Thursday, December 29, 2016

Ponte Vecchio: Over the Arno

Ponte Vecchio means Old Bridge in Italian. It has commanding views both up and down the Arno River. Florence lies on one side, Oltrarno (across the Arno) on the other. It would be easy to write pages about Florence and Oltrano. However, their connector, the Ponte Vecchio is not to be overlooked. It is a very old and famous bridge. Stone arches support wooden shops that have been there since or even before the 1300's. Shops were added to the outside of the bridge making it picturesque as well as space saving.
Butchers, fishmongers, and grocers once habited the bridge. Butchers would cut the meat and just toss the unused parts out the window. The fishmongers did the same. The offal and entrails of the butchered animals once sailed down the Arno River amidst the river traffic. The stench was unbelievable. To make matters worse, tanners were also there.
Florence started to become the grand city of Renaissance. Even in the past nobility and artists did not mix well with the reek of offal.
The butchers, tanners, fishmongers and all their smelly shops were closed down. Gold and silver shops replaced them. To this day, you can wander over the lovely bridge gazing at the glittering jewelry, river, tourists, and unbelievable sunsets.
In the middle of the bridge is an open area that allows you to see both sides of the river. There is a water fountain there.
There's a bit more to it though. The Medici's wanted a private corridor to access their Pitti Palace with Palazzo Vecchio. Cosimo l di' Medici had the Vasari Corridor built over the shops on the bridge so they could move safely and freely from the residents of Florence that they governed.
It is said that Mussolini loved the view from the Vasari Corridor very much. So much that he persuaded the Germans not to blow the bridge up as they retreated. All the other bridges were destroyed in Florence except for this one.
It is beautiful in the morning, afternoon, and evening. My favorite time was when all the lights were coming on and it was reflecting in the water with the setting sun behind it.
So, when in Florence, the Ponte Vecchio is a must for walking, sightseeing, shopping, and of course enjoying a gelato!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Ostia Antica Ancient Rome's 1st port

Picture perfect in a frame. Beautiful Ostia Antica on a lovely day. Ancient Rome's 1st port is no longer a town full of merchants, sailors, and ancient Romans.
        It's now a large archaeological site just begging to be explored. While Pompeii is crowded and hard to maneuver about when the tours are in progress, Ostia is uncrowded.
        This is one of the blissfully untouristed areas that I wandered about in. The ruins include baths, temples, an amphitheater, shops, tabernae, 3 story buildings, and so much more.
        The mosaics and frescoes are Bellissimo!

There is a square of the guilds or Corporations by the amphitheater. The floors of all the shops are done is mosaics. The amazing mosaics depict trade, ships, ports of long ago such as Africa, and sea animals (dolphins.)
         Walking beside these mosaic squares is like walking and reading a picture book from the past.

Ostia includes a nice museum with some amazing artifacts.
        If you get hungry wandering about all day, there's a great little cafe with very good food.

Care for a souvenir or two? Maybe some books? There's a place for that too! I got some great books on this intriguing place, some Roman coin earrings, and a replica of an oil lamp, just to name a few things.

Ostia is located at the mouth (ostium) of the Tiber River. So, it was a very successful harbor city.
        It is not far from Rome and very easy to get to. It's also a nice area to stay in if you prefer.
There is a great website on it:
Stay tuned for more posts on it!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Ostia Antica Mosaic

This is a mosaic in Ostia Antica, the first Port of Ancient Rome, in Italy. Some say it's a mosaic of the second port of ancient Rome: Portus. I took an amazing course on Portus. The lighthouse, pictured above, was modeled after the great Alexandria Lighthouse in Egypt. The lighthouse sat in an artificial harbor. It was built on Caligula's ship that transported an obelisk to Circus Maximus.

This mosaic is in the Piazzale dell Corporazioni (The Square of the Corporations.) It is famous due to it's many trade references and mosaics. Walking through this square in Ostia Antica is really amazing. It's like looking at a picture book from back in time. There are mosaics from Africa and all over the world. It gives you a great idea of all the different trading companies and people that were a part of ancient Rome's trade.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Rome at Night

Rome was everything I thought it would be, that is until I saw it at night. It is exquisite. The color of the sky needs no filter. The ruins are lit up. The Colosseum looks even more amazing with the dark sky and the full moon. 
The eternal city comes alive. People are out walking everywhere. The restaurants are just filling up. People are strolling along eating gelato, talking, and taking photos. And did I mention the Colosseum at night?!
This was the view by my hotel during my last stay in Rome. It is the Temple of Nerva. Nerva was a Roman emperor from 96 - 98. His history and the story of the Temple are online. It is incredible to walk out of your hotel and see the temple at night and  all of the other ruins....
And of course: The Colosseum......

Sunday, June 5, 2016

The Arch of Constantine and The Meta Sudans

This is the famous Arch of Constantine. It was erected in the early 4th Century by the Senate for Constantine's victory over Maxentius. Maxentius was the current Emperor. The victory took place at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge. Maxentius's body wound up in the Tiber River.
This monument has three separate arches and four Corinthian Columns. At the top is a block (attic) with a Latin inscription dedicating it to Constantine. This preceded his founding of Constantinople.

The Meta Sudans (conical fountain) once stood in the foreground in the circular center. A meta was a tall conical object in a Roman circus where chariots once raced. It was at the end of the Spina (area in the middle) where the chariots turned. Sudans means sweating. The water seemed to have sweated out rather than coming out like a typical fountain. It's history is too long to describe here. However, it was around until the 20th century.

This photo was taken from the Colosseum in Rome, Italy.

Monday, May 2, 2016


Ostia Antica, the Harbor City, is Ancient Rome's first port. It is full of incredible things to see.
Mosaics, thermopoliums, baths, an amphitheater, and incredible ruins. There's even a three story structure that I was able to climb all the way to the top. Pompeii only has one story structures, so going up that high was pretty incredible. It was nice to have a birds eye view, since it was my first time there. There aren't as many tourists there as Pompeii, so it was quite a bit quieter.
You can catch a bus from Rome, or stay in the town of Ostia. There's a nice beach and some good restaurants. It was the first time I stayed by the ocean when visiting the area. I can't wait to go back. There's so much more to see. As you can see, the springtime is a beautiful time to visit. It was covered in a carpet of purple!
Here's a great website on Ostia, if you've never heard of it:

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Rooftops in Rome

The rooftops of Rome as seen from the roof top of the Hotel Bernini Bristol in Piazza Barberini. I love this view, it's from their famous roof top terrace. It was my first time in Rome.
After a delicious dinner at the roof top restaurant, I headed out to explore.
I had already spent the afternoon exploring when I arrived. (Jetlag in Rome? Not for me!)
So, I headed down to the Trevi Fountain, and of course the Colosseum. My first night in Rome was unbelievable. I was lucky enough to have a full moon light the way. I have an amazing photo and memory of the full moon and the north star through the arch of the Colosseum.
Back to the Bernini, though. I enjoyed my four day stay and the food there.
It was across from a bus stop, by a pizza place, and a Sandro Ferrone (amazing fashions) was right down the street. Also, there was a gelato stand that I could never walk by without stopping in to try a different flavor.
Bernini's Triton Fountain is also located in the Piazza, which is why the Hotel is called Bernini.
I love this view though. Rome was all laid out in front of me just waiting me to explore it. Now, I look at this and remember all the fantastic places I have seen there.
I've been to Rome three times now, but the first time will always be my favorite.