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Family Trip

July 2001


In July, we went on a bus trip to Italy, traveling to Pisa, Florence, Rome and Venice.  It was our first experience

with a group tour like this, and there were some advantages – like Dad not having to drive and find a place

to park.  The flip side was trying to sleep on a bus while traveling overnight.  Needless to say, it was

interesting, but we were very tired when we got home.



First stop – PISA!


Pisa Tower 5

The large building next to the Leaning Tower of Pisa is the Baptistry.  The baptistery, begun in 1153, is a circular building in the Romanesque style crowned with a great dome and lavishly ornamented in the 14th century in the Gothic style.  The Leaning Tower of Pisa was actually the bell tower of the nearby Cathedral and Baptistry, and is a popular tourist attraction. Construction began in 1174 but was suspended when the builders became aware that the shallow foundation would be inadequate in the soft soil. The structure was nevertheless completed by the second half of the 14th century. The Leaning Tower is cylindrical in shape, with eight arcaded stories, and leans about 10° (about 16 feet) from the vertical. The tower had to be closed to visitors beginning in 1990 because of concerns that it was unstable. Work to make the tower's foundation more secure was undertaken in 1992.

Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia 2002. ©




Pisa Tower and SQE 1

Here, Spencer is trying his best to

bring the old tower to a more vertical position. No luck! 




Pisa Tower 4

The Tower of Pisa is closed, and surrounded by fences as construction workers

try to stop the ever-increasing amount of lean.




Florence scene 3

Town Square café in Florence. 


Located at the foot of the Apennines Mountains, Florence was originally the site of an Etruscan settlement. The city is world famous for Gothic and Renaissance buildings, art galleries and museums, and parks. In addition, it is an important commercial, transportation, and manufacturing center. It is a market for wine, olive oil, vegetables, fruits, and flowers, and it lies on the railroad and main highway linking northern Italy and Rome.

Located in north central Italy, Florence is famous as the birthplace of the Renaissance, a period that began in 1300 and lasted 300 years. During the Renaissance some of the greatest artists, writers, and sculptors in history were attracted to Florence. The eight-sided dome of the cathedral known as the Duomo was designed by Filippo Brunelleschi and completed in 1436.

Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia 2002. ©




Florence scene 4 bridge houses

One of the bridges in Florence.  Note the homes attached to the side of the bridge.

Just don’t wake up on the wrong side of the bed.


The Arno River in central Italy flows generally westward for about 240 km (about 150 mi), from its source on Mount Falterona to the Ligurian Sea. Here, it passes through Florence. Many of the older bridges were destroyed in World War II; however, the Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge), built in 1345 and shown here, survived. Goldsmith and jewelry shops line the bridge

Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia 2002. ©




Rome Colisseum 3

Rome – the Coliseum. 


The Coliseum in Rome (70-82) is best known for its multilevel system of vaults made of concrete. It is called the Coliseum for a colossal statue of Nero that once stood nearby, but its real name is the Flavian Amphitheater. It was used for staged battles between lions and Christians, among other spectacles, and is one of the most famous pieces of architecture in the world.

Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia 2002. ©




Rome Pantheon 1

Rome – the Pantheon.


A Pantheon is a temple dedicated to all the gods. The Pantheon of Rome is the best-preserved major edifice of ancient Rome and one of the most significant buildings in architectural history. In shape it is an immense cylinder concealing eight piers, topped with a dome and fronted by a rectangular colonnaded porch. The great vaulted dome is 43.2 m (142 ft) in diameter, and the entire structure is lighted through one aperture, called an oculus, in the center of the dome. The Pantheon was erected by the Roman emperor Hadrian between ad118 and 128, replacing a smaller temple built by the statesman Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa in 27 bc. In the early 7th century it was consecrated as a church, Santa Maria ad Martyres, to which act it owes its survival

Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia 2002. ©






Rome Pantheon 4 inside

Inside the Pantheon.  The ceiling features an opening that allows sunlight in, but limits rain

to a small area in the center of the floor with a drain. 





 Rome Piazza Navona 4 and small fountain

How would you like to be immortalized, and then be a pigeon hangout for eternity?

How embarrassing!






Rome ruins 1 SQE

Walking up to the entrance of the Roman Ruins.




Rome ruins 20 Temple of Saturn columns

The Roman ruins. 




Rome ruins 25 Temple of Saturn columns

Roman ruins -- Columns from the Temple of Saturn.




Rome ruins 18

We took every opportunity to soak our hats in the cold water from the fountains.

It was so hot, the hat would be dry (and we would be hot again) in 10 minutes.





Rome ruins 10 SQE Temple of Antonius and Faustina

The Temple of Antonius was a handy spot for Spencer to stop and rest.





Rome Trevi fountain 3

The Trevi Fountain is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Rome.


Designed by Nicola Salvi and completed in the 18th century, the Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy, is an example of baroque art. Statues of gods and horses adorn the fountain, and the two Tritons on either side of Neptune, the Roman god of the sea, seem ready to conduct Neptune's winged chariot over the water. According to tradition, tossing a coin into the Trevi Fountain ensures a return visit to Rome.

Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia 2002. ©





Rome Trevi fountain 1 SQE throwing coin

Spencer throwing a coin into the Trevi Fountain in Rome for good luck.

The rule is to face away from the fountain and throw the coin over your shoulder.

He said his wish wasn’t granted – I was still here!





Rome Trevi fountain 3

Here’s a little better look at the Trevi Fountain.





Rome small car

While walking around Rome, we noticed how few and far between the parking spots were found.

Then I saw this car – perfect for a city like this.






Rome Ice Cream break

One of our many ice-cream breaks near the Vatican in Rome.




Vatican Family Picture

Family picture at the Vatican Square in Rome.


Vatican City, the world center of the Roman Catholic church, is an independent state that lies entirely within Rome, Italy.

Many of the city’s buildings were designed and decorated by some of history’s greatest artists.

Italian architect Gianlorenzo Bernini created the vast plaza in front of Saint Peter's Basilica in the 1600s.

Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia 2002. ©





Vatican St Peter's Basilica 1

St. Peter’s Basilica at Vatican Square.


Saint Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican is a masterpiece of 16th century Italian architecture. Some of Italy’s finest artists of the time, including Michelangelo, worked on its design and decoration. Notable features include the central dome, designed by Michelangelo, and the high altar, which according to church tradition stands over the tomb of the apostle Peter. Only the Pope may conduct mass at the high altar.

Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia 2002. ©




Vatican St Peter's Basilica 7 Spencer in light

Spencer inside St. Peter’s Basilica, in God’s spotlight. 





Vatican St Peter's Basilica 9

The High Alter, which according to church tradition stands over the tomb of the apostle Peter.






Venice 19 gondolas

After Rome, our last stop was Venice.  A trip to Venice would not be complete without a gondola ride.




Venice is one of Italy’s most popular tourist attractions as well as a major port on the Adriatic Sea.

Built on more than 100 islands, the city is known for its canals, which substitute for streets in many areas.

Venetians use gondolas, long, narrow, flat-bottomed boats propelled by standing navigators using a single oar, to travel along the canals.

Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia 2002. ©




Venice 20 gondola ride

Getting ready for that great picture opportunity.






Venice 23 Gondola ride

Spencer gets into position to take another great photograph of Venice.





Venice 22 Gondola ride

Our gondola ride included a section on the Grand Canal.


The Grand Canal is the main traffic route of Venice, winding under three bridges and past many historical palaces.

Colorful gondolas carry mostly tourists along the scenic canal, while motorized boats provide freight and passenger service.

Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia 2002. ©




Venice 29 San Marco Square

San Marco Square.  A main attraction in Venice.


At the heart of Venice is Saint Mark's Square (Piazza San Marco), a large plaza flanked by some of the city's most imposing buildings including Saint Mark's Cathedral. The square was originally designed as the administrative center of Venice as well as a symbol of its wealth and power. Today it is one of the city’s most famous landmarks. Venetians and tourists alike gather to relax in sidewalk cafés or simply to enjoy the beauty of the surroundings.

Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia 2002. ©



Venice 4 San Marco Square and SQE pigeons

Spencer feeding the pigeons in San Marco Square.

Vendors sold small bags of corn.





Venice 8 San Marco Square and SQE pigeons

Pigeons, pigeons everywhere!!

San Marco Basilica in the background.





Venice 25 San Marco area

The waterway along San Marco Square is lined with vendors. 

Many people never make it past here to explore the inner streets of Venice.




Venice 15 glassblower

We also toured a small glass shop in Venice.  This craftsman

formed elegant items from molten globs of glass in just 2-3 minutes.




Venice 17 glass shop

Beth is checking out the selection of hand-blown glass items at the shop.




Venice 1 Leaning Tower

Venice has its own leaning tower.

This is what happens when you build a tall building on wet sand.





Venice 31 our water taxi

Our water taxi is here to take us back to the bus.





After Venice, it was back on the bus for the 12-hour ride home.

We were on the top level just above the “ER” in “HAHNBACHER”








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