Italy 2019 09/28/19

Our adventure in Italy. Rome, Pompeii, Herculaneum, Naples.
1 Taking the train from Milan airport to the central train station.
2 Milan train station. Looks like the one from Harry Potter.
3 First espresso and pastry experience. So good, we had many many more!
4 Business class train to Rome!
5 Traveling at 185 MPH!
6 First monument we saw leaving the Rome train station.
7 First gelato of our trip. We were walking to our hotel bags and all!
8 Our very tiny room. The location was fantastic, about 2 blocks from the Colosseum!
9 Roman Forum, right outside our hotel!
10 After a long day's travel, we are in front of the palace of the first King of Italy.
11 The front of the palace with the King on his mount.
12 This Italian flag is in front of the palace.
13 A view from the palace plaza.

These guards are posted 24/7 for the Unknown Soldier from WW-I.


First dinner in Italy. Dining less than a block from the ruins.

16 Hanhan has the typical black pepper and Parmesan cheese spaghetti. It was too al dente.
17 Gary went with a pizza. No sauce was present. If it were America, he'd send it back.
19 Second gelato of the night. All gelato is delicious, The best is the one you are eating!
20 We walked around the area after eating too much. The Colosseum by night is quite beautiful.
21 A Roman street, note the line of Vespas.
23 Our first full day in Rome proved to be rainy. This is the start of our Roman ruins visit.
24 Italians love fancy uniforms. This was part of a parade for veterans.
25 There are ancient fountains everywhere around Rome. All are still in use. Some are even fed by the aqueducts from 2000 years ago!
26 First of many churches we ducked into.

Very ornate interiors.

28 This church was for St Peter's remains. They have the original chain here and this is a sculpture by Michelangelo.

Even in the rain, the Colosseum is busy.

Ruins, what we came to see.

31 More 'stuff' as we tour the ruins.
32 Julias Caesar's tomb.
33 The famous Roman Forum. Over 2000 years old!
34 This is the temple of the Vestal Virgins.
35 This is a temple to a Roman God that was repurposed to be a church when Christianity took hold in Rome.

Palatine Hill, where the twins who founded Rome were nursed by a she-wolf.

The ear pieces were to hear the excellent guide for our tour.

38 This is a victory arch showing how the Romans conquered the Jews. Note the menora. It was melted down to fund the Colosseum!
39 In front of the Emperor's box at the Colosseum.

The arena floor. It is still being restored.

41 These holes are where people scavenged the iron used to hold the blocks in place.
42 A model of the apparatus under the arena floor.

Across from the Colosseum is the Temple of Venus.

44 An overview of the victory arch.

Imagine 50,000 people waiting for the gladiators. The arena floor would have been sand. Need to soak up the blood you know.

46 Romans used triangular bricks instead of the rectangular ones of today.
47 The latrine in the Colosseum. No privacy, but none needed. People socialized and conducted business while taking care of their own business.
48 Leisurely lunch across the street from the Colosseum.
49 Rome special pizza with boiled egg, artichoke, and prosciutto. Delicious!
50 Local butcher shop. Wish these were in the US.
51 Tossing the coin into Trevi Fountain.
52 Another church along the way. All were beautifully decorated.
53 Sunset over the Tiber looking towards St Peter's Basilica .
54 Our first good peak at the Basilica.

Vatican City, starring St Peter's Basilica.

Front of St Peter's is very impressive.

Castel Sant'Angelo across the Tiber River.

58 Bruschetta with anchovies.
59 Roman tripe is what's for dinner when in Rome!
60 Ravoli was not impressive. In fact, Chef Boy ar Dee makes as good.
61 Caesar and SPQR Senate and People of Rome.
62 2000 year old tiles at the Imperial Forum.
63 We were just walking around, ducked through a doorway and there was a building that used to be a Pope's residence.

Three eras in one intersection.

Roman Forum on a dry, bright day.

66 Lunch on the Appian Way!
67 Picking olives on the church grounds. The green ones were NOT ripe!
68 Hanhan in the olive grove.
69 All roads lead to Rome!

Piazza Navona Most popular gathering spot in Rome.

71 The French built this cathedral. Plenty of gold leaf was used.

These paintings are some of the first to use realism in a church.

The Pantheon. Best preserved building in Rome. All original.

74 Look at the size of the bronze doors!
75 The dome is open at the top and yes, rain falls into the center of the building.
76 See the drain holes in the floor?

The Pantheon now serves as a shine to the martyred Popes.

78 Men must remove hats when inside any church. Hanhan removed hers as well.
79 Gelato tasting was included in the tour!
80 Walking through the alleyways listening to our guide's stories.
81 A little nose, a water fountain. If you block the main outlet, the water will come out of a small top hole so you can drink.

Trevi Fountain in all its glory.

The famous Spanish Steps. Actually these are the Trinity steps installed by the French.

84 Prosciutto and melon. Excellnt flavor combo, sweet and salty.
85 Another local Roman dish, oxtail stew.
86 Roman pasta dish, one of Gary's favorites!
87 Dessert was baked ricotta cheese and coconut pudding.
88 The courtyard of our Naples hotel.
89 Looking out our window into the courtyard.
90 Venturing out into the streets. Believe it or not, cars do travel these narrow paths.
91 A unique church exterior.
92 Hanhan and her baba. A Naples specialty, it is sponge cake soaked in rum sauce.
93 The nice thing about Naples was that most people walking about are locals, not tourists.
94 Fried pizza! This is a thing in Naples.
95 Dal Presidente, originator of Pizza Margherita. They make a great pizza here for 4 Euros.

Enjoying our pizza and beer. These pizzas are made with very high gluten flour, then baked for only a few minutes. Makes them chewy and soft. While there isn't a lot of cheese, it is buffalo mozzarella.

97 This 'man' is a good luck charm. You find his likeness all over. The pepper looking things aren't, they are horns. Also good luck charms. The garlic? You guessed it, good luck.
98 We were fascinated with the alleys, streets, and buildings here.
99 A little fish seller in the market area. Behind us would be a stand that deep fries all this. Neapolitans are fond of their fried food,
100 A shrine to some saint. These are found all over on all sorts of buildings. Most of these have offerings too.
101 No idea what the arches are for, but they look really cool.
102 Hanhan's favorite tourist activity. Fruit stand! Best figs ever. Everything sold at this one was local.
103 Best watermelon ever, including Spring Bay. The green figs are sweeter than the 'ripe' purple ones.
104 Trying to decide which soccer player bobblehead to get.
105 Linda would have never left this street. So many cool little shops.
106 This is where the term 'pull a shot' comes from. Best espresso, because every shop was great.

This fountain is 1000 years old and still looks great.

A castle overlooking the Bay of Naples.

109 Welcome to Napoli
110 This is an old Spanish palace, unfortunately marred by some event they were preparing for.
111 This art was on the wall at a subway station. I think it is to commemorate people who were too slow crossing the tracks.
112 This is Pulcinella, good luck mascot of Napoli.
113 When you order a drink at an outdoor cafe, you get chips and tarallini. Both are good.
114 We bought lots of snacks on our way home every night. This taralli was quite good. Lard, pepper, and toasted almond.
115 Graffiti is everywhere. This is the regional train to Pompeii.
116 Pompeii, village of mystery.

Starting our visit to the ruins.

118 This is what's left of a temple. Stairs, columns, and some foundation are still there.

Better view of the temple.

120 Pompeii would have been a beautiful place with statues and collonades lining the streets.

The public square, central to Roman life.

This guy ate a giant mozzarella ball just now. They have to be Americans, nobody else wears baseball caps.

123 One of the famous casts of victims of the volcano.
124 Cast of a dog, check out the collar and chain.

Cast of a child.

126 Streets were either one or two carts wide. This is a poor area with only one cart wide street. See the stepping stone? Your feet didn't need to get wet while crossing.
127 Beware of dog! Even back then, a common thing at one's house.

This was a shopping area. Wide street lines with shops.

Floors, like this mosaic, survived better than most other items.

130 A colorful floor with an inset picture.

That is a mosquito tree, its scent repels this little buggers.

This floor shows the story of Alexander the Great's victory.

133 Part of a bread shop, these mills were hand cranked by slaves.
134 Using the stepping stone for its intended purpose.

The painting of murals was done with wax based paint. Red was the easiest and so the cheapest color.

136 Very ornate carving for the corner of this building.

Menu at the house of ill repute. Since many people were illiterate or from foreign lands, pictures were used for 'ordering'.

138 A working girl's bed.
139 The bathroom where potential customers were inspected for STDs.
140 A laundry house. The Romans used ammonia to disinfect their clothes so you wouldn't want to do this at home.
141 Elaborate mosaics in every house were the rage I think.
142 Very strange statue of a Centaur, with a man's head in a door.
143 Vesuvius covered in clouds the day we visited.
144 Having lunch in the town square. This sandwich came from a little shop near our hotel. The butcher didn't even ask what we wanted on it, instead he made prosciutto and fresh mozzarella on wonderful chewy bread. He was exactly right!
145 See previous description. Delicious!

Hercules in the background of the field of ruins.

A walkway heading out of the park. Good overview of the dock area of Pompeii, which used to be a seaside town.

148 Our next stop was Herculaneum, a better preserved Pompeii.

When you enter you can see the difference right away, buildings have a second floor intact here. None at Pompeii.

150 Since they were a seaside town, large boats docked here. This one was found and is being restored. Note the charred wood.
151 Walking these streets, you get a feeling that Pompeii didn't give. These are complete buildings, you can tell what they sold, how they lived. In places, you feel a Roman could ask you what you're doing here.

The outline of a body on the tile floor.

153 Every house has shrines for their favorite god, this one is to Venus.
154 Blue was the hardest color to create and the most expensive. Look at the all the blue here.

Look carefully at the top of the wall. Those murals survived in nearly perfect condition.

There were numerous taverns in Roman towns. Nobody ate lunch at home. So, these cafeterias were busy places.

157 Advertising has always been effective. This ad for wine is on a corner just like billboards are used today.
158 This is why we loved this town. Two story buildings with roofs. Less ash here than Pompeii.
159 Inside a two story building, just imagine when it was in use.
160 Remains of a marble picture. Very detailed work.
161 Just go up the stairs and join the family for dinner. Amazing that they stayed intact after all the time that has passed.
162 This wood survived not just the centuries it was buried, it also had to survive the superheated ash.
163 The floor here is sloped in different directions around the fountain. Why? Then people can lay there and look at the beautiful decorations while eating and drinking.
164 This was the alter wall of a dining room. The center would have had the main god and the sides would have had lesser gods. See the hunting theme mural above?
165 This is a wine shop. The second floor was both living space and storage for the large wine casks. The charred wood is original.
166 Even the skylights were ornate. The little carved figurines survived the tragedy in good shape.
167 A floor in the same house.
168 The second floor is open to the main floor. The stairs are covered by glass to preserve and protect them.
169 This is a doorknob on a perfectly functional sliding door in one house. The Romans were rich and had many things just like we have today.
170 A larger view of the entire sliding door. Charred, but otherwise fine.
171 The atrium of one of the houses. These houses were all grouped together with no visible yard. Everything was contained inside the walls of each compound.
172 This is a bedroom of the house. See the shiny reflection from the wax paint?
173 Even 2000 years of earthquakes didn't break this tile floor. The waves in the ground and the tilt of the structure speak of the violence of the ground movement.
174 While this partition wall survived, it needs bracing to stay in place.
175 Looks like any contemporary shopping district. We loved all the charred wooden window frames and doors.
176 It is said that the shutters still open and close freely. And look at the door below them. Just amazing. A word that repeats over and over in this town.
177 Romans were extremely clean people. This is a public wash basin. Venus is demonstrating how to wash your hair.
178 This is inside a sculpture shop. There were many pieces that were nearly complete when the volcano interrupted.
179 Great detail on every piece. This, we guess, was a coat rack.
180 Look near the wooden gate. Those are lead pipes that were used for water delivery to every building. Running water to your house. 2000 years ago. Aqueducts were Roman after all.

The men's area inside a bathhouse. There are shelves above the seats for your stuff.

182 The lower portion was filled with water and you could sit and talk with other citizens while enjoying your bath.
183 This stone would be heated and water was poured over it to create steam in this room.

The tub room. Every room in the bathhouse was very well preserved.

Most columns in houses were brick covered by travertine. Solid marble would have been too costly. Note the marble panels hanging in each opening.

186 A recurring theme for picture in houses is killing someone. It unclear if it is a jealous husband killing another man or another man killing the husband.
187 This lovely statue was in a freed slave's house. Rome was different in the way that slaves could earn their way to freedom. The house was called the deer house.
188 These are women and children who thought they would hide in seaside warehouses and be rescued by boat. There were a few men found on the beach nearby. These were not found until the 1980s

Sunset over the Bay of Naples. We were so engrossed with everything that we didn't notice the park had closed.

190 This appetiser was suggested by the restaurant owner. Octopus Fantasy. Served on a slate, it was delicious!
191 Fish Gnocchi.
192 Cod fish Italian style.
193 Grilled vegetables, what presentation!
194 Local Limoncello.
195 A tiny espresso maker. You pack it with finely ground coffee, fill with water, screw the two pieces together and heat. When it stops boiling your espresso is ready. A very Italian device to be sure. Made great coffee every day!
196 Morning coffee, water first, coffee second. It's the rule.
197 This is a piazza about a two minute walk from our hotel.

It's what's for breakfast. Cappuccino is only available until noon. The pastries were wonderful. You better like ricotta cheese if you order pastries though.

199 These street stands are everywhere. Folded pizza is 1.5 Euros and folded into quarters then put into the paper he's holding. Very nice snack while out and about.
200 Though the expressions is odd, this is great pizza. The 'look' is to keep Hanhan away from my pizza.
201 Hanhan took my pizza and ran away.

I couldn't figure why Hanhan loved this art...

203 The founding King of Italy greets visitors to the National Archelogical Museum.
204 All the items on display were taken from Pompeii and Herculaneum.
205 Look how beautiful the paintings are.
206 Birds and death, an odd combination.

Roman porn. They really liked group activities it looks like.

These fine items are on display in 'The Secret Room' of the museum. The Romans had one at every guests seat for a banquet.

209 Guests for your banquet would expect one of these at their seat as well. Life styles of the rich...
210 More table decoration.
211 An urn holder. There is such a huge amount of art from the two towns. Roman life, for the well off anyway, was very cultured.
212 No idea what the lady is going to do with the little guy. But since she is decorated in gold, she was a goddess.
213 The lady doesn't seem to like his attention.
214 Don't drop the soap at the bath house!
215 Very odd tastes in Roman times.
216 After seeing complete columns we could then picture the damaged ones in Pompeii and Herculaneum better. Intricate inlaid mosaics the entire length of each column. Just beautiful.
217 The ceiling of the grand hall of the museum. This building was a cavalry post in its early life. Cavalry! In here!

Romans were big game players. These are some dice from Pompeii.

This painting has raised relief on it. Just outstanding! This art is unlike any other in the entire gallery.

Another panel

The third and final panel.

222 This is in the hall of statues. Some were named, some like this one, were not.
223 This is the crown jewel of the museum. Imagine restoring this from the broken pieces.

Romans, like today's people, loved their pets.

225 Marble statues aren't always white. This, the Sun God Apollo, was colored. The color is just as vivid today as it was 2000 years ago.
226 This has to be a Mark Antony inspired piece. Very Egyptian.

Afternoon snack. Since we didn't want espresso, we were able to get a latte macchiato.

We having a drink and some snacks down the street from our hotel before dinner. Everybody is out and about drinking, eating, and talking all the time everywhere.

229 This church is at the end of 'The Split', a street that divides Napoli in two. It was lit by LEDs that changed color.
230 The Split from the top end at the colorful church.
231 Very common to see laundry hanging over the streets.
232 Monuments like this are all over. They all have something to commemorate, but after a few, we quit reading them and just appreciated their beauty.
233 What's for dinner? Fried pizza and beer. Thank you Lipitor!
234 Here we are in business class train having wine and pasta. The only way to travel in Italy!

Our train after arrival in Milan. This station looks like something from Harry Potter!

236 An early Alfa Romeo in the DaVinci Museum. There was a public transport strike this day so we had to taxi to the museum. Turns out, the strike was only during certain hours so the public wouldn't be too affected.
237 This was part of the Da Vinci Parade, 500 years of his drawing brought to life in models.

I'd never fire the 360 cannon!

239 A diving suit. This was to be used to plant explosives on enemy ships, but was never used.
241 Leonardo's most famous drawing.
242 This clock keeps track of each planet, each orbit, everything about the orbits of each planet and the Sun. Mind you, this was in 1500s and was math translated into mechanical works. Very impressive.

A trip hammer at a forge.

244 There was a complete metal plant in the basement. This is a pipe machine.
245 After a visit to the museum, we needed a caffeine fix.

Milan cathedral and the piazza. Most elaborate church I've ever seen. Took 600 years to complete!

This is THE tourist spot in Milan.

248 Just look at the detail, even up high.
249 Great overview.
250 How intricate every inch of the entire building is.
251 No words do it justice.
253 These doors are bronze and have the story of Jesus on them. Each panel has a chapter of the story.
254 We spent a long time looking at the doors to see the story in its entirety.
255 This is Jesus being taken off the cross.
256 The crucifixion.
257 In the high end shopping mall across from the cathedral, we witnessed a proposal. How romantic.
258 Sitting in Leonardo's garden after walking the piazza. Nice place to relax and people watch.
259 Hanhan has found that there are grapes on the vines! These were actually props for Milan Fashion Week, but hey, they were not marked Do Not Eat.
260 Gary admiring Leonardo and his top four students.
261 Every country admires Apollo 11.
262 Our final night we had a great dinner. Sitting outdoors in Italy was a treat that won't be duplicated elsewhere I think.
263 Carbonara grilled veggies. The eggplant was to die for.
264 Gary pointed at the local part of the menu and got this pork shank with arrabbiata pasta. No idea other than arrabbiata, but it was fantastic.
265 The apple in front of the train station. Heading to the airport and home.
266 Goodbye Italy! We had an excellent visit!