My trip to Italy and reflections

I hope this update finds you well.

I've been back from Italy for about six weeks and am still in the process of digesting all my learning from my trip.  It was a fantastic experience, and I'm glad to have had my first international experience.

I will continue to update this article with photos from different days of the trip as time goes on.  Nevertheless, I wanted to publish this partially completed version so as to ensure it doesn't end up in my drafts, never to be shared with the world.

Enjoy this post,

Josh

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THE TRAVEL PLANS
The plan was to visit Italy for just over three weeks, with a few days at Rome prior to joining a Tour of Italy for two weeks, with a return to Rome for an extra six or so days at the end of the tour.

We completed the Italy's best tour with Cosmos.  The tour in our trip saw us complete the following:


(Source: http://www.globaljourneys.com.au/images/maps/cosmos/europe/italy/2016/6390.jpg)

Places visited:
  • Rome
  • Pisa
  • Tuscany
  • Montecatini
  • Florence
  • La Spezia
  • Cinque Terre
  • Levanto
  • Genoa
  • Milan
  • Lake Maggiore
  • Lugano (Switzerland)
  • Verona
  • Venice
  • Ravenna
  • Assisi
  • Perugia
  • Pompeii
  • Sorrento
  • Capri
  • The Amalfi Coast
  • Rome

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TAKING A TRAVEL JOURNAL

I decided to take a travel journal to reflect both on my learning, and also to collect receipts, business cards, postcards, holy cards and other trinkets as I toured the country.  All in all, I ended up with so much stuff I had to pack all the material collected separately, but there was a lot of value in journalling.

The travel journal I used was made by Typo and can be purchased here: 
http://cottonon.com/US/p/typo/the-wanderer-travel-journal/2013463501982.html#start=1 

Whilst I didn't use all of the sections on this tour, I did make use of the following sections:
  • Important contacts
  • Packing list
  • Where I want to explore
  • Motivation
  • Notes
  • Colour me in (map of locations visited)
  • Daily adventures
  • Things I learnt along the way
  • Notes (second section)
  • Cool people I met along the way.

What follows is my notes from the notes, daily adventures, things I learnt along the way, and second notes sections.  I have interspersed photos, post-travel commentary and other relevant pieces of information to make these more useful for future reference.

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NOTES:

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29/06/16
We’re leaving tomorrow morning.  I’m starting to pack and get things ready now, following my usual, last minute routine.
I’m looking forward to heading off, and am glad to finally be on holidays from work.
Requests to complete for people while I’m away:
  • Drop a prayer letter for St Anthony at Assisi for xxx.
  • Money in Trevi fountain for xxx (completed 01/07/16).

Post-travel note: I made a video for each of these requests on my iPhone and sent them to the people concerned before I returned home.

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01/07/16
My first ever view of an international country (Hong Kong) from a plane.

We’ve survived our trip from Australia to Hong Kong.  Shortly we will be boarding our second flight, which will take us to Rome.
I’ve followed Courtney’s advice and kept awake thus far.  If I can push myself a few hours more and then sleep on the plane I should be close to achieving Rome’s time with my body clock.
I purchased a 500 ml Coke whilst here, which cost 28 Hong Kong dollars.  There was a girl here who unrolled her yoga mat and proceeded to do a lot of poses… I was amazed by her flexibility.  I have contacted Vanessa.
Whilst on the plane I watched:
  • Zoolander 2
  • The Revenant
  • How to be single.

I had chicken and rice and nearly choked on an asparagus-like vegetable.  I also had pork noodles, which were nice.
Praise God for this wonderful opportunity.

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01/07/16

I’m on the plane and we are a few hours from landing in Rome.  Sleep has been nearly impossible on this plane, so I’m going to be suffering from jet lag when we arrive.
So far the food on this flight hasn’t been as good as the prior one.  Nevertheless, things are more exciting now.
I watched the movie for ‘the Entourage’ on this flight, read some more of ‘The Imitation of Christ’, completed this journal entry and tried to sleep, albeit unsuccessfully.

At Rome:

We went to our accommodation and checked in our bags, as we can’t access our room until 2:00pm.  From there, we checked out the Pantheon, the St. Ignatius Church (photos of the roof below), some other churches and Trevi Fountain.


We had lunch @ Vacanza Romana.  First impression of Italian Pizzas is that D.O.C. in Australia is very authentic.
Also, my rosary broke but I seem to have been able to fix it.
  • Reflection: Why do so many Catholic sites have pagan statues?

We went for a walk again later in the day.  Whilst doing this, we stumbled upon a Mass, where I went up for a blessing from the priest.  Prior to that, we had Galati from a place at Trevi Fountain, which was amazing.

  • Question for reflection on this trip: Is the Roman Church the supreme Church?
  • Further reflection: We need to pray for more Christian painters, particularly in Australia.

We also checked out some Roman ruins at the end of our hotel’s street earlier in the day.




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05/07/2016
Reflections:
  • The papacy as a state power vs. religious power could have resulted in different motives re: preservation of pagan statues, etc.  
  • This however does not explain the storage of pagan artworks of deities in the Vatican museum.

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08/07/2016
  • I haven’t yet finished the PBC document on the inspiration and truth of scared scripture, but so far I don’t agree with its concept of limited inerrancy, nor do I believe that it is consistent with the historic position of the Church.  I’m not sure what to do about this one.

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09/07/2016
  • I need to learn how to make myself a nice pesto for when I return home

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12/07/2016
  • Ship / ark analogy – Protestants and Catholics
  • Eve / Mary – Why was Eve named after God’s curse?  Did Adam recognise she wasn’t ‘the woman’ prophesied about?
  • Cup of Justice
  • Greeks invented Mathematics:
    • 9x tables:
      • 0123456789:
      • 9876543210
      • Add the number in the top line to the number in the bottom line to get the answer for 9 multiplied by the top line number.
    • Multiplication:
      • All multiplication numbers where the two numbers end in five will end with the number 25.
  • 0 – 10 in school grades in Italy.
  • Iconology was invented in Ravenna.
  • Suggestion from an Australian - Italian on tour with us: How to make a good pizza using a BBQ:
    • heat up grills, put pizza stones down.  
    • Heat to 400 
    • put pizza on stone and close top of BBQ for 2 – 3 minutes.
  • Related: Use chilli flakes in olive oil to make chilli oil.
  • Things to keep / grow / have on hand when I get my own place:
    • Olive oil, 
    • figs, 
    • tomatoes / cherry tomatoes, 
    • chilli, 
    • prosciutto, 
    • vino.
  • The Divine + Human natures of Christ correspond to the Divine and Human authorship of scripture.

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Notes from Assisi Tour:
  • The tour bus pays 88 Euro to drop people off at Assisi.
  • Saint Francis:
    • Patron Saint of Italy.  
    • He spoke French.
    • In addition to the Franciscan order, he also founded the Order of Clare and the 3rdOrder.
    • One of the most venerated religious figures in history.
    • Begged with the poor @ Saint Peter’s Basilica.
    • Attempted to convert the Sultan in Egypt.
    • Went to Jerusalem.
    • 1223 – First Nativity Scene – (Presepe in Italian).
    • 1224 – Received Stigmata.
    • 1226 – Died listening to Psalm 142
    • 40 day fast – feast of the exaltation of the cross; It is believed this was when he received the stigmata.
    • A pope laid the foundation stone for the Basilica.
    • Body discovered in 1818.
    • Basilica walls stripped of Marble.
    • Namesake of Pope Francis, who picked his name after a fellow cardinal told him after his election to, 'Remember the poor.'
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13/07/2016
  • Breakfast for Italians consists of a croissant and Espresso.
  • Naples is the home of pizza and lasagne:
    • Margherita pizza was made to resemble the Italian flag.  It’s not the original pizza.  
    • The original was a Marinara (garlic, tomato sauce, olive oil).
  • Mt. Vesuvius is monitored.  People will know when it is due to erupt two weeks prior.
  • Note to self: 
    • Material is bigger than this journal.  I will need to make a scrapbook.
    • Research / revisit Roman Mythology
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15/07/2016
  • Tonight is the last night of our tour.  We’ve seen some really cool places, but the highlights have been Rome and Assisi for me personally.  I was quite impressed by seeing the influence St Francis has had in our time, and I’ll be very interested to review and learn more of his story.  Perhaps aspects of his life could be mimicked by all of us.

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17/07/2016
  • I’m looking forward to returning home for the following reasons:
    • Sleep in my own bed.
    • Sleep in my own room.
    • Not sleep on a couch.
    • Sleep for eight hours straight.
    • Sleep without being woken by snoring.
  • The thing I feel I have lacked the most on this trip is quality sleep.  The second thing would be my own privacy and time to myself. 
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DAILY ADVENTURES

The weather was: Sunny
Day / date: 01/07/2016
Destination: Rome
Plans for the day: Land, check-in, get food and rest, and see some sites.
My daily adventures: See earlier notes for info on today.
We also picked up some water from a Marian fountain; I’ve consumed most of it though.
I’m also impressed with the number of drinking fountains in Rome that are free to use, and the quality of the water that comes from these.  Apparently there are 1300+ in Rome, which is really impressive.
My desire to learn Latin has substantially increased.

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The weather was: sunny
Day / date: 02/07/16
Destination: Roma, Italia
Plans for the day: Revisit some Churches, visit the Colosseum, Colosseum night tour, and take photos, Trastavere, look for gifts.
My daily adventures: We went to the Roman Forum, which was spectacular!  We stumbled upon an ancient Marian Church that is on display there until September.  We got a lot of photos, so that was exceptionally well timed. 









































The Colosseum was fascinating, and it was incredible to tick it off the bucket list.  The night tour of it was even more exceptional.  Pizza from the corner shop was okay but not the best.  Really cheap though.  At the Colosseum, we met an Australian woman who said she thought that the Italians lived in a museum.  I thought she was pretty accurate with that comment.

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The weather was: sunny
Day / date: 03/07/16
Destination: Roma, Italia and Vatican City
Plans for the Day: Attend Mass, visit the Vatican, Check out of hotel, join and commence our two-week tour.
My daily adventures: Went to Vatican, St Peter’s Square.  Bought 300 Euro odd-dollars’ worth of Rosaries, etc. which we had blessed in the Papal blessing.  Moved to the new hotel.  It has a bigger room but has a less comfortable bed.  We met our Tour Director (Lambros in Gk. or Alex in Italian) then Mum and I went and had chips and lasagne (which was beautiful) at a local Italian restaurant that her and Courtney had eaten at year’s prior.








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The weather was: sunny
Day / date: 04/07/16
Destination: Roma, Italia
Plans for the day: Sistine Chapel, St Peter’s Basilica, Roman Forum, Colosseum, Dinner.
My daily adventures: This was our first day with the tour.
Sistine Chapel – amazing!  We will definitely need to revisit this & St. Peter’s basilica to spend more time taking it in.  The tour guide was great, but I felt we didn’t get as much time in the Colosseum and Forum as was necessary.  I was very grateful we had visited them previously.  Dinner was good, consisting of bruschetta, pasta with peas, lasagne, chicken and potatoes, then gelato and coffee.
I’m not sure how these places are able to make a profit, so I assume it is through bulk cooking that they are able to do so.  Dinner was accompanied by a flute player and a guitarist, which was nice.
P.s. Today we also met our bus drive Pino.






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The weather was: sunny with clouds
Day / day: Tuesday 05/07/16
Destination: Roma, Pisa, Montecatini – Italia
Plans for the day:
My daily adventures:
On our way from Rome I felt really sick from the bus motion.  Consequently I loaded up on my travel tables.  As of lunchtime (now), I’m in a medically induced tiredness.  We then went to Pisa and saw the leaning tower.  Lunch was pizza and biscotti from some street shops.  We opted to check out the Cathedral, Baptistery and the cemetery rather than climb the tower.  I tried European Maccas there.  We had dinner @ Montecatini at a local winery / olive oil farm.  The food and wine were delicious and we had great company.





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The weather was: Sunny with clouds
Day / date: 06/07/2016 – Wednesday
Destination: Florence, Italia
Plans for the day: visit Florence
My daily adventures:
We went to Florence today and got to do a tour with a local guide.  From there we went to a local market sitting on a bridge.  There is lots of jewellery and leather in Florence, but it is expensive.  The highlight of the day for me was paying 15 Euro to go to the Cathedral, baptistery and Museum.  We saw some relics, etc.  Back at Montecatini, we went to the Funicular and then had dinner at the hotel.  I then had a few drinks at the bar.

































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The weather was: sunny
Day / date: 07/07/16
Destination: La spezia, cinque terre, Levanto, Genoa, Italia
Plans for the day: Have pesto, check out local village markets, possibly visit the beach, go somewhere nice for dinner
My daily adventures: Today we went to la spezia to catch a train to the cinque terre.  Whilst there we visited Vernazza and Monterosso.  At Vernazza I looked at the Church, went up to the tower and walked around.  At Monterosso we walked around the old section, had pesto @ Ristorante ‘Da Ely” and I ought a beach towel for 10 Euro.  We then caught a train to Levanto, where our bus took us to our accommodation in Genoa, a nice, four star hotel.  We then went to dinner at a place recommended by our tour Director Lambros, but I didn’t think it was that great.
















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The weather was: Sunny with clouds, cloudy
Day / date: 08/07/2016
Destination: Genoa, Milan, Lake Maggiore, Italia
Plans for the day: as above, with tour dinner
My daily adventures: We had a tour of Genoa with a local guide.  They were very knowledgeable, but I didn’t find Genoa as impressive as some of the other locations we have visited.  From there, we drove to Milan.  I checked out the Cathedral, had Maccas for lunch, bought some Galati and visited the local shops.  We then went to Lake Maggiore.  We’re staying in a nice hotel here, although we had to get the bed adjusted from a double to a twin share.  We had dinner on a nearby island as part of the tour, sitting with two Australia couples.











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The weather was: sunny with clouds
Day / date: 09/07/2016
Destination: Lugano, Switzerland
Plans for the day:
My daily adventures: We took the bus from Lake Maggiore to Lugano, crossing the boarder into Switzerland.  From there, we went to Monte Tamaro, where we had some lunch and got to see an amazing view.  To do this, we had to catch a chair lift up and back.  After this, we came back to the hotel.






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The weather was: sunny with clouds
Day / date: 10/11/2016
Destination: Verona and Venice, Italy
Plans for the day:
My daily adventures: we left our hotel and went to Verona, where we had a tour of the place and got to touch the boob of the statue of Juliet.  We had lunch there and I had really nice pasta.  From there, we drove to our hotel near Venice.  At night, we went to dinner in Venice and had a quick look around.  The food wasn’t too great (in my humble opinion) but Venice was beautiful.











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The weather was: sunny with clouds
Day / date: 11/07/2016
Destination: Venice, Italy
Plans for the day:
My daily adventures:
We went to Venice via boat again.  After finding some people in our group that got separated from the group, we did a gondola ride, which was stunning.  After that, we went and got a replacement earring for Julie, before getting lunch.  I had pasta and a 500ml bottle of Chianti to myself, which left me a little drunk for the afternoon.  We didn’t get to see inside St. Mark’s Basilica, but we were able to see other churches, including S. Giovanni Basilica.  We had some ice cream, looked at shops, went back to the hotel and had dinner with some Spanish and NZ friends.

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The weather was: Sunny (Assisi) Cloudy (Ravenna)
Day / date: 12/07/2016
Destination: Ravenna and Assisi (Dante’s tomb is in Ravenna)
Plans for the day: Drop off Mirtza’s prayer in Assisi.  Visit the Basilica.
My daily adventures: On the way to Ravenna we saw the longest river in Italy (650 km) and the church where the musical scale was invented.  At Ravenna, we visited the Arian baptistery and the Church of St. Francis, along with Dante’s sepulchre.  On the way to Assisi, we stopped for lunch and had a lasagne.  At Assisi, we visited the Basilica, which was amazing!  Three churches on top of one another!  We bought some things at the gift shop and then headed over to our hotel in Perugia for the evening, where we had dinner.

“This is a beautiful country.” (My reflection in the margin at 3:15pm on bus in rural area on the way to Assisi)






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The weather was: sunny
Day / date: 13/07/2016 – Wednesday
Destination: Pompeii
Plans for the day: visit Pompeii, survive the long bus ride.
My daily adventures: We left our hotel early this morning to drive to Pompeii, then Sorrento.  On the way we watched a movie, ‘My life in ruins’ (a comedy allegedly w/ Tom Hanks as the producer about tours).  When we got to Pompeii, I had some Pasta, bought some post cards and a booklet on the place.  We then took a tour of part of Pompeii, which is so impressive!  We arrived at Sorrento about 5:00pm.
















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The weather was: sunny
Day / date: 14/07/2016
Destination: Capri, Italy
Plans for the day:
My daily adventures: We went on a ferry to Capri.  Unfortunately, I was sick on the way over and on the bus after.  This caused me to miss the chair lift.  Afterwards, we went to a Museum and had lunch, followed by a walk to some scenic spots and a ride on the funicular.  We headed back to the hotel for a nice buffet and went for a walk with some friends through Sorrento, stopping at a wine bar for a drink.

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The weather was: raining
Day/date: 15/07/2016
Destination: Positano, then Rome
Plans for the day: Visit Positano, get to Rome, wash clothes for tomorrow.
My daily adventures: We caught a bus to Positano, where it was raining.  This is the only day so far that it has been raining whilst we have been on tour.  We checked out Santa Maria Assunta Esan Vito whilst there.  From there, we made our way back to Rome, only stopping briefly at two places to get some food and to have a toilet stop, because traffic jams caused us some delays.  The dinner was a bit disappointing, but the company was nice with a brief tour on the bus following at night, along with a stop over at Trevi Fountain.


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The weather was: sunny
Day / date: 16/07/2016
Destination: Roma, Italia
Plans for the day: Move hotels, make our plans for the rest of the week, get a nice lunch / dinner, go site seeing.
My daily adventures: We had breakfast with our kiwi friends prior to moving to our old hotel.  140 Euro a night to sleep on a couch, as Mum had the bed.  Anyway, we went and checked out the temples of portuna and Hercules, the mouth of truth and related basilica, another church and basilica, picked up some holy water, crucifix and prayer card, ate pizza and Maccas, washed clothes.  I bought a guide to the pantheon (which we revisited) and read it, and also bought a bottle of cheap Chianti for consumption prior to the trip home.

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The weather was: sunny
Day / date: 17/07/2016
Destination: Roma, Italia
Plans for the day: Mass @ Pantheon, visit catacombs
My daily adventures: Today we went to Mass @ the Pantheon.  This was cool, as they turned on all the lights and cleared the tourists out for it.  There were only 18 or so people 5 minutes beforehand, but it ended up with about 100 or so.  From there, we met up with Anita & Ryan after lunch and walked to the catacombs.  These were so impressive, and definitely worth the 8 Euro to get in.  After this, we bought some pizza and had it on our hotel’s rooftop.

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The weather was: sunny
Day / date: 18/07/2016
Destination:
Plans for the day:
My daily adventures:
We had a much needed and well-deserved sleep in and low start to the day.  We then walked to Trastavere, and had a look around (although there was not much to see).  Afterward, we walked to Castel Sant Angelo, and paid to walk around inside.  It was quire impressive, but left me pondering why Pope Paul III had a room decorated about the pagan god Apollo.  After relaxing, we went hunting for an ATM that worked and then had a nice dinner a few blocks behind the Pantheon.

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The weather was: sunny
Day / date: 19/07/2016
Destination: Rome
Plans for the day: Shopping for gifts for family, friends and myself
My daily adventures: We spent most of today looking around to buy bits and pieces for family and friends, then we found a really nice place for dinner.

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The weather was: sunny
Day / date: 20/07/2016
Destination: Rome
Plans for the day: Visit Michelangelo’s Moses
My daily adventures: I went to Santa Maria Maggiore, Santo Pietro in Vincoli, St John Lateran and the Santa Scala.  We had lunch near the Colosseum, which is probably the worst lunch I’ve had during my time here.  Consequently, we had sinner @ the same place as the night before.  I started coming down sick today.

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The weather was: sunny
Day/date: 21/07/2016
Destination: Rome
Plans for the day:
My daily adventures: Today I was unwell.  Consequently, our original plans to visit St Paulo outside the walls did not occur.  We’ve had a pretty laid back day today.   I have purchased a backpack to take my trinkets and gifts for people home in.

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Things I learnt along the way
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01/07/2016
  • So many things contain papal crests.  As a Christian I feel a sense of ownership and of belonging here.
  • I’m still unsure why the papacy approved the building / rebuilding of pagan statues at Trevi Fountain.
  • My understanding of the Church here was smaller than I realised.

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03/07/2016 and following
  • There are mixed views on the number of people the Colosseum was able to seat.  65,000 – 75,000 people.
  • The Colosseum was built in ten years.  Maintenance to the lower levels then took 20 years to repair.
  • Andrea (Colosseum Tour Guide) recommended Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations, and referred to Seneca positively.
  • Saw the Church where Sts Peter and Paul were imprisoned (revisit this).
  • The temporal governance of the Popes.
  • That olive oil should be <1% free acidity for it to be extra-virgin.  The better the quality, the lower the percentage (even <.2%).
  • Olives can’t be eaten straight from the tree, as they are bitter.
  • SPQR, according to our Tour Director means, “The Senate and People are Rome.”
******
06/07/2016
  • The oldest olive tree is 3,000 years.  
  • Most olive trees take five years before they start to produce olives, but once they do they can produce for well over 1,000 years, just as the oldest tree testifies
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NOTES about Next trip:
  • Given the cost for this tripe has been circa $3,000 AUD per week, a next trip would likely need to be more affordable.  In light of this, Bali, Thailand or Vietnam seems plausible options for the next vacation.
  • Jerusalem and surrounding areas (including Greece) are also still places I’d like to travel to.  Egypt also.
  • If I were to return to Italy, I would revisit Rome, Assisi, Cinque Terre, Pompeii (w/ Sorrento as a likely consequence).  Other places were nice but these were the standouts for me personally.  (Note: later reflection back in Oz brings very fond memories of Florence).
  •  I’d also like to see more of Australia.  In particular:
    • Sth Australia (Adelaide)
    • Darwin
    • Uluru / Alice Springs
    • Cairns
    • Broome
  • I need to develop a travel allocation in my budget.  In particular, I need to plan:
    • A nice long-weekend every quarter
    • A minimum two-week holiday every two years
    • With the sorts of stress I have in my line of work, this will be important to maintain my energy levels and my sanity.
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Other notes written down randomly

  • Most towns, formerly being independent city-states, have their own local dialect.
  • Assisi:
    • The pink town - limestone & iron
    • Earthquake in 1997
    • Wars between Assisi and Perugia in Francis' time. 
    • Crypt under Basilica
    • Copy of San Damiano Crucifix in upper Church
    • Died in 1226, canonised 1228, Church commenced that year and consecrated in 1253
    • Story of Christ on the right and St Francis on the left
    • Francis as tall as tree in some photos - artists weren't interested in proportions or dimensions artistically
    • Francis died at the age of 44
    • 3 churches on top of one another
    • The current bookshop was the first papal apartment.
  • Ravenna:
    • Arian baptistery:
      • Marble-baptistery reminder.  Baptism was via immersion until the council of Trent (according to the tour guide, though I'd disagree)
      • Altar was ad orientem
      • Roof is a 1500 yr old Mosaic.
    • Dante's sepulchre:
      • Not the original, which was very humble
      • Dante had a street here named after him
      • Considered the Father of the Italian language
      • Dante was a 3rd Order Franciscan
      • Church of Francis in Ravenna: 3 levels, many underground / underwater.
  • Genoa:
    • Population - 610,000 - 6th biggest in Italy.  Rome, Milan and Naples are the three biggest.
    • Tomb of the unknown soldier
    • Flat areas are artificial
    • Church of the annunciation
    • Natural port.  Biggest in Italia.
    • Medieval buildings in a grey similar to the bell-tower in at the Church of the annunciation.
    • Known as the town with grey roofs.
    • Some buildings listed as heritage in 2006.
    • 200,000 > scooters in Genoa
    • There has been a synagogue there since medieval times.
    • 2001 - seat of the G8 summit
    • The cathedral took 400 years to build.
  • Verona:
    • Story of Romeo + Juliet based here, though Shakespeare never visited Verona.
    • 3 Roman roads, 2 B.C.  Served as a military location joining parts of Italy.
    • Barbarian invasions - called such because their language was not Latin.
    • One of the last towns to enter the United Kingdom of Italy.
    • Two trees - oldest in Italy.  Used in Japan for a range of things.
    • Romeo's house is here, as is Juliet's.
    • Italians works through Dante's comedy in high school, similar to how we work through works of Shakespeare.  They find it quite unpleasant because the language is so archaic and is not modern Italian.
  • Superstitions:
    • Turtle - safe travel
    • Chilli - Burns of bad omens or something
    • Elephant - wealth
    • Ladybug - love
I also jotted down the words I learned.

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AFTERWARD

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Revisiting Romans 9
One of the religious topics I have most disputed in the last few years is, 'Does God love all men?'  Historically, I have said no on the basis of Romans chapter 9.

After hearing a sermon on 1 Timothy 2:4 (God desires all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth), I knew I could not accept an understanding that requires two wills in God or the verse to be interpreted to mean, 'all elect men', not 'all men'.  

The only section for which I had not been able to come to a reasonable conclusion about was this section in Romans 9, particularly:
  • 'Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated',
  • 'So he has mercy on whom he wills, and whom he wills, he hardens', and
  • 'What if God has endured the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction...'
Material consulted during the process included:
  • The Bible
  • Martin Luther's commentary on Romans
  • The Formula of Concord and associated documents
  • The Orthodox Study Bible
  • The NABRE Bible notes
  • The Ignatius Study Bible New Testament notes
  • ESV Study Bible
  • MacArthur Study Bible
  • The Reformation Study Bible
  • Ryrie Study Bible
  • The Debate between Michael Brown and James White on predestination
  • The associated Just and Sinner podcasts.
I understood the Calvinist position well, but was unable to understand the Catholic position on this scripture.  They are not quite Calvinistic, Lutheran or Arminian.  Nevertheless, a sermon by Adrian Rogers (not Catholic) helped me along with various writings of Thomas Aquinas (summa theologica and his notes on Romans) to finally see how people with other paradigms hold their position.

This position seems to me to make better sense of the particular text, of the scriptures as a whole, and of the Catholic position.  Consequently, this post constitutes a retraction of my former position (unless it can be sufficiently demonstrated otherwise that this position is wrong).

The sermon by Adrian Rogers was as follows:


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Just finished reading
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Quote for reflection
  • There is no wealth better than health of body,
        and no gladness above joy of heart. Sirach 30:16