photo of debra holding bearsac and choc-ice in front of tour coach

Why Debra decided upon a coach trip to Italy is besides me.  The feeder coach to Dover was ok, but our holiday coach did not turn up at Dover and the replacement was totally inadequate.  The air conditioning had broken down and we were on the coach for 22 hours; it was very very hot apart from when going through the French and Swiss Alps in the early hours when it was quite cold and I thought my fur would freeze and drop off. 

 

The hotel staff very friendly to me, but then I am so cute.  Rizla, who had been traveling in the suitcase, was immediately let out.  We had a quick explore before returning to the hotel to see who wants to go into town for food. 

photo of drunk teddy bears bearsac, choc-ice and rizla on hotel steps with beer

Whilst Debra slept, us bears had a bit of a booze on the hotel stairs where we learnt a bit about Fiuggi.

Fiuggi

 photo of fiuggi

Fiuggi was originally called Anticoli di Campagna.  It is situated about 70 kms Southeast of Roma (Rome).

Fiuggi Water

There have been claims of healing properties in the water.  It is said that during the 1300s Pope Boniface VIII had claimed the mineral water from the Fiuggi spring had healed his kidney stones. About two hundred years later they were rumored to have relieved the artist Michelangelo of what he called "the only kind of stone I couldn't love." Soon the miracle water acqua di Fiuggi was being bottled and was sent to all royals across Europe.

 

 

Fiuggi is two towns

Fiuggi is really two towns on a hillside.  The old town called Fiuggi Città is 2500 feet above sea level.  There is a nice church with drinking fountains, regularly attended by the thirsty. 

 

photo of fiuggi

At the foot of Fiuggi Citta is the slightly more modern 20th-century spa town, called Fiuggi Fonte.

 

photo of the teddy bears outside l'acqua bonifacio

This is home to spa called L’acqua Bonifacio VIII and the famous healing water.  Admission fee to the spa was - at the time I was there in late May 2002, - 11 Euros or about £7.  In Fiuggi Fonte there are plenty of shops to browse and a few small nightclubs dotted around

 

photo of teddy bears climbing over gate

We leave the hotel at 4.50am; it’s still dark.  The gate was locked so we all climb over it.


Montecassino

photo of montecassino monastry

Montecassino Monastery was founded by St. Benedict around about the year 529. Montecassino became renown for the life of its Founder. It was seen as a holy place, and one of beautiful art and culture.  It was rebuilt in the early eighteenth century a very long time after it was destroyed by the Longobards of Zotone, Duke of Beneventum, in about 577.  Brescian Petronace was person asked by Pope Gregory II to rebuild the monastery.

On 15th February 1944 during the final stage of world war 2, Montecassino a German stronghold was on the firing line between the two armies: this peaceful place of prayer which served as shelter to civilians, was destroyed in about three hours. 

photo of statue of st.benedict

St. Benedict was born about 480 A.D. in Norcia (Perugia). After studying, he went to live in Rome. He was however, disgusted by the vice that was present in the city.  He abandoned everything and retired to Subiaco where he lived like a hermit.  He was asked by some monks living nearby to become their Superior and Mentor. St. Benedict accepted, but when he tried to correct their far from perfect way of life, they tried to murder him with a goblet full of poison. But he shattered the goblet with a miraculous sign of the cross.

After having founded twelve convents, he left Subiaco and ventured south with a few disciples in tow. He chose the mountain "a cui Cassino è nella costa"  for the monastery, adjusting the existing temple.  He died on March 21, 547 A.D.  His body, and that of his sister Scolastica, rests beneath the High Altar (70).

photo of teddy bears on wall at montecassino monastry

Debra photographed us three bears at various sites around the monastery.

 

 

Pompeii

photo of a pompeii road photo of teddy bears at a pompeii mill

photo

Pompeii, home to the Romans of the 1st century, became ruins after Mount Vesuvius, a volcano, erupted in 79AD.  The residents of Pompeii did not know it was a volcano, so it must have come as some surprise when it erupted. The ruins of Pompeii are big and a good many more hours than the two we had are needed to see the place.  It is athrong with heaving tourists from all over the globe and getting people free photos is very hard. 

Rizla and myself paid a visit to the local Pompeii brothel. Choc-Ice stayed outside with Aunty Anne who teddy sat him

 

 

 

 

Rome

The next day the coach leaves 8.30am for Rome. it’s a real contrast from the quiet laid back Fiuggi

 

photo debra rizla and bearsac near the coliseum in roma - rome photo inside the coliseum

The Coliseum was built in 72 AD during the reign of Emperor Vespasiano.  It was originally called The Amphitheatrum Flavium.  The name Coliseum was used because it was this huge oval shaped building stood next to the colossal statue of Nero.   The arena could hold over 50,000 people.  It was over 160 feet high and had 80 entrances.  The events held there were; Gladiators fighting, animal hunts and mock battles.  Slaves were used as fighters, there were even volunteers and up to 10,000 people would be killed during these fights in the name of entertainment.  Seating in the Coliseum was made of marble for the upper class and wood for the lower.  Linin was used on the top story to protect spectators from the sun. 

 

 

photo of teddy bears rizla and bearsac at the trevi fountain

On leaving the Coliseum next visited theTrevi Fountain.  It was built and rebuilt in the first millennia including contributions from Pietro da Cortona and Bernini. Nicola Salvi completed it between 1732 and 1751.  It is so beautiful and it’s big.  It’s hard to get the whole of the thing in when photographing, and there are lots of people getting in the way, trying their best not to.  Rizla and I dipped our feet paws into the cool soft water. The song ‘Three coins in a fountain’ was about the Trevi Fountain.  The history of the Trevi Fountain goes back to ancient Rome.  It was built where a virgin was said to have found the spring intersecting “tre vie” – three ways. 

We headed off next to the Spanish Steps, entering at the top by Church of Trinita de Monti where there are artists painting and sketching away. 

Too soon we had just over an hour to get back to St Peters Square by 5.20pm.  We asked a friendly policeman which bus to get after running down the street for 10 mins stopping only to ask a suited man sat upon a very scooter if he’d hold us for a photo. 

 

photo bears with man on bike

 

 

photo police at st. peter's square photo bearsac on fence at st. peter's square

We needed to get through the square to get to visit the Vatican before going back to the coach.  Apparently President Bush was in the Vatican for the NATO-Russia summit.  The police of course could not let us through but were very helpful and polite.  President Bush soon left and there was a long convoy of cars and vans behind the one he was in. Once all had past people were let free.  By now there was no time to go to the Vatican.

 


photo of bears outside the maddonaica

Back in Fiuggi Debra took a photo of me and Rizla sitting outside the Maddonaica, behaving ourselves.  The were a couple of teenagers around, proberly wondering what this mad-woman was doing photographing teddy bears by the Madonna.

 

 

Surrento



  photo of bearsac and rizla up a lemon tree

Surrento is adorned with lemon and orange groves; we visited a small one where they sold lemon liquor, which we sampled.  Yummy we all agreed.  Rizla and I played hide and seek from Debra, who doesn’t miss a trick and photographed us from our hiding place up a lemon tree

 

 

photo of narrow road in surrento

We walked narrow streets wit nasty mopeds speeding down them.

 


photo of marina grande
photo fishermen with bearsac bearly visable

We spent about 3 hours at Marina Grande.  We talked to these four men and Debra Took my photo with them.  The three older ones were trying to matchmake Debra and the young man.  One of them wanted to buy me.  But Debra said he is not for sale.

 

 

photo of bearsac and rizla on restaurant table

We found a place were there were sun loungers.  Debra thought it would be nice to chill out sunbathing for a couple of hours, seeing as we were by the sea.  We had a peaceful couple of hours listening to the waves, the bells of the boats and the church bells.  There was some beautiful Neapolitan Opera playing from a restaurant, we went to eat there and sat in the sun eating Spaghetti Vongole alle (Clams).  It was so nice, that Debra only let us have a little taste and kept the rest all to herself. 

 

photo bearsac and rizla on a statue

After exploring the shady maze of streets we stopped by a monument where Debra went to take Rizla out of the bag to photograph us both against the view.  To our horror Rizla had gone.  She took everything out of the bag, but no Rizla.  What was Debra going to tell her boyfriend, the owner of Rizla.  He didn’t even know he was on holiday with us.  She wanted to surprise him by taking photos of Rizla in Italy and she’d got him a passport. 

 

 

 

Day of departure


photo of bearsac being held by a statue of a little girl and nuns

On our last morning we took a couple of cabs with some of the others from the tour to the market in the old town.  Not much of a market but we had a walk around the narrow streets of the homes behind the church.  We chatted to some locals outside the church for a while and then it was time to get the cabs back to the hotel to depart for the long homeward journey.

The day departure was a sad day as departure days normally are.  But this was marked with a profound sadness.  We had to leave without our friend Rizla.  I love you Rizla.


 

 

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