My wife, daughter and I just experienced the trip of a lifetime to Italy. It was memorable on several levels.
First, as Catholics, we were able to journey to the ‘home office’ and experience the rich history and tradition of the religion we’ve belonged to since birth.
Second, as an Italian, I was able to get a glimpse into the history of my ancestors and understand my background just a bit better.
Third, as a musician, I was able to sing with a top-notch choir in some of the most historic churches in Europe.
Last, but certainly not least, I was able to experience the trip through the eyes of my 10-year-old daughter.
I’m going to break the trip down by each day with pictures and anecdotes. As I lost my phone on the third day of the trip, I’m relying on photos taken by many of my co-travelers.
I hope you enjoy reliving the trip with me.
Day 1 – Departure and Rome
We were traveling from the beautiful village of Skaneateles, New York nestled in the Finger Lakes region southwest of Syracuse. The choir from St. Mary’s of the Lake Church, under the direction of Michael (Mickey) Kringer and his son Daniel, has a reputation for excellence. After reviewing the music, I must admit I was intimidated to try to fit in with them. After all, I’m just a piano player with a lounge lizard voice. Luckily, I read music and was able to fit in at our farewell concert in the church on the Friday before the trip.
‘Here we are posing for a group photo before boarding a motor coach for the 5-hour trip to JFK airport in New York City.
After an uneventful bus ride, we arrived a JFK ready to wait for our plane’s departure. We would be leaving at 7:30 PM and arriving in Rome at 11:00 AM. The flight actually arrived nearly an hour early.
International travel is not as bad as I expected. Despite being in coach, we had two meals and free movies for the entire flight. I thought sitting near the restroom would be great, but every time I dozed off, someone would bump me in the dark while making their way to them.
When we landed in Rome, the sun was up and we had a full day of touring ahead of us. That was when we met our guide, Rita. She is a native Italian and lives in Rome. She was an excellent guide that kept us organized and entertained (more on that later).
Rita and her infamous flag
After a brief stop for lunch we were headed through downtown Rome by bus on our way to a walking tour that included the Roman Ruins, several other landmarks of ancient and modern Rome with the culmination of the tour at The Coliseum.
Here are some pictures:
One of the highlights was a walk past the Massenzio Basilica. That’s right, there’s actually a basilica in Rome with my surname on it. That sounds great, but there’s some disappointing history to my ancestor, the Emperor Maxentius.
The Basilica Massenzio is the largest building on the Roman Forum. Construction was started by the Emperor Maxentius and finished by Constantine in 315, it originally covered an area of approximately 100 by 65 meters. Maxentius was defeated in battle by Constantine. Actually, ‘defeated’ is a generous word.
The armies of Maxentius and Constantine met north of the city, some distance outside the walls, beyond the Tiber river on the Via Flaminia. Of the battle itself, not much is known – Constantine’s forces defeated Maxentius’s troops, who retreated to the Tiber, and in the chaos of the fleeing army trying to cross the river, Maxentius fell into the water and drowned. He was the first in a long line of klutzy Massenzios.
Here is an obligatory selfie of the three of us in front of my namesake’s building.
I hope you enjoyed this first installment of my memories of the trip. There will be more to come over the next couple of weeks.