Ciao Italia

We arrived back in the states on Sunday. I painted all day yesterday, and I’m trying to catch up on my blog and emails today. Lots to do. I have several freelance projects I need to dive into, as well as finish work for the show in May.

All these photos plus many, many more are on my Flickr page. Mike took quite a few of these of course, and we also have some of Kate and Jared’s photos up there as well.

(Click on the images to view larger.)

Vatican Museum

The interior of the Vatican is beyond belief. It’s an immense structure. We booked a “scavi” tour a few months back that gives access to the underground archaeological excavations below the Basilica. We started our visit under St. Peters, seeing the remains of a Roman necropolis and the previous basilica, all built around what is believed to be the burial site of St. Peter. At the end of the tour we saw the tomb of Pope John Paul II, and then walked up into St. Peter’s beside the altar. No lines, no security – just the angels singing hallelujah.

Fresco by Raphael. This is just before we reached the Sistine Chapel. We could take all the photos we wanted until then.

Statue of Laocoön at the Vatican Museum

This is the skull of St. Valentine. We stumbled on it by accident at a different chapel.

View of the sun setting over the Colosseum and old Rome on our last night.

After Rome we took the train up to Venice for a few nights. The weather was beautiful when we arrived but went downhill from there. The next day was miserable – cold, windy, and rainy. We beelined toward the Accademia and were lucky enough to find a Titian show, as well as Bob and Doug from Florence who decided to take a road trip. It was quite a surprise and great to see them again.

On the way to our hotel in a vaporetto.

Sunset in Venice. It would be the last time we saw the sun in several days.

Doug, Bob, Kate, Jared, me, and Mike in front of the Rialto Bridge.

We picked up a car at the Venice airport and drove to Padua to see the Giotto frescos at the Scrovegni Chapel. It was then on to Bologna. One quick night there, and we were off again towards the medieval hilltop city of Perugia. Weather sucked there too, but we explored as best we could and also kicked back for drinks at a few bars-a place called Merlin’s and then an Irish pub.

On the Roman aqueduct in Perugia.

At least it wasn’t rain!

Our last full day was spent in Orvieto, a beautiful medieval hill town.

Again, don’t forget to check out the rest on Flickr. There are over 1000, but it’s easy enough to browse through them. It was easy to get carried away with the photos. Even in the rain and snow it was picturesque.

Insert Clever Title Here…

We spent the day walking through the Colosseum, Palatine Hill, and the Roman Forum. More amazing stuff. Jared is the expert here. Since there are little or no signs anywhere telling us what this ruin is or where that column is from, we depend on the crappy little maps from either our guidebooks or that map McDonald’s has been kind enough to provide for free. More photos from yesterday are up on Flickr.

Here is a good photo Mike took of the Roman Forum. You can sort of imagine this was once a city street. Click for a larger view.

Here’s a few more of us at the Colosseum.

We’re off to the Capuchin Crypt, then the Spanish Steps area and to Galleria Borghese.

Later tonight, Glenn Barr, Bob Dob, and Daniel Martin Diaz will be signing books at Mondo Bizzarro, so we’ll swing by there.

If It’s Tuesday This Must Be Rome

I’ve uploaded another batch of photos to my Flickr page.

Mike, Kate, and Jared arrived in Florence last Thursday morning, so it’s been several more days of museums and exploring. We made it to the Medici Chapel, Mercato Centrale, Boboli Gardens, the Duomo, the Accademia to see Michelangelo’s David, and back to the Uffizi.

Fruit stands at Mercato Centrale.

Meatheads at Mercato Central.

Jared channeling Mussolini at Boboli Gardens, behind the Pitti Palace.

All of us at the Boboli Gardens.

Small dome by Brunelleschi, who also designed the enormous dome of the Duomo in Florence.

View from the Campanile.

We had Doug, Bob, and Stuart over to my apartment on Friday night, and we went out to their villa on Saturday. The weather warmed up quite a bit, so we just walked back into the city.

Jared, Bob, Stuart, Doug, and Scott on the terrace.

The grand stairway leading up to my apartment.

We arrived in Rome yesterday afternoon with no problem. Pietro met us at our apartment and welcomed us with a bottle of wine as he showed us around. This apartment puts the one I had in Florence to shame. It’s very large, and there is a great view of the Colosseum.

After unpacking we walked around the Colosseum and up though the Roman Forum. It was getting dark and everything was closed, but we had a chance to get our bearings and will head back out today and get a look close up.

The Colosseum.

To be continued…

The Internet Train Doesn’t Go There

A few nights ago I stopped at this place called The Internet Train down by the Ponte Vecchio. The wireless internet access at my apartment, besides being “borrowed” is very slow and unreliable. So I bought an hour of internet time and, since I only used 40 minutes, I thought I’d go back today to use up my minutes and upload pics to Flickr. The guy gave me a map and behold, just up the street there was another Internet Train.

How do you say “map not to scale” in Italian? After walking (pedi) for way longer than I should have, I made it to the Piazza San Salvi, only to find out this isn’t the Internet Train you’re looking for. More precisely, it sort of is, but different, and I needed to buy 5 hours of internet time. Mind you there are internet points on every corner, including one just a few steps from my door. I didn’t need to walk an hour to find one.

Anyway, I’m online and uploading pics. The bright side is I saw a part of Florence I’d never had seen otherwise. Much more residential and no tourists to be seen. I’ve also been able to practice my Italian – Dove Piazza San Salvi? Where is…? I have un autobus biglietto and will use that to retorno to mio apartmento.

I’m also getting some work done. After roaming through the museums during the day, I’ve been looking at the paintings I started for the show in May. In Photoshop I can add a layer and sketch a over the painting. I’ve had a few breakthroughs I think. We’ll see. I have some ideas for new paintings as well.

Here is David in the Piazza della Signoreli. This is a copy standing where the original was a few hundred years ago. The original is at the Galleria dell’Accademia. You can check out all my photos on Flickr.

And on the Third Day, He Acquired a Museum Pass…

View of Florence from the Pitti Palace.

The flight was uneventful, but I got in about 30 minutes late, which was just enough to mess up my arrival plans. After getting off the plane I caught the Leonardo Express, which took me from Rome’s Fiumicino Airport to the main Termini in downtown Rome, about a 30 minute trip. This caused me to miss my 9am train. I gave up on the self service kiosks in favor of a human to get things straightened out. She put me on a 10:30 train – which would have put me in Florence at 12:00 – just in time.

Unfortunatly, something was up with the trains and everything was late. As of 11:00 the 9:30 train was just leaving. The terminal was full of nervous touristas. Luckily my train pulled up at about the same time, and we were on our way to Florence. I got to my apartment around 1pm, which was an hour later than I was supposed to meet the rental agents. With no cell phone and not being able to find a pay phone-and pulling along my rolling bag-I gave in and ducked into the hair salon next door. The guy was able to call Alba, and she let me in my apartment.

I got in and settled and spent the first day or two exploring and recovering from jet lag. The apartment is great – small and cold at first. I shut a couple doors and it warmed up. It’s supposed to warm up this week, so I can spend a bit more time up there. Here is a view of the first sunset from my terrace.

Sunset over the Arno from the terrace.

There is spotty internet access here in my apartment, and that’s been a godsend. Mike and I installed Skype before I left, and that’s been great for a few late night calls. I also talked with my brother in Michigan, who just installed Skype as well.

It’s been very cold and I didn’t bring a hat and scarf, so I wandered to the Mercato Centrale and picked up both. Very fashionable. The hat is rainproof with a fleece lining. There are ear flaps but my vanity prevents me from posting those pics.

The new hat.

Saturday night I finally met up with Doug and we took the bus across the Arno River to the villa they are in. Stuart’s friend Erica was in from Madrid, so we all hung out and had a great dinner and a little wine. Erica is a musician and teaches music, so it was quite the artsy crowd. Doug and Bob are here for 5 months and Stuart for a month. They’ve been great about going out and getting work done, and the results are on display in the dining room. I have lots of catching up to do.

I’m realizing this sounds like a horrible Christmas letter, so to wrap things up I got my Amici degli Uffizi card yesterday – Friends of the Uffizi – which allows me open access to about 20 museums around the city. No reservations – just need to go through security. I spent a few hours at the Uffizi yesterday, and I’ll head down there with Doug and Stuart today. They’re supposed to be here any minute , so I’ll wrap this up for now. More later.

Update: We had a great day in Florence. Started off at the Pitti Palace and the saw the work of Francesco Furini. I found a quiet bench upstairs and sketched for a while while Doug and Stuart drew downstairs. It got crowded after a while, so we went off for lunch.

Stuart and Doug.

The afternoon was spent at the Palazzo Vecchio before meeting Bob and Erica for the invisible parade honoring the last of the Medici’s. Today was a holiday in honor of her, but neither she nor the promised parade ever appeared. That was fine by us, so we found a quiet place for dinner next to the Medici Chapel. That was followed up by gelato, and here we are. Another early day tomorrow at the Gallery of Modern Art – also at the Pitti Palace.

Stuart, Erica, Doug, and Bob.

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