Monday, June 30, 2014

Brennan takes a call from his best friend while in Rome

Brennan missed his friends quite a bit while we were traveling. and was bummed that he couldn't text or call as much as he'd like. So, he got a kick out of this call from his friend, Alex, on our last full day in Europe. (Alex thought he was home in Joliet already.)

The Sistine Chapel

It's hard to fully appreciate Michaelangelo's Sistine Chapel when one is there. It's so crowded, for one. (and by the way, they don't allow you to take pictures inside, so all of these are from the internet.)

Also, some of the key images -- like the Creation of Adam --  seem rather small way up on the ceiling, and craning one's neck to stare upwards starts to hurt.

We found that knowing some the context helped make it more interesting.  Our group most enjoyed learning of Michalangelo's act of revenge. Apparently, during the process of painting the chapel, a Vatican cardinal kept complaining about all the nude figures Michalangelo was painting, and suggested that Michelangelo's work was better suited for a tavern than the Vatican. So Michaelangelo painted him into his Last Judgement painting as one of the damned. And to add insult to injury, he made him naked. 

When the cardinal complained to the Pope about this, the Pope shrugged and said he had juridiction over heaven only, not hell, and thus the painting would have to remain.

We also like spotting Michelangelo's self-portraits. He painted himself as the head of Holofernes (which Judith cuts off in the Old Testament story.) Annie was the one who spied it in one of the ceiling panels.

Michaelangelo also painted his face on the flayed skin of St. Bartholomew, in the Last Judgement panel.

Gelato- our favorite Italian desert

Every day in Italy, we got some gelato. Molto bene!

At the Vatican

Nate sneaks a selfie with the Swiss Guards

At a Roman cafe

We stopped at a cafe, and the woman who waited on us called Nate "molto bello" --very handsome. As you can see, he got a huge kick out of it.

Mussolini's balcony

Mark and Nate channel Mussolini before the balcony where he used to harangue the crowds.

At the Colosseum

We spent a rainy morning at the Colosseum. Though the pictures below don't show it, the Colosseum  sits incongruously next to a modern, busy Roman street. But that's typical of Rome. The ancient and the modern co-exist everywhere in the city.

a night at Admiral de Grasse's chateau

On our way from Provence to Italy, we spent a night in a town called Bar-sur-Loup, at the Chateau de Grasse. It's a family run hotel in the ancestral home of Admiral de Grasse.

 For history buffs, Admiral de Grasse was the French admiral who bottled up the English forces at the Battle of Yorktown, allowing the Americans under Washington to win. It turned out to be the last battle of the American Revolution. 

The views from our rooms were amazing. (do you see Mark's head poking out on the left?)
We enjoyed meeting Henri, who runs the place with his parents


Before we left, Mark and the kids had fun with the statue of Admiral de Grasse.

Friday, June 27, 2014

We found the Italian Patrick Stewart

It's Guiseppe, a delightful man who drove  us to the airport.

Below is Nate's final group selfie in the car,

King Nate I finds an appropriate chair on the streets of Rome

Saint Peter's Basilica and Piazza Navona

We are waiting at the airport so I'm posting a few more pictures while I can.

Last day in Rome... Along the Tiber

Home again, home again, jiggety jig

Trudging through Rome's Airport, then playing cards as we wait, and finally -- seated on the plane.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Wifi in Rome!

We are going through withdrawal symptoms without wifi, so we make sure we stop at cafes with wifi for lunch or snacks.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Our last bit of driving...

Our European road trip continues as we head to Rome today.  We've had quite a bit of car time these three weeks and have  spent it in different ways. Mark has done 95% of the driving on the trip (thanks, Mark!) and has been listening to a  looong book on tape we downloaded on the iphone  ("The Warmth of Other Suns")   

I've  done some writing in the car (not as much as i would have liked, but hey! Europe to look at!) I've  also been the family flight attendant --doling out water, snacks, and entertainment options as we go. 

The four  kids (all over 5'9") have dealt admirably with very tight quarters in this itty bitty van. They've slept, watched DVDs on our two little portable DVD players we brought with us, listened to music or books on ipods, and played raucous games together on the ipad. Here they are playing a game called 'Badlands' together.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Skipping rocks on the Rhone River, near Arles

We want more time in Provence!

Provence got short shrift this trip. We only got to spend a few hours in Les Baux des Provence and had to drive through the rest of the region too fast since we must be in Rome tomorrow night. We have vowed to come and spend a whole week sometime.

Nate in the stocks

We spent a wonderful two hours on lunch.Our last French meal!