Home again

I traveled for two weeks with only a carry-on and a small backpack! It took a lot of thinking and planning (and packing cubes), but I found I really like traveling light. When I got home I even removed some things from this packing list! This is having effects on my lifestyle at home, too.

I learned so many things: from Peter I learned that you can make up a great trip as you go if you have a phone with data, and that everyone needs unstructured play. I learned that I need to drink stronger coffee; thank you, Switzerland!. I saw an entire culture spending evenings with friends in cafes, restaurants and picnics with not a cellphone or laptop in sight, talking, talking, talking–and now that I am done with this blog, that’s what I want to do!

This was a sweet, sweet trip of a lifetime.

Goodbye, Paris

We took a train from Menton to Paris and celebrated our last evening by walking to Pont Neuf on the Seine.

Goodnight boats, goodnight sun.
Goodnight Eiffel Tower, goodnight moon!

Goodbye Paris and lovely trip!

World Cup

Just by accident we were in Paris when France beat Croatia in the World Cup semifinals. People poured out into the streets, the bells of Notre Dame rang out for a minute, and horns and cheers blared for hours. Then we were in Menton, France for the World Cup final against Belgium (everyone was excited that it was a francophone final) and the big win!

People are pouring into the streets and horns are starting to honk in Paris as France beats Belgium.

Crowds in Menton celebrate with flares, smoke bombs, motorcycles, La Marseillaise, and honking horns as France wins the World Cup for the first time in 20 years!

Surprise: French Riviera!

After touring the Coliseum, Forum and Palatine Hill, we welcomed a long train ride through beautiful Italy to a late night arrival over the border in France, in Menton, “Perle de la France.”

The heart of Rome

The Coliseum is gigantic, elaborate, advanced, ruined, spectacular, and tragic.
Enslaved persons and animals destined for destruction were housed under the floor.
This is where the emperor sat to view the bloodshed.
Now it is one of the 14 stations of the cross, visited by the pope on Good Friday.
Moving from the Coliseum to the Forum on the original pavement, you can see The Arch of Titus up ahead.
In this detail from the Arch of Titus you can see the menorah being carried away from the destroyed Temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD, along with the golden trumpets and implements, as Jesus predicted. This treasure paid for the building of the Coliseum, a temple to destruction.
Yet nobody is still worshipping the emperors.
Placard:  The scarce marble remains with a palmette decoration belong to a monument known as the Miliarium Aureum, erected by Augustus in 20 BC when he became the caretaker of roads: it consisted of a large column (diam.1.20m), on which the distances between Rome and the provinces of the Empire calculated in miles from the gates in the Servian Walls were marked in gold letters.
Footnote: We had a wonderful experience with Viator Skip-the-line tours in every city. The guides were incredibly knowledgeable, took us around huge lines, kept us in the shade when possible, and let us maximize our time and energy. Well worth the price.


After a day of big, big sights, we sat down for a big, big meal at Osteria Il Quattro Mori. We were told that a trattoria is a restaurant that serves local cuisine using local ingredients, but at an osteria you are eating at the host’s table and he decides what you will be served. No menu, just two choices: meat or fish, red or white. And then the food started coming and kept coming, in seven courses.

The first course: Meat! plus artichokes and flatbread and bruschetta.
After the two pasta courses lemon granita is refreshing.

Definitely the luscious fruit! And then three digestivi (limoncello, amaretto, grappa), coffee, and a long sleep!

Floors in Italy

I became obsessed with beautiful Italian floors, from the Parthenon to the Vatican Museums, from our hotel hall to St. Peter’s to ancient ruins.


Vatican museums & St. Peter’s

Everything is big, big, big at the Vatican, so these are big photos.

It is hard to believe how big St. Peter’s is . . .

until you have a comparison.
Michelangelo’s dome in St. Peter’s Cathedral

Michelangelo’s Pieta
Raphael painted Michelangelo into The School of Athens; Vatican Museums.
In this St. Peter’s wedding chapel mosaic, Mary’s halo of stars is paved with 10-carat diamonds.
Henri Matisse, Casula verde, 1951; Vatican Museums

Roman holiday

Here is the best 2,000-year-old remnant of Rome.  If this is a ransacked remnant, what must Rome have looked like in its prime?

Everyone in the neighborhood is finishing the day in Piazza Navona.

 The oculus gives plenty of light; rain disappears into drains hidden in the marble floor.

The Flowering of the Renaissance

Michelangelo captured David’s indignation and determination in his expression.

The Baptistery is green and white marble only, no flowers; the newly baptized would emerge through the Gates of Paradise to enter the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Flower, made from green, white and pink marble, with stylized flowers everywhere.

This beautiful building is topped with Brunelleschi’s famous Dome.










Top off the day with Steak Florentine and chianti!