On the Sunday morning I was pleased to be able to attend Eucharist at the local Anglican church at about the same time as Joanna Fielding from St John’s Roslyn was being ordained a priest in Dunedin cathedral.
I then walked the usual sites, Spanish steps, Trevi Fountain with lunch in the Piazza Venezia followed by a walk down to the Colosseum
I was glad to return to my hotel and find I now had a room even if very tiny and old.
On Monday I went to the Vatican and queued to visit St Peters. Then after coffee I wandered around Castle Angelo and crossed the Tiber.
I then set off alone again and used my other free entry for the Palatine Hill and Roman Forum.
That night was probably the best part of Rome for me. I travelled by bus out to the Music Auditorium and heard the National Academy of St Cecilia, apparently one of the oldest musical institutions in the world, play Mahler’s 3rd Symphony. I counted approximately 100 in the orchestra with 40 women and 60 boys and girls in the choir plus a mezzo soprano soloist, Katarina Karneus from Sweden. The conductor was Tilson Thomas from the USA.
As this is the longest symphony in the standard repertoire I was lucky to hear it and it was a wonderful experience even if it did not start until 9pm I did not get back to my hotel until nearly midnight.
On Tuesday I was pleased to leave Rome and travel by train to Florence. In my opinion a much nicer city, probably helped by having a lovely hotel room.
After settling in and buying some lunch I headed for a park and was a bit surprised to find I had to pay entry but it also gave me entry to other gardens and some small museums. I visited Italy way back in January 1977 and did not want to see all the art works again. I have included a photo of a rose garden with the porcelain museum behind.
plus one particular character
After a bus back to Florence and a rest, I went out after 5pm to the busy Piazza della Signoria right next to my hotel and visited the old town hall or Palazzo Vecchio to take in some culture.
After dinner it was out to another concert. This time in the St Mark’s Anglican church where a soprano and a tenor gave a rendition advertised as Love duets of Italian Opera but there were many solos as well and, although they sang it in Italian, Vilia from the Merry Widow is hardly Italian. 2 arias from La Boheme brought back memories of 3 weeks earlier in Vienna. It was a quite enjoyable evening.
Thursday I went walking again. After an hour train ride it was shown as a 13km hike but that did not allow for me setting off along the wrong road and returning to the station again after 40 minutes and probably over 2 km.
The scenery was lovely and I passed almost through some farms
and the medieval village of San Gimignano
Arriving back in Florence I decided against visiting the Academy of Fine Arts and the David statue. After treating the blisters it was all I could do to hobble out for dinner.
Friday back on the train, this time to Venice. When I arrived it was pouring rain and windy and dragging my bag over 3 bridges was no fun. My sister’s ship was delayed by the weather. However it fined up and I caught a vaporetta to St Mark’s square and visited the church.
Saturday was a long journey in 3 trains to the Cinque Terre. It was relieved by sharing a compartment on one train with 2 couples, one from Adelaide and one from Perth.
My hotel was in Deiva Marina, 20 minutes by train from the main 5 towns but was right on the beach front which would have cost a fortune in the main towns. While not beach weather, breakfast on the terrace was pleasant.
The main tourist trails are closed due to storm damage and will probably remain so for months. I decided to take the more difficult trails and climbed over 600 metres up from Roggiamore
My plan was to take the following day easy and go on a ferry trip between the main towns but the winds were up and the ferries were cancelled. So I decided to do the remaining open popular walk between Vernazza
Unfortunately I had packed my stick in my bag as I caught a train about 5pm to Milan where, after staying overnight, I continued on a train into France and finally this apartment in Paris. Only gentle walking this week to give my feet a rest. It is cooler than usual in Europe this May but I see that my home in Dunedin was blanketed in snow on Tuesday.