums, go right for the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter's Cathedral, and St. Peter's Square. This will leave you more time to visit the rest of Rome, especially if you are doing in a day like we did.

After rejoining our group, we headed back to the ship - most of us napped during the 90 minute drive.

Next up: Messina & Taormina, Sicily. I promise it won't take 5 months...

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Since September...

I've been buried with work, and with wedding planning.

To catch you up:

1. Work - our business is planning for January 1st (employee benefits), which means Sept - November are crazy season. Or extra-crazy season. It's good, just stressful, and lots of long days. I'm happy to be coming out of it, and getting into the "clean up" phase.

2. Wedding - found "the dress", and it's amazing. It'll be here sometimes in February or March. That seems like forever from now.

3. Also under wedding - I'm obsessing about accessories now. Shoes, veil (or no veil?), headband, jewelry - details, lots of details.

4. We are just under a year to go until the Big Day. No final date yet, that will come next month when airfares come out and we can select our resort.

5. A year to go. If Feb/March seems like forever, next November seems like it will never get here!

6. The pugs are good. Rotten, and good.

7. In September I went to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah with 10 fabulous girlfriends. We laughed, we ate, we drank, and we walked a lot of dogs. It was good for my soul.

8. Mr. NYC & I took a trip to FL to visit family in November. We flew to Orlando, spent a day at Epcot with my entire family, and no fights broke out. Miracle #1. Then we drove 415 miles to Key West, and didn't kill each other (that's 7.5 hours in a car - our longest road trip). Miracle #2. We visited his mom (my future MIL) and family, and enjoyed Key West. The water, the sunsets - it was definitely a test-run for our Mexico wedding. Miracle #3.

9. Every day I'm thankful to have Mr. NYC in my life. He's such a solid partner, he watches out for me, and we appreciate each other. I'm a lucky girl!

That about does it for us. I will post a few pics from Sicily and Venice, just to finish off the big Med trip from the spring. And the holidays will be upon us, so it'll be time for the Homemade Christmas hosted by my friend Michele of The Scrap Shoppe.

Three weeks of homemade ideas - decor, gifts and recipes. You won't want to miss it!!

Enjoy your new day!!

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Rome wasn't built in a day, and there was no way we could see all of it in just one. Our day in Rome started off like National Lampoon's European Vacation. You know the scene where they are driving around in circles and saying "Big Ben! Parliament! Big Ben! Parliament!" Yeah, kind of like this.

Only it was the Rome version:


Roman Forum!


Roman Forum!

Surprisingly, we didn't stop at either the Coliseum OR the Roman Forum. But we did stop at the Circus

This is where the chariot races were held. On the right side are many palaces from circa 900 AD. really, really old!

Here are some of those palaces:

We continued our tour of Rome and passed this pyramid. I love the cars + ancient pyramid here - quite the contrast!

Our next stop was Trevi Fountain, where we threw our coins in.

It's in a small square, and boy, is it CROWDED!

We walked a few blocks to our next stop - the Parthenon

The interior:

In the midst of all the antiquities, we saw this shop

In the something you don't see every day file: the green shuttered balcony is the apartment where Napolean's mother lived.

Another oddity: Roman gas stations:

You just pull off onto the shoulder of the road, gas & go. No super 7-11's, here!

Here are some other sites in Rome:

Smart cars were all over Rome. And they parked them anywhere they could find a couple feet of space:

And this was just the morning!!

Stay tuned - we spent the afternoon (the ENTIRE afternoon) at the Vatican.

Enjoy your new day!

Sunday, September 4, 2011


After Pisa, we drove through the Tuscan countryside to Florence (Fiorenza). Along the way I found my dream estate:

Our first stop was Michaelangelo's Square, high above the city to take in the view.

And oh, what a view

There's a bronze replica of David in the square too

My, what big hands you have!

We also saw the old city walls of Florence

Another view of the city. The estate on the top of the hill, in the center of the picture is the original fortress built to protect Florence in Roman times

Our next stop was lunch - when in Italy, you MUST eat. This is the cafe where we had a delightful lunch:

I splurged - had gorgonzola gnocci

Mom had tortellini with bolognese sauce - also DELISH

Then we were set free to roam the streets of Florence and enjoy what she has to offer.

Loggia dei lanzi - open air sculpture gallery

Then to Santa Maria and the Duomo

And then the world stopped. I saw these:

And these:

I. DIED. I drooled. I coveted. I left them behind.

I got over it, and we ventured onward to Ponte Vecchio, the home of many jewelry shops.

That's mom again (in case you've forgotten her!).

We continued our walking tour of Florence, and wandered into a lovely square. I'm not sure who the dapper gent with the aqua sweater is, but he posted nicely for my photo!

Italy = gelato (and vino, but for the moment, focus on the gelato)

Oh, Florence. You are beautiful. And you make great shoes!

Enjoy your new day!