Well, we are home. Trying to edit the 2,000 pictures we took in our almost 4 weeks in Italy and Istanbul. It is quite a job, especially since I want to crop, enlarge, cut, enhance, delete the shadows, and toss the obviously boring pics. Today’s wonderful cameras open new opportunities for displaying our photos, and Kim Lien has already posted many on FB and arranged all into logical albums that she is happily showing to everyone. I accused her of standing on the corner downtown with a sign saying “See my pictures of Yurup”, but she denies that.
Regardless, in looking through our photos,I realize as always that she was right and I was foolish when she constantly asked me to take her picture and I often refused. Her joy in the trip shows in every photo, even the ones she took of me. This truly was a trip of a lifetime, everything new for her and for me, some new stuff (Milan, Bologna, Murano. Burano, and Pompeii). A fabulous five days in Florence, usually with my dear friend Paolo Chelli guiding us to places the tours don’t visit, and patiently explaining to KL why this painting is so important and to me what feelings the artist put into the piece that just come out and overwhelm you. He is such a great friend, and so, so knowledgeable about the art and artists of our beloved Firenze. In four days he created in KL a love and understanding of art that I’d been trying to do for 4 years. Multo Grazie, Paolo.
We both were terribly disappointed in DaVinci’s “Last Supper” but when we stepped out of the RR Station in Venice, both of us were blown away at the view that greeted us. The look on KL’s face was worth the whole trip, and I will never forget the huge WOW! that I felt and she vocalized. During my many visits to Europe I had the feeling that nothing ever changed, but this time that feeling was gone. It is all different, and that is not a positive comment.
Certainly a lot of the changes are attributable to my age. I cannot walk all day, up and down hills and broken cobblestone streets like I did when I was younger, but dammit, they moved the train station in Pisa, every interesting museum or sight now requires advance reservations, costly tickets, and worst of all–long waits in lines to enter massive crowds everywhere. The streets of Venice are nearly shoulder to shoulder people, most boats are SRO, and only the many restaurants offer seats but NOT at the dinner hour of either Americans, Italians, or Spaniards. Early, early birds get the seat without the wait, all others get in line. I know I should not complain about costs, but I spent more for one ticket to see Michelangelo’s David this trip than I did for ALL expenses (food, lodging, and transportation) the first time I saw David–for free. To see the Last Supper in Milan you need to buy a cheap ticket (6.50 euros), but they only allow 28 people into the chapel at a time, and the places sell out quickly. We were lucky and got tickets at the 6:30 pm entree, but it also meant we had to find something to do for 5 hours, and there isn’t much around the Church. Worst of all is the fact that the fresco has been so damaged, repaired and restored so many times, and even reconstructed after being bombed during WW2. It is faint, the colors are very faded, and there is no sign of great artistry in the fresco now on exhibit. A total waste of time.
Bologna was interesting because I had never been there, but aside from the Porticos, a few museums, and the great food, not worth a visit. Florence, well, Florence is my favorite city in Europe. Part of the reason is my friend, Paolo Chelli, who knows more about the art of his city than any guide, can explain what and why and how about a painting, and generously shares his time and knowledge with me as he has for the past 50 years of our friendship. The other reason is The David. To me, the finest sculpture ever created, worth a trip to Europe just to see this magnificent carving. The art of Florence is vast and magnificent, and a week there would only allow you to touch the surface. But the huge crowds take much away from the beauty and excitement of Florence, and it saddens me so very much.
Rome is Rome, more crowded, photos banned here and there and most everywhere indoors, the Sistine packed like a sardine can, and the treasures of the Vatican Museums lost in the rush past everything to make room for more tourists behind us. The coliseum required a 35 minute wait in line to buy a ticket and another 15 minute line to get inside the arena to see…nothing much. Still a waste of time, just much more time wasted than ever before. Better get the DVD of Gladiator starring Russel Crowe and see the coliseum the way it must have looked before time ravaged the structure.
Pompeii is what it is. They have excavated most of the city and restored some of the walls, but I can’t help think that in a couple hundred years some enterprising character is going to excavate the areas around Mt St Helens and sell tickets to that. If I want to see magnificent ruins of significant places, I go to Israel. There things are older, better preserved, and much more interesting than the ruins of Europe. Considering that the Americans contributed to the ruining by bombing during WW2, I am not very interested in seeing the same forum over and over. Kim did buy a book about Rome that shows the current site with a celluloid page that you can overlay and see the structures as they were when they were new. The forum and the coliseum come alive in this book, but I didn’t have to travel all the way there just to buy that.
Finally, in contradiction to most of what I just said, Kim Lien loved it. She managed the food, took as I said, about 2,000 pictures, and is still enjoying the memories and the fun of sharing with her family and friends. Neither of us liked Istanbul. It has become expensive, loaded with tourists, and uncomfortable with the rise of Islam and the dominance of the religion over many aspects of daily life. We will never go back there.