Vatican Museum

Vatican Museum

The lineups are long to enter the Vatican Museum. Revenues from the visitors are used to support charities. Popes through history have collected art and sculptures to protect it in the Vatican. That is how the museum collected so much.

The Vatican Museum Building

When the museum was opened up to the public, reconstruction was required to provide entrance lobbies for the visitors. Crowd control and security require a lot of security personnel. Clean up requires another staff team.

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Although pictures are allowed in most of the museum, some halls, such as the Sistine Chapel do not permit photos or videos.

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Sometimes minor repairs are required, and sometimes major updating is done. Recently each of the popes has focused on restoring a particular hall. Most of the paintings and frescoes have been restored including the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

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Although interest in preserving history became an official office in the Vatican around 1935, in 1970 more technology became available and space was dedicated to specific laboratories for metals, stone, textiles, pigments and more. More were added in the 1980’s and now there are more than 8 labs doing research on preservation.

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What is it with preserving body parts of dead popes in Cathedrals all over the world? In some cases the whole body is preserved and on display below the altar. Answers.

the body of Pope Bl. John XXIII, under the Altar of St. Jerome

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The sculptures are immense. To get a feeling for the relative size, look at the size of the people in the last image below.

St. Peter’s Basilica



– Where do you want to go today? –


Click to the official Vatican Museum website


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Trevi Fountain, Rome, Italy

No trip to Rome would be complete without a visit to the Trevi Fountain.

Trevi Fountain, Rome, Italy

Your stop will not take long unless the crowds are not cooperating and letting you get a picture. When I arrived it had just stopped raining so the crowds were not too bad.

An umbrella open at the fountain? Of course.

Water from the Tiber River has been flowing to this fountain since 19 BC making it the oldest  fountain in Rome. The fountain was recently refurbished (November 2015) with the addition of over 100 LED lights to improve night viewing.

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Now if you are thirsty, there is a place where you can get a free drink of water. If you do not have a cup with you, no problem. Just put your hand over the bottom of the tap where the water is flowing out. There is a small hole about 3 inches up from the end, near the bend, where the water will start shooting out. Don’t stand too close.

Not the Trevi fountain but a good fountain to get a drink.

To learn nine facts about the Trevi fountain, click.

Here is a quick view around the tiny square.

– Where do you want to go today? –


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Piazza del Colosseo

While the Pacific Princess was docked in Civitavecchia Italy, I took a bus tour into Rome to see the Colosseum also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre. Here are a few photos from the Piazza del Colosseo.

Follow the pink umbrella so you do not get lost.

Here is a birds eye view:

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As we walk up the street to the Colosseum, watch your step, the stones are wet and slippery and uneven.

original stones?

The rain is making it a little miserable, but I think I can get enough pictures to make it worth while.

They are washing the streets for us.

the famous Colosseum (Amphitheater) in Rome

the who’s who of ancient Rome

Restoration is a continuous project, across the street as well as around the Colosseum.

Rest room for those doing the restoration.

There are other historic structures in the Piazza.

Ruins of Temple of Venus and Roma.  Look at that dome.

The Arch of Constantine  – 315 AD

There is so much emphasis on the Amphitheater that there is almost no information on the arch over the entrance to the square. Google  – Arch of Constantine.

The environment is still working on bringing it down.

Concern is for safety of the visitors.

– Where do you want to go today? –


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San Gimignano Courtyard

San Gimignano Courtyard

Our tour has been invited into the inner courtyard. I hope it is good. Are those people leaving with ice cream cones?

follow the lady with the sign.

look at all of the people

I hope it gets wider soon. I’m not getting any bars.

Is that the town hall?

How do you feel about living in one of these tower homes?

Where does that go?

Now I see where the cones are coming from. The line up is long because this is a world class Gelato Champion.

So this is where the cones are coming from.

Click here for a video tour of the courtyard.

the bus circle

After the tour, it is back to the bus circle for a SCAN while we ride back to the ship.

A “S-C-A-N” is a senior citizen afternoon nap. (An unadvertised feature of a bus trip)

– Where do you want to go today? –

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San Gimignano

The Towers of San Gimignano

At one time as many as 72 towers adorned the hilltop. Now only 14 remain in spite of  political pressure in the past to reduce them to the height of the other houses.

The next stop on our bus tour is at the top of the hill.

San Gimignano

The view from the top is impressive.

looking over the rooftops

once forested, now farmed

Imagine a sunnier day

Olives and grapes

After leaving the bus, we were lead up to the castle courtyard. There were lots of picture opportunities while we waited for the crowds to leave the courtyard.

a modern home

In the past some of the towers were homes for the nobles. The height of the tower was an indication of the owners wealth or power. Some of the towers were left empty. They were called vanity towers. Two of these still stand and are called the twin towers (sisters).

When they were built, about 700 years ago, there was a restriction that vanity towers could not be built taller than the city hall at 170 feet; so the Salvucci family built two towers to 130 feet each.

waiting to get into the inner courtyard

a quiet place to rest

Now we can move into the courtyard.

You will find a lot more information with a Google search.

– Where do you want to go today? –


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Tuscany countryside

Carefully blending the natural countryside with some grooming and adding a few homes with character, this province earns the fame and acclaim that visitors are spreading around the world.

Vacation in Tuscany

As we leave the city of Pisa we glimpse this famous landmark.

What’s wrong with that tower?

along the Arno River in Pisa

So many crops grow well in this climate.

The advantage of a bus tour is that  when we stop for lunch, it is always a new location with new things to see.

Our path leads to lunch

Maybe there will be some wine to sample.

The sky cleared and promised a lovely afternoon

Everything looks so beautiful in spring.

We bought souvenirs of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and wine of course.

After a cheerful time of wine tasting we were back on the bus for a ride to our next destination.


next stop, San Gimignano

– Where do you want to go today? –

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Pisa, Tuscany, Italy

The Italian region of Tuscany is well know for its wine fields and rolling picturesque countryside. You probably have heard of Florence, its capital city, and of Pisa and its famous tower.

The Royal Princess docked for a day in the port of Livorno. A bus tour took us northeast to the city of Pisa to see the tower. The city is on the Arno River.

Plazza del Miracoli

The Plazza del Miracoli or Place of Miracles is made up of three parts representing the cycle of life. In the foreground, the round building, is the baptistery representing birth. Behind it and largest  building is the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta. It represents life. On the extreme left (north side of the square) is a long building. It is a cemetery and represents death.

The Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta – Duomo

The leaning tower, on the right of the picture above, is not a separate part of the early design. It was built as a free standing (leaning) structure to be the bell tower for the duomo, church. If you look carefully at the picture below the bells can be seen at the top of the tower.

Top of the leaning tower of Pisa.

The church is so large compared to the size of the square, I had to stitch two photos together to show it all at once.

The Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta – Duomo

book ahead online for a spot in line.

Although we arrived early in the morning the crowds had already created lines to do anything, including taking the typical tourist photos.

Oh, look at the tourists!

Our tour did not allow time for us to endure the lines so we left the interior views for another trip. It was a long walk from the bus to the entrance and we had to make a washroom stop before “bus-tling” off to our next attraction.

Did I mention the crowds?

crowds to get in past the vendors

and crowds to get out past the vendors

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click to study more.

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Santa Margherita Church

Santa Margherita Church

Shoulder to shoulder with the other residential buildings in the town square a beautiful church claims its place in the history of this town. Inside you will be overwhelmed by the adornments which are as closely packed as the buildings are outside. The lighting from the chandeliers augments the natural light filtering in from the stained glass windows.

Santa Margherita Ligure Church

beautiful mosaic tiles in front of church

bell and clock tower

elegant stained glass window in front.

delicate carvings over the doors


Statues on the left

and statues on the right

Standing tall among the neighboring buildings

The interior is designed to impress.

an altar to be remembered with pulpit on the right.

Paintings and carved statues as a reminder

focus on the altar

stained glass windows are everywhere

Light comes in from the dome

The detailed carvings are strategically placed

But if churches are not for you, there may be a game of golf in the streets.

Golf anyone? Who needs grass on a fairway?

What is calling you today?

the bells are calling, it is time . . .

– Where do you want to go today? –



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Rapallo Ligure Italy

This city of about 30 thousand permanent residents is known for the Castello sul Mare (Castle-on-the-Sea), built in 1551 to defend the city. people have lived in the little bay since the 8th century BC.

Castello sul Mare (Castle-on-the-Sea), built in 1551

A waterfront resort town on the northern Mediterranean

not a lovely beach

The shops line the beachfront road.

Parking is limited in the city center.

You might find an apartment to rent for a longer stay.


Even dock space is limited.

Streets leading away from the waterfront are narrow.

There are churches,

And there are restaurants.

The central square is  off of the waterfront. The ceiling of the band stand is worthy of a cathedral.

the bandstand

look at the ceiling of the bandstand

the boat launch ramp


The boat launch ramp still had its Christmas decorations. I could not figure out if it was for a hop scotch game. I was not the only one trying to figure out how it works.

hop scotch anyone?

– Where do you want to go today? –


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Santa Margherita

Santa Margherita Ligure

The bus ride along the mountain ridge included a light shower, but the skies were clearing when we arrived at Santa Margherita. This is a beautiful resort town with a permanent resident population around 10 thousand. The tourist season was just beginning so the crowds were very light.

16th century castle

The port was once mainly a fishing port but now tourists are docking here to enjoy the Mediterranean weather and scenic mountainside. It is a short drive from Genoa, and close to Rapallo and Portofino. Camogli is on the other side of the tiny peninsula.

about 35 km from Genoa

North of Portofino, south of Rapallo

restaurants line the seaside street

there is a bit of a climb up to homes and hotels


What is a town square without a statue, a fountain and a cannon?

The shops are open for you r souvenirs and beach wear.

On a windy day you may have to lean into it.

Prevailing winds leave their mark.

waiting for a fair breeze

Which one of these is for you?

plan where you will go next.

The Mediterranean has a long coastline.


– Where do you want to go today? –

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