Alphabetical List of Places Visited in Italy
Amalfi Coast, Positano and Amalfi (Photos)(Slideshow) .  If you drive south from Naples, when you pass Sorrento you will reach the Amalfi Coast  on a narrow twisting road along a cliffside offering in many places an unobstructed straight drop down to the Mediteranean Sea.  You will be treated to spectacular views of the cliffs ahead, the sea and the homes perched on the ajoining hills.  We traveled the road on a bus, getting more and more thankful that we had decided not to drive our motorhome down.  Those bus drivers deserve danger pay for their skill in keeping themselves and passengers alive.
Bologna  in the north of Italy is remarkable in several ways. It is the site of the first University in the world (1088 CE) where a long list of extremely famous people studied.  It has about 200 towers dating from medieval times.  It is decidedly politically left-leaning and has a prosperous business community. And it has many porticos that make shopping comfortable in all kinds of weather.
Florence  (Photos)(Slideshow) is a Unesco World Heritage Site and the center of the Italian Renaissance.  If you like museums of art and/or history, medieval architecture, striking churches, you may never want to leave this interesting city.  Not to mention the Ponte Vecchio where you can buy expensive jewelry in shops that have been on this bridge over the Arno river for hundreds of years and an outstanding city market selling great things to eat and drink.
Herculaneum (and Mount Vesuvious) (Photos)(Slideshow) is one of the two towns covered by the eruption of Mt Vesuvious in 79 CE, the other being Pompeii.  It is an active archeological dig, many feet below current street level.  Herculaneum's fate differs from Pompeii's in that it was covered with hot mud, while Pompeii was covered in hot, burning ash and pumice.  Therefore more of Herculaneum was preserved as it was on that fateful day.  For example second stories of wood structures are still there and do not exist in Pompeii.  You can walk through the city streets and see much as it actually was then--even a 2000 year old coil of rope (photo at right),  sliding doors and a wooden bed.  Just fascinating.  Three pages of photos and a letter describing our climb to the Vesuvious crater.
Naples Archeological Museum (Photos)(Slideshow) is where, among beautiful artifacts from other places, all the best ones from both Herculaneum and Pompeii can be seen.  Photos are allowed so we have three pages showing some of what is on display in this beautiful and interesting museum.
To locate within Italy, go to the "locator" on the Italy Tourism web site and click on the name of the city or town.
Pompeii (Photos)(Slideshow) is the other city, along with Herculaneum, destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvious.  It, too, is an active archeological site.  More of Pompeii was destroyed but it was much larger than Herculaneum, so there is quite a lot of it to walk through,  and many buildings and gardens to explore,  all of it very interesting.  The streets are original, so you have to watch out for the deep ruts worn in the stones by those wagon wheels that rolled over them before 79 CE.  Look for the bakery to see how flour was ground and the bread baked.  There is an arena and a forum.  Three pages of photos.
Mount Vesuvious, and introduction to Herculaneum and Pompeii (Photos) We start thinking about Herculaneum and Pompeii by focussing on the responsible party--Mount Vesuvious.   We wanted to take a look at the crater.  Here we have a few photos of it and a letter describing the exhausting climb.  One photo we took from the crator  (at the right) overlooks Naples Bay.  There is a little haze, but you can see the bay, and the densly populated area between where we are and the bay. Vesuvious is still an active volcano which makes this a chilling sight.
Rome (Photos)(Slideshow)  is a modern city built inside and around an ancient city.  When travelling throughout the city you constantly go from one of them to the other.  Ancient buildings and monuments and remains of them, like the Forum, the Coliseum and Constantine's Arch, fountains, stairways, museums of Rome and of the Vatican, St. Peters Basilica, the Sistine Chapel --all these and more.   Of course we have special sections recommending museums and other places worth visiting and photo pages of sights of Rome and the Forum and two pages of photos of St. Peters.
Sarzana (Photos) was for us just an overnight stop at an agritourism farm, Cascina dei Peri on the outskirts.  That stop alone was a highlight.  The proprietors offered a dinner with other tourists for a very reasonable fee and served a dinner consisting of things grown or made on his farm, and cooked by them that included appetizers and wine and cold-pressed olive oil.  With tourists from all over Europe sitting at the same table conversation was fast moving and interesting.  A real treat.  For more details, see our letter about the stop and dinner.
Siena (Photos)(Slideshow) in Tuscany, north of Florence is a medieval picture perfect city.  It has an enormous open square, the Piazza del Campo where they bring in loads of sand and hold a horse race once a year.  The city hall is on this square complete with a very tall tower which casts a narrow shadow in which people sit on the pavement to keep cool.  In that city hall there is a room with two famous masterpiece frescoes depicting good government and bad government painted in the 1300's.  And there is a Cathedral whose dome was designed by Bernini. It is a pleasure just to walk the streets there.
Venice (Photos)(Slideshow) in northwest Italy is a deservedly world famous ancient city built on an island whose streets are canals.  The canals are lined with palaces (photo of one of the most famous, the Ca d'Oro on the left), crossed by picturesque bridges and full of boat traffic consisting of private boats, delivery boats, garbage collection boats, bus and taxi boats and, of course, gondolas.  If that isn't enough, there is St. Marks square where there is St. Marks Cathedral and the Doge Palace.  But a cup of coffee on the square will cost you plenty and taking in the view will be worth it.
Verona (Photos)(Slideshowin the north of Italy is another beautiful and storied city, literally, because that is where Romeo and Juliet were supposed to have lived and died.  You can visit their house if you are a believer.  But the main attraction, besides its Medieval beauty, is the Ampitheater that was built by the Romans and in which operas are performed.  We were lucky enough to see and hear Verdi's Aida in a Franco Zephirelli production when we were there, along with about 15,000 others.  Just outside is restaurant row where the locals take a walk arm in arm after dinner.  Other nice things: Via Mazzini, a ritzy shopping street, Piazza del Erbe, a market square, and Castlevecchio, a museum in a medieval mansion.
Ventimiglia (Photos) is in Liguria southwest of Genoa on the Gulf of Genoa and is the last city before you get to the French Riviera on the west coast road to France.  It is an ancient city from pre Roman times, with the remains of a Roman theater and an old town perched on a hill dating from medieval times.  It is also a beach town, but one where mostly local people live and work. It has a pretty good covered market which we enjoyed shopping in and there is a  Friday street market spread along the seafront which attracts vacationers from the French Riviera.
Vipiteno (Photos)  is the first Italian town you get to when you cross the Alps from Austria on the Brenner Pass.  We chose to include it here because it is in the Alp foothills and the views all around are spectacular.  You see high hills and castles on them.  We stopped in a campground that really was little more than a parking lot with facilities that are shared with the highway rest stop/restaurant/sanitary block.  See the photos and read the letter and you will see what we mean.
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