We took a train from Salzburg which by the way when we left was a whopping 3 degrees celsius to Venice which was about 22 degrees Celsius, nice! This time I slept like a baby on the train it was goodness. After we got off the train we looked right out the front doors of the station and bam there is the grand canal, pretty surreal. Surreal and busy I should say there are boats running every which way people walking all over the place and they all know where there going, so although there are no cars you might still get run over! We headed off to our b&b and by headed off I mean hopped on a water bus and we went to san Marcos square area and it was bustling. Our b&b owner Lorenzo recommended some restaraunts and geleterias mmm and we were off! We went first and saw the Rialto bridge which was very nice lots of shops and restaraunts and people asking you if you would like to go on gondola rides- gondola rides look fun but not fun enough to spend 100 euros on. We instead went and got gelato and it was great! Venice or venizia as they call it is so pretty during the day, but at night it's darn near fairytailish. The lights sparkle off the water and the moon joins in on the light every once in a while it is very cool. We saw the bridge of sighs and went into st marks over to murano and burano but nothing compared to Venice at night.
We were then off to Florence but first we stopped in to bologna for delightful food and to see the market and old city it was very pretty and the church there is very large. Then off to Florence we only spent a night and morning here. We saw the duomo, which is spectacular, and we walked a long ways and climbed what seemed like a mess of steps to see the statue of David by Leo da vi. (not the real one but a perfect replica). Then we went off on a bus to greve in chianti, beautiful countryside there in Tuscany vineyards and olive groves everywhere. In chianti we got a tour of a vineyard called verzzano named for the verzzano family who owned the land since about 1000 ad crazy! Giovanni verzzano, one of the sons of this family and a mariner, was the man who actually found new York. They have a bridge in new York named after him but Hudson always gets the credit even though he didn't come till years later. We toured the vineyard and the strafe place and then got fed a light lunch and got to try some of their wines, they were great and I am usually not a fan of wine. The wine however went right through me and although I peed before leaving the vineyard the 50 min bus ride back to Florence was slightly excruciating I thought for sure my bladder was going to explode!
Next we headed up to the cinque terre, which is 5 towns on the northern Italian coast on the mediterranean side. It is gorgeous there and we stayed in levanto which is not one of cinque terre towns but beautiful all the same. We relaxed on the beach did some kayaking Jesse was "attacked" by a bee haha it was perhaps the funniest thing ever although she would tell you that me being molested by a cat later was even better- not so. It was so pretty and nice there and the beachy feel was just what we needed to relieve some stress of constantly traveling.
After being in cinque terre for 4 days we departed for Rome but first we took a train to Pisa to see the leaning tower of said city. We got to Pisa snapped a couple of classic leaning on the leaning tower pics and got some questionable hot dog and pizza and got back on a train for Rome. The train for Rome seemed to stop every 6 inches and was extremely hot and to make matters worse I am pretty sure the allergy demon himself had crawled up my nose and stuck a pitchfork in my eyes. (This was also j's b day and I felt terrible because it wasn't going very well.) It was awful my nose was like a faucet and my eyes were itching like no tomorrow! We arrived in Rome nonetheless and I was glad to be off the train my first impressions of Rome were good the city looked very beautful and very big. The first day we went early to the Vatican to go on the scavi tour of the necropolis underneath st peters basillica. First we got to go right up to the Swiss guards hand them our paper and we were escorted to the excavations office it was really amazing we felt like VIP's. We got our tickets which we had to reserve months in advance and then we went in with a small group and a very informative guide. She explained to us that the necropolis is an old roman cemetary which was built on hill call Vatican hill. In the roman times there was a circus here as well and that was right where we were outside where Peter the apostle was crucified upside down. We saw tombs that were from roman times some pagan others Christian and some pagan and Christian. Constantine built a basillica here in about 300 ad to mark the spot where Peters tomb lied. He also built a protective cube around the tomb to preserve it. No one knew if it was actually there until 1941 when they excavated and found the cube and some bones with no feet attached. An independent company outside the vatican examined the bones and said the man was about 65 or 70 at his death and of a very stout nature as was Peter. It made me a little sad though because I know Peter wouldn't have wanted his grave site so venerated or a multi billion dollar church built around his body, rather he would say why do you look at me like I have done some spectacular thing, look instead unto Jesus. Peter loved Jesus more than even life and that's why he was put to death. The rest of the graves in the necropolis were also very interesting it shows graves first that are mainly roman and pagan to a roman pagan with Christian influences and then finally mostly Christian with some things pagan. Very interesting stuff!!
The next day we went to the colosseum and the roman forum, it was amazing! First we did the forum and paletine hill the roman architecture was incredible. We got to see the place where Julius Caesar was assasinated and where his body was cremated, one of the highlights for me was seeing the titus' arch built after the sack of Jerusalem it shows the plunnder of the temple in Israel being carried away by the Romans. I studied this in school so it really came alive being right there in front of it. We also saw a pagan temple turned church with the same bronze doors since the place opened nearly 2000 years ago. Roman history is amazing there is so much to learn apparently everywhere you dig in this city you will find some type of ruins. Next we went over to the colosseum, this thing is huge. All of these ruins look great for being so incredibly old. In the colosseum we learned about how many peoples final moments were spent inside the ring, sometimes they were prisoners of war other times they were common criminals or even people who the roman govt just didn't like. Gladiators were a different breed, many of them fought for fame and fortune and some for freedom. Being in this place you have to wonder how many people lost their lives right here. Over all Rome is a great city and we still have one more trip back here to the vatican to see the cistine chapel and the Vatican musuem.