Jim's Italy Pix - Page 2

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If you are ever in Rome, you must make time to see the Vatican Museum.  You don't have to be Catholic or even religious to appreciate the spectacular art!  I was glad I went on this side trip, although a pickpocket tried to boost my "security wallet" inside my shirt during the ride over to the Vatican area on an overcrowded city bus.  Wear a long shirt and tuck it inside your pants! 
Words cannot describe this ceiling art.  They were all great, but this one is probably the best, in my opinion.

Absolutely awesome!!!  Check out the Museum's web site - http://mv.vatican.va/StartNew_EN.html or this link http://mv.vatican.va/3_EN/pages/MV_Home.html if your browser doesn't know what to do with the nifty JavaScript introduction when the site first loads.  It also has 360-degree virtual tours of some of the rooms.  Your browser has to have JavaScript enabled to enjoy most of their site.
One of the many old and new hilltop villas all over Italy, older ones like this served a double purpose - owners could keep an eye out for invaders.  Many had extensive underground caves to hide out during a siege.  We are now headed north to the town of Orvieto on the way to San Gimignano.  Orvieto has magnificent vistas and...

a spectacular duomo, the Italian word for a cathedral.  I don't have any photo-stitching software to combine the two pix, and didn't have the proper lens to get all of this duomo in one shot.  That's not paint on the exterior, it's glass.  Amazing!  My Konica-Minolta DiMage Z5 digital camera was used for most of the pix on these two pages.  

My DiMage has a 12x optical zoom feature which came in handy for this shot of the peak.  Humbling!
Orvieto has a some great vistas including this one looking south with an old villa in the center of the pic.
One of the many picturesque views of our 3rd stop, San Gimignano (pronounced gim-in-yano), from our hotel about a mile from the outskirts of town.  In medieval times, the towers were built by rival families.  The more money and importance the family had, the higher the tower.   From here, we visited Florence and Greve in the Chianti region for some wine tasting.  Note the olive orchards and vineyards which are all over the country.  A residence with a lawn like here in the USA was a rare sight in Italy.

Some of the statues in Florence during a day trip.  This is Neptune's Fountain, in Palazzo Vecchio near the city's government building.  We were primarily interested in a flea market-type sale in this area with vendors selling mostly leather goods.  At dinner that evening at the Tuti Ristorante, I ordered "Wild Boar in Florentine Style" which was very tasty.  Try it, you'll like it!  Other pix of Florence can be had here.  Try Photovault for other Italy pix.

Day 8, Sunday morning, September 24th.  We hired a balloon ride firm to take us for a cruise over the Tuscany countryside.  It's hunting season there and we met 2 hunters after landing in a sunflower field.  See the pic here.  Later in the day, we traveled to Venice.
Day 9, Venice.  This is a view of the Grand Canal looking south from the top of the famous Rialto Bridge, once the only bridge across that canal.  Venice also had the best pizza of the trip.
There are no vehicles in Venice since most of the streets are about the  the width of two of our sidewalks.  This pic from near the Rialto Bridge shows how goods are transported.  Numerous delivery guys were seen pushing two-wheel hand carts throughout the city to deliver the items.
A few of the streets are three sidewalks wide or slightly more.  This pic is from the middle of the top of the Rialto looking east.  There are retail stores on the bridge and the prices are a bit inflated.  
Before I forget, I should include a pic of that bridge!
A Gondolier waiting for a fare.  Thankfully, he didn't start singing "Volare."  
Strange store-front message.
A cruise ship being towed thru the lagoon south of St. Mark's Square by a tugboat.  Zooming in on the ship revealed its passengers lining the decks with cameras in-hand.
St. Mark's Square, also known as San Marco, often floods during high tide.  It had just rained too.  Some had or were issued waders, others just braved it and soaked their shoes, while others crowded onto platforms to cross to the other side and higher ground.   St. Mark's Basilica is on the right.  This pic was snapped by my wife, Annette.
Left to right, our very talented bus driver, Ronan (whose surname I don't know) and the best tour operators in Italy, Luigi & Isabella Dusi.  Thanks for a great time!  See my best_of page for contact information.
Some of the group departed for home on the 26th but some stayed in Italy longer and visited their relatives.  Susan & Annette/Louis & Natalie are related to these folks via their maternal grandfather/great-grandfather Nazzareno Paglialunga, who emigrated to the USA in 1912 through Ellis Island.  Left to right, front row:  Antoinette and Natale Forti, Felitia and Tomasso Forti.  Back row: Milan Dotlich, Pietro Forti, Kara Forti held by Theresea Forti, Natalie Dotlich holding Tomasso Forti, Kristi Kusnier, Susan Nocella, Annette Ward and Louis Kusnier.  The pic is linked to the 640x480 version or you can click here to get and copy the full-sized 1600x1200 version at 667kb.      added 10/4 by popular demand...


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