Good food, beautiful people, phenomenal sights…what is not to like about Italy, one of Europe’s finest destinations? We have visited Italy numerous times over the years (Venice, Cinque Terre, Rome, Amalfi Coast, Tuscany, Florence, Sardinia, Sicily, Naples), but alas, that was the 35mm era. Here are a few of the photos taken since we converted over to digital photography.

Entrance to the Vatican Museum The colonnade of St. Peter's was built in 1660 and consists of 4 rows of columns for a total of 284 Doric columns and 88 pilasters, each of which stands 66 feet high and 5 feet wide View of St. Peter's Square, which can accommodate up to 400,000 people for special events like the election of a new Pope St. Peter's Square as seen from St. Peter's Basilica View of the Vatican gardens (as seen from St. Peter's Basilica), which cost a whopping 31 Euro to enter on a guided tour The Roman Colosseum could seat 55,000 spectators who came to watch gladiators duel amongst themselves and wild animals. The games were extremely popular with the public The 21 meter high Arch of Constantine is the largest of the remaining Roman Arches. It stands near the Colosseum, and was built in 315 AD to commemorate Constantine's surprising victory over the numerically superior Maxentius at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge Exterior view of the Colosseum, perhaps the most famous building in the Roman Empire The Temple of Antoninus and Faustina was built in 141 AD by Emperor Antoninus Pius to honor his deceased wife Faustina; Forum Romanum Stadium of Domitian's Palace, located just north of the Palace of Septimius Severus; Palatine Hill Built more than 1800 years ago, the Pantheon building still stands strong. Built by Emperor Hadrian in 118 AD, this was originally a temple for Pagan gods. The Pantheon's dome was the world's largest for over 13 Centuries Fontana di Nettuno (Neptune fountain) at the northern end of Piazza Navona The Castel Sant'Angelo was built in 123 AD by Emperor Hadrian as a mausoleum by the Tiber River. It was later converted into a fortified castle to be used by the papacy as a place of refuge Becky strikes a pose next to a marble foot of the Colossus of Constantine, a giant statue of Constantine (famous for being the first emperor to convert to Christianity); courtyard of Palazzo dei Conservatori, Capitoline Museum Arch of Septimius Severus, one of the best preserved monuments in the Roman Forum. This is the view of the arch as seen from Capitoline Hill Interior view of one of the Capitoline Museums which are spread over two palazzos on either side of the Campidoglio Square A Roman sculpture on display at the Capitoline Museum Castelsardo is a gorgeous medieval fishing village full of pastel-hued houses stacked on a promontory that juts out onto the Mediterranean Sea…a Sardinia "must see" Store mural on side of wall; Castelsardo View of Castelsardo by the sea! Note the bell tower of Cattedrale di Sant' Antonio Abate’s slender shape, topped by a brightly tiled cupola Robby perched on ledge of castello, Castelsardo View from Castelsardo Castello Wander around Castelsardo’s narrow cobblestoned streets and imagine the city looking exactly the same hundreds of years ago Flat weaved baskets for sale, Castelsardo Bell tower of Cattedrale di Sant' Antonio Abate; Castelsardo Since Castelsardo is built on hilly terrain, be prepared for plenty of steps as you explore this lovely town View of the tower of Cattedrale di Sant' Antonio Abate; Castelsardo Interior detail of the 16th Century Cattedrale di Sant’ Antonio Abate; Castelsardo Narrow alleyway, Castelsardo Street sign showcasing Castelsardo’s highlights: the Castello, the Cattedrale, or the Belvedere Sardinia is a hiker’s delight, with sweeping coastal views. This is taken from the scenic town of Castelsardo Pastel hued houses, Castelsardo View of the castle and the sprawling village that grew around it; Castelsardo Police in front of the fortified, medieval Castello (for which the city is named), dating back to 1100 A.D., Castelsardo Centro Storico (Old town), Alghero A sample of Alghero's pretty architecture (Alghero has a population of 44,000 inhabitants) The San Michele (St. Michael) church's colorful dome; Alghero An old canon on display at San Giacomo bastion; Alghero Alghero is an old city that is closed behind thick fortress walls. One of the most dominating features of the old city includes the polychrome dome of San Michele Church A common sight in medieval Alghero…the city’s narrow stone streets are bordered by ancient manors 14th Century St Francis Church’s pointed Aragonese tower dominates the lovely city of Alghero View of the old town's perimeter walls; Alghero Unique windows can be found in Alghero’s alleyways Becky stands near the harbor at the Port of Alghero, Sardinia View of the 16th Century Catalan city walls surrounding the quaint town of Alghero Kids chasing their dog; Alghero A picturesque summer day in Alghero View from Alghero harbor looking back towards the walled city View of Alghero’s thick fortress walls, as seen from the marina A street in Alghero The Church of St Francis’ pointed Aragonese tower dominates the city, and is a perfect display of the Gothic-Catalan style reminiscent of many Alghero buildings Parking lot view of San Michele Church; Alghero Fruit and vegetable market; Alghero Rugged coastline, drive between Alghero and Bosa Sweeping vistas on our scenic drive between Alghero to Bosa The quaint town of Bosa (population 8,000) relies on agriculture and fishing Bosa is a charming town intersected by the Temo River Religious frescoes inside the medieval chapel of San Pietro, Bosa Bosa is a pretty town full of historic buildings Picturesque Temo River, Bosa View of Bosa's mini harbor Monument in a public square; Bosa Parting view of the scenic village of Bosa Nuraghe Santu Antine ruins are in remarkably good shape Robby exploring Nuraghe Santu Antine Bales of hay; field next to the Nuraghe Santu Antine ruins Picturesque inner courtyard, Orosei The medieval chapel of San Pietro, Bosa Medieval chapel courtyard; Bosa Becky contemplates a swim; Orosei Beach Sardinia has beautiful beaches to lounge the day away Spectacular beach, Cala Gonone foto gallery lightboxby v6.1

Sun, sea and fun were what we had in mind for a quick 3-day getaway to Sardinia, a beautiful Mediterranean Island. We flew on Hapag-Lloyd Express ( from Stuttgart and were pleased to find out that we could escape the dismal German weather after only an hour-long flight! Sardinia in June was already scorching hot so we stripped down to bare essentials before negotiating for a rental car (prerequisites were unlimited mileage and AC!)

Distances in Sardinia can be deceiving…the island is a lot bigger than we imagined. Our first planned stop was at Castelsardo, a pretty city located on the Northern coast. However, to get there from Olbia required a drive through some curvy and hilly terrain. Becky never realized she could get carsick but then again, neither had she experienced Robby’s “Mario Andretti” impersonation before. A woozy 90 minutes later, we were in Castelsardo and figured a walk to the top of the promontory was the best place to start exploring. Castelsardo is considered a highlight of Northern Sardinia since it is very picturesque: a medieval castello surrounded by maze of pastel-hued houses all overlooking the sea. The castello has fantastic views of the surrounding harbor and houses a small museum on basket weaving (no joke)…we could have skipped the basket weaving tour but the view was really nice, especially the view towards the bell tower of the Cattedrale di Sant’Antonio Abate. The bell tower is made of brightly colored tiles and looks great with the blue sea and sky as a backdrop. We also checked out the Chiesa di Santa Maria, a 16th century church that has an interesting crucifix known as the Black Christ (Critu Nieddu). After hitting the main sights, we got lost wandering through the web of houses, and admiring the colorful straw handicrafts for sale. However, what we were really after was a bite to eat. It was close to 7 pm and we figured that would be late enough for dinner but boy did the locals laugh at us! Dinner is served from 8 to 11 and not a minute earlier, so we figured we had enough time to make our way to our next destination, Alghero, also known as “little Barcelona”. Alghero has a phenomenal skyline and we admired the city several kilometers out. Our hotel was located about 8 blocks away from the old city walls so by the time we wandered downtown to admire the old city sights, we had plenty of time to build up an appetite and had nothing but dinner on our minds. Al Vecchio Mulino serves some up some of the city’s best pizza in an atmospheric, vaulted-ceiling restaurant. After dinner, we joined in the Sardinians cheering on a football (soccer) game and strolled around the city walls overlooking the sea. It was pretty dark but we vowed to get up early to check out Alghero in the early morning light.

After a decent night’s rest, we checked out of the hotel and wandered back down to the Centro Storico (Old Town). The views of Alghero in the morning were amazing, as it is a beautiful city. The Torre dello Sperone, Chiesa di San Michele and Chiesa di San Francesco were especially stunning in the early morning light. We spent several hours strolling throughout the old city walls and wandering through every nook and cranny, finishing off at the city market where we bought a bunch of cherries, fresh bread, meat and cheese for a lunch picnic on the beach at Bosa, a small town about 50 km south of Alghero. The drive from Alghero to Bosa was fantastic, as the ocean danced before us in dazzling hues of emerald green, turquoise and baby blue. We stopped by the roadside to admire the view before finally making our way into Bosa. The city is dominated by castle walls that are surrounded by Sa Costa, an old town that weaves itself together along the hillside. We started off trekking to the top of the hill to see Castello Malaspina and were rewarded with a spectacular view across the countryside. Inside the drab looking Chiesa di Nostra Signora di Regnos altos were some amazing frescos of famous saints. We were initially inclined to skip the church but were glad we stuck our heads in for a quick look around. From the castello, we wandered down the hill to the Cattedrale del’ Immacolata and across the bridge, where fishing boats were docked along the Temo river. After wandering around the town, we headed for the golden sand beach a few kilometers away. It is no wonder why Bosa remains a favorite destination among travelers to Sardinia…the beach has super fine sand and was a perfect remedy for our tired legs! We didn’t want to stay too long as we had another destination (or two) in mind before the end of the day. After a brief snooze on the beach, we headed back inland towards Torralba, to see the Nuraghe Santu Antine. Robby scoffed at the Nuraghe when we first approached as it just looked like a pile of rocks. However, once we clambered in and around the ruins, we were both super impressed. This ancient ruin dates back to 1600 years BC. It truly is a spectacular sight when you imagine how old the ruins are. The complex consists of a 3-storey central tower (originally over 60 feet high!), as well as three shorter companion towers. The walls surrounding the towers were linked, forming a triangular defensive compound with which to meet as well as perform religious ceremonies. It is difficult to describe the Nuraghe to someone who hasn’t been there but suffice it to say that both of us were truly impressed and highly recommend any visitors to Sardinia to check it out. From there, we drove to Orosei via Nuoro. Driving in Sardinia is a lot of fun although it is impossible to build up significant speed due to the many curves in the road. However, this did not mean that Robby didn’t try his best to be a speed demon. Orosei is the gateway to the beautiful Golfo di Orosei, where the most amazing Sardinian coastline can be experienced (also where the 2002 movie “Swept Away” was filmed). We checked into Hotel S’Ortale (great digs) and strolled around town before hitting the beach to enjoy the sun set as well as down a few beers. The color of the water did not disappoint and we marveled at how water can look that amazing. Dinner of calamari and seafood spaghetti made us realize we have to live near a beach since good seafood is hard to come by in Germany!

Our last day brought us to Dorgali and Cala Gonone. In the 1930s, the Fascists used Cala Gonone as a privileged summer resort and it is easy to see why. The entire coastline is stunning. We wanted to hop on a boat to the Blue Grotto but didn’t have enough time so instead we opted to drive as far south along the coast as possible (about 3 km). The views were spectacular and we wished we had skipped all other parts of the tour and just hung out here instead! However, the clock was ticking so we headed back towards Dorgali and visited Europe’s tallest stalagmite (38 meters) at the Grotta di Ispinigoli. Tours are only held on the hour and we arrived a few minutes past the hour but were allowed to scramble down the cave to catch up with the tour. The stalagmite is pretty impressive and our tour leader did a great job describing the area to us. We had just enough time for a quick beach stop before heading back to Olbia airport so we decided to crash at Porto San Paulo for a quick dip in the sea before boarding our plane…overall it was a great getaway weekend!

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