Sunday, December 11, 2011

Giomo Due a Roma

Day 2 - Rome

Campo dei Fiori
We'll begin at Campo dei Fiori, a piazza in the historic center of Rome, one of the top squares in Rome.

Here is where the Theater of Pompey was built in the 1st century B.C. In fact, the architecture of the some of the square’s buildings follows the curvature of the ancient theater’s foundation. By the Middle Ages, this area of Rome had been largely abandoned and ruins of the ancient theater taken over by nature. When the area was resettled in the late 15th century, it was called the Campo dei Fiori, or “Field of Flowers,” even though it was promptly paved over to make way for lavish residences, such as the nearby Palazzo dell Cancelleria, the first Renaissance palazzo in Rome, and the Palazzo Farnese, which now houses the French Embassy. Bypassing the Campo dei Fiori is the Via del Pellegrino, the “Pilgrim’s Route,” where early Christian tourists could find food and shelter before traveling on to St. Peter’s Basilica.

During the Roman Inquisition, which took place in the late 16th and early 17th centuries, public executions were carried out in Campo dei Fiori. At the center of the piazza is a solemn statue of the philosopher Giordano Bruno, which is a reminder of those dark days. The statue of a cloaked Bruno stands at the spot in the square where he was burnt alive in 1600.

Then we're off to the Capitoline Museums.  We will see 5th Century BC's La Lupa, the defacto symbol of Rome, ...and Romulus & Remus. 

Other well-known works from ancient times are Il Spinario, a first century BC marble of a boy removing a thorn from his foot; the original equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius (a copy of this is located in the center of Piazza del Campidoglio); and fragments from a colossal statue of Emperor Constantine.

La Lupa

For dinner, we will explore the Testaccio District.
Testaccio District

The Trattoria Checchino dal 1887 is highly recommended for traditional Roman food and offers over 600 wines to choose from! 
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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Roam Roma!

Assolutamente!  My favorite Italian word I've learned so far...It is so musical and I have to bring my fingers together on my right hand as if a puppet to say it completely.  Assolutamente!  Certainly!

Assolutamente!  Rome will be an important part of our Italian trip itinerary.  I think three days.  We will spend the first day seeing the Roman Forum.
We will see Palatine Hill and the Roman Colisseum.

The Colosseum, sometimes spelled "Coliseum", was built between 70 and 82 AD in the heart of Rome. It was called the Amphitheatrum Flavium or Flavian Amphitheater because it was built by the the Flavian emperors, Vespasian and Titus. Some say is was able to hold 87,000 spectators, but more likely it was around 50,000, still monumental for the time.

Palatine Hill is one of the seven hills in Rome and probably the most famous. This is where the rich and famous ancient Romans used to live. Emperor Augustus was born on Palatine Hill and lived there all his life. Cicero- the great orator lived there as well as Marcus Antonius (Marc Antony). Later emperors Tiberius, Caligula and Domitian built palaces there. Most of the ruins that we see today are from the Domitian’s palace.

Accommodation choices are that looks very nice is the Daphne Hotel.  It's a B&B close to a train station.  I've also read recommendations about the convenience of tour buses; you buy a 2 or 3 day pass and you can hop on and off at different sites. 
Will add day 2 and 3 on upcoming blogs.  As always, your feedback and comments are greatly appeciated!   Assolutamente!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Treasures to discover!

I am loving my Italian lessons via the Pimsleur audio CDs. It is especially fun to practice with Fabiola at our neighborhood Ristorante de Mario! I've learned several phrases...but not a lot of nouns. I'm sure those will come.

Since my last post, I chatted with Elliott Wiser of VP, News & Sports Programming at Bright House Networks and charming host of Vino Vino TV. Elliott has been to Italy numerous times and generously offered recommendations...including the name and number of his travel agent! He also strongly recommended Anacapri. Just look at that view!

Another part of my acclimation to all things Italy is learning about true Italian food. I am absolutely loving the Italian Food Net. It serves as a language tutor as well as educates me about cooking Italian. I am surprised at how pure and simple the recipes are. They are fresh and incredibly delicious!

Another aspect of preparing for the trip that is calling me is the "musica". I already love the beautiful Italian's one that was featured on NPR this past week, Joseph Calleja, The Maltese Tenor. I don't need to understand a word he sings to absolutely be mesmerized! So my plan now is to listen to the music on my drive to work, and practice my Italian on the drive home.
This is so much fun...and I thank you for sharing the journey with me. Arrivederci!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Eat, Cheer and Dream

Lawrence Peter "Yogi" Berra was born on May 12, 1925 in St. Louis, Mo. and grew up on Elizabeth Street in a neighborhood called "The Hill". So did Joe Garagiola Sr.

Anyone who has lived in St. Louis and has become a Cardinal baseball fan, know the Hill as the home of these two Hall of Famers. (St. Louis broadcast icon, Jack Buck also called the Hill, home.)

The Hill is well-known for their authentic Italian restaurants. Often, when we return to St. Louis to visit our family, we make a reservation at Charlie Gitto' of our favorite restaurants on the Hill. Romantic dinners for two and Many special occasions have been celebrated here. I anticipate many wonderful meals when we are experiencing Italy. I love Italian food. There is a small delightful restaurant right here in Madeira Beach, Mario's. Recently taken over by Fabiola Beltrano, we have been going almost weekly the past few months. Fabiola is delightful and graciously let's me practice my Italian conversation skills.

If there is a home series when we are in town, we don our Cardinal gear and head for Busch Stadium with over 35,000 other fans. Managed by Tony LaRussa (and Joe Torre before that), we have enjoyed watching many Italian Cardinal players... Gary Gaetti, Nick Punto (on the 2011 team!), Tom Nieto, Mike Laga, John Frascatore, Ray Giannelli, Mike Gallego, Joe Girardi, and
Tom Pagnozzi.

My beloved Cardinals are in the National League playoffs battling the Milwaukee Brewers as I write my blog today. So I thought it would be appropriate to tie the Cardinals, the Hill and Italy together... Until next time.. Arrivederci!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

To Tour or To Be? That is the question.

Is there a middle ground? Rick asks me "are we going to be tourists or are we going to just be in Italy?" And I said "Yes!"...But I probably need to be realistic.

Having never been to Europe, I know I will be fascinated by the historical sites and stories...yet I am as easily fascinated by the history of a small family farm as I am about the Colosseum.

Rick and I have discovered an organic Italian red wine called Fabula...that we love love love! Checking out its origin, we found Montebelli...and were thrilled to find there is history, lovely accommodations and only 20 minutes from the sea! Searching accommodation availabilities for next are no! I think I will need to call them to confirm that they are indeed sold out.

A friend of mine suggests that we work with a travel agent who is familiar with know, that is probably a really good idea...does anyone have a recommendation?

I love James Martin's Wandering Italy blog...he recently posted a link to an Italian Food Network...and I am so inspired...we are having this wonderful dish for dinner tonight...if it turns out well, I'll post pictures!

An update on the "Learning the Language" post...CDs have yet to arrive!

Ciao for now!

P.S. Here are pictures of our Lasagna was really good, rich and a bit too salty. When I make it again...I'll cut the Pancetta in half.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Parlare la lingua

Speaking the language.

Wikipedia explains...

Not surprisingly, Italian is the language spoken natively by most Italians.

Every region in Italy has a distinct native Romance language in addition to Italian that may or may not be the native language of the locals depending on the area: in areas like Rome or Milan the spoken language is nowadays mostly Italian with slight local influence, whereas in southern rural areas the local language is more common; though people will usually be bilingual. Even though Italians call the native languages "dialects" they are in practice seperate languages, much like Chinese languages; they have their own way of writing and don't always belong to the same language family as Italian.

A good phrasebook will be very useful if you're going anywhere remote, while in most big cities you will find many people understanding English, Spanish or French. But even in those areas Italians will be happy to hear you trying to speak Italian or the local language, and will try to understand you even if you are making many mistakes. If you want your errors to be corrected to help you better learn the language, don't forget to ask before starting a conversation. Italians will rarely correct you otherwise as they consider it very impolite to do so especially since it's a second language for many of them. They also appreciate your efforts to speak their language, even if you do it badly, and won't make too much fuss about your mistakes.

Well, I've just purchased the first 4 CD's of the Pimsleur Approach
to learning Italian.

With a 30 minute commute each way to and from work, I intend to use the drive to learn Italian. It should help that I'm an auditory learner!

Sunday, September 18, 2011


I am the luckiest.

My best friend, Rick and I are celebrating our 35th wedding anniversary today. We were married 9/18/76 at the Jewel Box in St. Louis. We had moved to St. Louis 5 months before the wedding and all of our friends and family traveled to attend. It was the 4th annual Great St. Louis Balloon Race and Rick told everyone he arranged to have it for our wedding! They just had the 39th Race yesterday! Like our incredible relationship, it just gets better every year.

We do not remember all of the 35 anniversary celebrations...we wish we had kept a journal or scrapbook. But we do remember some of them. And every one of them, we talk about how "someday" we are going to go to Italy. In honor of our 35th wedding anniversary today, we are planning our dream trip for next year.

We celebrated #10 in Puerto Vallarta. I won the trip from a radio station. Felt pretty nauseous the entire trip...didn't know we were pregnant with our precious Emma.

We didn't go back to the Jewel Box until our 13th anniversary.

I love these pictures as they capture our family in that moment in time.

Balloons remained a theme on occasion...on our 20th anniversary, Rick sent me 20 roses, three days in a row. The first day they were yellow, for his friend of 20 years. The second, pink, for his wife of 20 years. And the 3rd day, red, for his love of 20 years. I had a custom stool made for him to use in his classroom...and delivered it with 20 balloons.

Our 30th anniversary, Kacy and Emma surprised us with family and friends at their apartment building's recreation center. The biggest surprise was that my mom and dad came down from Nebraska to celebrate with us...very special.

People ask us what our secret is...Rick says "Love the Momma", I say he is "Simply Irresistable."

We have survived hard times and enjoyed the view from many a hill we have climbed. I am safest when I am with him. He is my hero, my best friend, and the love of my life. I look forward to our dream trip to Italy!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Fun ways we're saving money for our trip

Cutting and using coupons (only on products we always buy...otherwise overspending becomes an issue.) At the bottom of the receipt, our grocery stores show us how much we "saved"...we come home and put that much cash in our "trip" jar! Also, I've started to take my lunch when I do not have a lunch meeting. My record keeping shows me that my lunches run between 7 and 13 if I take my lunch...$10 to the "trip" jar!

Simple steps that will add up to our dream vacation.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

How do we get there from here?

Raumtweet (an author and teacher in Italy) found me via my sister Holly, also an author and avid tweeter...I'm trying to learn the whole tweet thing...I'm more of a Facebooker.

Raumtweet tweets me "In 2 weeks, I'd say, from North to South: Venezia (2 days), Firenze (2 days) Assisi (1 day) Roma (5 days), Naples (2 days), Sicily (3 days)". What would you recommend if we had 3 weeks?

Hmmmm. Thanks Raum...I love how you broke it down for us by days...and I will be drilling down into each of your suggestions in blog updates and welcome any and all suggestions/insights.

Quickly checking the airfare compare sites on the looks like flying into Venice with a starting point of Tampa, FL will be between $1800 - $2400 (US) per person. Flying to Rome would be approximately $1500-$2200 per person. Any hints on finding the best airfares will be greatly appreciated.

Venezia - Venice...sounds like a wonderful place for Voskuils to start their Italian adventure.

Is it possible to have the "historical" experience with the "real life" experience? 

For example, the Grand Canal,  Public transport is provided by water buses (Italian: vaporetti) and private water taxis, and many tourists explore the canal by gondola.  Travelling by "Vaporetti"  (learned a new Italian word!)  would feel more "local" perhaps?

While I love history and architecture, the idea of spending hours of precious time in Italy standing in queues in large groups of tourists is not for me.  When my dad and I visited the Capital building in Washington DC, we were fortunate to have a friend of a friend who was a Capital Guard give us our tour.  Can we have that kind of familial touch in Italy?

If you have been to Venice, I would love to see your pictures, videos, stories and suggestions for the best way to spend 2-3 days there. 

What art the top 3 sites that are "Musts!"
What about a top cultural experience...opera? art museum (Peggy Guggenheim?
Hotel or Bed & Breakfast? 
Best places to eat?  What to eat?

Thank you for reading and sharing and dreaming with me.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Discovering Italy's Ancient Roman Coast

Rick participated in an Earthwatch Expedition a couple of years ago... A week long reef research study in San Salvador. It was an extraordinary experience supporting his passions - oceanography, environmental sustainability and teaching.

So as we are contemplating our trip to Italy, we thought we would check out Earthwatch to see what they might have in Italy. Check this out.

There is a trip June 3-8, 2012 that is a possibility. It is in the Tuscany area we are most interested in seeing - not only would we be in Italy but we would be doing research and contributing to Earthwatch.

What do you think?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Italy - #1 on my bucket list


Italy has long been a fascination of mine...when I was in jr. high school in Salt Lake City I had to write a research paper about a country, and I chose Italy...I actually found that paper in a box of "stuff" my mom gave me recently. Written long before internet access to any and all topics, I dove into historical, anecdotal and visual resource books at our library. This was my first understanding of places outside of my home town, state, country. And I knew I wanted to go to Italy someday.

Everyone who knows me, knows that going to Italy is #1 on my bucket list. And they also know that when I have a vision it eventually becomes a reality. (i.e. living at the beach in Florida, taking my dad to Washington DC and Gettysburg). There are so many incredible sights to see, wines to drink, and foods to eat in Italy that my vision is somewhat blurry.

That is why I'm writing this blog. I invite you, your family, your friends, anyone who has been to Italy, lives in Italy, or like me, is fascinated by Italy, to help clarify my that when Rick and I do take this lifelong dream trip (plan to take this trip summer 2012)...that we have the best possible experience.

If you've been to Italy, please share your experience with us on this blog. If you have books you suggest we read, pictures to share, stories to tell, we are grateful for your willingness to post them here. Please share this blog with your friends and family who have been to Italy or would like to go as well.

One of the blogs I've started reading is I love it because it is microscopic in nature...looking closely at Italian culture, events and history from a fun point of view.

Thank you for reading and contributing to "Italy - from Vision to Reality"...I look forward to our inspiring, insightful and invaluable conversation and to dreaming together.