The farthest southern point of my Grand Tour was Sorrento, but not really for the town itself – more to see the island just off the coast – Capri. Probably most famous for being home to Gracie Fields. I took a boat trip over from Sorrento. The limestone crags that project above the sea (The Faraglioni rocks), the beautiful gardens and the Blue Sea Grotto we just three of the highlights of that day!
A short trip away is Pompeii, which needs no introduction really. A walking tour was included, on this very hot day, and then we were all set free to explore. Another memorable day.
Heading north, Rome was a major stop for a couple of days, not long enough to experience it all but long enough to get a flavour. It was an action packed couple of days, and we took in the Colosseum. Built in 79-80 AD, it can hold somewhere between 50-80 thousand people. It was mostly used to stage gladiatorial and historic re-enactment of past Roman battles, and not Christian persecution events, so we were told. The floor is missing in these shots, as it was at the time revealing the under “stage” area where animals we housed etc. These days that has partially been replaced.
Of course St Peters was on the tour, and I even made it to the top of the dome, if I remember correctly it took a good hour to get up and back down, but the views from the top were stunning with the square laid out on front, and the view stretching down to the river Tiber.
Further north again, no visit would be complete without a visit to Venice, and so it was. I don’t think I need to go into detail about the fact it’s built in a lagoon, mostly on wooden piles driven into the sand. Our trip started and the land side and we caught the river bus, down the grand canal, to St Marks square. I wandered around St Marks, and in the small museum up-stairs were the original Horses of Saint Mark, also known as the Triumphal Quadriga. They are a set of Byzantine bronze statues of four horses as used in chariot racing. Copies are just outside on the façade of the church. I had time to wander around the back streets and canals, but all too soon it was time to leave.
Next day was a travel day. I had breakfast in Italy, lunch in Austria, and Dinner in Germany! What a Day! Our lunch stop was Innsbruck and we were there for only about an hour – en-route, but still enough time to get a flavour, see the gold roof (Goldenes Dachl) in Austrian, it’s in the old part of town and has these days become bit of a symbol for the whole city!
Finally over the border into Germany, or what was then West Germany! Here my memory lets me down. It tells me that it was Ulm and that after dinner we visited a site of an apparition of the virgin Mary by two girls and later many others – near a railway line. Considered a miracle a stature was erected and today is a place of peace. Certainly a time to contemplate the end of my Grand Tour, but sadly I can find no reference to this at all on good old Google so perhaps I have the wrong town – who knows. I remember the statue and the story, and have the picture to prove I was there! Another day of travel saw me back home, and saving up for my travel to come in the 90’s!! So did the idea of a Grand tour expand my horizons and my enthusiasm for travel and cultures… it certainly did!
Thanks for reading….
… if indeed you still are!