PJ and I got back from our vacation in Italy late Thursday evening. Overall, we had a great trip and really enjoyed our time in the Mediterranean sun. The last couple of days were really difficult, but other than that it not only went off without a hitch but was a generally perfect vacation.

Our trip started in Rome, where we spent five days sight-seeing. We arrived on the morning of Monday, June 22. Fortunately, our hotel let us check in as soon as we got there. So, we cleaned up and then went out to do a little exploring. We ended up taking a tour of the Colosseum and then walking around the Roman Forum. We took a brief nap in the afternoon before scouting out again for dinner. While in Rome, we also saw the Mamertine Prison, Capital Hill, the Capitoline Museum, the Victor Emmanuel II Monument, Trajan’s Column, the Largo Argentina cat hospice, the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, the Crypt of the Capuchin monks, the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica, the National Museum of Rome, the Baths of Diocletian Museum, the Circus Maximus, the Mouth of Truth, Campo Fiore, Piazza Navona, the Keats-Shelley Museum, the Borghese Gallery, Trastevere, and a few churches and other sites. We also ate really well, had wonderful gelato, and walked what felt like a million miles! And finally, we celebrated my birthday in Rome.

For the second stage of our trip, we spent two days in Florence. This was the part of the trip that I was most looking forward to. An avid E. M. Forster fan, my anticipation was fueled by my love for A Room with a View. While our hotel room did not, in fact, have a view, we did have a lovely time in Florence.

The Reproduction of Michelangelos David that stands in the Piazza del Signoria

We caught a train from Rome to Florence, which was a fairly brief ride. After checking into our hotel, we walked around the Piazza della Signoria and saw the Loggia and the Palazzo del Vecchio and then walked over to the Duomo and visted the Duomo Museum. We had a reservation for the Accademia to see Michelangelo’s David and a special exhibit of Robert Mapplethorpe’s photographs for that afternoon.

The picture here is of the reproduction of David that stands in the Piazza del Signoria, where the original statue once stood until authorities decided that it was being destroyed by the elements and pollution.

While in Florence, we also visited the Bargello, the Museum of San Marco, and the Uffizi Gallery. We also toured Santa Croce, which features prominently in Forster’s A Room with a View.

Again, we also ate really well and had a few more gelatoes (gelati?). We also walked a lot and started to get a little tired. But we had one more stop on our little tour of Italy: Venice. So we climbed aboard another train and headed east.

I had no idea what to expect in Venice. It just sounds too different to be imaginable. A place with no cars and everybody travels by boat? Of course, it turns out that there’s no way to imagine being in Venice until you get there. There’s a lot to enjoy about Venice, but there are also a lot of disadvantages. Everything is fairly touristy and, as a result, everything is fairly expensive.

We had three days in Venice. During these three days we ate more gelato, had more lovely meals, and visited St. Mark’s Square, St. Mark’s Basilica, the Doge’s Palace, the Correr Museum, the Accademia, Ca’ Rezzonica, the Peggy Guggenheim Museum, and San Giorgio Maggione. We also took a tour of the city on a vaporetto and got lost in the “streets” of Venice several times.

By this time, we were definitely tired of walking and of seeing Medieval and Renaissance paintings. I was also starting to get a little homesick and mentally prepared to come back to my new job. On top of all that, on the second day of our stay in Venice we received a message from our house sitter that our cat Marlowe had taken gravely ill and had had to be rushed to the vet for emergency treatment. Initially, it looked like he might have consumed a toxin, and his prognosis was decidedly not good. This, of course, put a real crimp in our vacation. Between weeping over our beautiful little boy and the on-set of vacation exhaustion, the last two days of our trip were much less fun than the first eight or nine days.

On the way home, we had a layover in Philadelphia, where we had to call the vet to see if Marlowe was a) still alive, b) had to be put down, or c) was recovering. I don’t know if I’ve ever dreaded making a phone call more than I dreaded making that one. I can’t even imagine what my blood pressure must have been. Fortunately, the answer was “c,” Marlowe was starting to recover, and our sitter was able to go pick him up before we got home. He suffered from severe dehydration, which might have been caused by heat stroke, and lost two pounds (he’s already very skinny), but he’s now on the mend. He’s drinking, eating, and spraying the nearest bushes (under restricted, supervised outside visits). He still has to undergo one more round of tests to make sure that nothing is permanently damaged, but he’s slowly returning to normal.

In fact, he’s bugging me for some food now, so I’ll sign off for now. I intend to write at greater length about my favorite parts of the vacation. I start the new job on Monday, so that might slow me down a bit. But we had a lovely time in Italy and I look forward to sharing  my experiences and opinions as soon as I can.