My Italian road trip

I have been on the road for nearly a week, and I have to say that even with all the living out of a suitcase thing, I much prefer this sort of travel to cruising. I have breakfast, lunch and dinner companions. I have a dedicated tour director, Guiseppe who, quite frankly, is amazing. Impeccably dressed, he is super organised and incredibly tolerant. I get to stay in different hotels in different cities and experience the cycle of a day in one spot.

Highlights of my trip so far:

The Sistine Chapel

I was moved by the scale and scope of the art in the Sistine Chapel. To think the Michelangelo painted the ceiling in a few short years just beggars belief. And that his style changed when he painted the wall behind the altar. To sit in the Sistine Chapel and take in the genius of the work is something every person should experience. It is both humbling and inspiring, and I was awed.

The Pantheon

When we walked around the corner to literally bump into The Pantheon, I thought: that’s an impressive old building. It was clearly old, but not falling down like the Colosseum or the Forum. When I went inside I was blown away. I could not believe that something built all those years ago had survive in close to pristine condition (Christianity was good for something). The architecture and engineering of the building is perfect. The genius of the Romans cannnot be questioned.

The Vatican and St Peter’s Square

I’m a very lapsed Catholic, so I don’t buy into the whole religious significance thing with The Vatican. However, I was there on a Wednesday, which is when The Pope* holds mass in St Peter’s Square, and did feel a slight twinge when I saw him. The Vatican itself, as a museum of cultural artefacts, was of great interest to me. I would have loved to have had more time just wandering around looking at paintings, tapestries and art.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa

I had no idea that The Leaning Tower was art behind a number of equally impressive cathedrals, which were impressive in and of themselves. Seeing The Leaning Tower itself was a mamma mia moment. I was filled with awe to be standing in front of it.

Stresa and Lake Maggiore

I loved Stresa. It is a pretty little town on the shores of Lake Maggiore, in the north of Italy. The views – which ever way you turn – are just amazing. The Alps, Lake Maggiore, The Alps, Lake Maggiore. We drove past Lake Como on the way to Lugano in Switzerland, but for my money, Stresa is more beautiful. I visited Isola Bella, with its palace and gardens, and could have easily spent a day there. Actually, I could easily spend the rest of my life here in Stresa.

We are driving the Venice tomorrow. I’m sure I will add Venice to the list of highlights.

* As it turned out, The Pope resigned not long after. Being there was more meaningful than I ever could have anticipated.

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