Batten Family


Rome, Italy to Barcelona, Spain Cruise September 24-October 9, 2006

We flew from Houston to New York and then to Rome. We spent 3 days exploring Rome including the fabulous Borghese Gallery with works of Bernini, Caravaggio, Raphael, Titian, Rubens and Canova among others. With prebought tickets and an assigned time we were able to explore the Gallery at our leisure and get very close to the Art Works as long as you did not touch. We had also arranged a private tour of the Vatican. Starting 30 minutes earlier than the public we cut through shortcuts to move throughout the muesem before others caught up with us. The Sistine Chapel is amazing but we felt rushed with so much to see. In St. Peters Basilica we got a powerful photo of Michealanglo's Pieta in our photo exhibit. Too much to see and do for only 3 days. We needed at least a month. To view the pictures we took click on Rome.

We boarded Oceania's Regatta in Port Civitavecchia about an hour outside of Rome. Our first port was the Amalfi Coast where we toured the towns of Amalfi and Positano. Homes and businesses perched on the side of a mountain. Amalfi Coast was a very busy trading port in olden times and buildings and church reflect the diversity of cultures of a trading area.

Our next port was Sorrento. We saw a lovely play put on for the tourists that evening. The next morning we left to visit the ruins of Pompeii. What a sight to see a town that had been covered with ash and a lot of history preserved. The Romans were amazing engineers. Wide streets paved with large stones. Water piped underground to central fountains in the streets. As a trading port, Pompeii had its red light district. Frescos on the walls depicted services offered to customers, in case of a language barrier. Click on Amalfi Coast and Sorrento to view the pictures.

The port of Livorno offered access to the cities of Florence, Siena and San Gimignano. We saw the original statue of Michelangelo's David in the Accademia Galleria and later a full size copy in the Piazza della Signoria. Art and statues abound everywhere and of course churches.

Siena was a rival town to Florence without the focus of art. The medieval core of the city is relatively traffic free as the streets are too narrow for most vehicles. The huge main central square called the Campo is like an amphitheater. Twice a year recreate a medieval tradition of a pageant and horserace around the Campo, with the winner of the race and their banner becomes an instant hero - as least until the next race.

One of the most preserved and spectucular sight in Tuscany is the town of San Gimignano. With medieval towers hardly changed in appearance since the Middle Ages. The towers were built as status symbols rather than defenses. As each wealthy landowner built a tower to show his stature, the next landowner built his taller and bigger. The main street is lined with shops selling all sorts of goods including excellent local wines.

The port of La Spezia led us to Portofino. A beautiful town with breathtaking buildings ringing the cove. Lots of money here if the number of yachts and boats are any indication. Click on Livorno and La Spezia to view the pictures.

Click on Monte Carlo, Provence, Sete, and Palma de Mallorca to view the pictures.

and finally Baracelona

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