Italy Journals

London and Italy on Tour 1996

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An October 2000 trip to Italy by tvordj

Shop in Venice Photo, Venice, Italy More Photos
Quote: In 1996, my friend Denise and I decided to take a bus tour around Italy. We had a few days in London to start with and then nearly 2 weeks in Italy. It rained almost all but the last 4 or 5 days!

Italy

Off to Venice (1996), Day 1

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St. Mark's Basilica detail Photo, Venice, Italy
Quote:
An early ungodly hour to be called to get the bus to Gatwick the next day, 3:30 a.m. for a 7:30 flight!! That really put my body clock off for a couple days. I thought I was coming down with the flu! The flight to Venice was ok but I tried to sleep a little because I wasn’t feeling all that well and as a result missed the view of the Alps peeking over the clouds. Treviso airport was small and crowded since the plane was full of tourists like us, about to embark on an escorted bus tour! There was at least 5 busses waiting! We got sorted out and on the right bus for our hotel and had our first look at Italy. It seemed pretty flat so far. The houses and buildings seemed old and in disrepair and t...Read More

Touring Venice and Burano, Day 2 (1996)

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Flood Photo, Venice, Italy
Quote:
The tour officially started the next morning with a motorboat ride to St. Mark’s Square on the lagoon side of Venice instead of down the Grand Canal and since it was raining, (boy, was it raining!) the gondolas weren’t operating either. That meant that anyone who hadn’t gone into town the day before missed out on any sort of cruise down the Grand Canal! Lucky us for doing it on our own! When we got off the boat, we rushed to a nearby shop that had an overhanging canopy. That shop also was selling rain gear like jackets and ponchos that fold up. We all bought something to keep us dry as it was windy so umbrellas didn’t do much good! The guide met us there and away we went on a walking ...Read More

Hill Towns of Umbria

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Gubbio, Italy Photo, Gubbio, Italy
Quote:
The next day we boarded our bus with our driver Franco and guide Muris. Off we went, first stop Padua to have a look in St. Anthony’s Basilica (in the rain). Very nice. You can’t take pictures inside most of the churches (duomos) in Italy though. We later had time to peruse the souvenir and bookstores in the small square (piazza) and I went into a little bar to use the toilet. Surprise! A porcelain bowl set into the floor with two treaded tiles, one on either side for your feet! Actually it wasn’t as much of a surprise as normally would have been as our Italian language instructor had warned us before we left! Ok, how low can you squat’’’’ I managed not to pee all over myself and get back up w...Read More

I See Assisi

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Little shrine in Assissi Photo, Assisi, Italy
Quote:
The morning dawned clear and we got a good look at the view across the valley below San Marina before boarding the bus after breakfast. Another hill town today, the second largest pilgrimage center after Rome, Assisi, where the medieval monk, St. Francis, was born. After awhile the hill towns look pretty similar. Mostly we were there in the mornings before it got too crowded so they were quiet and peaceful. Some had great views over the valleys and some didn’t, depending on how the centre of town was situated. Assisi was nice with more narrow streets and lots of shops featuring Assisi-type needlework. The basilica is actually two churches, one built on top of the other. The old chu...Read More

South to Sorrento

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View of Sorrento Photo, Sorrento, Italy
Quote:
The next day was a long day of mostly travelling out of the Umbria region, across the center of Italy and down to Sorrento via the motorway where we stopped several times for breaks and lunch at motor stops. The scenery here was very different as we were now in the valleys and were looking up at the mountain ranges rather than looking down into the rolling valleys. We passed Rome which we could see at a distance, and Naples. The outskirts of Naples looked pretty poor and run down and I hear most of the city is like that too. We didn’t go into Naples at all on this tour and from all i’ve heard about the crowded polluted, crime-ridden city, i’m just as glad.The bay of Sorrento (finally un...Read More

The Isle of Capri, and the Amalfi Coast

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Steep city! Photo, Positano, Italy
Quote:
The next day was an excursion to Capri. The night before we went to the Isle of Capri there was an electrical storm on and off all night and the thunder was really loud, echoing off the cliffs along the seaside. On Capri it rained and thunder showered on and off all day. We went to a village 1000 feet up, Anacapri, and saw a beautiful Villa there, Villa San Michele which belonged to the doctor/writer Axel Munthe. Fabulous views and gardens there and an Egyptian statue that promised good luck if you rubbed it’s foot and made a wish. Our local guide, Pasquale was a real treat! All of the local guides we had in various cities and towns were all very knowledgable but Pasquale was our favo...Read More

Onwards to Roma

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Castel Sant'Angelo Photo, Rome, Italy
Quote:
On the way to Rome we stopped in Pompeii and it was really interesting to see artifacts that have been buried and preserved under 8 metres of ash and dust for 18 centuries. Herculaneum was on the other side of the volcano and it was the one buried in mud and lava. The victims in Pompeii all suffocated and then the ash solidified and preserved everything. It was kind of creepy to see the plaster cast of several of the victims of the disaster. The casts were created by pouring plaster into the space around where a body was buried (now a skeleton) and then chipping the solidified ash from around it. That meant, also, that there is a skeleton inside these casts and you can see the bones of the toes a...Read More

Rome, Over and Under

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La Barca, the Leaky Boat Photo, Rome, Italy
Quote:
Day 2 in Rome was a morning visiting some other lovely churches and later the San Callisto catacombs. We went to St. Peter in Chains (San Pietro ad Vincula) first to see Michelangelo’s Moses and later to Santa Maria Maggiore which was dark in side but had fabulous 13th century frescos and 16th and 17th century chapels built on either side with very elaborate decoration. The sun was streaming through the old stained glass and I managed to take a couple of pictures of the coloured lights beaming down, spotlighting some people sitting in the pews. I really liked that church and would definitely go back and see it again. There is also a church I had hoped to see that has a false dome painted on the ce...Read More

Tuscany: Orvieto, Siena and Florence

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Campanile Photo, Florence, Italy
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Leaving Rome and onto another hill town called Orvieto which was one of the places the medieval Popes used to spend summers. The town is high up and to get there we had to take a funicular which is a cable car up a short ride and then the public bus to the center of town where a very impressive duomo stood. This duomo is made of two different coloured stone, limestone and black basalt which makes it all horizontally striped. The front facade is a couple of hundred years newer but still 15th century I think and very elaborate. We walked around some of the small narrow streets to an open air market where there were even cages of live chickens! Lots of ceramic shops too and I bought a little water jug...Read More

London

Introduction and London

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Leeds Castle Photo, Kent, England
Quote:
This holiday happened in 1996 but IgoUgo only dates back to 2000 so that's what i've used. To prepare for our tour of Italy, we took Italian lessons the winter before we went. That was fun! I did get to use some of what i learned even though pretty near every person replied to me in English. Oh well! It added to the anticipation of the trip at least. We started in London. I had only been there once though have been many times since then. I've kept the travelogue that i wrote so the experiences will be in the words i used then. I don't remember the names of most of the hotels and they will have changed in the intervening 13 years, by price and sometimes even by name. I can recall what some ...Read More

Leeds Castle

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Attraction

Leeds Castle Photo, Kent, England
Quote:
Leeds Castle, in the lovely county of Kent just south of London, is a wonderful place to spend a day. We went there as part of a day tour by coach but there really is a lot that will keep you going for most of the day. The castle was built in 1119 and has been a royal palace and later a private home for many centuries. Most famously used by many queens of England who would come here to live after the king died in medieval ages. Henry VIII also visited here frequently early in his reign. The castle is entered via some steps and through a Norman cellar and then you go up into a Heraldry room with portraits of various family owners and coats of arms. You pick up a laminated sheet that gives y...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on April 12, 2008

Leeds Castle

Maidstone, Kent, England ME17 1PL
01622 765 400

British Museum

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Attraction | "Antiquities in Time"

British Museum Photo, London, England
Quote:
The British Museum is one of the top museums in the world and for good reason. It's main focus is ancient civilizations and the development of civilization in general. It's also one of the oldest museums in the world, opened in 1759 on the site of the current building which was opened in the mid 1800s and it has expanded several times since then. One of the original buildings considered was Buckingham House which later became Buckingham Palace! The British Museum also consisted of an extensive library, originating with the library items donated by King George III. Up until a few years ago, the Library was also part of the building that currently houses the BM but it now has it's own dedicated building...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on November 8, 2008

British Museum
Great Russell Street
London, England WC1B 3DG
+44 (207) 7323 8299

Big Bus Tours-London Sightseeing Tour

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Attraction | "Big Bus Company (The)"

Big Bus Tours-London Sightseeing Tour Photo, London, England
Quote:
We decided on The Big Bus for our city tour. (And yes, i know the photo isn't actually a tour bus, but it was taken from the top deck of one!) The main reason is that one of their routes offers live guides. There are two or three different routes you can take with Big Bus. The red route has live guides most of the time. The Blue route is all recorded commentary. The blue route will take you down by the Knightsbridge museums and around the outside of Hyde Park and up to Madam Taussaud's. The Red route is mainly the central areas. The blue route covers this part as well. The Green route is a connector route that only runs between the Russell Square hotels (and the British Museum area) and Aldwych where ...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on April 17, 2008

Big Bus Tours-London Sightseeing Tour
48 Buckingham Palace Road
London, England
+44 (20) 7233 9533

St Paul's Cathedral

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Attraction

St Paul's Cathedral Photo, London, England
Quote:
On Ludgate Hill, at the end of The Strand, you come around a turn in the road and this huge domed building looms out at you amid the busy traffic. St. Paul's Cathedral was finished in 1710, built after the great fire of London in 1666 burned down Old St. Paul's. It's a Baroque masterpiece, filled with tombs, statues, frescos and gilded everything. It costs 10 pounds for adults, 9 for seniors plus they have family (2 children 2 adults) tickets and that includes everything. You can visit the crypt and you can also climb up over 500 steps to go to the very top of the dome. It's fewer if you just want to go to the Whispering Gallery where a sound whispered on one side will travel around and be h...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on April 11, 2008

St Paul's Cathedral
The Chapter House
London, England EC4M 8AD
+44 (20 7) 236 4128

Thistle Euston

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Hotel | "Good Tourist Class Hotel"

Quote:
I've stayed at the Thistle Euston several times over the years and it's always been a pleasant experience. It has often been used as a "bus tour" or group tour hotel, which is how I first stayed there. The location is very good, just a block from Euston train and underground station and around the corner, on Euston Road, is the Euston square and Warren Street stations with in a block or two. Euston station is a major bus terminal as well. I didn't notice much noise from the trains and the neighbourhood itself is quiet. It's close to Regent Park and Camden too.The hotel has a nice little bar and a restaurant in the basement, both have pretty good food, though a bit pricey as you would expec...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on June 10, 2008

Thistle Euston
CARDINGTON STREET
London, England
044 207 387 4400