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Ten Things of Thankful: So Much to Say Edition

A collage of 4 photos taken in Italy. From left to right, an archway frames a deciduous tree; a narrow pedestrian roadway; steep steps lead to someone's front door; the twilight sky viewed from a museum's window
I mentioned a few weeks ago that I was taking a bit of a break, but what I failed to mention is that John and I were going on a decades-in-the-dreaming vacation to Italy. Neither of us had been there before, and we spent two full weeks soaking in the sights (and soaking in the rain and yes, even snow!) This post will give only a quick overview of some of the things I observed. I have plenty of material for future blog posts, though, so stay tuned for more extended reports of the various places we visited. Before I jump into my vacation slideshow, though, I have to start with a very important thankful:

1. I'm thankful for my oldest son, whose (30th!) birthday is today. He is a bright, capable, caring adult, and I am so privileged to be his mom. I can look back on those early years and see how his personality was shining through even then: his sense of humor, as he belly-laughed as an infant, when John tried to hit a golf ball with a stick; the creativity exhibited as he quietly played "dragon" by blowing flour all over the kitchen as a toddler; his love of reading, as he was so engrossed in a book that he failed to notice his entire kindergarten class leaving the school library. Those traits, and many more, have served him well, and I look forward to seeing what the next 30 years bring. 


Photo: My son holds a green stuffed "puzzleman" (so named because it is shaped like a puzzle piece.)

2. I'm thankful for temples. Last year, the open house and dedication dates for the Rome, Italy temple were announced. John and I realized that we were at a place in our lives where travel to Italy was feasible, and so we decided to combine our much-dreamed-about Italian vacation with a tour of the new temple. It was definitely a highlight of the vacation. No photos were allowed inside, but here is a church-produced video which shows the beautiful interior (as well as the exterior and the visitor's center):






Photo: An olive tree in the foreground frames the white granite Rome Italy Temple

3. I'm thankful for Natural Italy As I researched our travel options, even though we normally just book things on our own, I felt more comfortable using a tour group this time. I'm so glad we decided to go with Jill and Michele's company! We were able to see so many different cities, and experienced everything we hoped to, without the stress of making the arrangements ourselves. We had a great balance of group time and free time.  Jill booked us in fancier-than-I-would-have-expected hotels, and made sure we ate at the tastiest restaurants.


Photo: A bigger-than-a-plate artichoke pizza at Sorbillo's restaurant in Naples. (That is a one-person serving size!)

4. I'm thankful for new friends. At the end of the vacation, people who were strangers just a couple of short weeks ago were talking about when the next trip should be. In fact, as I was composing this post, one of those new friends just called me to chat. 


Photo: John and I stand with two new friends outside the Rome Italy Temple

5. I'm thankful for the beauty of the earth. I was so happy that part of the itinerary included a boat ride on Lake Como. The lake was lovely, but I was super excited to catch a glimpse of the Alps. Fortunately, though the day was cold, the sky was clear, and right before the boat turned around to take us back to the town of Como, I was able to see the beautiful snow-capped Alps. 


Photo: A beautiful, well-groomed villa on the shore of Lake Como, with snow-capped Alps in the background
6. I'm thankful for talented artists. I was wowed by the Sistine Chapel (no photos allowed, sorry). I was familiar, of course, with the famous panel where God creates Adam, but I was surprised that that panel isn't the center panel--the center panel is reserved for the creation of Eve. I would love to be able to talk to Michelangelo and ask him about that. 

Though I couldn't take a photo of the Sistine Chapel, I was allowed to take photos of The Last Supper. What I didn't realize before seeing the painting, was just how well it fit into its setting. Our guide encouraged us to step back far enough so that we could see how the painting has a 3-D effect. The walls in the painting seem to be the walls in the church. Very cool. 


Photo: Tourists study The Last Supper
7. I'm thankful for talented sculptors. We saw a lot of sculptures, many of which were in big museum halls that could have been labeled, "Nudist colony in marble." Notwithstanding the beautiful, miraculous human body, all that nakedness could be a bit overwhelming. However, having so many sculptures to view also provided contrast between the many good sculptors and the few great ones. Michelangelo was unbelievable. He carved the David out of an inferior block of marble that other artists had rejected, and he did it when he was only 26 years old. The detail in his work made his sculptures stand out from the others. I gained a greater respect for his work. 


Photo: The right hand of David shows visible bones and veins, making the marble incredibly life-like
8. I'm thankful for off-season travel. Because it was January and not July, we practically had Pompeii and other sites to ourselves. 


Photo: Though Pompeii receives 2.5 million visitors annually, the streets were empty the day we visited
9. Similarly, I'm thankful for winter weather, which, although it wasn't as easy to travel in as dry weather, did make for some memorable experiences.


Photo: John standing behind a snowman he built in Sienna, Italy


10. I'm thankful, as always, for John. He's the perfect vacation partner. We climbed bell towers and duomos. We sloshed through flooded Venice. We walked for miles and miles and visited more churches, cathedrals, and basilicas than I can remember. We explored tiny narrow streets and survived being pedestrians in Naples. We marveled at the architecture, art, and history all around us. We tossed coins in the Trevi Fountain because, of course, we hope to return to Italy again someday. 

Photo: John and I take a selfie in front of the Trevi Fountain
Whether or not we return, though, isn't really important. No matter where we are or what we are doing, there is always something to be thankful for. What are you thankful for this week? Comment below, and feel free to link up your own post if you'd like!



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Comments

  1. Italy is magnificent, i am glad you had such a wonderful time!

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  2. Wow! Enjoyed taking a snapshot your with you!

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  3. Wonderful post! I would travel to Italy simply for the food, lol. But truly, to view the David, the Sistine Chapel, the Last Supper irl? It would be so awesome, I can't even describe. How cool to have the streets of Pompeii all to yourselves! Sounds like a most memorable trip. Happy Birthday! to your oldest son.

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    Replies
    1. It was a strange feeling to see so much history and yet realize that the current country of Italy is younger than the United States. The importance of time melted away as so much evidence of people living before was all around us.

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  4. just thinking at the end there, your enjoying the colder climates produced a benefit (the lack of crowds at the time of year you chose to travel).
    Excellent photation, as usual.
    Interesting about the Sistine Chapel, how the paintings where 'framed'... Like most, I'd assumed the Adam scene was the centerpiece of the whole affair.

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    Replies
    1. We definitely benefited from traveling in the off-season. The less-crowded streets probably diluted the Naples experience, but also made it not totally overwhelming. That's a trade-off I'm willing to make! :-)

      I have to believe that Michelangelo was purposeful in his placement, but I would love to hear his thought process.

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  5. This is a magnificent post. Thanks for all the photos and videos that helped us be able to vicariously be there. Your thoughts about how Michelangelo sculptured something beautiful from what others thought was marble of inferior quality has a profound message.

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