DHAM CLAN Italia 2016 Reflections

Last summer, you read all my thoughts and reflections on Italy as we went along… As a sort of celebration of “one year later,” here’s my family’s thoughts on our time in Italy…


Top Pieces of Art:

-David sculpture by Michelangelo

-Birth of Venus by Botticelli

-Creation of Adam (part of the Sistine Chapel) by Michelangelo

-The Annunciation by Leonardo da Vinci

-The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci

Favorite City & Why:                                                                                                                  

Cortona, because it was relaxing.

Favorite Food:                                                                                                                                

Gelato! Especially the cinnamon and lemon flavors.

Reflection (on David sculpture):

The David sculpture was my favorite piece of art that I saw in Italy.  It was created in the early 1500’s by the artist Michelangelo.  Today the statue of David stands in the Accademia Gallery.  I liked David because he looks so realistic.  His veins  popped out with such enthusiasm.  Standing fourteen feet tall, Michelangelo interprets David the small shepherd facing the giant Goliath.  From one angle of the room it looks like David seems a little bit scared of facing Goliath.  But in his hand, he has one rock and his little sling.  Only having one chance to defeat the giant he fires.  As it says in the book of 1 Samuel, David killed Goliath with that shot.  I enjoyed David so much and I hope everyone can experience the wondrous awe of David.



Top Pieces of Art:

It’s hard to pick a #1 or #2 favorite pieces of art, so here’s a few I really liked, in no particular order.

-Pretty much all Michelangelo sculptures, but especially the prisoner statues at the Accademia Gallery and La Pieta in the Duomo Museum in Florence.

The Transfiguration by Raphael

The Annunciation by Leonardo da Vinci

School of Athens by Raphael

-The ceiling of one of the rooms in the Pitti Palace of the gods.

-I also really loved the modern art gallery in the Vatican; it had religious modern art.

Favorite City & Why:

My favorite city would probably be Florence because of all the beautiful art and history.  It’s also just a beautiful city with gardens, big churches and lots and lots of museums and shops.

Favorite Food:

My favorite food is sooo hard to pick.  The pizza, especially in Florence and Sorrento, was soo good.  I also really liked the gnocchi with mozzarella and tomato sauce and the ravioli we made in our cooking class – it had mashed potatoes, sausage and rosemary in it.


Italy was an amazing, unforgettable experience.  Being able to see all of the art and historic sites that I’ve learned about and learning even more about them was incredible.  Seeing all of the legendary places and artwork was beautiful and humbling.  It was really cool to see things from up to 2000 years ago from Pompeii and Herculaneum, to modern art from the 20th and 21st centuries.  But my favorite time period of artwork would have to be the Renaissance.  The works of Michelangelo, Titian and Raphael are just fantastic and full of beauty and interesting messages.  I loved the entire Italian experience and the food that went with it!



Top  Pieces of Art:

For me it’d be impossible to list a top 5 pieces of art.  I could never place them in a favorite order.  Some that I REALLY liked included:

-The Sistine Chapel (specifically the first four depictions of the beginning of Genesis).

The Annunciation by Leonardo da Vinci

The School of Athens by Raphael

-The prisoner statues and the David statue by Michelangelo

Apollo and Daphne by Bernini

-All the mosaics from Pompeii

The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci

Favorite City & Why:

It is very very hard to choose a favorite city.  I didn’t really have a favorite place, but two places I really enjoyed were Pompeii and Vatican City.

Favorite Food:

All of it!  I loved the food!  One of my favorite pastas was the ravioli we made in the cooking class.  It was SO good with the zucchini sauce.  My favorite pizza, however, was one we got in Florence.  It had a plain tomato sauce with parmesan cheese, diced tomatoes and lettuce – it was incredible.  I am forever changed because of that pizza.


Being able to go to Italy was such an incredible privilege.  Personally, the mere thought of having to choose a favorite place is way too hard and overwhelming.  I saw so many things that I’d always dreamed of seeing.  One example of this for me was going to the Vatican.  In school and at home I’ve been educated on the artwork inside the Vatican, such as the Sistine Chapel.  To be able to see artwork that contains so much history and meaning was unreal.  The feeling I got when I saw the sistine chapel was complete awe.  To be able to stand where so many famous people have stood and to be able to see THE ONE AND ONLY Sistine Chapel I’ve heard so much about was just incredible.  I was so enthralled with the frescos, wanting to take in every single bit of it.  My favorite part of the chapel was the beginning scenes of Genesis, such as the separation of night and day, land and sea and the creation of Adam.  It was so unbelievable.  Overall, I saw so much amazing artwork.  To be able to be in such old places where so much history took place; from Pompeii to The David.  It was even more memorable being able to be there and experience it with my amazing family.



Top Pieces of Art:

-#1 Michelangelo’s Pieta in the Florence Duomo Museum (accompanied with his sonnet)

(the rest are in no particular order)

The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci

-Sistine Chapel in Rome

David sculpture by Michelangelo in Florence

The Annunciation fresco by Fra Angelico at San Marco in Florence

Favorite City & Why:

Venice.  I loved the “vibe”; the lazy, quaint, laid back streets.  The uniqueness of the main roads being canals, and no cars!

Favorite Food:

Hard to say; I really enjoyed the pork we made at our cooking class, and the ravioli with sausage.  I loved the uniqueness of the pizzas, how they were made and cooked in a wood fired oven.


It was a wonderful trip that went very smoothly, all credit for that goes to Beth (mom) for her amazing planning and research.  Most of the Italians were very friendly, but like anywhere, there were some rude people.  In other words, people are much the same everywhere.

In general, the vast majority of what we saw was either from the first century AD or the Renaissance (1500s).  Seeing works from both time frames shows that the Renaissance was clearly inspired by the first century Roman and Greek art.

The popes of the Renaissance period (and the church for that matter) were ridiculously wealthy, powerful, and corrupt.  Standing in the opulence of the Vatican, it is easy to understand why Martin Luther started the Reformation.

Italy is a beautiful place that seems to rely heavily on their past history.

The roads are TINY and not very well maintained, and  so are the cars!  It’s a challenge to drive a minivan – especially in Sorrento.



Top Pieces of Art:

(1) The Last Supper – During our travels, there have been a few times when well-known works of art/architecture/landmarks, like the Mona Lisa, Big Ben & Stonehenge, have been a bit of a let dow n to me when I’ve seen them in person. When that happens, I try to just appreciate the historical importance of whatever it is, rather than dwell on, “Wow, that’s it?” I admit, I was a little worried that I might feel that way when I saw The Last Supper. Thankfully, that didn’t happen because it was absolutely amazing! You are only allowed 15 minutes in the Upper Room to view the fresco. I was so proud of our kids for understanding how special it was to be able to see it and that they each spent the entire 15 minutes quietly soaking in Da Vinci’s amazing creation. It was also fun to talk afterwards about all the things we each noticed. We were unanimous in our disbelief that someone thought it was a good idea to cut a door through Jesus’ feet 🙂

(2) Anything by Michelangelo! Favorites were David and the four Unfinished Slaves (especially Bearded Man and Atlas) at the Accademia Gallery in Florence; The Deposition of Christ sculpture at the Duomo Museum in Florence; the Moses sculpture (located in San Pietro in Vincoli, Rome), and the amazing Sistine Chapel at the Vatican in Rome!

(3) The Grand Canal in Venice – I’m thankful for all the amazing views we saw on our many rides (during different times of day on water taxis and our gondola ride at sunset) up and down the Grand Canal.

(4) All the beautiful artwork located in the many churches we visited during our month in Italy. Many of them were planned destinations, but many others were small places of worship that we stumbled upon en route to other places. I’m thankful we took the time to explore them all.

(5) The amazing landscapes in all of Italy! From the uniqueness of Venice, to the sunflower fields and hill towns of Tuscany, down to the jaw-dropping beauty of the Amalfi Coast and all the cities we visited in between; the Italian landscape and culture was a feast for the senses!


Kevin and I have been blessed to travel to many places around the world. We’ve been to many European countries (England, Ireland, France, Austria, Switzerland and Germany), but we had not yet made it to Italy. I am so thankful we were able to go to Italy with our kids. It was such a blessing to be able to experience it through their eyes, to see what excited and moved them.

Our month in Italy offered many chances to experience Italian culture. The amazing food and friendly people! The opportunity to travel on so many forms of transportation: planes, trains, water taxis, a gondola, taxis, bicycles, 2 weeks in a mini van (riding on very different roads than we are used to at home), car services, a vespa, a 3-wheeled tiny truck (just like the one in “Under the Tuscan Sun”!), boats, metros and many miles walked on a daily basis!

Because we stayed in different apartments (and cooked a lot of our own meals) during our trip, the kids learned what it was like to shop in neighborhood grocery stores/markets, how to navigate Italian kitchens, the art of doing laundry for a family of 6 using only a tiny Italian washing machine and a foldable drying rack.

They learned how to navigate their way through day-to day activities. They learned to decipher Italian in order to grocery shop and understand menus in Trattorias. They learned how to order gelato, cappuccinos & pastries in Italian! They learned how to navigate their way through cities, big & small and to walk with confidence/watch out for themselves & each other during the times we traveled through a few less “family friendly” areas. They learned to be grateful (and not afraid) when they saw a police/military presence at cultural and historical sites.



(you heard my opinions all last summer, so I’ll keep mine brief)

Top  Pieces of Art:

-The Sistine Chapel (specifically the Creation of Adam)

The Annunciation by Fra Angelico

Rape of Proserpina sculpture by Bernini

-The visiting Alphonse Mucha exhibit in Rome

-The mosaics in the Basilica di Sant’ Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna

-Allllll the frescos in Pompeii

-Michelangelo’s prisoner statues in Florence

Favorite City & Why:

Florence, hands down. It’s an art lovers dream! I would love to live there and work in a gallery someday…

Favorite Food:

Carbonara pasta, Tuscan steaks, and gnocchi with truffle sauce were some of my favorites.  Anything from La Casa Del Caffe in Rome – particularly the cappuccinos and pastries.  Everything we made and ate during our cooking class in Tuscany was also very very veryyy delicious.  The overall freshness and quality of all the food was lovely.  





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