THIS was a holiday that would take in the highlights of Italy and France; places that Cindy and Shane Dunn of Numurkah had always wanted to see.
The highlight would be Paris and the Eiffel Tower, something that Cindy had always wanted to see but more on that a little later, first they flew into Rome where they picked up a car and drove to Naples.
Shane prides himself on his abilities with a car but his recommendation would be if you are going to Naples, don’t drive.
The traffic is insane. There are cars everywhere and everyone has a horn and they all use them. It’s bumper to bumper in the city but on the plus side the food was good and the pizza great.
The next day they travelled to Pompeii and it was amazing. Cindy just loved the history. The site is like a big open air museum; from the streets with their stepping stones made to accommodate horse and carts and to keep you dry from sewerage flowing down the street, to the remains of homes, brothels and how they used steam for underfloor heating and those casts of people and babies caught by the volcanic ash from Mt Vesuvius. They climbed the mountain and the views from the top were fabulous across the valley below.
Now it was time to head back to Rome. The speed limit was 130km/h but everyone seemed to favour 150km/h.
Their tour of Rome took them to the Spanish steps, then onto the Parthenon. It’s a huge building with its dome which is open at the top and it’s said that when it was built they used sand to fill the building and cast the dome. There were also rumours that gold was buried in the sand and within days all the sand had been emptied from the building to the delight of the builders.
Their next stop was the catacombs. It was 35 degrees outside but a cool 17 below ground. The Christians buried their dead with no gold or silver as a mark of respect but when the barbarians arrived they could not believe this so the graves were desecrated.
They saw the Colosseum, the highlight for Shane, where many Christians had died and the site of an amphitheatre still standing proud, but the highlight was a tour of Rome by night.
The tour was on Segway personal transporters. Cindy had never been on one before but she soon got the knack of it. She says don’t think just go with it and the Segway follows your moves.
They went up to a ridge and the views across Rome at night were fantastic; the Trevi Fountain was all lit up and so was the colosseum, both looking so great.
The next day they took a tour of the Vatican City. The Sistine Chapel seemed a bit smaller than Cindy had expected or was it the huge crowd of tourists standing inside? but there it was, the famous ceiling by Michelangelo. It was amazing.
St Paul’s Basilica is so big, and St Peter’s Square where the Pope addresses the faithful is so huge and a must see. Cindy and Shane were there for the changing of the Swiss Guard and it was great to see.
Leaving Rome, they headed to Cinque Terre. It was so beautiful with the pastel coloured houses forming a terrace looking like they were built into the side of the cliff and that crystal blue sea below.
They then took the train to Florence. The train was very good, clean and efficient. They made Florence their base for the next few days and travelled out to Pisa.
Yes they climbed the leaning tower but they missed the announcement that the bells would soon ring, and they were in the bell tower when it happened; even fingers in your ears can’t overcome the sound.
But they survived the experience. The tower was closed in 2007 when works were carried out to tilt it back five degrees. It worked and the tower should be good for another 50 years.
Cindy and Shane travelled back to Florence and toured the historic sites and there is so much to see. A highlight was Michelangelo’s David standing in the Academia Gallery.
It was time to leave for Venice by train and what a wow of a city. The bridges, canals, food and gondolas were fantastic. They had a tenor singing on one of the Gondolas as they sailed the canals a great experience.
St Mark’s Square and the Palace of the Doge were wonderful to see and a boat ride through the Grand Canal and out to the islands.
They had a private guided tour of Padua, featuring Scrovegni Chapel, where Giotto’s Frescos rivalled those of the Sistine Chapel, and the university where Galileo taught as well as the home of one of the oldest anatomy theatres in the world.
Now it was time to visit France. They travelled through the countryside, visited Chateaus, drank wine, which turned out to be from Italy, saw Normandy and sites that still bore the mark of the war.
Then finally Paris, and there was so much to see at the Louvre. They saw the Mona Lisa, it looks quite small and Napoleons Tomb is another must see as well as the catacombs where the walls are lined with human bones.
At night Cindy and Shane went to the Moulin Rouge and the show was fantastic and then the highlight of the tour for Cindy, the Eiffel Tower; a place she had dreamed of seeing for many years
Now it was Cindy’s birthday and so they had dinner in the tower restaurant. It has three Michelin Stars and the food was amazing. They consumed five courses.
The goat’s cheese sauce was a different experience but the desserts were fantastic; raspberry shortbread and chocolate moose with rose gold dust.
Cindy and Shane had a window table and the view across Paris as the sun set was a crowning glory. Finally a trip to Versaille, the palace of the Sun King, and the Garden of Marie Antoinette was magnificent.
Back home, Cindy and Shane would like to thank Jacinta Wally from Flight Centre for arranging their very special holiday.
Until next time,