“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the Earth all of one’s life.”
I’ve been a disciple of this particular train of thought, and if Mr. Twain wouldn’t have coined it, I probably would have. I traveled extensively in my youth and will never forget the kindness of people who crossed my path, as well as the daily miracles on display. In a major way, these experiences helped shape who and where I am today.
I’ve always had a desire to jump continents, but due to a lack of funds, I’d end my travels penniless on the East Coast staring at the Atlantic. After giving up any thoughts of swimming, I’d turn around and head back west. I found myself in this situation numerous times, but some dreams die hard. Recently, my wife Mindy, our close friend Pat, and I lit upon the idea of traveling to Italy.
So, my dream was resurrected, and within a month, we found ourselves on a plane landing in Florence. There is not enough space here for all the details of the sights, and my thoughts, of the places we came upon— those would fill an entire book— but I’d like to share some of the images of our journey.
There are miles of historical, cobblestone streets. Viewing the original artwork of Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and other famous masters. The tranquil Arno River flowing beneath the arches of the Ponte Vecchio. Learning about the powerful and influential Medici family. And everywhere you gaze and turn there are churches, piazzas and statues. Medieval and Renaissance architecture, gelato, leather goods, street merchants, coffee shops. Spontaneous music fills the air, I even borrowed a guitar one afternoon, sang a few songs and made 12 Euros. English news programs are scarce on television, perhaps a blessing in disguise. Gawking at the Duomo, the largest masonry dome in the world. Our memorable day trip visiting the rolling hill towns of Tuscany, with stops in Siena, San Gimignano, Pisa and Lucca, along with a winery. The bullet train that efficiently delivered us to our next stop in Sorrento. Our balcony view of Mt. Vesuvius across the Bay of Naples. The delicious traditional foods. The day trip on a small boat to the idyllic island of Capri. A winding, death-defying, bus ride along the Amalfi Coast with its striking views of the Mediterranean from the hill perched towns of Positano and Ravello. The magical Greek temple ruins, dating back to 450 BC, at Paestum, with its lizard denizens soaking up the sun on the ancient stones. Visiting Pompeii and envisioning the lives of the people from those times. Backtracking to Rome for the final leg of our trip. Sunset settling on the city from the Spanish Steps. The Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, and a tour of ancient Rome’s Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, home of the emperors. Our last dinner was at our favorite restaurant, La Sagrestia Ristorante. We absorbed the ambience of life in Italy and enjoyed the freedom from our usual day-to-day activities back home.
Ciao for now!
Jim & Mindy Elgas
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