Thursday, April 25, 2013

Italy...What's My Wife Doing in Italy

If you invite us...we will come!

Helena shot this one
It all began last September during Karen Russell's Hometown Workshop, where a dozen photographers met and fell into a delightful friendship while expanding photography skills. Somehow during our parting conversations, a trip to visit our friend and fellow classmate Helena in Rome, was tossed was a million other topics. Fast forward seven months and suddenly I am in an airplane somewhere over the Atlantic with three lovely ladies on my way to Italy.

"Italy...what's my wife doing in Italy." A Garlick Press movie quote favorite.

After travelling all night and arriving at 7:30 am Roman time, we hit the ground running. This is what waits outside of Helena's home every single day. And the tomatoes do not taste like cardboard as ours do right now.

Also...please do not confuse this vegetable with a sea shell.

In the hills just above Rome we found Castel Gondolfo.

The summer residence and vacation retreat for the Pope.

Nicole knocked...but the Pope wasn't home.

Many of the villas and cottages were built during the 17th century.

and the scenic community includes almost the whole coastline of Lake Albano.

Since ancient times, water has been flowing freely through little fountains placed around the city of Rome. Thanks to the aqueducts from ancient Roman engineers, there are about 2500 public fountains providing water that is plentiful, fresh, safe, cold and very refreshing.

I found so many bee motifs all over Italy and took many of these photos for Dean.

Ah...around every corner in Italy lies a scene similar to this one.

Travelling with photographers has it's benefits and everyone understands when you inexplicably stop to shoot photos after seeing your reflection.

Or when you have this great creative vision to shoot a photo of your friends

through architectural motifs. Having not slept in over 24 hours I look so tired in this photo!

Perhaps my favorite part about this trip was being completely immersed in Helena's Italian life.

Helena and family graciously opened up their home and their lives to us and we embraced everything wholeheartedly. Fifteen year old Andrea not only gave up his room but had to put up with four loud obnoxious women for ten days...and then he even baked us a marvelous hazelnut cake. What a great kid!

After a little sleep and then watch out Rome...

are you ready for this...

because here we come!

Hopping on the tourist "Hop On Hop Off" bus

took us directly through downtown modern Rome

straight into ancient Rome. Words are insufficient to describe this moment. The sky, the history, the stories those walls hold...and me right in the middle of this ancient world. Simply takes your breath away.

The Roman Coliseum was completed around 80 AD. Practically designed...the structure was built with 80 arched entrances allowing easy access to almost 50,000 spectators seated according to rank. The lower you were seated the more important you were.

Another level was later added at the very top of the building with some standing room and steep wooden benches. This section was for the very poor, slaves and women. Say what? And I don't imagine they had those cushy stadium seats either. The gladiators who fought battles here were most likely slaves, prisoners of war or condemned criminals. During the inaugural games of the Coliseum over 9000 wild animals were killed during the animal contests.

Just outside the Coliseum is the Arch of Constantine, a monument later built to mark the victory of Constantine over Maxentius.

Several friends were worried about me carrying the new camera all over Rome. I never once felt uneasy or nervous for my safety. I think we all felt that way. But that's not to say that we weren't careful.

Five different photographers could shoot this scene five different ways. At the end of each day, it was both interesting and compelling to view each other's photos.

On the way to the Church of St Bonaventure we passed these stations of the cross.

Once inside the church...a special moment for Janette and I. We are both members of what we call "The Sad Mom's Club." You should see our t-shirts. Being moved by the moment, we lit candles for Avery and Jocie. This became a common practice as we visited the many churches across Italy.

Panini...I think I will Janette!

Containing Rome's most important temples and halls of justice, the Roman Forum just down from the Coliseum was the political, religious and commercial hub of this ancient city. In today's standards...all the best restaurants, banks, fashion, and shops would be here.

As Rome's empire expanded, these few acres of land became the center of the civilized world.

Today you can get freshly roasted chestnuts.

Thinking it not much of anything...I very nearly missed the Santa Maria in Aracoeli Church. Ancient Roman women who wished for a child would climb the steep 125 marble steps on their knees. Given that I'm a Nana now...I chose to just hike it using my feet.

Once on top I found this beautiful door...

and then turned around to see this view of Rome. I spy with my little eye an airplane in flight.

The church dates from the sixth century and feels immediately as if you have traveled back in time for centuries.

More candles for Avery and Jocie. We couldn't get enough of this!

And finally...

a trip to Rome is never complete without a visit to the Trevi Fountain.

Ours included a little bit of rain. But we didn't just meant that we got some great umbrella shots.

Said to assure a return trip to Rome, hopeful tourist romantics toss coins over their shoulders into the fountain.

Helena made sure we all threw our coins into the fountain. Remember...this was only day 2. If this had been day 10...given that she most likely was sick and tired of us, she may have withheld this little tidbit about returning to Rome.

But thankfully our coins ALL went in.

 So I guess we're all going back to Rome some day Helena.

Reflection shot again.
Stay tuned...more posts on Italy to come! And by the way...Trip to Italy was Filthy Fifty item #9.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Henry at Two

Dear Nana...

It has come to my attention that you might have forgotten to post photos from my 2nd birthday.

You know, the birthday party where my mom made a road...

in the middle of my basement.

We were supposed to drive our cars on the road...

 but we thought it was more fun to run up and down the road...over and over and over again!

 Bubba came to my party and gave me birthday kisses.

 I opened some awesome presents.

 And all my friends got to make their own cars to drive on the big black road.

There were lots of delicious treats

 and even a pinjata.

 I showed off my mad pinjata slaying skills

but I let Grant finish it off.

By request, my mama made banana cream pie for my birthday instead of cake.

I loved it!

But then you know all that Nana...because you were there taking pictures!

Happy 2nd Birthday my sweet Henry grandson.