Thursday, June 28, 2012

Lo-Tiv-Ro Tour Wrap Up

Today we headed home, at last. It was a great trip, but long and we were all ready to get back to our own beds and routines. On the flight from London back to Dallas, I watched 4 films, but couldn't tell you a single thing about any of them. One of my pieces of luggage was stuffed full and the seams were starting to rip so I had to do the really classy act of having the airport wrap my luggage in plastic wrap. I only wish that I had gotten a picture of the plastic wrapped luggage because I was so proud walking through the airport with that getting my hillbilly vibe on. Unfortunately, my other luggage could have easily held more because it is magically spacious, but if I'd added anything more it would have been over the weight limit.

In closing, here are some additional pictures I took of things that made me think of folks back home or are just interesting....

Thinking of all my winos....
And my Texans....
And my people who use phone booths. Sadly, I never did see the T.A.R.D.I.S.
And my Martins...
Just thought this was a really cool door handle. It was for a meat market.
On the left hand of the gate is a sign that says "Please keep gate shut". I think somebody can't read.
Hmm, I wonder...
At Heathrow airport where we had breakfast before heading to Rome.
Everywhere else in the world toilet women wear A-line dresses. In Rome, they are fashion forward with a poofy Marilyn Monroe wind-up-my-dress dress.
Hmm, again...
There is a children's shop in Tivoli....
Before Tyra Banks coined the phrase, it was a long standing family name...
The Pope's cat, well kitten. It seems that these 3 kittens showed up in Vatican city and anything within the walls of the Vatican become the Pope's and are here-by sacred. Some of the people in the tour group actually got in trouble for reaching out and petting the kitten as it is now a holy vessel of the Pope....
Continued excavation and learning being done by within the grounds of the Roman Forum.
Just thought this was an interesting store in Rome:
Summer lovin'....
Run, Run, Run to the Exit!!
We can only Supersize over here. The McDonalds in Rome, you can get the Mythic Chicken!! By the way, I was yelled at by the McDonalds staff for taking this picture...
Well that is one way to relax on your scooter....

I have a strange fascination with dopplegangers:
I like the "o" in "your" and it almost shows off my cute dress (that was way too big) that I wore on my last day.
The very last picture I took is of a deflated Tweety-bird balloon caught in a tree and I think this goes to show that it was definitely time to go home.
And now that we have come to the end of our trip, the diversion is over and I must return to the daily grind...oh and blog about something else....

Lo-Tiv-Ro Tour Day 13

Today was the last day of the trip and was spent relaxing, packing, doing some last minute shopping and site seeing. Surprisingly, I did not take many pictures on this day (perhaps my camera and I were both just too worn out after 12 days and over 4,200 pictures).

We started off trekking across Rome to one of the shops where we stopped on our very first day to pick up some souvenirs. We then wandered over to the Piazza Novona where we sat for an hour or so just people watching and enjoying la dolce vita (the good life) as represented in the name of this shop:

We then wandered through a couple of more shops. I picked up a beautiful bag, which is the perfect size to hold wallet, phone, chapstick, book, keys and sling across your body and head out the door.
You can't tell from the above picture, and actually this one doesn't quite do it justice, but the purse is a wonderful grape color.

We stopped in at the gelato shop where we were our first day near Trevi fountain and had a last yummy dish of gelato. We then headed back to the hotel to get packed.

After packing what I could, I then made a last ditch trip to a couple of shops to pick one or two things up and came across this beautiful purse which has handles that are set to be able to carry it as a backpack, if so desired.

My companions were heading out for dinner and when I completed my final shopping I swung by the restaurant and met them for a last glass of wine, salad, and tiramisu. We then headed back to the hotel and to bed as we had to get up at 4 AM to get our cab in the morning for the airport and for home. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Lo-Tiv-Ro Tour Day 12

Today, we start back at the Piazza del Popola. I thought I would change the direction of the lion fountain picture and take one from behind this time. Actually, I took this picture because as I was sitting there waiting for everybody to arrive I noticed that those sculpture didn't forget a thing...sadly my Leo no longer was what this leo has:
Can YOU tell what I'm referring to?

After everybody arrived, we headed off to explore Tuscany. We first stopped in a medieval hill town called Montepulciano.

The bell is rung by "Punch" who later became part of a puppet duet called Punch and Judy.

Picture of the Communal Palace:
The church, Santa Maria delle Grazia.
This is a car-free town, for the most part as residents are allowed vehicles, but as you can tell by the streets, there isn't a lot of room....
After our tour of the town and some instruction in medieval and Renaissance architecture, we headed to the Abbazia di Sant Antimo. It is here that we heard Gregorian monks chanting. This was definitely a magical moment and something that I would love to travel back and experience again. Since I was with a tour group, I was not able to explore in the fashion that I would like and at my own speed; I just got a taste of the good stuff and want more.

We were not allowed to take pictures inside the church, so I tried to get one from outside. It is a small church, compared to the huge basilicas that I've been seeing through the recent days, but it was still gorgeous. As we sat and listened to the monks the windows above and to the sides of the alter looked out over the rolling hills of Tuscany and well, I don't have words for it.

We left the Abbey and headed to the winery Poggio Il Castellare where we were treated to lunch and a wine tasting.
A shot of the patio and the view from the winery:
We ate at this long table shaded by canopies.
Our first course (and my favorite course) consisted of the following plate. We had chickpeas, bruschetta pomodoro (with tomato and basil), bruschetta with fava beans, pecorino cheese and prosciutto, and the regional dish called Panzanella, which is a salad made of fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, basil, and bread. Since the Tuscan people do not cook with a lot of salt, their bread does not have salt on it. To provide that extra kick of flavor, you drizzle olive oil over everything. I thought I wasn't going to enjoy this, but that food was so wonderful it brought tears to my eyes.
Our next course was pasta and then some biscotti for dessert, obviously the next two rounds were not worthy of picture taking. The meal was accompanied by four different wines, none of which was purchased by me, but I did enjoy them all.
Inside the cellar:
View from the winery:
Our last stop of the day was to go to Pienza, another wonderful walled town in the hills of Tuscany. There was one primary street that circled the village inside the walls and where there were no less than 5 cheese shops. The whole town smells of pecorino cheese. I wandered around the village and picked up a couple of pieces of pottery and some jewelry. I also purchased some aged basalmic to bring home and try on my next salad.

Again, this town is ancient, well 6 centuries ancient, and has not expanded outside its original wall. It is another place where I would have liked to spend a much greater amount of time just soaking up the culture and the landscape and finding cool doors to take pictures of:

Definitely a place that I would like to return to and I'm so very happy that I made the decision to take this trip and spend one of my last remaining days in the country.