Rome, Part 1

Rome, Part 1

We spent a couple of days in Rome, mostly visiting places I’d seen decades before. I was happy to re-visit, remember, and notice new things! I thought late September would be a good time to visit because of cooler weather and fewer tourists. Wrong! It was very hot and extremely crowded.

Even though Rome has its share of urban blight, there are also amazing antiquities and beautiful scenes throughout the center of the city.

The Catacombs of Domitilla was originally a pagan funerary burial site. It is the largest catacomb in Rome, though not as creepy as the one I visited way back when. The underground basilica, constructed in the fourth century in the location of the remains of two Roman Christian martyrs, no longer houses the relics. However, it is an interesting, inviting chapel.

I do so love the Vatican Museums — 70,000 works of art in 54 galleries. I’d love to spend days there, but the staff tends to move tourists along at a steady clip.

This trip, our group took a route through the Map Room, which I loved.

     

It was so crowded that I spent a lot of time looking at the ceilings, and they were magnificent!

                 

The huge tapestries told vibrant Biblical stories.

We ended at the Sistine Chapel. It has been restored since I was here and the effect is much brighter and vibrant. Unfortunately, no photos are allowed, but you know what it looks like.

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Amalfi Coast, Italy

Amalfi Coast, Italy

This was my first visit to the well-known Amalfi coast. Edie had been there before and knew a fantastic guide who showed us the amazing sights.

A dozen or so towns line the steep southern shore of the Sorrentine Peninsula. These cities are linked by the 25-mile Amalfitana road—one of the most beautiful drives in the world. Around every corner was an amazing view.

We were very happy a professional was driving!

The region is known for its delicious lemons and limoncello. Every home, large or small, has a small terrace of lemon trees.

We first explored Positano, in an absolutely beautiful setting. We walked through the narrow streets and down to the beach, and had no intention of ever leaving.

But, we were tempted away by more of the amazing drive, this time to Ravello. We stopped at a ceramic factory with a great view!

Ravello is a medieval town, known for its musical festivals. We had lunch at a fabulous restaurant. Mama came out and told us what she thought we should have and then went into the kitchen and made it! It was a fabulous selection of four pastas, each with a different sauce. We thought we’d died and gone to heaven!

To walk off that feast, we headed to the town of Amalfi and walked through town to the piazza and Duomo.

 

Then, up the hill to the Villa Rufolo, which must have been an amazing showcase in its time. Only recently have ruins of Turkish mineral baths been excavated. A stroll through the gardens takes you to the terrace for a dramatic view.

Finally back on ship, we enjoyed a beautiful panorama of the town of Amalfi.

Malta

Malta

One reason I was excited to go on this trip was the opportunity to visit Malta–who goes to Malta? I was not disappointed.

Valetta

Valetta (the capital) enjoys 320 monuments within 135 acres and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The approach was beautiful, with lighthouses on either side of the harbor entrance, huge ramparts surrounding the city, and a castle on an island.

The exterior of the St. John’s Co-Cathedral doesn’t even hint at the opulence inside! This cathedral was built by the Knights of St. John, who ruled the island in the 14th to 16th centuries. They built the cathedral in thanks for their victory over the Ottomans in 1565. The interior has breathtaking ceilings, gold everywhere, and an absolutely amazing marble floor. St. John’s also houses two Caravaggio masterpieces, of which photos are not allowed.

   

We walked up to the Upper Barakka Gardens for beautiful views of the harbor.

Mdina

The city of Mdina (not to be confused with Medina!) is 4000 years old and was once Malta’s capital. Its surrounding walls protect 15th- and 16th-century mansions. Every alley leads to a surprise.  I guess that’s why a lot of the location filming for “Game of Thrones” is done here!

             

Bay of St. Paul

We went to the Bay of St. Paul, where “legend has it” he shipwrecked. Scholars seem to agree that it was somewhere on Malta, but disagree on which cove. In any case, it is a beautiful bay with a statue of St. Paul.

As we left the port, we marveled at the beauty and history on Malta!

Oregon Landscapes

We drove back to Portland via the Santiam Pass. It was yet another beautiful day and we loved the views.

We got a good look at Mt. Washington:

Next, we walked along Detroit Dam to enjoy the lake.

Can’t wait for the next adventure with Melissa! Thank you to Sami and Sue for being the perfect hosts.