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Pisa - August 24

Tuesday, October 31, 2006 11:42 AM

Andrea and I on top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa

After our late night arrival from the Cinque Terre, we slept in a little before heading out for the 1 hour and 45 minute drive to Pisa.  We got to Pisa around 1 pm and managed to find a parking spot about a block from the Campo dei Miracoli

Walking from the parking lot, we very quickly approached the walls of the old city of Pisa and then walked through the gates into the Campo dei Miracoli or Field of Miracles.  The Campo dei Miracoli is where all of the famous landmarks of Pisa reside, and was probably the single most "tourist trap" of any area we visited in Italy.  We took a few pictures of the cathedral complex, including the famous Leaning Tower, as we walked along the street lined with souvenir stands.

We then went and purchased our tickets for all of the attractions.  We then proceeded to go tour the Duomo di Pisa.  The Duomo contains a number of famous artworks, such as the pulpit by Giovanni Pisano, although most of the interior has been redecorated since a fire in 1595 destroyed most of the medieval artwork.  The incense lamp in the cathedral is also said to have been the inspiration for Galileo in formulating his theory on the movement of a pendulum.  Another interesting note is that, like its famous neighbor, the Duomo is nowhere near straight, and the architects clearly tried to compensate for the leaning during the construction.

After the Duomo, we went to see the Camposanto.  According to legend, the central courtyard of the Camposanto is filled with dirt that the Crusaders brought back from the Holy Land.  The Camposanto is now a museum displaying Christian funerary monuments over the centuries.  The museum also contains a number of frescoes that are in the process of being restored after the interior of the building was largely destroyed in World War II. 

After leaving the Camposanto, we went to the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo.  This museum contains a number of original artworks from the Duomo.  Some of our favorites included the inlaid wood and the vestry garments used in the cathedral over the centuries.  The balcony of the museum also offered some great views of the Campo dei Miracoli.

Upon finishing with the Museo, we walked along the line of souvenir shops down to the Baptistry.  The Baptistry is famous for its incredible acoustics and we were treated to a singing exhibition by one of the Opera employees.  The Baptistry is also known for its beautiful carved marble pulpit by Nicola Pisano.

After the Baptistry, we went and purchased some of our souvenirs and then went to find dinner before our 6:45 pm entrance to the Leaning Tower.  We walked down to the Piazza dei Cavalieri as we were killing time and looking for dinner.  We ended up walking back towards the Campo dei Miracoli and having dinner at a small restaurant that clearly catered to the tourists.  I had a seafood pasta dish, and Andrea had a pizza for dinner.  Both were very good.

We then went back to meet for our climb to the top of La Torre Pendente.  While the lean has been reduced in recent years, it is still quite noticable and made climbing the stairs on one side much easier than on the other half of each revolution.  Once at the top of the tower, we were treated to an impressive panorama of the city of Pisa and the Campo dei Miracoli.  We stayed at the top for our whole 30 minutes, enjoying the view as the sun was setting and viewing the detail on the bronze bells at the top.  You could also see down the core of the tower where the modern anchors are stabilizing the tower.  

After coming down from the Leaning Tower, we hung out in the Campo dei Miracoli for a while, waiting to see the lighting of the tower in the dark and taking a few more pictures before heading back to Greppi di Silli for the night.

Photos from Pisa 

 
By: Shane
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Photos Complete!

Monday, October 30, 2006 1:57 PM

I finally have all of the photos from the trip to Italy uploaded to the website.  The next step is to get all of the journal entries up.  Enjoy the photos in the Photo Album.

 
By: Shane
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Cinque Terre - August 23

Thursday, October 12, 2006 2:13 PM

Andrea and I on the Via Dell'Amore

On the morning of August 23, we got up early for the three hour drive from our agriturismo to the Cinque Terre.  We drove up through Pisa and La Spezia.  Once we entered the Cinque Terre, we drove down to Riomaggiore in an attempt to find parking.  Since all of the parking near the town was full, we drove back up and parked in a small lot off of the main road between Riomaggiore and Manarola. 

From where we parked, it was much easier to hike towards Manarola even though we could see Riomaggiore, so off we went.  After a relatively easy hike down, and with a growing sense of apprehension about how far up we were going to have to hike to get back out, we arrived in Manarola. 

Manarola is the second city in the Cinque Terre from east to west.  It's a beautiful small town nestled right into the sea and amongst the dry stone terraces that support the agriculture of the Cinque Terre.  We toured the small church in Manarola and then walked down the main street to the waterfront. 

We then decided to hike from Manarola to Riomaggiore, the easternmost of the Cinque Terre.  Prior to the 1950's, the only way to get to any of the Cinque Terre was on foot or by sea.  The road from Manarola to Riomaggiore is known as the Via Dell'Amore, the Road of Love, so we figured that was appropriate on our honeymoon.  It was a beautiful hike of about 1.4km along the side of the cliffs overlooking the azure waters of the Mediterranean Sea.

Once we were in Riomaggiore, we went into the train station and bought some postcards and then hiked up the main street.  We toured both the sanctuary and the church before heading back towards Manarola.

We stopped for lunch at the Bar Dell'Amore on the Via Dell'Amore where we both had sandwiches and shared a glass of limoncino, a Cinque Terre specialty, over the Mediterranean.  Once we got back to Manarola, we boarded the train to Corniglia.

When we got of the train, we lucked into a bus to Corniglia, saving us from having to climb the 377 stairs from the train station to town.  Corniglia was founded by the Romans in the 1st century and sits high up on the bluff above the ocean, giving it a commanding view of the area.  It is also the only one of the Cinque Terre that does not have direct access to the ocean.  We toured both the sanctuary and church in Corniglia as well, noting that every city in the Cinque Terre seemed to have a sanctuary and a church.  We then hiked back down the stairs to the train station to go to Vernazza.

In Vernazza we got out and hiked down from the train platform into town.  We stopped for our afternoon gelato as we walked down the main street towards the waterfront.  The waterfront in Vernazza was clearly the most impressive of the Cinque Terre as the entire city funneled into a small bay.  Numerous beachgoers were enjoying themselves on the beach and in the water when we were there.  We tried to go into the church which was right on the waterfront, however a service was going on so we couldn't enter.  We then hiked up to the ruins of a Roman observation tower that stands on the bluff overlooking the town before heading back to catch the train to Monterosso al Mare.

In Monterosso, we started walking along the street by the beach.  Monterosso was the most "Italian Riviera" of all of the cities we saw.  We decided to go down on the beach to wade in the ocean since I had never been to the Mediterranean before.  The water was warm as was the weather, which was a good thing since neither of us did a good job of rolling our pants up high enough to stay dry.  We then hiked down to see a statue called "Il Gigante" which is perched on the cliff at the far western end of Monterosso.  We then walked back to see the other flank of town, stopping on the way to buy a bottle of limoncino and wine that were both produced in the Cinque Terre, since both products are the famous agricultural products of the Cinque Terre.  After wandering through the older section of Monterosso and stopping to listen to the beginnings of a concert, we went back and had dinner on the beach near the train station.

After dinner we went back to the train station to catch the train back to Manarola.  Evidently something was wrong with the trains, because I believe that the regional train that we wanted was over 2 hours late, but no Trenitalia personnel were at the station to ask.  We got on the first train that stopped, assuming it was the right train, and ended up sitting next to a Canadian couple from Toronto.  We soon realized that this was the express that only stopped in Monterosso and Riomaggiore, so when we got off, we resigned ourself to hiking back across the Via Dell'Amore in the dark and then back up the hill to our car.  It turned into a beautiful hike because the path was relatively well lit, and the stars and ocean were beautiful. 

By the time we finally got back to our car, it was 11:30, and we had what we thought was a 3 hour drive ahead of us.  Knowing where we were going on the way home, I managed to cut about 30 mins off the drive and we finally pulled back into the agriturismo at about 2 am, ending what was a long, but incredibly fun day.

Pictures from the Cinque Terre

 
By: Shane
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  • StephanieWright 10/20/200610:51 PM Hey you guys look like you had a good wedding and great honeymoon!! Congrats!!! May God Bless you two fully!!!
  • Annette Renee W 2/22/201011:38 PM Thanks for sharing your experiences! I just booked my flight to Florence and am planning my trip to Tuscany & Cinque Terre. I can't wait! Here's what my itinerary looks like so far: http://mslistologist.com/?p=1047

Denver Art Museum in the New York Times

Thursday, October 12, 2006 12:05 PM

Hamilton Building at the Denver Art Museum - Photo Courtesy of the New York Times

Today's New York Times has an article on the new wing of the Denver Art Museum that we visited on Sunday.  The author clearly did not like the building and was highly critical of Liebiskind's work.  While I do agree with some of the author's assertions, I don't agree with his overall conclusion that the building doesn't work.  The structure is clearly designed to be somewhat disorienting, but I think the galleries work well for the most part.  There was always something unexpected around every corner, and the building adds another piece of interesting architecture to the Denver skyline.

 
By: Shane
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Chianti - August 22

Wednesday, October 11, 2006 3:00 PM

Monastery of Santa Maria del Carmine

On the morning of August 22, Andrea and I got up and decided to do some wine tasting in the Chianti region.  Michele at Greppi di Silli helped us with a map and suggested a number of wineries to visit.  Our first stop was at Castel Il Palagio just outside of Mercatale Val di Pesa.  We had been driving past this winery a couple of times and so we stopped to try it and ended up buying a bottle.  Our next stop was at Villa Calcinaia outside of Greve in Chianti.  We also stopped at Terreno outside of Greve in Chianti as well.

We then drove into Greve in Chianti and explored the town square and the local church.  We stopped at a small pizzeria and ate our lunch on the town square.  Following lunch we went to Le Cantine di Greve in Chianti where we tasted a number of local wines and olive oils. 

We then drove to the monastery of Santa Maria del Carmine near Tavernelle Val di Pesa to listen to the nuns sing vespers.  The monastary was built in 1466 and reoccupied in 1982 by this group of Australian nuns.  We were the only people there for vespers, and after the service, one of the nuns came out and talked to us about the history of the group and turned on all of the lights so we could get good pictures.  We ended up buying a number of our gifts for family members from the monastery as well.

After we left the monastery, we went down to Sambuca to see the Ponte Romano bridge.  This bridge was built in 1069 and there is documented evidence that Leonardo da Vinci walked on the bridge.  The bridge was partially destroyed in World War II, and rebuilt later. 

After Sambuca, we went to see the ruins of Linari.  Linari was once a thriving hilltop town, but was almost completely abandoned following an earthquake in 1807.  We spent an hour and a half or so wandering around the ruins of the city, taking numerous pictures of the haunting, yet beautiful ruins.

After Linari, we stopped briefly at the Chiesa di Sant'Appiano which is a small Romanesque church in the village of Sant'Appiano.  This church is marked by the columns that remain from the 5th century baptistry that was destroyed in the 1807 earthquake.

We then went to Barbarino Val d'Elsa where we had a wonderful dinner under the night sky before returning to the agriturismo for the night.

Photos from Chianti

 
By: Shane
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San Gimignano - August 21

Monday, October 9, 2006 11:05 AM

Andrea and I at San Gimignano

On our first full day in Italy, Andrea and I decided to go visit the medieval hilltop town of San Gimignano.  Before heading out of Mercatale we went to the Banca CR Firenze to exchange some travelers checks for Euros.  This process took over an hour because they needed all of the information from our passports and our current address to establish an account number in the bank, but the exchange rates were far superior to any of the conversion outlets.  We even ran into the man who helped us find Greppi di Silli the day before and said hi and thank you again.  We then went to the COOP supermarket next door to get some fruit and juice for our breakfasts for the rest of the week.

Following the market, we got in the car to drive to San Gimignano.  We quickly learned that, in Italy, they don't have the periodic signs reminding you what road that you are on that we have in the States.  The directional signs at the roundabouts generally only point you as far as the next city, so navigating becomes an exercise in playing connect the dots on the map. 

After we arrived at San Gimignano, we had to find a parking spot.  Since San Gimignano is at the top of a hill, parking was scarce and the first two lots we found were full.  We followed the sign down the hill to a third lot only to find that it was so full as to be in total gridlock, with cars unable to get in or out.  So I attempted a three point turn on the little narrow road using the entrance to the lot to help.  Only the back wheels slipped on the soft shoulder and next thing I knew, we were stuck; high-centered on the side of the road.  Fortunately a number of people were kind enough to help push us out.

Once we got the car unstuck, we went and found another lot that did have available spaces and then set out hiking up to the city.  San Gimignano is famous for its numerous medieval towers.  At one point there were more than 70 although only 13 still stand today.  We entered the town through the main gate and then our first stop was the famous torture museum.  We then walked into the Piazza la Cisterna and had lunch at a small cafe in the plaza.

Following lunch we continued to wander around the city.  Our first stop was a tour of the Collegiata.  We then wandered back into the Piazza la Cisterna for an afternoon gelato before walking around more of the town.  We saw Santo Jacopo, a 13th century church built by the Knights Templar, and Sant Agostino, another 13th century church as we toured the city.  We then went and toured the castle fortress that made up one side of the town wall before climbing to the top of the tallest tower in town, the Torre Grossa.

We left San Gimignano  around 6:15 to get back to Greppi di Silli for the welcome dinner.  Unfortunately the road that we had taken to San Gimignano was closed by the police on the way home so we had to figure out a different way home.  We raced into Greppi just in time for the start of the welcome dinner. 

The welcome dinner at Greppi was incredible.  We had a number of courses, all paired with wine from the Greppi vineyards.  While we were there, we got to talk to a number of the other guests from places like England and Germany.  It was a fitting end to a wonderful first full day in Italy.

Photos from San Gimignano

 
By: Shane
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Hot DAM

Monday, October 9, 2006 10:55 AM

Denver Art Museum

On Sunday, Andrea and I went to lunch with her friend Suessy and Suessy's boyfriend, Clyde at Capital Tea before we went to the  Hot DAM: Art at All Hours Grand Opening of the Hamilton Building at the Denver Art Museum.  The new building, designed by Daniel Libeskind, is incredible.  There are almost no right angles in the entire structure.  The new wing is an impressive facility and a great example of "modern" architecture although I do have some concerns that the interior of the structure will not age well.  There was already noticible dirt and damage on a number of the gleaming white walls and the building just opened on Saturday.  According to the Rocky Mountain News, the event was a smashing success as the museum sold out of the almost 34,000 free tickets for the 35 hour opening event this weekend.

 
By: Shane
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CU Homecoming 2006

Monday, October 9, 2006 9:25 AM

Andrea and I at CU Homecoming 2006

On Saturday, Andrea and I got up early and drove up to Boulder so I could be in the 2006 "Silver Buffalo" Alumni Band.  Registration started at 8 along with breakfast and socializing.  The alumni then rehearsed by ourselves for an hour and then went and rehearsed our part of the halftime show with the current band.  We then returned to the band room for lunch and a "State of the CU Bands" update by the Director of Bands, Dr. Allan McMurray.

After lunch, we met up with the current band again for warm ups and then paraded over to the stadium for the game against Baylor.  The game was a true heartbreaker as CU lost 34-31 to fall to 0-6 on the year.  CU was poised to win in the third overtime, having held Baylor to a field goal, when Bernard Jackson threw an interception in the end zone, ending the game.

After the game, we went to the Dark Horse for dinner and drinks with a bunch of my friends to drown our sorrows after the disappointing loss.  It was good to go back for homecoming since I hadn't been to a homecoming in 3 years now and I was glad that Andrea got to go to share it this year.

 
By: Shane
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Lion King

Monday, October 9, 2006 8:33 AM

Lion King

On Friday night, Andrea and I went to see the Lion King at the Temple Buell Theater here in Denver.  Before the show, we went to Benihana in Broomfield to celebrate Andrea's success on the Bar Exam.  We had a wonderful dinner before driving down to Denver for the show.  The performance of the Lion King was wonderful.  It is probably my favorite musical and this performance just reinforced that.  I had previously seen the show for my 21st birthday on Broadway in New York City.

 
By: Shane
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Passed!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, October 5, 2006 1:24 PM

Passed!!!!!!

Andrea passed the Colorado Bar!!!!!!  Congratulations to her and all of the rest of the July 2006 class.  The swearing in is on October 23.  The full pass list is available from the Colorado Supreme Court.

 
By: Shane
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