Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Joe Hawes and Gail Murray tour Italy

Gail and I were fortunate in that her trip to Italy was funded by a grant to Rhodes for their Search Program. She and twelve other faculty toured Italy visiting historic sites from the ancient world before we met in Florence. Stops on this part of the trip included Naples,
Pompeii, Herculaneum, Cuma, Rome, and Assisi. After an intense two weeks, we met in Florence for a more leisurely tour of Tuscany. The first several images are from Gail’s earlier trip.

Pompeii and Vesuvius

St. Claire, Assisi

Many of the best things to see in Florence are relatively close together and the city can be explored mostly on foot. For example the well-known Ponte Vecchio over the Arno was just a few blocks from our hotel.

Ponte Vecchio over the Arno in Florence

We did not have time to see all that Florence offered (next trip perhaps?) but we especially enjoyed the Boboli Gardens and the impressive Porta Roma at the bottom of the gardens.

Porta Roma

We also toured the “Academy” where Michelangelo’s original “David” is to be found. As we were looking at the statue, we heard a distinctive American voice exclaim “Nice butt!” We were surprised and delighted to find an exhibit of 17th-century musical instruments, including a most impressive snake-like bassoon.

The classic Pietà by Michelangelo

A later Pietà by Michelangelo

From Florence we traveled to the Cinque Terra (5 lands) on the coast just south of Genoa. This was very beautiful country with equally delightful weather.

Cinque Terra coast

Vernazza, a coastal town


We hiked between the towns and then returned by boat. Our accommodation was in the countryside in a terraced olive grove. We learned how to navigate Italian trains (pretty much on time) and busses traveling by train and bus from the Cinque Terra to Sienna, a truly inviting small city.


Duomo, Sienna

St. Dominic's, Sienna

From Sienna we went on to Montepulciano, a well-known Tuscan hill town famous for the wine produced there. Our hotel room had a balcony which overlooked the Tuscan countryside. Both Sienna and Montepulciano were easy to navigate and we sometimes eavesdropped on tour groups (though most of these were German). In Sienna we went to the old fortress for a vista of the city. I don’t know what we expected inside the fortress, but certainly not the loud and garish carnival we found!

From Sienna we moved on to Rome for a short visit before returning to Memphis. We toured the Vatican and the Piazza de Populo where we found another carnival! Dinner at an open air restaurant capped off our trip.
St. Peter's Square, Rome

Vestal Virgins in the Forum

Our observations are few and simple. We would return to see more at the earliest opportunity –for the gelato if for no other reason. We never had a bad meal or any major difficulty (neither of us speak any Italian).

Vegetable market in Florence

Dining in Florence

People were friendly and helpful and at every turn there was something to see, but as always on such quick trips there is more still to see.

Joe Hawes


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi. I googled "historian trip italy" and saw your page. Great photos! Your fellow historian alights!

January 04, 2009 4:51 PM  

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