Sunday, December 27, 2015

Christmas Eve in Roma ~ Our Tour of the Vatican ~ 2015

Buon Natale to you all! I am so blessed to be spending this Christmas with my lovely wife, Isabel, and all three of my daughters here in Rome. What could be better than touring the Vatican, The Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's on Christmas Eve.

Naturally, the tour begins with our driver meeting us in the hotel lobby at 8am! Believe it or not everyone made it on cue! Wow – Dad was impressed. We started with breakfast on the rooftop restaurant where we were greeted by a beautiful rainbow. We took a short drive across town and across the Tiber River to Vatican City where we met our tour guide who escorted us past the long lines to receive our ticket and expedited entrance to the Vatican.

The weather was probably as nice as one could expect for Rome in December – broken clouds with an occasional sprinkle but not too cold. We proceeded through the walled fortress of the Vatican and made our way to the terraced gardens to commence our tour.

Everything about the Vatican is about grandiose scale! The gardens are meticulous and every view is framed and choreographed perfectly. Years and years of design and construction were involved in the creation with artists and architects like Michaela fell, Brumante, Bernini, and Raphel. To think they were all here and you are experiencing their creations in their space is so inspiring. So much of coming to Italy for me is about the refill of the creative tank which is always in the extraction mode and so if feels so good to get the tank refilled!

From the gardens we made our way through the vast and endless halls filled with frescos, sculptures and tapestries until we enter the holiest spot at the Vatican the Sistine Chapel – Michaelangelo’s masterpiece! The frescos have all been restored and having seen them some 12 years ago in the unrestored state and to see them now – magnificent! What a spectaculars difference.

Of course traveling with kids always involves impromptu interruptions and of course Bella needed to find a restroom so the two of us broke away to find the restroom while everyone else enjoyed the masterpiece by Michaelangeo…. Ok this search of a restroom became and adventure all on its own and Bella and I found a whole new section of the Vatican museum I had never seen…. Then it was about refinding the group as they had left and had started their way to St. Peter's Basillica. Ok the Vatican is vast made of galleries connected by narrow passageways that consist of stairs and turns, yet miraculously through a couple calls to Isabel with descriptions of what they had passed and where they were we were able to find each other! Nothing like a little excitement….that's what Bella always brings us:-)

Touring St. Peter’s Basillica and seeing the Pieta by Michaelangelo is always amazing and frankly truly unimaginable. To think all of this was executed by artists, builders, and craftsmen without power tools, lighting, and building codes…. I can only imagine what these guys could do with the tools we have today!?!? It's endless and you could spend days studying the detailing, proportions, and execution of the floors, walls, and ceilings – not to mention the crafting of the space!

You then leave the church and make your way onto St. Peter’s Square. Talk about scale and proportion. Another masterpiece for sure and at Christmas the square is adorned by the beautiful nativity scene. Later today the Holy Father Papa Francesco will give mass and then on Christmas Day he Holy Blessing from this space. You feel the presence….

Well my group was toured out. Four hours and we could choose to take the transport back to the hotel or head out and explore Rome. Of course I convinced everyone to go explore only met shortly thereafter with, “Dad, I'm tired, my feet hurt and I'm hungry!” Im sure you have all been there! We quickly walked across the Tibre and towards the Piazza Navone where we found a nice spot off the piazza for a nice lunch and a place to sit and relax on the street.

I love how cheerful and animated the Italians are – literally every waitress and waiter we have had are just beautiful in their smile, style and mannerisms! Such a joy to be in their presence and their energy adds so much to the experience. A cold beer, some lunch and we were off to the Farmer’s market at the Campo Di Fiori a fabulous piazza filled with booths of vegetable, cheese and flower vendors and of course patrons in search of fresh produce for their Christmas Eve dinners. We found a nice spot for an espresso and some hot chocolate for the girls, and some more relaxation filled with the sights and sounds of Italy.

From the Campo do Fiori we walked a few blocks and grabbed a cab and made our way back to the hotel for a cat nap and then dinner at our hotel. Christmas Eve is the fish feast and we enjoyed a quiet and relaxing seafood tasting dinner. Bella was wiped out but the rest of us rallied for a walk to the Basillica di Santa Maria in Ara coeli which required hiking up what seemed two thousand steps but well worth the view at the top listening to all the bells in Rome and the sanctuary filled with the smell of frankinsence and the voices of the choir.

Of course on the walk home at 1am in the morning what else do you do but stop for a gelato. Only in Italy on Christmas Eve at 1am can you find gelato! Finish with a nice walk home past the Colosseum. Quiet and serene and just what was needed to end the evening and this beautiful Christmas Eve in Roma.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Day One in Roma – The Candelaria’s have Arrived ~ Buon Natale

Ok that was probably the easiest trip to Italy we have ever done. A little mechanical hiccup in Phoenix upon our departure so a slight delay there but had plenty of time to make our connection and rendezvous with Tiffany in Atlanta. The flight over was  nice as I always like to schedule that in the middle of the night so you arrive in Italy with a fresh day.

We checked into our hotel which is a few blocks from the Colosseum and grabbed a couple hour power nap. We woke up not exactly knowing where we were or what day it was and shook off the jet lag and proceeded to go explore!

Of course with the Candelaria crew the first stop involves eating. So we found a cute Trattoria and stopped for lunch. Wow – homerun right out of the gate. The girls had lasagna, Tiffany and Isabel ordered some gluten free pasta – which by the way seems to be everywhere now in Italy – and I ordered a delicious chick pea soup. We all shared an insalata mista and we were reenergized.

Now with being just a few blocks from the Colosseum we made that our first stop. So fun to watch the girls eyes and their excitement with this first trip. It’s the best part of any of my Italy trips and tours. I am so excited to have several first time travelers coming up on our two Candelaria Design Tour Italy trips in 2016 – which by the way are both SOLD OUT! We snapped a few photos and then walked along to the ruins of the Forum which was so beautiful under the soft December sun. I cannot tell you how beautiful it is to be here with smaller crowds, moderate temperatures – it was 62º today in Rome – and this low soft light. Spectacular and mystical.

From the ruins of the Forum we made our way across the old historic part of Rome to the Pantheon with several duck ins of churches along the way. The girls could not believe the churches….just wait, on Christmas Eve we are going for a private tour of the Vatican!

The Pantheon is for sure my favorite building in Rome if not the world. It is perfect  To top it off a gentleman was singing opera out front and the sun was slowly setting and the full moon was rising. So fantastic to share this space and experience with my girls.  We grabbed our first gelato and sat on the fountain steps and enjoyed the music.

From there it was a short walk to the Piazza Navonne for a quick stroll, grab a cab and make our way to the Trevi Fountain…..yes I was giving the girls a Candelaria macro blur. Those of you who have been on my trips know what this is all about!!!

After taking in the Trevi fountain and getting in a few family shots, we made our way back towards our hotel but first a stop for dinner. A little pizza, pasta, and salad and then the walk home past the Forum and Colosseum and our first day in Rome was completed. Tomorrow is Christmas Eve!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

We have made it to ROMA! Christmas 2015

We have made it across the pond and are starting the day, all be it at 2pm in the afternoon here in Rome, as everyone went down for a quick power nap! Now I’m trying to get everyone up and of course by the fact I’m blogging you can see how successful I am even with the comment, “Let’s get up, Italy is outside!!!”

You see I have three daughters, ages 10, 13 and 28 and that in itself automatically puts me in the running for a badge of honor. Traveling with two tweens is an adventure and when my oldest, Tiffany age 28 hooks up with these two its definitely gang up on Dad!

This is the first trip officially for Sophia and Isabella. Bella was here when she was 18 months as I brought her on one of my early Candelaria Design Tour Italy trips. It will be fun to compare the pictures from the same spots in Italy some 12 years later. I am so excited to get them out and start showing them around. This is my wife Isabel’s first trip to Rome even though her 5th trip now to Italy. I have been to Rome many times so I am anxious to get out there and get them on one of my power days!!!

Stay tuned, my camera is ready and my wife Isabel, the girls and I have some amazing adventures ahead of us including a private tour of the Vatican tomorrow – Christmas Eve! How good is that????  Ciao

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Happy Holidays from Candelaria Design – Off to Italy!

Wow – I cannot believe Christmas week is here and 2015 is winding down! It’s been a mad blur to the finish line with projects in full speed both on the boards and in the field.  Add all of the Holiday festivities including our Candelaria Design Holiday luncheon this year at Eddie's House Yes Eddie took great care of us and we had a wonderful get together with my amazing team!

Well, working away today, Sunday, drawing away and in the final blitz until Tuesday morning when I will be loading up my two girls here, Isabella age 13 and Sophia age 10, and my wife Isabel and I will whisk them off on their first trip to Italy! My oldest daughter, Tiffany age 28 who lives in Denver, will meet us in Atlanta for our layover and rendezvous and then we will all fly over the pond and land in Rome!

We will spend Christmas in Rome, then drive to Tuscany for a three days exploring Assisi, Cortona, San Gimingnano, and Siena, whereupon we will then drive to Florence for New Years! My oldest, Tiffany, has been with me to Italy several times so she will be lending a hand in indoctrinating Isabella and Sophia on the Candelaria way of travel – full out, full speed! I am so looking forward to this trip and sharing all of my discoveries with my girls, especially those off the beaten path!

Of course there is always the thought of being aware and alert to the fears our there but as I have repeatedly written in past blogs you can’t live your life in fear. You need to get out there and live your life and explore this amazing world.  My first trip to Europe was when I was 10 years old and I remember it well. In fact I had kept a journal of my experience that I still have – yes I have been a blogger my whole life! That trip had a huge impact on my life and the direction it would take – straight on the path towards being an architect. Just the perspective of being on a jet for the first time and seeing cities like Chicago and London from the air was impactful.

I hope this trip will have the same effect on my girls! Isabel and I have traveled many times domestically with the girls  from Florida and Disneyworld, New York, LA, Park City, Denver, Telluride, Aspen, and Durango, Coeur d’Alene, and New Mexico – but this time we are going big! One of my favorite things is watching their faces the first time we land in Rome and come face to face with the Colosseum not to mention Rome at Christmas time.

So stay tuned, we will be blogging along our journey! We have the GoPro fired up and we are going to have some fun and take you all along on our journey through Italy with the Candelaria’s during the Holidays!