Italy: Venice, Dolomites, Rome


August 2003
Venice, the Dolomites, and Rome

Another adventure with the usual crew... myself, George and Nancy Kierspe, John and Kathy Wolfe, and new friends from our trip to Mont Blanc from a couple of years back... the welcome addition of Robert and Janet Wenzel!

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Click on any photo to see a larger version... And, read the Shocking Expose!


We flew from Pittsburgh (the Wolfes) and Florida (the rest of us) to Atlanta, and then went to Milan. We took a train from there to our first destination, Venice. And when the sign in Venice says "taxi", they mean a boat, of course!
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Our Hotel

We had a great hotel, the Metropole. It was a sort of mini-museum all by itself, since the owners had collected a lot of antiques over the years...
621-1/KN001011.jpg Approach by water taxi 621-3/KN003025.jpg 621-1/KN001008.jpg The view to either side... a very wide quay with lots of mooring 621-1/KN001007.jpg Our front door (a dock) 621-5/KN005020.jpg We were next to the famed Bridge of Sighs, so named because it led from the courthouse to the jail, and echoed with the sighs of the prisoners (the story goes...)

Piazza San Marco

We were also within a couple minutes walk of this famous piazza, with it's belltower. You can go to the top for some great views of the city
621-1/KN001002.jpg 621-1/KN001001.jpg 621-2/KN002025.jpg Views of the Basilica. The center shot shows what appears to be a very common Venitian style, which is to mix together all different colors and textures of marble, seemingly at random. 621-2/KN002030.jpg Pigeons... and way too many of them.
621-2/KN002013.jpg 621-2/KN002007.jpg 621-2/KN002006.jpg Views from the top of the belltower (no climbing necessary... they've installed an elevator!). The middle shot shows the tremendous statuary on the top of the Basilica. They almost crowd each other.

San Murano

This is another small island close by, famous for it's glassware. You can buy it on the main island, but if you go out there, you can watch them at work.
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621-3/KN003008.jpg 621-3/KN003007.jpg 621-3/KN003006.jpg An old church (the tower above) had a floor covered with mosaics, hundreds of years old. The tiling in the center shot again shows the Venetian style of mixing marble of every color into one pattern.


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In the 17th century or so, Venice was famous for it's celebration of "Carnevale" for the 10 days leading up to the start of Lent, similar to our Mardi Gras. It has had a gain in popularity in the last decade or so, and there are many mask makers and shops throughout the city.
621-4/KN004020.jpg We attended a concert in one of the old palazzos
621-4/KN004016.jpg 621-2/KN002021.jpg Gondolas 621-1/KN001015.jpg 621-4/KN004011.jpg Chiesa di Santa Maria della Salute
621-4/KN004001.jpg 621-5/KN005025.jpg 621-5/KN005024.jpg Under Construction: Here's one canal section that's been drained so workmen can do their thing
621-4/KN004010.jpg 621-4/KN004006.jpg Lots of fresh fish available in the outdoor markets 621-4/KN004004.jpg Some bridge where rival gangs traditionally fought, back in the 1700's or so 621-5/KN005019.jpg

More photos from Venice


The area

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The Dolomites are in the northeastern part of Italy, below the Alps, near the border with Austria. Our time here alternated between our hotels in the small towns (Corvara for example) and spending our days trekking through the many trails that crisscross the region. Hiking is fantastically popular among the locals, and on the main trails you would see entire families out for the day... from the grandfolks down to the kiddos, even the pet dog!

The geography

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The Dolomites are named after the French guy, Déodat de Dolomieu, who first described them in 1794. The rock itself is actually called dolomite, and takes on a whole range of colors during the day as the light changes. The formations themselves are steep and rugged.


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This website has uncovered shocking evidence that George and Nancy Kierspe have NEVER CLIMBED A MOUNTAIN IN THEIR LIVES!! They have manufactured a web of deceit for years, relying on trick photography and bribes to make people THINK they are accomplished trekkers. But here we have clear photographic evidence of their shenanigans! Not only have they taken chair lifts to surmount all of their supposed "conquests", but they actually take them down as well!

Although they appear to be waving merrily in the photos, they are, in fact, beckoning to their henchmen to confiscate my film before their vile trickery could be exposed! This correspondent narrowly escaped with his life!


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Hiking took us through many small villages, and to the tops of several peaks, on most of which there are ski facilities for the wintertime.

Via Ferrata

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There were some trails that were steep enough to use cables and safety harnesses. Some of these were blazed early in the century. Because of the steel cables and sometimes ladders, they are referred to as "Via Ferrata" (the Iron Way)

Old Troop entrenchments

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During WWI the Italians were fighting with the Austrians along the border, so many entrenchments were made within the slopes. Many of them are still there, including caves (some natural, but most dug out, I think) where they display some of the relics of the era.

Dinner at the castle

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An old castle turned into a restaurant and small hotel. The last shot shows a slab of meat that has been cured and left hanging just outside the wine cellar (where Robert was clearly in his element!). It was covered with a thin layer of mold, but I guess that just gives speck its special flavor... it's a type of cured ham or bacon.


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More photos from the Dolomites


Our hotel in Trastevere

We stayed in Trastevere, a section of Rome that was old even when Rome was at it's peak. The Hotel Santa Maria was on a nice, quiet sidestreet, near the Piazza de Santa Maria (see the church in the photos). That church was one of the first Christian in Rome, established in the 300's. The present building dates back to the 1200's. The river is the Tiber.
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The Capitoline and ancient Forum

The Capitoline, designed by Michaelangelo, is the seat of Rome's government, and also houses the world's oldest public museum, founded in 1471 by Pope Sixtus IV. The ancient Forum is an excavation site just behind the Capitoline.
619-4/KN004002.jpg The front of the Capitoline 620-5/KN005002.jpg 620-5/KN005001.jpg 619-1/KN001030.jpg
619-1/KN001028.jpg 619-1/KN001023.jpg The site of the temple of Vesta (of Vestal Virgins fame) 619-1/KN001022.jpg 619-1/KN001021.jpg I just really, really, like the idea of being able to sit around on stuff that's thousands of years old... Nancy, Janet, and Kathy think so too! 619-1/KN001018.jpg
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The Colosseum

Constantine's Arch (first, second photos).
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Trevi Fountain

This is the fountain from the movie, "Three Coins in the Fountain"
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The Pantheon

Built as a temple for "all the gods", the Pantheon was a domed structure, formed out of poured concrete in wooden molds. It stood as the largest domed structure in the world for for almost 1800 years, until St. Paul's cathedral in London.
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The Vatican

Unbelievable, the amount of wealth in this place, in the form of antiquities and art plundered (um... "collected") over the centuries. I think we all came out of there a little overwhelmed. On the bright side, they have a lot of stuff to sell off to offset the cost of all the molestation lawsuits...
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620-5/KN005009.jpg A one-person car!... well, if the person is me... 619-1/KN001003.jpg 619-3/KN003004.jpg 619-4/KN004027.jpg 619-4/KN004026.jpg I knew there was a good reason I liked Robert! Hey, George/John... how come they won't serve up the beer formidable when I'm with YOU guys??
619-4/KN004009.jpg 619-3/KN003013.jpg The biggest wine list ever... one book is red, the other is white. 619-3/KN003012.jpg 619-3/KN003011.jpg 619-2/KN002008.jpg

More photos from Rome

Miscellaneous Statuary

619-4/KN004017.jpg 619-4/KN004007.jpg 619-4/KN004006.jpg This foot and head, and some other pieces, are all that remain of a colossal statue of Constantine. From these fragments, you can imagine how big the original was! 619-4/KN004011.jpg 619-4/KN004020.jpg
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Well, if I were to go to church in Rome, this would be a pretty cool one to attend. It seems to have a Death theme about it.
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