Experiencing a tour of Italy

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

It was beyond my imagination that I would ever go to Italy. It would be like a dream to make the trip and to see the historical European country. We went and it seems like it was a dream, but it was real.

We knew that TeamBank was having a group go on a trip to Italy, but we had not given it any thought. One day we saw Nancy Lewis, the person who coordinates the trips and she mentioned that she would like for us to go. Both Marylynn and I thought that it would be a great trip, and since there was still time to make the arrangements, we made the decision to go.

Our trip was only a few days after the group from Cottey College went to Italy and our tour took us to some of the same places that they went. Steve Reed had a series of reports about the trip in the Nevada Daily Mail, a letter each day to Mama from her son Steve. His descriptions of the food he ate what they saw and other aspects of the trip was a great description of experiencing Italy.

I have never done a great amount of traveling, at least not as much as many others. Having an experience of this type is meaningful and a great experience in life. Some of my fellow travelers said that they were afraid of what I might write and they threatened to write the editor about me. However, as in Las Vegas, where what happens there, stays there -- in Italy, it did not happen.

Our tour was with Collette Vacations. It was well planned and the tour guide did a great job of looking after all of us and getting us where we needed to be. This trip is one that involved a great amount of walking and we were constantly busy. The art and the architecture was way beyond imagination. If a person is aware of the history of the country and has a great amount of appreciation for the art and architecture, the experience would be even more meaningful.

We saw a lot and increased our awareness of the country and the culture, but there was much more to see and do. It is a good experience to be introduced into another culture. Italy is a country about the size of Arizona. One of the things that was obvious to us there were how many fewer obese people we saw in Italy than compared to what we see here in the United States. This might be due to the fact that they do more walking.

Everyone has seen pictures of life and things in Italy, but to be there and see them, makes them more real. While there were many things I learned, there is a lot more that I would have liked to learn. I had seen photographs of the narrow streets, but did not realize how narrow they really are. Many of the buildings and streets have been there for centuries and they make a special good effort to preserve their heritage.

I would not want to live there, and I am sure that most of those people would not want to live here in our rural area -- it is not home. Most of the people live in small apartments that they rent or own. They are too small to do any socialization, so they go out to see people and have coffee, wine or go to restaurants.

Of special interest was the large number of vineyards which ranged from large vineyards to small, garden sized, vineyards. The average consumption of wine in Italy is 26 gallons of wine per year, or 1/2 gallon per person per week.

One thing we noticed were a large number of gardens instead of lawns that have to be mowed.

In many ways they are more advanced and greener than we are. It was interesting to see their electric trains in operation that are powered with overhead wires. There were a lot of toll roads and we went through many tunnels. Each town we went to required a registration for the coach and a fee. There were restrictions on the time and places where the coach could be driven.

As might be expected, they drove only small cars, with some only holding two people. They also had restrictions on parking cars. In some places they parked two or three deep. And more people are buying cars which increases their traffic and parking problems.

We saw a lot of bicycles and motorcycles, as well as motor scooters. The motorcycle and motor scooter riders all wore helmets.

We stayed in a hotel in Rome the first night and the last night of the trip. The other six nights we stayed at a hotel at Montecatini Terme.

The first day after getting to Rome, we went to the Vatican. Being in St. Peter's Square and the surrounding area was a great experience. We were standing in a place we have seen many times in photographs.

The Vatican tour was inspiring. It is much larger than I ever expected. The art, including the art on the ceilings, was worth the whole trip to see.

We stopped by the medieval walled city of Assisi, the birth place of Saint Francis.

The cathedral there was one of many wonderful cathedrals that we saw and toured while in Italy. We learned more about the Saint Francis and enjoyed touring the town.

Getting to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa was a great experience. There is more inside of the walls that protected the town, including a Baptistery and a Cathedral.

White marble was used for the construction of these buildings. Marble was used in many of the cathedrals that we saw.

One of the places we toured at Florence was the Academy Gallery which houses Michelangelo's monumental statue of David. The artist was so detailed with the sculpture made of marble, that you expected to see the muscles move at anytime.

We were fortunate to have good weather each day, except for the final day in Rome when it was cold and windy.

Among the things we did on that day was to tour the Coliseum, one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

We also visited the Trevi Fountain.

Included in the tours was a tour of a leather factory and a tour of a winery.

There was much more that we saw, toured and did, including having great meals which were accompanied by local musicians.

I took a lot of pictures and some of them are really impressive. My awareness and appreciation of what Italy offers has vastly increased.

The memories of this trip will be treasured forever.