Italian Trains

Train travel in Italy is a breeze..  Tickets can be purchased online at Italiarail and come in 2 basic types.. E-Ticket and Self -Print. The inter-city trains are usually e-ticket and the regionals are self-print..

Most trains from Rome will start at the Roma Termini Station.. Ours did..

Roma Termini Station

The central station in Rome is a lot like a small city, with designer shops, restaurants, and small stands selling everything from pretzels to souvenirs.  Needless to say, it is a pretty big place.

InsideFlorence

The trains are easy to find.. the routes can be a little difficult. At any given time there can be several trains, either going to or passing through wherever you are trying to get, and leaving within 15 minutes of each other.  Fortunately, the route signs are labeled with each stop that continually scrolls…keep your eyes open and pay attention and you’ll be fine..

Looking for Our Train

Track 6 - Our Train

As I said, the trains are clean and comfortable.. The seats in 1st class have power outlets and tables.

Inside 1st Class

The trip to Florence from Rome takes a mere 1 1/2 on the ICN (nonstop) trains with the regionals being a bit slower. Either way, it is a nice way to enjoy the rolling Italian countryside.

There are a couple train stations in Florence..The first being Campo di Marte.

Campo di Marte

It is a good 20-30 minute hike to the center of the city so if you are staying close to the Duomo your best bet is the next station, Santa Maria Novella.

With only a couple days on this whirlwind trip.. we dropped our bags at the hotel (Hotel Cardinal of Florence) and had a cappuccino on the terrace with this view…

From Terrace - Panorama From Terrace 2 Florence Rooftops

Then off to start exploring…

Happy Travels!!

Photography as Art                Fine Art America

St. Peter’s Basilica

551 steps…

From Bridge

 

St.Peter’s Basilica.. One of the highlights of any trip to Rome.. and if you make the climb, one of the best veiws of Rome that can be found anywhere.

Waiting in LineOf course, on the way to the entrance, before you enter the square, you have to deal with the hundreds of of people selling “fast pass” and “skip the line” tickets that range anywhere from 20 to 45 Euros.. The lines ARE usually pretty long but don’t fall for the 2 1/2 to 3 hr wait time they tell you..but be prepared for a 20 minute wait.  The line moves fast and it’s only for security.  The entrance to the actual cathedral is free..

25 Minutes

 

This photo was taken from the end of the line and 22 minutes later we were inside…like I said, it moves pretty fast..

Once you pass security, you have to buy a ticket to the Basilica..the church may be free but the climb up is not.. It will cost 5 Euros to climb all those steps..or 7 Euros to take the elevator to the first level..  Unless you are feeling like you want the whole experience, take the elevator. I have done it both ways and the first 200 steps are pretty boring..nothing to see..just a hall with steps.. a lot of steps..

Up the Stairs

and there are still plenty of steps to enjoy after the lift… My advice.. buy the elevator ticket. Even if you want to climb all the way up, which gives you bragging rights, you can always use the elevator to come back down…

The first level leads up to a walkway around the inside of the dome where you can look into the church below and see the beautiful inside murals on the walls and the dome above. The first time I was here, there was a wire cage that you could actually shoot through.. that has been replaced by plexiglass which was dirty and scratched and darn near impossible to get a shot.. sorry but it’s true.

1st Level Mural 1 Basilica Dome

 

Now the fun part begins.. for the next 100 or so steps… you have the squeeze by people coming down…yep..exit and entrance is the same for this part..

Up More Stairs

 

More Stairs

 

Spiral

 

Eventually…you will make it to the top.. huffing and puffing … but excited ..

From Basilica Dome Piazza di San Pietro

 

 

There is no time limit on how long you can stay and gaze out over the city.. I am not sure if I stayed for 30 minutes because I was captivated by the views or just knew I had to walk back down…probably a little of both..but eventually …..

The second level, on the way down is a broad expanse of flat roof top.. you will find a restroom here, along with a clean water fountain, a small cafe and a gift shop..

and some pretty good views too…

Rooftop of Cathedral Square Curve Rooftop of Cathedral

 

There are also some perfect views of the Basilica itself..

Bottom of the Dome Standing Guard

 

The elevator to ground level is also here..

 

Then down, down, down….

The interior of the cathedral is a work of art… full of paintings and statues and ornate iron and stone work..

After Corridor of Statues Domed Ceiling 1 Entry Hall St. Peter's Gated On the Throne

 

Like I said.. one of the highlights of any trip to Rome..

At the exit is a booth where you can buy tickets to the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museum…both of which, we skipped this trip..

Now time for some pizza, gelato..and my feet are begging me to rest… Still a long walk exploring this afternoon..

HAPPY TRAVELS!

Photography as Art

Paris – The Louvre

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After several stops, we found ourselves at one of the most famous and extensive museums in the entire world… The Louvre .  The museum is located in the Louvre Palace and is home to over 35,000 objects that date from prehistoric times to the 21st century.

The Entrance

                                                                      The Entrance

I was amazed at the size of this place.. As soon as I walked through the doors, I knew I had not planned enough time here.  It would be entirely possible to spend several days exploring all the exhibits, painting, sculptures and art that is kept within these walls.  It is a total immersion into history.

A Sculpture Gallery inside Th Louvre

A Sculpture Gallery inside The Louvre

Of course, like all tourists, the main objective was up 2 stories and through a maze of paintings … and sculptures.    

Sculpture

The Red Room

The Red Room

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Mona Lisa….DSC_4536Objective accomplished!  And, yes, like all good tourists, I had my picture made in front of, what might be, the most famous painting in the world.  One more item off the bucket list, I have actually seen the Mona Lisa in The Louvre.

The rest of the  journey through the museum was anti-climactic, though no less awe-inspiring.  I ended the tour with a late lunch in the inner courtyard under a beautiful blue sky.  I marveled at the wonderful architecture of the building itself. It truly is a beautiful place and the next time I visit Paris, I will plan an entire day just for The Louvre.

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