May-June 2005 Grecian Island Cruise and Italy Tour (Click photos to enlarge)

- See Calendar below for information on the cruise

Italian Mosaic Trip by Brendan -- Marvel at the ceiling paintings in Rome’s Sistine Chapel, the statue of David in Florence and St. Mark’s in Venice; cross the Bay of Naples to Capri; explore Pompeii and Assisi

See Don and Sue's Photos
View photos of tour group from Joe Baldoni

May 19, Thursday. After our Grecian Cruise, we took the train from Venice to Rome. Trains are rather different in a nice way. It was a good trip. It is interesting to watch the Italians talk as they use their hands so much. I love the expressions. The countryside is absolutely beautiful. All green and lush. We found we were staying in the Euclid area of Rome, which was a really nice section near the Borghese Park. We found an excellent restaurant that served the traditional Italian dinner. We start with wine on the table and a full plate of anti-pasta including three kinds of salami, brochettes (tomatoes on toast), cooked eggplant, cooked zucchini, braised red bell peppers, fried rice balls, fried spinach balls, mozzarella, ricotta, prochuito ham, melon, and bread with olive oil. The second course was pasta. The third course was a different kind of pasta, and then the forth course was meat and potatoes, and dinner ended with a salad and finally desert. All our meals have been like this. Thank God we are walking all over Italy.

May 20 - Rome, Italy Friday. What a kick as the metro was on strike. This means every vehicle in Rome is on the road. We took a special van to the bus for a tour and the driver was yelling out the window and honking the horn every where. We had to stop several times so he could get out and tell people off as he could not even turn the corner when the other drivers would suddenly stop or simply park in the street. We toured the coliseum, the Roman forum, and St. Paul's basilica. All marvelous to see - so St. Paul's is the picture as it was my favorite that day. Everything was in ceramic on the outside of the church and much inside also. When it is done in ceramic and not paintings we can take photos. They had a beautiful rose garden and the brothers would take the rose petals and make rosaries that held the rose smell. We bought them for gifts.

Day 1 - May 21, Saturday: - Travel for most but for us - Rome, Italy tour on own We attended mass in the local Euclid area church, St. Agnes, which was also beautiful. We took the metro and went to the Vatican to St. Peters basilica. The church is the largest in the world with many chapels. We also saw Pope John Paul II's tomb in the catacombs. It is all mosaics in the church so you can take all the photos you want. The pope in the 1500's was afraid all the paintings would be lost so he had the mosaics made. Most are about 20 feet high and they are copies of the famous artists work. The street vendors along the metro and walk ways were fascinating. That night we went back to the Italian restaurant.

Day 2 May 22 Sunday:- Rome, Italy tour on own and then - A simple day of moving and a taxi ride to the tour hotel. Time to rest or start exploring. At 6 p.m. meet the Tour Director for a special Welcome Dinner with wine. After we checked in and met with the tour group, we went to a opening dinner and another big Italian dinner with musicians this time. Lots of fun.

Day 3 - May 23 Sightseeing with your local guide starts with a visit to the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel (arranged next morning if closed today). Continue to St. Peter’s Square and Basilica. Proceed across the Tiber for a stroll along the Via Sacra in the Roman Forum, and finally visit the Colosseum.

We left early to go sightseeing with a visit to the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel. You must go see it. No photos allowed. The Vatican museum is four miles long and we were only allowed the high lights. But the tour guide was exceptional and we had such good descriptions. We continued to St. Peters Square and Basilica. Then we proceeded across the Tiber for a stroll along the Via Sacra in the Roman Forum, and finally visit the Colosseum. Next we took a walking tour and saw the Spanish Steps, Via Condotti, Piazza Navona, Parliament, and Pantheon. The five different fountains we visited had sculpture that can not be matched. We ended the day with another big Italian dinner but this time we had an opera singer through out the dinner. It was indescribable.

Day 4 - May 24 - Rome / PISA / Florence.
North to Pisa for pictures of its amazing Leaning Tower. Continue to Florence, the capital of Tuscany.

Tuesday - In morning we went north to Pisa for pictures of its amazing Leaning Tower. Piza was three massive white marble edifices. The lean was not believable. Only the young were walking to the top. Then we continued to Florence, the capital of Tuscany. The drive ended in Florence where we had a big Italian meal and then went for a walk in the old town.

Day 5 May 25 Florence.
Sightseeing includes the magnificent Cathedral, Giotto’s Bell Tower, the Baptistry’s "Gate of Paradise," and sculpture-studded Signoria Square. The highlight: Michelangelo’s David in the Academy of Fine Arts. Afternoon free. (BB)

Wednesday - Our second day in Florence we saw the magnificent Cathedral, Giottos Bell Tower, the Baptistrys Gate of Paradise, and sculpture-studded Signoria Square. The highlight was Michelangelos David in the Academy of Fine Arts. We went to a leather shop were they showed us all the fine leathers. In the afternoon we went to Uffizi Gallery where we admired the worlds greatest collection of Italian and Florentine art. The Gallery show cased works by Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli, and Michelangelo. And that evening we went into the hills above Florence where all the millionaires of the world have homes to a special place where we had a fabulous dinner with delicious blue spamonti made from peaches.

Day 6 May 26 Florence / Lake Maggiore**.
Drive by Genoa, Christopher Columbus’ birthplace then on to dynamic Milan with its Gothic Duomo, glass-domed Galleria, and famed Scala Opera House. On to Lake Maggiore, one of Italy’s most beautiful areas.

Thursday: We took a drive by Genoa, Christopher Columbus birthplace then on to dynamic Milan with its Gothic Duomo, glass-domed Galleria, and famed Scala Opera House, which we toured. Milan is the design center and the shops had extremely beautiful clothes. Then we drove on to Lake Maggiore, one of Italys most beautiful areas. One family owns the entire lake and a castle on an Island. Everyone pays them fees. This is a huge lake and very beautiful exclusive homes, palaces, and hotels are around the lake. Again a wonderful Italian dinner.

Day 7 May 27 Lake Maggiore**.
A day to sleep in, join the locals in lakeside promenade, catch up on your postcards, or take an optional excursion to the Baroque palace and peacock gardens of enchanting Isola Bella (open Mar. 27-Oct. 24, subject to change).

Friday: We took a boat to one of the last privately owned islands open to visitors. We toured the Borreomeo Palace and gardens. Bonapart slept there and many heads of state of dined and stayed in the Palace. The family still lives on the upper floors which we did not see. That afternoon we walked to town and shopped and then took a swim in the hotel pool. A restful day ending with a dinner and birthday celebration for Carol, who is now my age. Tomorrow we go to Switzerland and then Venice.

Day 8 May 28 Lake Maggiore** / Lugano, Switzerland / Venice, Italy.
Morning visit to Lugano in the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland. Then east to Verona, medieval setting for Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, to see Juliet’s Balcony and the well-preserved Arena. Tonight, reach Venice.

Saturday: We drove to Lugano Switzerland where they speak Italian. We visited a watch store and they gave us a Swiss spoon. We enjoyed the shopping square and walking around the lake. We visited a watch establishment where they gave us a spoon momento of Switzerland. We drove east to Verona which is a medieval setting for Shakespeares Romeo and Juliet. We saw Juliets Balcony and the Arena. There were many love messages on the courts walls left by visitors. We went to Venice where we took water taxies down the Grand Canal to a restaurant in San Marcos Square. It was a romantic evening but there was high humidity.

Day 9 May 29 - Venice.
Glide by private boat along the Giudecca Canal to meet your resident expert. Highlights of your walking tour are St. Mark’s Square and the Byzantine Basilica, lavish Doges’ Palace, and the Bridge of Sighs. Then watch Venetian glass blowers fashion their delicate objects in the age-old manner. (BB,D)

Sunday: We took a private boat along the Giudecca Canal to meet our guide. We had a walking tour of St. Marks Square and the Byzantine Basilica, lavish Doges Palace, and the Bridge of Sighs. Then we watched a Venetian glass blower fashion a beautiful vase. Roseann purchased a chandelier, 10 lavender colored wine glasses, and a beautiful glass art . After lunch we took a ride on a gondola and had music by two musicians on one of our gondolas. We went through all the private canals and it was wonderful.

Day 10 - May 30 - Venice / Ravenna / Assisi.
To Ravenna to see the mosaics in the 6th-century Basilica of St. Apollinaris in Classe. Afternoon arrival in Assisi to visit the massive 13th-century lower Basilica of St. Francis.

Monday: We drove along the sparkling Adriatic coast to Ravenna to see the mosaics in the 6th century Basilica of St. Apollinaris in Classe. That afternoon we arrived in Assisi to visit the massive 13th century lower Basilica of St. Francis. The Basilica was one of the most impressive and beautiful we have seen in Italy. The bus was not allowed up the hill and we had to climb three large hills to see the church and then to get to our hotel. We had a fabulous view of the valley.

Day 11 - May 31 - Assisi / Pompeii / Sorrento.
Today visit Pompeii, the Roman city both destroyed and preserved by an eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D. Then on to Sorrento.

Tuesday: We left Assisi traveling to Naples where we stopped to see cameos carved and pick up some for our selves. Then we went to Pompeii, the Roman city both destroyed and preserved by an eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A. D. Pompeii was incredible. Not only did we see a large number of buildings in the recovered city, we also saw many archeologists on the job. It was another outstanding sight. We went on to Sorrento to spend the evening. We had a great dinner with friends at a restaurant where Tony (Canadian Italian) ordered special Italian appetizers and an outstanding dinner.

Day 12 - June 1 CAPRI EXCURSION.
Glide across the bay to the beautiful Isle of Capri. See the shimmering Blue Grotto (weather permitting; otherwise visit Villa San Michele in Anacapri) and to pretty Capri village. The rest of the day is at your leisure.

Wednesday: An outstanding day where we took a large speed jet boat to the beautiful Isle of Capri and transferred to a smaller boat which held our group of 46. We motored slowly to the Blue Grotto. We bounced around for an hour waiting our turn. We where transferred in fours to row boats. We laid down flat and our boat man paddled us to the grotto and then he laid down and pulled us in with a chain. What a delightful surprise to see the blue waters of the grotto. It apparently happens because of the way the sun shines through the 2.5 foot opening. He stood and sang Italian songs to us as he paddled the boat. Then we all laid flat and went back out through the small opening.

It took another 40 minutes to get back to Capri. We walked up a slight hill to a cable car which took us up the mountain to the beautiful city. We hiked down another hill and saw the gorgeous gardens smelling all the flowers they use to make the perfumes. Many of the women purchased the special perfumes. We hiked back up the hill and had cappuccino and a light lunch and took the cable car down the hill again so we could take the jet boat back to Sorrento. We had a wonderful evening four course dinner at a garden restaurant and then went to a marvelous local Neapolitan live stage musical.

Day 13 - June 2 Sorrento / Rome.
On your way to Rome, stop in Cassino for a visit to the Abbey of Montecassino. Tonight, maybe an optional festive dinner in one of Rome’s fine restaurants.

Thursday: Our last full day together was a journey back to Rome. We stopped at the MonteCassino Abbey, another spectacular old church. We also went to the cameo factory in Naples. Then evening ended with a farewell dinner celebration. First we went to the Trevi Fountain and threw in three coins with your three wishes (one to come back). June 2 is the Italian Independence Day celebration and everyone had been on holiday. That day there was a large parade and we think most of the Romans were at the fountain. It was incredible. We had another four course dinner saying Arrivederci Roma!

Day 14 - June 3 - Day in Rome

Friday: Most of the group flew home. We spent a relaxing day walking around the city seeing new sights and found a great restaurant for dinner.

June 4 Rome

Saturday: We walked to the Borghese Museums and Gardens. The art was intense and we were delighted to be able to view the masterpieces. Carol and Roseann bought matching Borghese bracelets as a remembrance of the trip. The Corletts and Kranes met John and Dorothy from Lincoln California for dinner. They where part of our group on the Mosiac Italy tour.

June 5 Rome - Fly to USA

The Kranes flew home and the Corletts stayed in Italy another day. Our lost luggage came Monday night. We loved the trip but after one month we were ready to return home.
Brendan Hotels - we stayed in these hotels:
ROME - Albani (F) or Cicerone (SF) or Crowne Plaza St. Peter’s (F) or Jolly Midas (F) or Starhotel Michelangelo (F)
FLORENCE - Grand Hotel Majestic (F)
LAKE MAGGIORE - Grand Hotel Bristol (F) at Stresa or Starhotel Ritz (F) at Milan (0104-0419, 1101-0418)
VENICE - Ambasciatori (F) at Mestre
ASSISI - San Francesco (ST)
SORRENTO - Conca Park (F) or Grand Hotel Cesare Augusto (F) or La Residenza (F)

Travel Greece Greek Facts About Greece Italy's Main Train Tracks All Italy's Train Tracks DeVinci Rome Airport Welcome to Rome Italy Guide Italy Heaven Rome's History and Monuments Rome's Museums
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
1 Budget 2 3 4 6 Corletts fly 7 Kranes Fly
8 Venice Kranes
9 Venice, Italy
cruise day 1
K6024472, C6024468. sign on cruise
10 Dubrovnik Croatia
day 2 Shore Excursions
11 At Sea Day 3 12 Santorini Greece
day 4 Shore Excursions
13 Ephesus / Kusadasi, Turkey
Day 5 Shore Excursions
14 Rhodes Greece
Day 6 Shore Excursions
15 Athens (Piraeus), Greece
Day 7 Shore Excursions
16 Olympia (Katakolon), Greece
Day 8 Shore Excursions
17 Valletta, Malta
Day 9 Shore Excursions
18 At Sea
Day 10
19 Venice, Italy
cruise ends

Hotel Regent

Rent Car to Rome
20 Rome
Hotel Regent

21 Rome / Naples
Hotel Regent

22 Rome
Return Car

6 pm Tour Begins
23 Rome 24 Rome / PISA / Florence 25
26 Florence / Lake Maggiore 27  Lake Maggiore 28 . L ake Maggiore** / Lugano, Switzerland / Venice, Italy
29 Venice, Italy 30 Venice / Ravenna / Assisi. 31 Assisi / Pompeii / Sorrento 1 CAPRI EXCURSION 2 Sorrento / Rome 3 Rome
Hotel Executive
4 Rome
Hotel Executive
5 Rome
Krane's Fly

Hotel Executive
6 Rome
Corlett's Fly
7 8

1) Fly to Venice and stay a day

10 days departing May 9, 2005 on
Holland America's Rotterdam VI

Click on the Port listing to see the information on the city.

Mon May 9 Venice, Italy   5:00pm
Tue May 10 Dubrovnik, Croatia 10:00am 11:00pm
Wed May 11 At Sea    
Thu May 12 Santorini, Greece 7:00am 6:00pm
Fri May 13 Rhodes, Greece 7:00am 6:00pm
Sat May 14 Ephesus / Kusadasi, Turkey 7:00am 6:00pm
Sun May 15 Athens (Piraeus), Greece 7:00am 6:00pm
Mon May 16 Olympia (Katakolon), Greece 7:00am 2:00pm
Tue May 17 Valletta, Malta 7:00am 5:00pm
Wed May 18 At Sea    
Thu May 19 Venice, Italy 7:00am