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Matera, Basilicata, Italy

Matera boasts a history of some 9000 years.  Some consider it the second oldest town in the world, after Jerusalem.  The oldest part is known as the Sassi.  There are 2 sassi – Sassi Barisano and Sassi Caveoso.  The sassi consists of homes and churches carved into tufa rock and alleyways connecting them.  Look for the alleys and roads that sometimes went over top of the cave homes and cave homes built right on top of one another.  The Sassi dwellers also had a method of collecting rainwater through a system of pipes and cisterns, all dug into rock.  Under Piazza Vittorio Veneto, the main piazza of modern Matera, there is a large cistern that collected rainwater for the townspeople up until the 19th century. 

Pompeii and Nearby Excavations, Campania, Italy

Pompei, the Modern Town

Florence (Firenze), Tuscana, Italy

In Florence, we stayed in a 15th century palace centrally located in the middle of Florence. It is somewhat mind boggling to think that this palace was being built when Christopher Columbus was making his first steps onto the Americas. The room itself was part of a palace, with access to a large living and dining area. Unfortunately, the room faced the street, so though it was 3 floors up, the echos from the 4 floor building across the street and the cobblestone street below, amplified each and every sound that came along. Lesson learned? Try to get a room NOT facing the street.

Venice (Venezia), Veneto, Italy

One thing about Venice - it is always busy. There are people everywhere you go, pretty much at any time of the day. Near midnight, there is a little less people.