Bob’s True-Life Adventures No.8 – 2014 Florence and Rome

Written by Bob Gurr. Posted in Bob's True-Life Adventures, Features

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Published on July 23, 2014 at 2:00 am with 13 Comments

Today’s Wheel of Adventures stopped at 2014, so here we go.

MiceChat’s June 2014 Mediterranean Magic Cruise organized by Teresa Cory of Fairy Godmother Travel set sail from the fabulous port of Barcelona in the autonomous Catalonia community of Spain. After a relaxing first day at sea, the first stop was the port of Villefranche to visit the storybook village of Eze and the tiny principality Monaco. Continuing the cruise, Florence and Rome were the first two Roman adventures.

Florence

After a two hour bus ride from the port of La Spezia thru the very scenic Appanine Mountains, source of the Carrara marble used to build so many medieval structures, we arrived at the historic center of Florence in Tuscany. Considered the birthplace of the Renaissance, Florence is a World Heritage Site filled with classical architecture, statuary, and art. Today, Florence is important in fashion design as it is noted for it’s cultural creativity from the 14th to 16th century, hundreds of years before the birth of the US.

Our tour started with a view of the Ponte Vecchio bridge, interesting because the bridge is actually a shopping street, famous for it’s gold jewelry. Being a warm summer day, no one can pass up a large helping of the famed Italian gelato ice cream. Since the historic city center is very pedestrian friendly, the day is one where a visitor can wander the numerous plazas, enjoy museums, or just lazily study the exteriors of dozens of the most important architectural treasures. You’d better love crowds – millions of visitors come from all over the world to enjoy the beauty that is Florence.

Rome 22 The dome is open to the sky allowing a beam of sunlight to enter Rome 23 Capitolino is a most imposing government complex Rome 24 The Colonna Triano is one of the classic structures near the Forum Rome 25 The Forum contains a large number of ancient ruins Rome 26 Some parts of the original buildings still stand Rome 27 This edifice is representative of the architecture of ancient Rome Rome 28 Arco de Tito frames the eastern entrance to the Forum Rome 29 Rome's most famous ruin is of course, the Coliseum Rome 30 Details of the Coliseum reveal centuries of theft, neglect, and restoration

The Ponte Vecchio bridge over the Arno River is a Florence highlight

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Near the end of WWII, the German Army did not destroy Ponte Vecchio

Ponte Vecchio is know as the Golden Bridge with all it's gold shops

Ponte Vecchio is know as the Golden Bridge with all it’s gold shops

Italian gelato is not just ice cream, it's sculpted treat like no other

Italian gelato is not just ice cream, it’s sculpted treat like no other

Florence is known for it's traditional gourmet ham shank artistry

Florence is known for it’s traditional gourmet ham shank artistry

While there are cars in historic Florence, a carriage seem more fitting

While there are cars in historic Florence, a carriage seem more fitting

The courtyard of the Palazzo Vecchio displays exquisite detailing

The courtyard of the Palazzo Vecchio displays exquisite detailing

Basilica Santa Croce seen from a typical narrow street in historic

Basilica Santa Croce seen from a typical narrow street in historic

A glimpse of the dome atop the Cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore

A glimpse of the dome atop the Cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore

Cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore is Florence's largest church

Cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore (the Duomo) is Florence’s largest church

Cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore features a soaring tower

Cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore features a soaring tower

Beautiful tiles cover the Cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore exterior

Beautiful tiles cover the Cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore exterior

Cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore intricate tiled entrance

Cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore intricate tiled entrance

A close view of the Cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore edifice

A close view of the Cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore edifice

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Palazzo Vecchio’s tower seen thru an interesting passageway.

Cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore's dome is capped with viewing deck

Cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore’s dome is capped with viewing deck

Piazza della Signoria is the popular center of Florence

Piazza della Signoria is the popular center of Florence

The Loggia die Lanzi contains a number of classic statues

The Loggia die Lanzi contains a number of classic statues

Cellini's Perseus with the Head of Medusa

Cellini’s Perseus with the Head of Medusa

Minerva bronze statuette

Minerva bronze statuette

Rape of The Sabine Women by Giambologna

Rape of The Sabine Women by Giambologna

Hercules slaying Nessus

Hercules slaying Nessus

Hercules and Cacus

Hercules and Cacus

Neptune is a prominent statue in the Piazza della Signoria

Neptune is a prominent statue in the Piazza della Signoria

Probably the most recognizable statue is Michelangelo's David

Probably the most recognizable statue is Michelangelo’s David

This Davis is a copy, the original is in the Galleria dell"Accademia

This Davis is a copy, the original is in the Galleria dell”Accademia

David's facial features and hair details certainly set the classic style

David’s facial features and hair details certainly set the classic style

Especially popular is the Piazza della Signoria with it’s shady Loggia die Lanzi. Finding a peaceful spot to rest, in one’s view is not only Michelangelo’s David, but other classic statuary; Bandinelli’s Hercules and Cacus, Cellini’s Perseus with the Head of Medusa, and much more. (See photo captions for more.) Cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore is amazing. Built starting in 1296 and completed in 1436, the dome was built by a self-taught engineer, still after 600 years the largest brick and mortar dome in the world, built with no scaffolding! After a long wonderful day in Florence, we MiceChatters were again treated to the vistas of the Tuscany countryside on the way back to our Disney Magic to compare our day over cocktails.

Rome

After a short night cruise, the Magic reached Port Civitavecchia to begin another Roman conquest, the Tourists of Rome! Another bus ride and soon we were jammed into the back of giant trucks, big tour busses, cars, and those completely mad scooter drivers. It’s more like a TV stunt show; how close can you dash through closing gaps and still emerge alive. Soon we emerged from the cool underground bus terminal out into the sultry hot sunlight right into the middle of the Saint Peter’s Square at Vatican City where Pope Francis was on a shady stage giving a friendly talk to anyone interested – lots of big screens and speakers. Due to this morning event, St. Peters Basilica was not open to tourists until later in the day, so we simply enjoyed the dramatic panorama of the Pope and his hundreds of guests in the vast Square before moving on.

A large gathering in front of St. Peter's Basilica to hear Pope Francis

A large gathering in front of St. Peter’s Basilica to hear Pope Francis

The western portico of St. Peter's Basilica

The western portico of St. Peter’s Basilica

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For a fabulous view over Rome, climb to the St. Peter’s cupola

Pope Francis gave his very friendly talk to anyone who dropped by

Pope Francis gave his very friendly talk to anyone who dropped by

The eastern portico overlooks a vast St. Peter's Square filled with visitors

The eastern portico overlooks a vast St. Peter’s Square filled with visitors

Tourists first view St. Peter's Basilica from a distance - very impressive

Tourists first view St. Peter’s Basilica from a distance – very impressive

St. Peter's dome is visible from many points in Rome

St. Peter’s dome is visible from many points in Rome

Like Florence, Rome is somewhat pedestrian friendly, but the main streets require extra care to cross – traffic is fast and the cars rule, but if you know the right gesture, they’ll stop for you. Even in the narrowest alley one can see a Ferrari creeping thru the throng – sure does seem like such a waste of horsepower. Rome is vast, spectacular history at every turn, and populated with very dressy business men and women in contrast to the hot and sweaty tourists. It’s a mystery how none of the local business folks seem to show a single drop of forehead sweat in coat and tie on even the hottest days.

The Bridge of Sant'Angelo features a variety of classic statues

The Bridge of Sant’Angelo features a variety of classic statues

All of Rome is filled with wonderful little scenes for avid wonderers

All of Rome is filled with wonderful little scenes for avid wanderers

When fixing underground utilities, crews must study historic maps

When fixing underground utilities, crews must study historic maps

2000 years of underground works is mapped very carefully before a dig

2000 years of underground works is mapped very carefully before a dig

 Rome's dense traffic and fast drivers - these officers must be very brave

Rome’s dense traffic and fast drivers – these officers must be very brave

Plaza Navona is surrounded by beautiful buildings - a tourists treat

Plaza Navona is surrounded by beautiful buildings – a tourists treat

From Vatican City we wandered towards many of the important sites not to be missed; Plaza Navonna, the Pantheon, and the large white Capitolino buildings next to the Forum. Certainly the Forum shows what ancient Rome, founded in 753 BC, really looked like, some of the ruins are unrestored and show design and construction techniques of the structures built over 2,000 years ago. Many temples and shrines are visible in the sprawling ruins. Just adjacent to the Forum is the Coliseum, probably Rome’s most recognizable attraction. What remains today is only a portion of the whole structure, stripped bare of it’s gorgeous marble facings. Use a bit of imagination and you can just see this fabulous showplace of ancient times when it was in it’s glory, or gory, days depending on what was staged at the time.

The fountains of Plaza Navona are a peaceful attraction

The fountains of Plaza Navona are a peaceful attraction

The Pantheon is a must-see - the interior dome is a structural wonder

The Pantheon is a must-see – the interior dome is a structural wonder

Colonades support the Pantheon front Portico with it massive door

Colonades support the Pantheon front Portico with it massive door

The Pantheon interior has a unique simple beauty of the dome details

The Pantheon interior has a unique simple beauty of the dome details

This alter is an ornate contrast to the dome ceiling above

This alter is an ornate contrast to the dome ceiling above

Guests can rest peacefully to savor the complete beauty of the Pantheon

Guests can rest peacefully to savor the complete beauty of the Pantheon

Sunlight plays on the marble floor to dramatically light the interior

Sunlight plays on the marble floor to dramatically light the interior

I’ve been to Rome a half dozen times this past decade and never tire of all the majesty and chaos of this fascinating place. If one has the time, say a week or so, no other city has so much to explore, and imagine what life was like here over so many centuries ago. Especially impressive are all the ornate ceilings in so many different period churches. For a more thorough view of some of these places, you can watch my 2009 HD video “The Treasures of Rome” below.

Treasure of Rome from Bob Gurr on Vimeo.

The dome is open to the sky allowing a beam of sunlight to enter

The dome is open to the sky allowing a beam of sunlight to enter

Capitolino is a most imposing government complex

Capitolino is a most imposing government complex

The Colonna Triano is one of the classic structures near the Forum

The Colonna Triano is one of the classic structures near the Forum

The Forum contains a large number of ancient ruins

The Forum contains a large number of ancient ruins

Some parts of the original buildings still stand

Some parts of the original buildings still stand

 

This edifice is representative of the architecture of ancient Rome

This edifice is representative of the architecture of ancient Rome

Arco de Tito frames the eastern entrance to the Forum

Arco de Tito frames the eastern entrance to the Forum

Rome's most famous ruin is of course, the Coliseum

Rome’s most famous ruin is of course, the Coliseum

Details of the Coliseum reveal centuries of theft, neglect, and restoration

Details of the Coliseum reveal centuries of theft, neglect, and restoration

Some of our gang were just about shot at the end of the day and started dreaming of a cool sunset libation back abroad the Magic. Next up is our last long tour day starting in Naples with a drive along the spectacular Amalfi Coast followed by an informative walk thru the ruins of Pompeii.

alaska2

Join us on an exciting MiceChat 7 night Alaska Cruise on the Disney Wonder – June 1st, 2015: 

We sail toward the top of the world on the delightful Disney Wonder. We’ll hold all sorts of special MiceChat meet-ups on board, suggest group excursions you might want to join us on, dine as a group to discuss our adventures and more.

Ask us for more details on any of our upcoming MiceTrips or for Disney adventures of your own by emailing us at [email protected].

About Bob Gurr

Bob Gurr is a true Disney legend who was hired on to design the Autopia for Disneyland. Over nearly four decades, Bob would become famous for developing the Monorails, Submarines, Flying Saucers, antique cars and double-decker buses of Main Street, Ford Motor Company's Magic Skyway (at the 1964-65 New York World's Fair), Omnimover ride system, Matterhorn and lots more. It has been said that if it moves, Bob probably played a part. Upon leaving Imagineering in 1981, Bob worked on a number of "leisure-time spectaculars" and "fantastical beasts" for parks and developments all over the world. Most notably, he created King Kong and Conan's Serpent for Universal Studios Hollywood, A UFO for the closing ceremonies of the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympics, and the memorable T-Rex figure featured in Steven Spielberg's motion picture "Jurassic Park." You can find Bob's column, Design: Those Were The Times, right here on MiceChat. Though don't pin Bob down to a schedule, he's busy being "retired."

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13 Comments

Comments for Bob’s True-Life Adventures No.8 – 2014 Florence and Rome are now closed.

  1. Love the photos Bob. It looks like you were treated to wonderful weather. I visited both Rome and Florence 8 years ago and your article makes me want to return. Did you skip the Trevi Fountain?

    • The Trevi Fountain was under renovation when we were there. :-(

      The weather looks nice in photos, but it was very hot and humid. Still, Rome was magic!

      • Wanted to say THANK YOU to Fairy Godmother Travel and Mice Chat for arranging the trip, and the opportunity to travel with some of the most amazing group of people period. Love you guys all very much. Had a great time looking forward to Alaska 2015.

  2. Beautiful photos – they really bring Florence and Rome to life for me! Loved the bit about what the utility workers have to go through – it got my imagination going. I still have hope that I’ll get to Italy someday and some gelato will be waiting!

  3. Bob your photos are amazing and your narration really help set the tone for these cities. I especially loved your photos of the Gelato , Ham , coliseum, the cathedral Santa maria and your action shots. Your articles are always a highlight I cant wait to read more and see more from your trip and true life adventures. Thank you

  4. Thanks, Bob!
    Looking and reading through that was time well spent.
    :)

  5. Bob, you are a true Renaissance man. There’s nothing you can’t do. Your photography is really stunning and I always look forward to your adventures. This one was particularly wonderful for me since we MiceChatters were there with you. It was a trip I’ll never forget.

  6. Thank you for the wonderful write up about Florence and Rome! I had half my focus marveling at the all the historic sites and the other half on not getting left by our tour group!

    • Or being pick-pocketed by a Gipsy :) Have no fear the great folks at disney provided us our very own Gipsy exterminator :)

      Thanks Teresa your amazing :)

  7. So glad you shared these great photos and narration with us. I had to miss going into Rome, so was really looking forward to seeing what I missed that day! It was such an amazing trip, and I can’t wait to see your next installment!

  8. Amazing photography Bob, Makes me want to go back! And BTW Gurrini tours gets an A+ review from me, Best tour guide ever :)

  9. How can one see all of this in just one day? If you were not on a right schedule from the cruise , how long do you think it would take to see all of the important sights in Rome?

  10. Beautiful pictures !