by DeAnne Trompeter Appleby
Having read about various parts of Italy for so many years, it was a thrill to finally experience it.
We began in Florence, the city of art. Here, it is truly “all about the art”. From the famous museums filled with classic artwork, to the beautiful florentine architecture in full view, any art lover would want to stay and stay. A walking tour of the old part of the city reveals some dramatic works of architecture, including churches, bell towers, museums, bridges and homes. Incredibly, in the public plaza outside the municipal buildings, original works of sculpture are presented for public view. The streets and avenues are rich in medieval character, with cobblestone streets, flower-draped balconies and horse-drawn carriages.
Rome is a city with many layers. Literally. The ancient, medieval and modern, all piled on top of each other to create its present façade. An incredibly busy city, Rome has plenty to look at, and just getting from one place to another can be quite an experience. The Circus Maximus and the Coliseum encompass some of the oldest surviving architecture in Rome. A timeless oasis in the heart of the modern city, these ruins offer a brief glimpse of the lavish entertainment life enjoyed by the ancient Romans. Of course one cannot visit Rome without seeing the Vatican. Incredibly crowded, it is difficult to see much of the extensive grounds, many museums or tucked-away archives. But the Sistine Chapel is a treasure worth waiting for. It is even more incredible in real life than it is portrayed in books and on television, and it brings a quiet sense of awe to visitors.
Pompeii is an ancient ruin in the midst of a lengthy excavation. Enough has been uncovered so visitors can get a good feel for Roman life in 79 A.D. Bustling streets, homes and businesses are easy to imagine, and there is even some ancient graffiti to remind us of home. This fantastic archeological site is very large, spread over a wide area. An entire day would not be long enough to peer into each home and business, walk among the huge columns in the bath complex and climb the steep steps of the amphitheatres. One amphitheatre is still used today for modern performances due to its wonderful resonance. It is a true journey back in time for the curious.
Venice is like a dream come true. The near absence of cars makes this city a fantastic getaway from the present. It has medieval architecture, artistic bridges, and narrow waterways between colorful buildings. There are plenty of chances to stroll, enjoy the scenery, eat good food and meet friendly people. A gondola ride is a pleasure; what a great way to see and hear how the locals live. St. Mark's square is a fascinating place to shop and people-watch at your leisure. The sunsets over the bell tower in St. Mark’s Plaza are some of the most beautiful I have ever seen, and certainly some of the most memorable. Venice offers a true sense of peace and quiet.
Italy presents some of the most interesting and beautiful sights in the world. It is more expensive and certainly more crowded than many other places, but it is well worth the experience. Each city deserves a few days in order to get a "feel" for the area, the food and the people. You can see more photos at www.applebyarts.com.