Italy 2004

My summer kicked off just a few days after I came home from school last mid-June. My parents and I went on a 2-week group trip to Italy. We may have visited there at least twice but there were some places and things we never saw before or in full depth. I think that was the advantage of staying 2 days in nearly every city we've visited (except for Assisi, where we stayed for a day). Among the places we went to were Rome, Florence, Lake Maggiore, Venice, Milano, Assisi, Sorrento. We went back to Rome just the day before we left for home.

I was awestruck by the art and architecture in all the cities. For instance, the Galleria in Milano looked like the Galleria Mall in San Francisco, except the one in S.F. is on a much smaller scale. Also, we saw the recently restored Michalangelo's David and its copies in Florence. Additionally, we visited a glass-blowing factory in Venice to see up close how glass objects are made. I can see how these works of art and architecture made its mark in history and elsewhere. My mum, an architect and loves art and history, got such a kick out of it. During the trip, though, she made jokes on how some of the buildings we saw will never get past California safety code, such as large stairs without handrails in between.

Speaking of San Francisco, when we stayed in Lake Maggiore, it was very cloudy and from looking at the large windows of our hotel, I thought for a second I was in S.F., minus the Golden Gate Bridge.

In Rome, we visited the Vatican and saw Michalangelo's ceiling paintings and "The Last Judgement" painting, the latter which took nearly 20 years to restore! About 95% of the paiting is cleaned up; the upper right corner still has layers of dirt on it.

In Pompeii, we walked through the uncovered ruins of the city that was buried under volcanic ash. There are still parts of the city that are still being uncovered and exploring the entire city could take more than a day, perhaps a week or more. We only toured there for a day but it was fascinating to see what life in Pompeii was like before it was frozen in time by a volcanic explosion by seeing the buildings, paintings, and grafitti. It was also eerie to see its people covered in ash and dust, molded like statues, some positioned to protect themselves from the volcano explosion.

In Assisi, we visited the Basilica of St. Francis, a large church. (On a side note, mum named me after St. Francis, St. Clare, and actress Claire Bloom.) This church had some of the artifacts that belonged to St. Francis such as his cloak. The hotel we stayed at, which was close to that church, was modest and simple. In fact, it used to be a dormitory for monks. And at the fourth floor, you can go to the rooftop and get a beautiful view of Assisi.

In Sorrento, we took a boat trip to Capri to see the Blue Grotto, a small cave where its opening lets the sunlight in, shining the water a bright blue. It looked great except my mum and I got seasick. We had to take a small boat (about four people per boat) in order to get inside. Combine the seasickness with the extreme heat and the fumes billowing from the large boat we rode on to get there, we spent the next two hours recovering from the heat and motion sickness. I mangaged to recover shortly but mum took longer.

We went back to Rome at the end of our trip. We had a farewell dinner and visited the Trevi Fountain, where we tossed a coin over our shoulder. It's said if a coin is thrown into the fountain, it means you will comeback to Italy.

That trip was one of the best we have taken. We saw a lot of things we may have seen before but also things we never saw at all. We walked around a lot, ate a lot (nearly every night had four course dinners and eating gelato, or ice cream, once too often) and it was wonderful.

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