Washington, D.C.

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We arrived in Washington D.C. at close to midnight on the 2nd due to being diverted to Boston because of the severe weather here.  We didn’t get to bed until like one o’clock in the morning but we did get up early.  We had breakfast in the hotel.  I had crepes with Nutella.  I wish they had Speculoos.

Our Capitol Tour was at 11:40 so we had to get to the office of Congressman Ron De Santis of Florida by 10:10 am which we did.

Our tour took in the Capitol crypt, Rotunda and Old House chambers.  Later we went to the House Gallery but no photos were allowed.  They  also showed us a film about Congress, the Capitol building and its history.

This is the office of our Congressman, Ron De Santis (R-6th District of Florida).  We arranged our Capitol Tour tickets through his office.  Thanks to Mary and Charlie.

This is the office of our Congressman, Ron De Santis (R-6th District of Florida). We arranged our Capitol Tour tickets through his office. Thanks to Mary and Charlie.

Inside the Capitol Rotunda.  Lots of different tour groups.

Inside the Capitol Rotunda. Lots of different tour groups.

This painting depicts the moment on June 28, 1776, when the first draft of the Declaration of Independence was presented to the Second Continental Congress. This is the first completed painting of four Revolutionary-era scenes that the U.S. Congress commissioned from John Trumbull (1756–1843) in 1817.

This painting depicts the moment on June 28, 1776, when the first draft of the Declaration of Independence was presented to the Second Continental Congress. This is the first completed painting of four Revolutionary-era scenes that the U.S. Congress commissioned from John Trumbull (1756–1843) in 1817.

In the Capitol Rotunda there is this statute of President Ronald Reagan.

In the Capitol Rotunda there is this statute of President Ronald Reagan.

The Capitol of the United States of America.  Makes you proud to be an American especially on July 4th, our Independence Day.

The Capitol of the United States of America. Makes you proud to be an American especially on July 4th, our Independence Day.

After the tour we walked down to the Air and Space Museum which we walked around.  I have been to the one at Dulles and it is much better because it has an SR-71 Blackbird and a complete Space Shuttle.  But they had the Wright Bros. 1902 Glider here.

This is the Wright Brothers glider that flew at Ktty Hawk in 1902.

This is the Wright Brothers glider that flew at Ktty Hawk in 1902.

That evening we had dinner at The Old Ebbitt Grill across from the Treasury Building.

This is Frederick and today, July 4th, we are going to watch some of the parade on Constitution Avenue before we come back and watch France V. Germany and Brazil V. Columbia in the World Cup.

Assisi

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On our way down to Rome for our last day prior to flying to Paris and on to Washington, D.C. we stopped in Assisi to visit the Bascilica of San Francesco where St. Francis of Assisi is buried.  We couldn’t take photos inside the church but it was awesome.  He is my favorite saint and we have statute of him as a fountain on our patio in Florida.  He loved animals and is the patron saint of animals.

View of Assisi after ascending by elevator.  More climbing to come.

View of Assisi after ascending by elevator. More climbing to come.

A street view of Assisi toward the main square.

A street view of Assisi toward the main square.

My favorite stores in all of Italy are the Gelateria with their merengues, ice creams and pastries.  If only we could have more of these in the States.

My favorite stores in all of Italy are the Gelateria with their merengues, ice creams and pastries. If only we could have more of these in the States.

Follow that nun!  She is going to the Basilica.

Follow that nun! She is going to the Basilica.

In front of the Basilica San Francesco where St. Francis of Assisi is buried.  He is my favorite saint because he is the patron of animals.

In front of the Basilica San Francesco where St. Francis of Assisi is buried. He is my favorite saint because he is the patron of animals.

The view below Assisi from the parapet on San Francesco Piazza

The view below Assisi from the parapet on San Francesco Piazza

We also stopped and visited the Temple of Minerva which is now the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva.  It was also at one time a Temple to Appolo.

After our visit to the Basilica of San Francesco we came back to the square to visit the Temple of Minerva

After our visit to the Basilica of San Francesco we came back to the square to visit the Temple of Minerva

The beautiful altar of Santa Maria sopra Minvera dedcicated to the famous Dominican Philip Nehri.

The beautiful altar of Santa Maria sopra Minvera dedcicated to the famous Dominican Philip Nehri.

Later in Rome at the Airport Hilton we watched the Belgian v. USA WC game.  I like both teams and wore my Red Devils shorts and USA shirt in support.

For the Belgian v. USA game I wore my Red Devil uniform shorts and my USA shirt.

For the Belgian v. USA game I wore my Red Devil uniform shorts and my USA shirt.

This is Frederick and I am now in Washington, D.C. finally.  We had to stop in Boston on our way here because of very bad weather and lightning.  Today we take a tour of the Capitol and maybe some time at the Air and Space Museum.  Tomorrow we have a special dinner and fireworks watching from our hotel, the Hay Adams, across from the White House.

Glad to be back in the U.S.A.

 

Montecantini, Lucca, Pisa and Gaiole in Chianti

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It has been crazy and a whirlwind trip so far.  But on the 27th of June we left Firenze in a rented car for Montecantini Terme where a friend of my Mom’s lives.  He took us to the little mountain vista town of Montecantini Alto and then we had dinner with his family at his house.

By a wall overlooking Montecantini Terme from Montecantini Alto

By a wall overlooking Montecantini Terme from Montecantini Alto

The main square in Montecantini Alto

The main square in Montecantini Alto

The path from Montecantini Terme to Montecantini Alto.

The path from Montecantini Terme to Montecantini Alto.

At the top of the path to Montecatini Alto is the 14th Station of the Cross.  The pilgrims, each Good Friday make the climb from Montecatini Terme to Alto doing the stations along the way.

At the top of the path to Montecatini Alto is the 14th Station of the Cross. The pilgrims, each Good Friday make the climb from Montecatini Terme to Alto doing the stations along the way.

We stayed at the Grand Hotel & La Pace Spa in Montecantini Terme which was pretty neat.  Great bed and shower.

The next day we drove over to Lucca and Pisa then down to Gaiole in Chianti where we stayed 3 days at the Castello di Spaltenna.  From there we drove down to Siena for a day visit and over to Assisi on our way down to Rome.

St. Peter's Gate entry to the walled city of Lucca.

St. Peter’s Gate entry to the walled city of Lucca.

On the Piazza San Martino in front of the Duomo of San Martino in Lucca.

On the Piazza San Martino in front of the Duomo of San Martino in Lucca.

Here I am in the horse cart doing a tour of all the famous squares, churches and points of interest in Lucca.

Here I am in the horse cart doing a tour of all the famous squares, churches and points of interest in Lucca.

A typical street scene in Lucca.

A typical street scene in Lucca.

Inside the famouse Amphitheater of Lucca which is now a lively square but we were advised not to eat there since it is so touristy.  It was once a colosseum and then centuries later they used the old materials to build the houses and apartments.

Inside the famouse Amphitheater of Lucca which is now a lively square but we were advised not to eat there since it is so touristy. It was once a colosseum and then centuries later they used the old materials to build the houses and apartments.

One of the many towers in Lucca.

One of the many towers in Lucca.

This is the church of Santa Maria Forisportam which in latin means "outside the gate".  It was built in the 12 century to a Romanesque plan. [My Dad is telling me all this].

This is the church of Santa Maria Forisportam which in latin means “outside the gate”. It was built in the 12 century to a Romanesque plan. [My Dad is telling me all this].

The driver of "Hermie" asked me if I wanted to come up and join him on the driver's seat.

The driver of “Hermie” asked me if I wanted to come up and join him on the driver’s seat.

This is the fountain in the Piazza St. Pietro with the church of San Giovanni E Reparata in the background.

This is the fountain in the Piazza St. Pietro with the church of San Giovanni E Reparata in the background.

A door way arch with a beautiful bas relief fresco.

A door way arch with a beautiful bas relief fresco.

Lucca is the birth home of Giacomo Puccini, the great composer of Opera. There is a museum in the square where his house is maintained.

Lucca is the birth home of Giacomo Puccini, the great composer of Opera. There is a museum in the square where his house is maintained.

It is very common in Italy to fill up your drink bottle at the many fountains.

It is very common in Italy to fill up your drink bottle at the many fountains.

The Puccini museum is to the right.

The Puccini museum is to the right.

Down the street to the Church of San Michele in Foro.

Down the street to the Church of San Michele in Foro.

The Church of St. Michele in Foro built by Pope Alexender II in 1070.  It stands where in Roman times there was the city's forum.

The Church of St. Michele in Foro built by Pope Alexender II in 1070. It stands where in Roman times there was the city’s forum.

This is the Temple of the Holy Face which is inside the Duomo of Lucca in Piazza St. Pietro.

This is the Temple of the Holy Face which is inside the Duomo of Lucca in Piazza St. Pietro.

Inside the Duomo of Lucca.

Inside the Duomo of Lucca.

Some of the wall surrounding Lucca.

Some of the wall surrounding Lucca.

I don’t have a lot of time to post more information, so I will just post as many photos with captions that I can.  Assisi will have to wait until I am back in the States.

A quick drive to Pisa before we head off to Gaiole in Chianti.  There is the leaning tower.

A quick drive to Pisa before we head off to Gaiole in Chianti. There is the leaning tower.

This is the church connected to our hotel in Castello di Salptenna in Gaiole in Chianti.  There was a wedding there the day we checked in.

This is the church connected to our hotel in Castello di Salptenna in Gaiole in Chianti. There was a wedding there the day we checked in.

Looking north down the main street in Gaiole in Chianti. That is the church we went to for Sunday Mass in the background.

Looking north down the main street in Gaiole in Chianti. That is the church we went to for Sunday Mass in the background.

This is the main square of Gaiole in Chianti.  Small isn't it?

This is the main square of Gaiole in Chianti. Small isn’t it?

In Gaiole they have installed about 20 modern sculptures all around the little village.  This one is "The Cycloops".

In Gaiole they have installed about 20 modern sculptures all around the little village. This one is “The Cycloops”.

In Gaiole there was a ceramic shop where they hand make any design you want.

In Gaiole there was a ceramic shop where they hand make any design you want.

Ready for Sunday Mass at the church in Gaiole in Chianti

Ready for Sunday Mass at the church in Gaiole in Chianti

Down the walk to the main building and square of the Castello di Spaltenna

Down the walk to the main building and square of the Castello di Spaltenna

Then we have the beautiful city of Siena up on top of a mountain with all the pagentry of the middle ages.

We all bought Contrade or neighborhood scarves.  Mine for the tortoise or Tortuca, my Mom the Pantera or Panther and my Dad the Giraffa or Giraffe.

We all bought Contrade or neighborhood scarves. Mine for the tortoise or Tortuca, my Mom the Pantera or Panther and my Dad the Giraffa or Giraffe.

Flag Waving is a big part of the Siena Palio.  Here two guys are practicing their flag waving to the beat of a drummer you can't see.

Flag Waving is a big part of the Siena Palio. Here two guys are practicing their flag waving to the beat of a drummer you can’t see.

We parked in San Franceso then took the escalators, all five of them, up to Siena.  I am wearing my contrade scarve for the Tortoise neighborhood.

We parked in San Franceso then took the escalators, all five of them, up to Siena. I am wearing my contrade scarve for the Tortoise neighborhood.

This is Frederick and I am waiting to board my flight back to America. No place like it (except maybe Italy:)

 

The Basilica of Santa Maria Novella

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Yesterday we went to the Bascilica of Santa Maria Novella.  It is a Dominican Order church and dates back to the 13th and 14th centuries.  All the leading families of Firenze contributed to the building and art works as a form of receiving indulgences.  I will let the photos tell you more about this beautiful and holy place.

In front of the great Dominican basilica of Santa Maria Novella in Firenze.  Wow!  What a church.

In front of the great Dominican basilica of Santa Maria Novella in Firenze. Wow! What a church.

Inside Santa Maria Novella.

Inside Santa Maria Novella.

The Main Altar of the Bascilica.

The Main Altar of the Bascilica.

A fresco on the side wall behind the Altar.

A fresco on the side wall behind the Altar.

The altar of Santa Maria Novalla

The altar of Santa Maria Novalla

A stained glass window to St. Thomas Aquinas behind the altar at Santa Maria Novella

A stained glass window to St. Thomas Aquinas behind the altar at Santa Maria Novella

The Sacristy of Santa Maria Novella

The Sacristy of Santa Maria Novella

The passage to the Cloister of the Dead.

The passage to the Cloister of the Dead.

A fresco on the walls of a small chapel in the Cloister of the Dead.

A fresco on the walls of a small chapel in the Cloister of the Dead.

The marble floor and funeary of the Spanish Chapel.

The marble floor and funeary of the Spanish Chapel.

A beautiful fresco of the crucifiction of Jesus.

A beautiful fresco of the crucifiction of Jesus.

On the facing wall to the entrance of the Spanish Chapel is another of the Bonaiuto Fresco's completing the trilogy.

On the facing wall to the entrance of the Spanish Chapel is another of the Bonaiuto Fresco’s completing the trilogy.

On the facing wall to the entrance of the Spanish Chapel is another of the Bonaiuto Fresco's completing the trilogy.

On the facing wall to the entrance of the Spanish Chapel is another of the Bonaiuto Fresco’s completing the trilogy.

On the other wall of the Spanish Chapel is Bonaiuto's companion fresco, "The Triumph of the Christian Doctrine".

On the other wall of the Spanish Chapel is Bonaiuto’s companion fresco, “The Triumph of the Christian Doctrine”.

The Green Cloister east wall.

The Green Cloister east wall.

In the Refectory, off of the Ubriachi Chapel we found this restorer working on an Altar piece by Bernardo Daddi who was famous for these pieces of religious art.

In the Refectory, off of the Ubriachi Chapel we found this restorer working on an Altar piece by Bernardo Daddi who was famous for these pieces of religious art.

Inside the Refectory off of the Ubriachi Chapel where the restorer is working on the Bernado Daddi altar piece.

Inside the Refectory off of the Ubriachi Chapel where the restorer is working on the Bernado Daddi altar piece.

These are frescos that they cut down from the walls of the "Green Cloister" that they will now restore.

These are frescos that they cut down from the walls of the “Green Cloister” that they will now restore.

This is Frederick and we are in Montecantini Terme, just back from a quick drive and walk around Montecantini Alto.  Now it is off to dinner at my Mom’s friend’s house.  We are having Octopus.  Yuk!

Papal Audience, June 25th, St. Peter’s Square, Rome.

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We were assigned tickets through our diocese of St. Augustine upon request to the Pontifical College of North America, the Seminary in Rome located near the Trevi Fountain, where we had to go to pick up the tickets.  The same nuns from the Sister of Mercy order we met at the English mass on Sunday at Spirito Sancto in Sassia church were there to tell us when to get there on Wednesday and where to sit or get close to like the barricades for close photos of the Holy Father.

Here are the photos my Mom took – it started to rain a few times but quickly passed.  I am so happy to have seen the Pope up close and prayed along with him all the people of the world.

Wednesday, June 25th, at 8:30am in St. Peter's Square.  The crowds began to form at 7:00am.  We are in the middle near a barricade for good photos of the Pope when he comes by in his Popemobile.

Wednesday, June 25th, at 8:30am in St. Peter’s Square. The crowds began to form at 7:00am. We are in the middle near a barricade for good photos of the Pope when he comes by in his Popemobile.

All along the traffic lane for the Popemobile there are Swiss Guards stationed along with Polizia from Rome.  They must be Catholic, single men, between the ages of 20 and 32, having served in the Swiss Army.

All along the traffic lane for the Popemobile there are Swiss Guards stationed along with Polizia from Rome. They must be Catholic, single men, between the ages of 20 and 32, having served in the Swiss Army.

The excitement builds along the barricades waiting for the Pope to come by.

The excitement builds along the barricades waiting for the Pope to come by.

Il Papa, The Pope, The Holy Father.  I am just below the lens of my Mom's camera as we get the first photo of him in his Popemobile.

Il Papa, The Pope, The Holy Father. I am just below the lens of my Mom’s camera as we get the first photo of him in his Popemobile.

The Pope was always smiling and waving to crowd and sometimes he would stop and hug someone or give them a handshake.

The Pope was always smiling and waving to crowd and sometimes he would stop and hug someone or give them a handshake.

Now he is right in front of me but I am so small compared to the other people he can't see me.  I wish he had stopped to shake hands.

Now he is right in front of me but I am so small compared to the other people he can’t see me. I wish he had stopped to shake hands.

He rode around the square like this for close to half-hour.  We were lucky to be so near.

He rode around the square like this for close to half-hour. We were lucky to be so near.

This is Frederick and I am now in Firenze (Florence).  More later.  Ciao!

 

Day Four in Rome

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Yesterday, we went back up to the Park Borghese via the Veneto and rented a Rició 3 person 4 wheel bike.  I saw them the first time we went to the park and wanted to get one and ride it around.

My dad and I on the Rició in Park Borghese.  You pedal and the electric motor kicks in.  I had to do this bike ride as soon as I saw it on our first day in Rome.

My dad and I on the Rició in Park Borghese. You pedal and the electric motor kicks in. I had to do this bike ride as soon as I saw it on our first day in Rome.

Then we went to lunch in La Casina the nice little restaurant in the middle of the park.

We had lunch at La Casina in the Park Borghese after our Ricio bike ride.

We had lunch at La Casina in the Park Borghese after our Ricio bike ride.

From the Park we walked down to Piazza Popolo and then down the Rizone to the Vatican Museum to see the Sistine Chapel.  We got our audio guides wtih our prepaid tickets and  decided to just walk the halls and look at all the rooms then climb down the stairs to the Sistine Chapel.  NO CAMERAS allowed in the chapel, so no photos.  But it is everything the guides, books and photos I have seen say it is.

This is one of the two Rooms of Animals.

This is one of the two Rooms of Animals.

More beautiful ceiling art in the Vatican Museum

More beautiful ceiling art in the Vatican Museum

A beautiful floor fresco in one of the rooms on the way to the Sistine Chapel

A beautiful floor fresco in one of the rooms on the way to the Sistine Chapel

Wonderful ceiling art on one of the halls to the Sistine Chapel.

Wonderful ceiling art on one of the halls to the Sistine Chapel.

In the Hall of Maps at the Vatican Museum.

In the Hall of Maps at the Vatican Museum.

In the Hall of Maps I am standing in front of the one of Italy.

In the Hall of Maps I am standing in front of the one of Italy.

This is Frederick and today we went to the Papal Audience in St. Peter’s Square.  My mom took lots of great photos that I will post soon.  But here is one of Fred Hollywood getting ready to see the Pope.

Here is Fred Hollywood aka Joe Cool in St. Peter's Square ready for the Papal Audience.  I am holding a sign my Dad made showing the school initials and logos.

Here is Fred Hollywood aka Joe Cool in St. Peter’s Square ready for the Papal Audience. I am holding a sign my Dad made showing the school initials and logos.I am now in Firenze (Florence) and my room has 18 foot ceilings with paintings and frescos and the walls are the same.  More photos tomorrow.  My Mom went to school in Firenze to study Italian after hig

I am now in Firenze (Florence) and my room has 18 foot ceilings with paintings and frescos and the walls are the same.  More photos tomorrow.  My Mom went to school in Firenze to study Italian after high school.  We are going to dinner near her school.  She is showing off her Italian everyday and its pretty good.

Monday in Rome

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Today, I had a typical Belgian breakfast in Rome. It was a sandwich of ham and cheese, orange juice and another sandwich of ham only.  I wanted one of Nutella but the ham was really good.

After breakfast my Mom and Dad needed to do paperwork in the “arcade” which has a center for computers and a printer.  It also has a tabletop gamer with PacMan, Donkey Kong, Space Invaders and 55 others.  I love to play PacMan and Donkey Kong since it was the games my Dad played but he doesn’t do so good with them anymore.

We left for the Colosseo or Colosseum of Rome and the Palantine and Forum.  It was awesome.  Here are some photos.  I am in a hurry to go to dinner so no captions.  Ciao!

IMG_3211IMG_3212IMG_3221IMG_3224IMG_3228IMG_3229IMG_3232This is Frederick and tomorrow we go to the Vatican Museum, pick up our tickets to the Papal Audience and pack for our Wednesday departure to Firenze but after our visit to St. Peter’s to hear Pope Francis.