Just wow. I don’t know where to begin to describe our time in Rome. It’s a huge city, and two days is just barely scratching the surface, but we sure packed a lot into our short time here, from dozens of piazzas, statues, fountains, and monuments, to the more iconic sites:
I was unexpectedly charmed by Florence, and enjoyed it more than I had thought that I would. While it was unusually crowded per our guide, due to both a Chianti festival and a marathon to benefit breast cancer, our short visit was lovely. We found ourselves in the middle of the Chianti festival on our first afternoon in Florence, which was a site to behold, with a ceremonial march through the town square, with the procession all dressed in renaissance outfits, and a huge stack of chianti bottles on a carriage being presented at the front of the Duomo. It was a great surprise to wind up in the middle of this special celebration. We continued our walking tour, seeing Palazzo Vecchio (thought of you, Megan!), a walk around the outside of the Duomo, and going to the Accademia to see Michelangelo’s David, which is incredible to see. We then met for dinner in a lovely restaurant and had absolutely the best meal thus far. It was so delicious, I could have wept from joy. I’m in food heaven in Italia!
Thursday morning we left Reutte, Austria for our drive to Venice, Italy, which took us through the Austrian and Italian Alps, and they were stunning, partially shrouded in clouds and fog. By now, I was starting to get over the disappointment of not having good enough weather the day before to ride an alpine luge, and the anticipation of crossing over into Italy was now front and center in my mind.
We arrived in Austria yesterday afternoon, staying in the small town on Reutte, right near the border with Germany, surrounded by alpine peaks with the first dusting of snow, and the trees starting to show their fall colors. It’s lovely.
We left Rothenburg this morning and drove to Dachau concentration camp near Munich, which was the first concentration camp, later used as a model for all future camps. Dachau was a work camp for political prisoners, also serving as a school of violence for the SS men. In the twelve years it existed before the liberation, this camp imprisoned over 200,000 people from all over Europe, the majority of which were Jewish, and the rest were a mix of people that were deemed non-compliant to the regime, including physically and mentally disabled, those of opposing political or social mindset, as well as homosexuals, and an estimated 41,500 died here, but the real numbers are impossible to know, just like the death toll of other such atrocities. Per the printed guide, “The Memorial Site on the grounds of the former concentration camp was established in 1965 on the initiative of and in accordance with the plans of the surviving prisoners who had joined together to form the Comite International de Dachau.”
We left Bacharach early for the road trip to Rothenburg on the Tauber river, arriving around mid-day. It’s an interesting town, and classically quaint, with shutterbugs all over town during the day. It touts itself as the best preserved medieval town, and it’s definitely worth seeing. The original part of the city is surrounded by an old stone wall, the tallest part of which has a cover and railing, so you can walk along it and see the town from the wall. It’s far more touristy than Bacharach, but with an equal charm and interesting history. I was finding myself wishing we had two days there instead of two days in Bacharach, especially comparing the hotels, as the place we stayed in Rothenburg was much better.
On Saturday, we travelled from Amsterdam & Haarlem to the open-air museum in Arnhem, which is set up like an old Dutch town from centuries ago, with various types of windmills, storefronts, farmhouses, and barns. It was great to get a taste of how life was for this area so long ago. One of the great things about this tour is the balance of large cities and attractions with small and quaint historical corners of Europe.