(Kingston, Ontario, Canada)
As I have chosen to write this blog in “real time”, some interesting topics and photos inevitably get overlooked because they weren’t at the top of my mind when I was writing my blog posts. Before heading out to my next destination, here are some of those overlooked items from Italy.
This was my first visit to the enormously popular cities of Rome and Venice. Even in March, the mid-day tourist crush in these cities could be quite daunting. The best sightseeing moments were early and late in the day, when the group tours had left and quiet contemplation was possible. This is probably true for all major tourist sights, but it becomes critical during the warmer months when crowds and confusion are much more uncomfortable.
As they have been for hundreds of years, the Swiss Guards are entrusted with the protection of the Pope and the Vatican. They really are Swiss and there is a competitive selection process for young Swiss who wish to fulfil this role.
The Pantheon is probably the best-preserved building from the glory days of the Roman Empire. Below is a temple built in the Forum nearly 2,000 years ago for a Roman power couple; it remains more or less intact despite many attempts to pillage it over the centuries.
Cortina d’Ampezzo has a reputation as a haven for the Italian glitterati but we were fortunate to find very affordable accommodation right on the main pedestrian boulevard. The Hotel Montana (see photo at top of this post) was family run; in fact, the manager represented Italy several times in curling world championships…so he had a special affinity for Canada and Canadian curlers!
Even better, the hotel was right across from the bell tower that could be seen from anywhere in the surrounding mountains. This really helped in orienting ourselves, as the Alps are notorious for distorting your perception of time and distance.
The weather in Cortina remained warm throughout the week. While I prefer skiing in deep powder, I also enjoy skiing in slushy snow and being able to ditch the jacket (albeit briefly) was a fun little indulgence. We encountered almost none of the ice that often plagues skiing in Eastern Canada. As you can see, there also were very few skiers on the slopes!
And just because it’s such a unique city, I think it is entirely appropriate to include another photo from the back “streets” of Venice.
I’m taking a break from the blog for a few days but will be posting again once I arrive at my next destination. It’s actually not that far from Kingston but for some reason I (and many other Kingstonians) have never visited it. Stay tuned for the details!