Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Five, Four, Three, Two, ONE!!!

OK. Clearly the Italian vacation posts have dragged on way too long. I most definitely bit off more than I could chew, was overwhelmed, and therefore ceased blogging. My sincerest apologies. So. Here come the remaining five moments in my top ten:

Five - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

We stayed at the mission home while in Rome and got to attend Church while we were there as well. I love that no matter where you go, the church is always the same. Even though the language was different, the Spirit was still there. It was also amazing to see the faith of the Saints there and to hear so many neat missionary experiences. The Church is true, enough said!

Four - Nemi

We spent Sunday afternoon here and fell in love. It was so picturesque and was exactly what I pictured Italy like in my mind every time I dreamed about going there. It was beautiful and I loved it. It was an especially nice escape and change from the busy streets of Rome we had been exploring the days before we went there.

Three - Pisa

We took a day trip here and it was delightful. The baptistry was cool because the acoustics were amazing. They did a demonstration where this man harmonized with himself to prove how cool they were. I was impressed. The leaning tower? Well, it was leaning, and pretty cool to see in person.

Two - The Coliseum

From our first look at the Coliseum lit up at night, to actually exploring the ruins on foot, this structure was amazing. One of my favorite sites on the trip!

One - The Cathedrals

From the Duomo in Florence to St. Peters Basilica and the Pantheon in Rome, each of the churches we visited was beautiful.

So. Nothing about the Trevi Fountain. Nothing about the crazy, African purse men who I adored for bringing Prada into my life. Nothing about McDonalds, and how it is the salvation of the ice-starved American on the most sweltering vacation of her life. Nothing about the Trateria with the waitress from Texas who sounded like she'd grown up in Italy her entire life. Sad. But at least you got a glimpse of our experiences.

I hope I haven't lost too many readers while my blogs have been excessively boring and travelogue-ish. Forgive and forget, if you will.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Six - Buying This

At the top of the Spanish Steps in Rome.

The one thing we both desperately wanted to find while in Italy was an oil painting, and we splurged on this one. We managed to talk the artist down over 240 Euro, which he wasn't too thrilled about. In fact, he seemed quite disgruntled as he packed up our purchase for us. Oh well, we were happy, that's for sure.

Originally, we wanted to find an impressionist piece because that is our favorite style, but this captured the Tuscan countryside so perfectly that we fell in complete love with it. It's something like 80 cm by 60 cm . . . I can't remember, but it's beautiful and I can't wait to have it framed!

Happy Anniversary . . . TO US!

I must pause in the top 10 of Italy countdown for a momentary mushy moment.

Three years ago I married the love of my life in the Washington D.C. temple. Today, he had these delivered to me:Chad has given me flowers many times, but I've never had flowers delivered to me, so I felt pretty special when I got to sign for them at the door. They are beautiful! Thanks, sweetie!

It's hard to believe that we've been married for three years. The time has really flown by, and I can honestly say, I'm even more in love with my husband now than I was on the day I married him. We have shared many adventures together so far, and I can't wait to see what the future has in store for us.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Seven - Art. Period.

One of the saddest moments of my life was saying goodbye to the National Gallery when I left London after studying there. I remember sitting in the impressionist wing and trying not to cry as I said my goodbyes to my favorite Monet and Degas masterpieces. Going back to Provo, where there was an overwhelming lack of any French impressionistic art, was depressing. I am more sad now, than I was then.

I cannot possibly write about each of the works of art that stirred my soul while in Italy, but I can write about a few. All of the pictures are from various online sources, since we weren't actually allowed to take photos in most of these places:

Botticelli's The Birth of Venus and La Primavera:

Very, very cool in person. It always amazes me how massive some of these paintings are in person. These two filled huge sections of the wall in the museum. They were beautiful.

Michelangelo's The Sistine Chapel Ceiling, The Pieta, and The David

The Sistine Chapel was amazing. Then, you sat and thought about the fact that someone painted that ceiling. While balancing on wooden scaffolding. That that someone was Michelangelo. That it was FRESCO, meaning it was painted into wet plaster, requiring incredible skill. And you thought, "Yea . . . amazing doesn't really cut it."

Remember how I wrote about one of the two moments I teared up in Italy? Well, seeing The Pieta was the second, only this time I actually cried. I cannot express how moving this statue really is. The picture is beautiful, but it doesn't do the work justice. It just cannot capture how REAL it is. What is most amazing, is that this realistic portrayal of Mary holding Christ after his crucifixion is carved out of a piece of marble, and yet you can feel the emotions of Mary when you look at the cold stone. I loved this because it was a reminder that Christ was more than the Savior of the World: he was someone's sweet, little boy. I just felt so much for Mary when I saw this, as well as an overwhelming appreciation for our Savior and his sacrifice for each of us. It was a spiritual experience seeing this in person.

OK, the first thing that is so impressive about The David is obviously how massive the statue is. I think it's something like sixteen feet tall. It's so grand in its size alone that it makes you take notice of it. But then, you realize it's the little things that make it such a tremendous masterpiece: the way you can sense the weight of the stone in David's hand, his feet that look so real you think his toes might start to wiggle, or the veins in his arm.

Michelangelo was an artistic genius. It was so interesting, because after seeing some of his art pieces, you realized no other sculptor offers him much competition. We saw other marble pieces that were beautiful, but they lacked the realism that Michelangelo accomplished so brilliantly.

I'm really sad that Michelangelo's dead, because I think I would like to be his friend. I also think I would like him to sculpt just a little something for my garden.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Eight - Gondola in Venice . . . and Venice in General

When I thought about myself being in Italy, I always envisioned a gondola ride as part of the picture. Luckily, so did my father-in-law, who made it possible for each of us to ride one. We took two boats. Bruce, Joy, Lauren, and Tyler went in the first one with their gondolier, Fabio (he didn't have any golden, flowing hair, unfortunately - that would have made for a lot of laughs and some great pictures). Meredith, Adam, Cameron, Chad, and I went in the second boat with our gondolier, Eric.

Gondolier Turning the Corner by Chad Reese

Gondolas in a Row by Chad Reese

It was a beautiful evening and we got to see a completely different side of Venice. Eric did sing for us a bit, and whistled a tad, but no opera numbers. I'm sorry that I don't have any pictures of us ON our gondola ride, but they're all on other people's cameras, and I haven't uploaded everyone's pictures to our computer yet.

Venice is a very romantic and beautiful city. It was one of those places where every corner you turned you saw something more breathtaking than before. It's amazing to think how old all of the buildings are, and yet they're still standing! I loved all the winding little streets and the flower boxes in the windows. It was charming.

The Grand Canal by Chad Reese

Us in Front of San Marco by Dad Reese

Us in Front of the Rialto Bridge by Dad Reese

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Nine - Musical Magic

This was one of the two moments I teared up while in Italy, which means it is essential that it make the top ten.

While walking the streets of Florence one evening, we pleasantly stumbled upon this:

Because half of you probably won't actually watch the video, and the other half will want an explanation of the video, allow me to give it now. The feelings I had while standing in the Piazza della Signoria listening to a full orchestra and choir perform classical music were pretty indescribable. Some words that come to mind are amazing, beautiful, moving, and unbelievable.

It was one of those moments where I looked around and thought, "I cannot possibly be experiencing this." It was so moving. The performers were exceptional, and the poor video and sound quality really don't do them justice in the slightest, but at least you can have an idea of what it was like.

We were also surrounded by Italians who had come to pack the square and enjoy the beautiful evening together. What I LOVED though, was the feeling there was very different from an outdoor concert in the states. It was so QUIET. Everyone was enjoying the masterpieces being performed. No one was pushing or shoving. Even though the piazza was packed, there was plenty of space to stand and enjoy. Everyone was so courteous towards each other and I loved that.

Chad and I stayed for the whole concert and met up with the rest of the family back at the hotel at the end of the night. I'm glad we stayed because that's when the choir and soloists from the video clip above performed, which was the icing on the cake as far as I'm concerned.

It was just a magical evening.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Ten - Gelato

First, I must say that this top ten listing will by no means be in David Letterman order. It's impossible to really order my favorite moments of Italy, because it's beyond hard to pick just ten to begin with. OK, so without further ado . . .

Because of all the hype about the gelato before I even left for Italy, I've got to say, I was a little nervous to actually try it when we got to Venice. What if it wasn't as good as I'd been anticipating? My friend Laura had actually promised "the gelato will change your life." That's a lot for a little scoop of ice cream to live up to. I though it might be like a movie that you hear is sooooooo good, but you wait to see it until it's been out for awhile. By the time you go see it, you're so excited that it's inevitable that you'll be disappointed, because even if the movie is good, it can't be THAT good. Does that make any sense?

Oh, my friends, how foolish I was to doubt the power of Italian
ice cream. One lick of my coconut gelato and I was hooked. Change my life it did. I had another scoop later that same day. It started a trend of always having gelato at LEAST once a day (and I came home the same weight thanks to all the walking, thank you very much!) and sometimes more. Even after a yummy Italian meal that left me so stuffed I felt like all I needed was a nap and I'd be reenacting my yearly Thanksgiving experience, I was always the first one to say, "There's always room for gelato!"

You may say you're an
ice cream lover, but you will never really know until you've stopped by a few gelaterias in Italia. Oh, and if you've tried gelato at a place that claims to serve it in the US, I'm sorry, but you've been tricked. It is not the same. At all. I suggest you book a plane ticket now and try the real deal. Some of my favorite flavors? Coconut (particularly from Blue Ice in Rome . . . SOOOOO amazing, and thanks for the tip Crystal B!) pistachio (thought I'd died and gone to heaven), chocolate, melon (tastes like cantaloupe . . . no REALLY it tastes like cantaloupe), caramel (this place by our hotel in Florence had the yummiest one, it was almost all cream with soft caramel drenching the top), peach, banana, strawberry, & chocolate chip. I've got to say that probably the thing I've missed most about Italy since returning home is the gelato. My heart yearns for it!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Five Days

The trip is half over, and time is flying by much too quickly.

Please, blog fans, try to contain your anticipation.

I will return in five days time with 10 posts IN A ROW! Yes, that is correct. The top ten moments of my Italian vacation are coming your way starting Tuesday.


P.S. The gelato is all I dreamt of and more . . .
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