|The language in Italy is Italian. Italy is a republic and the president is Carlo Azeglio Ciampi. It takes around 2,000 Italian Lire to equal $1.00.|
A ferry took us to Venice, known for its canals in place of streets.
|We stayed on the island of Lido, across the lagoon, so we had to take a water taxi to get to the main island. |
The vegetation on Lido is tropical, including palm trees, bougainvilla and oleander.
|Venice is famous for colorful glass made on the island of Murano. |
We saw a demonstration of how this glass is blown and formed into vases, glasses, animals, beads, and chandeliers.
|Venice has a carnival every year at Mardi Gras. Elaborate masks are a popular theme for souvenirs. |
Venetian lace is another well known product.
|St. Mark's is the city's cathedral. Unfortunately, we were not admitted into the cathedral because we were wearing shorts.|
|St. Mark's Square is surrounded by shops. The center is crowded with pigeons and people buy food to feed them.|
|We were in St. Mark's Square for a flag raising ceremony.|
|We went on a gondola ride through the elaborate system of canals.|
A tenor sang popular Italian songs including O Solo Mio, Volare, and Santa Lucia in the gondola in front of us.
|We passed under the Bridge of Sighs which connected the prison to the inquisitor's room.|
We took a water bus to the colorful Island of Burano and rode past the house of the famous romantic figure, Casanova.
This is a fishing village where the ladies make lace and embroidered table linens.
|A wedding was just coming out of the church in the square.|
|We ate a meal of seafood which included calamari, a combination of rings of squid and baby octopi.|
In Italy, a typical meal has several courses. It begins with bread and an antepasta, sometimes melon and prosciutto ham, other times shrimp. Next is served the pasta course such as linguini or lasagna, or perhaps a soup such as minestrone. This is followed by a meat course and then a salad. Cheese and fruit are served next, then a sweet dessert such as canolli or tiramisu. We ate two delicious meals in Rome, both followed by music. The first featured popular Italian songs, such as those we heard on the gondola, played on guitar, flute, and accordian and sung by a soprano. The second performance included selections of arias from operas by Pucini, Verdi, and Rosetti performed by three tenors, a baritone, and a soprano.
Rome is both an ancient and a modern city. 2,000 year old ruins stand beside modern buildings. On our walking tour we saw the Roman forum, aquaducts and Tito's victory arch.
Rome has many beautiful fountains.
The Pantheon was a temple built in the second century to celebrate all of the gods.
|One of the best known sights is the Colosseum, the amphitheatre in which often deadly games with gladiators and beasts were played.|
|It has three layers of walls. Part of it was destroyed by an earthquake in 1350.|
We visited the catacombs, the underground burial place for both pagans and Christians. The remains are no longer in these tombs, however.
On our nighttime tour we saw the Victor Emanuel Monument and the Trevi Fountain.
Florence is known as the center of art in Italy.
|One of the best known works is Michelangelo's statue of David. The museum was closed when we arrived, but there are two replicas of this statue.|
Leonardo DaVinci lived in Florence for a time and painted the Mona Lisa here. This painting is seen in the Louvre Museum in Paris.
Holy Family Church is in the main square.
|In the church are the tombs of the statesman, Machiavelli; scientists Marconi, Galileo, and Enrico Fermi; artists Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo; and opera composer, Gioacchino Rossini.||
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|The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Flowers is decorated with beautiful mosaic patterns in green, pink, and white marble. They are in the process of cleaning soot off of this church. The church has three separate buildings, the main cathedral, the baptistry which is used only for baptisms, and the bell tower.|
|Once again, we were fortunate to see a wedding just leaving the church.|
|The doors of the Baptistry are known as the Paradise Doors. The original doors are now in the museum and have been replaced with reproductions.|
In Florence we decided to go out for pizza. The pizza had the thinnest crust we had ever seen. It was topped with sliced fresh tomatoes, sliced mozzarella cheese, and fresh whole basil leaves.
|Wine is a major industry in Italy. There are many vineyards along the roads. Bardolino, Valpolicella, Orvietto, and Chianti are several varieties.|
|Florence is near the town where Pinocchio was written, so there are many wooden figures of this marionette.|
|We visited the town of Pisa to see the Leaning Tower which is located in Piazza dei Miracoli. They are currently working hard to straighten the tower since it has been in danger of falling.|
|The Leaning Tower of Pisa is the bell tower of Pisa Cathedral. As was true of the church in Florence and is typical of churches in the Tuscany region, the bell tower is one of three separate buildings along with the cathedral itself and the baptistry.|
We traveled through the Italian Riviera on our way to Monaco.
This region is one of the biggest suppliers of cut flowers in the world. The flowers are grown in greenhouses on the hillsides.
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