Famiglia Sullivani
Trip To Italy:
July, 2007



Trip Status

Here is where we get a chance to write and describe how our trip is going:

July 8 - Day of departure - Sunday
We left San Francisco at 6:45 a.m. and arrived in JFK at 3:00 NYC time. Our layover was about an hour and a half, so we headed over to our next gate and we boarded soon after. After sitting in the plane on the runway for about an hour with all the plane traffic, we took off and took these seven and a half hours to sleep for our brand new day quickly arriving.

July 9 - Day 1 - Monday
We arrive at 7:30 a.m. in Rome, all 14 of us. To our surprise, the bus we ordered really was a bus, not a big van, so we had an Italian man who spoke English give us a tour of the ride into the center of Rome on a huge bus that we had to ourselves. The bus dropped us off near our Hotel Trevi, one block from Trevi Fountain. Our rooms were not ready for us since it was only 9:00 in the morning, so we went out to waste a few hours. With some jet lag troubles, we did not do much, although we did go out to Trevi Fountain and to the Spanish Steps. Finally by 1:00, all of our rooms were ready for us. We were all given until about 6:00 to relax and rest. At 6:00 we headed out for David's birthday dinner to celebrate his birthday on July 8, our travel day. With our long day coming to an end, the teenagers and some of the adults quit and returned to their hotel room to get ready for bed, which ended the first day on our trip to Italy, while Mom, Dad, Lala and Zio (David and Kathy) walked around Rome and had the first gelato of the trip.

July 10 - Day 2 - Tuesday
After a great night's sleep, the hotel had a free breakfast area which we ate at. We then took a bus to the Colosseum and found a private tour guide that took us through the nearby ruins and through the Colosseum. It was a long tour and by the time it was done we were ready for lunch. We ate nearby the Colosseum then came back to the hotel. We went our separate ways, some to the hotel, some wandered near the hotel and Trevi Fountain, and some wandered aimlessly everywhere. We plan to meet around 7:30 for cocktails in Noni and Nonno's room and a fashionable late dinner around 8:00 in Rome. It is a beautiful night so we plan to dine al fresco somewhere in Rome.

July 11 - Day 3 - Wednesday
Out at 9:30 for breakfast and on the road by 10:00, we walked across town toward the Pantheon. Pretty amazing. Once the Pantheon filled with tourists we were moving on. We slowly walked around town, checked out a few other churches, and came up on Piazza Navona and looked at the three fountains, although the primary fountain was covered in scaffolding. Then we split up, some took the bus and others walked, to "The Wedding Cake" - the memorial to Vittorio Emanuel II. Noni and Nonno stayed at the bottom since there were more stairs than I don't know. A lot though. Once the rest of us had seen what we wanted to, we all met up with Noni and Nonno at the water feature nearby. Seven returned to the hotel, and seven stuck around. We all had our lunch, then the seven who stuck around waited for a bus tour and spent one hour on a bus touring from the Vatican, to the Colosseum, to all sorts of government buildings and churches. Finally the rest of us returned home and met for cocktails at 6:00. Then out to dinner we went.

July 12 - Day 4 - Thursday
We decided to go out of the country today. We took the five minute bus ride to the border of the country and walked into the Vatican City. We had previously decided to get going early to avoid the crowds - we wanted to leave at 9 a.m. We did leave close to on time, that was not the problem. We took the bus, which was crowded already, so we split up into two busses. Sterling was in the first bus, with four others, and had the closest idea of which stop to get off at. Once they got off the first bus, the second bus arrived less than 5 minutes later with the rest of the group, and the group on that bus was signaling to us to get back on the bus the first bus group did not respond, but they ended up getting off the bus, so we were all out at the bus stop. The second bus group says that we needed to be on the bus for two stops to get closer, but Sterling swore this stop was much closer. The problem with Sterling is his lack of authority, so we all got on the bus in order to go two more stops. The next stop ended up being the end of that bus line (which we knew because the bus driver got off the bus once we stopped) and did not get any closer to the Vatican. After using Noni for Italian communication, we realized that the first stop was the closest and correct stop to make, so we got back on another bus and went back to the stop that we first stopped at. As David said, "That was our first hiccup of the trip."
After our hiccup was over, we entered the Vatican courtyard and saw that the line to get into the Vatican stretched three quarters of the way around the perimeter of the circular courtyard, which is huge by the way. Then a lady offered a private tour that would take us through the Vatican museum, Sistine Chapel, and the Vatican itself while skipping that huge line in the courtyard. We took the offer even though it cost some money. That was a great move. A great two hour tour that highlighted the best of the best. After our tour, we got in line to go to the top of the dome. That line was very long, over an hour, but we stuck with it. Noni skipped it with her sore legs after the two hour tour. Bob Tigri, Juliane, Arlene, and Nonno only took the elevator half way up, then returned to the bottom. The rest made it to the top. Once we all met up after the dome climb, we got some lunch and returned to the hotel.

July 13 - Day 5 - Friday
Hey, cool, its Friday the 13th. With mostly all of the big attractions and landmarks of Rome under our belt, we were planning on having a casual day, but Bob Sullivan wanted to visit the Borghesi Gardens nearby. All but Trevor went. We viewed a few churches and got our bearings. We found a zoo on the map, so Madison wanted to go to the zoo. David and Kathy agreed to go there and said they would take whomever with them and skip the Borghesi art galleries, which we had reservations for. All the kids decided to go to the zoo. Before splitting up, the group ate at a cafe on the Borghesi property. David, Kathy, and the kids took their time, stopping to see a lake, then went to the zoo and walked home after, while the rest of the adults stuck around the garden and went to the art galleries and took the bus back. We all met for cocktails at 6 and went to our last dinner in Rome from there.

July 14 - Day 6 - Saturday
Out early to catch another private charter bus to the train station. From the train station, we took a 9:45 train to Venice. While on the train in the station, I looked at the clock when it changed to exactly 9:45 and the train began to take off. With a great start from the train, we arrived in Florence with no problem. The train made a few stops along the way and we arrived in Venice around 2:30. We spent close to an hour taking a pit stop and figuring out what water bus to take to our stop. Once we got in line, we thought we were set, but the bus that we wanted to take came rarely, the line was long, and random people were coming in the exit and moving right in front of us. So it was hot, slow, and crowded during this time at the station and on the bus. By the time we got to the hotel it was around 5:15. The kids and Noni and Nonno are staying in one hotel, and the others are in another hotel that should have been a block away, but they are now staying in a hotel five minutes away. Although the distance is inconvenient, the hotel is newly renovated and beautiful. The train ride was great, but after that, the day got long. Once we settled in, we all met for cocktails around 6:30 at Noni and Nonno's hotel room. Then off to dinner and wander the city. On our way home we were going to check out the adult's hotel rooms because they were newly renovated and fancy. While we were gathering to enter, one of the workers came out and said that the new law in Italy does not permit any people outside of those registered in the hotel to enter the building. The man would not let any of us in the building "for security reasons," but we find that hard to believe because a few blocks over the adults came to visit us in our hotel rooms. Also while out to dinner we realized that it is a holiday weekend here in Venice. There are huge crowds and lots of commotion. tonight there is a fireworks show and St. Mark's Square will be packed. The celebration is for the end of a flu epidemic that killed nearly all of the Venetians in the 1600s. This is one of the largest celebrations of the year that takes place in Venice, but Noni, Nonno, and Sterling went back to the hotel instead of celebrated.

July 15 -Day 7 - Sunday
With a new hotel, we have a new breakfast, still provided. Since we are in different hotels, the breakfasts are different as well. Still, both breakfasts were very good. Once breakfast was over we picked up a bus (which is a boat) and went to visit Murano. This is the island known for their glass making. We sat through a preview of glass making. It was pretty short, but still cool. There is something about glass making that is amazing to watch. The man has the orange-hot glass at the end of a pole and starts shaping it. Within minutes, there was a vase at the end of the pole. After that, he started with new "magma" (that's what it looked like), and with a pair of prongs began pulling on the hot glass and suddenly there was a horse. Pretty much it was amazing. Then we went into the glass shop. Juliane ended up buying to add to her Murano glass collection and Arlene bought a few glass items herself. Sorry though, we were not allowed to take pictures there.We moved on to Burano, a fishing village that also has a lot of lace. The houses in that town are so colorful and stand out distinctively. We were told that was so because the men would return from fishing drunk and needed their house to stand out or else they would never find them. We ate lunch there and walked around for a while. We took the 5:30 bus back to Piazza San Marco and rested some time, then met for cocktails. By the time we ate dinner, it was 10:00 because of the long ride home and long downtime to shower and all.

July 16 - Day 8 - Monday
This was a slow morning because yesterday we covered the tourist attractions outside the island. The rest of the places we want to visit are relatively nearby. First, seven of us went to the Venice Opera House and took an audio tour. It's a pretty cool place. Lots of fires - the last one was in 1996 and after renovating it, it reopened in 2003. In the morning Bob Sullivan had planned a walking tour of Venice. Six of us decided to do that while the others shopped or layed back. It ended up that the tour was booked and needed to be reserved by telephone. Bob Tigri and Sterling went for a "walk-about" as Bob called it, all the way past the Rialto Bridge, and returned at 4:30. Bob Sullivan and the others who were going to tour went back to the hotel to make reservations. After reservations were made, Bob Sullivan and his tour group went to the Doge's Palace and toured that piece of real estate. The plan is to meet for cocktails at 6 and head over by the Rialto Bridge for dinner.

July 17 - Day 9 - Tuesday
At 11:10 the Sullivan family and the Tigris went on the walking tour that we attempted to do the day before. Before we left, we took a picture of Bob Tigri in his poor condition. The tour took us around the main square and into St. Mark's church. Then it took us through the alleys all the way to the Rialto bridge with many stops in between. The tour ended at the center of the Rialto bridge around 1:00, so we stopped for lunch at the nearby market then headed back to the hotel. By this time we took another picture of Bob Tigri after our two hour walk, and the results are amazing. Simply check out the pictures provided for July 17. The other seven layed back and did some shopping. We met at 6:00 for cocktails and went to dinner by the Grand Canal. On our way home, we took the famous gondola ride around Venice in three gondolas.

July 18 - Day 10 - Wednesday
Another travel day for us. We left Venice and moved on toward Stresa while stopping in Milan to transfer trains. Our train left Venice at 10:30. We had a delay during one of our stops because the air conditioning was malfunctioning. By the time we arrived in Milan, our train to Stresa had already left. Bob Sullivan and Noni went to work out another train. The rest of us were standing in the station waiting for about half an hour. When the two returned at around 2:15, we had to hurry to catch a 2:25 train that was stopping in Stresa on its way to Switzerland. By the time 14 people had boarded, it was about time to leave. So much so, that once I sat down from placing the luggage, the train took off. We arrived in Stresa with no other problems. We had taxis there ready to go and we checked into the Bristol right on the waterfront of the lake. Its pretty pretty over here. Without any hesitation we went down to the first pool of the trip and hung out until about 7:00, then went to dinner. After dinner some of us walked along the lake and explored a bit.

July 19 - Day 11 - Thursday
With only one day to explore all but the three older girls were up and out to visit Isola Bella, a nearby island on Lake Maggiore at 10:00. On this island is a royal estate. We took an audio tour through it and took the 1:00 boat back to the mainland to meet the three girls for lunch and to take the tram to the top of the mountain for the beautiful panoramic view of the lake and the Swiss Alps. We ended up taking the tram first, then eating once we got to the top. After a bit of enjoying the view, we headed back down. Bob Sullivan stopped by a garden to check it out. The girls went to sunbathe since that is what is important to them. Sterling and Trevor had this awesome lake 100 feet from their hotel, so they just had to go fishing, but they had no tackle. No problem. They made their own hooks out of the can opener on a soda can. That ended up not working so well, so they got a safety pin and made a perfect hook out of that, except there was no barb. The fishing line was dental floss and the bait was bread. The two of them fished ten feet above the water line where they could see the fish. They got bite after bite. The fish went crazy over the bread, however, without any barb, none of the fish stayed on the line. It was still fun, they had a blast feeding the fish. During that time, the adults met for cocktails, Bob and Arlene went to dinner on their own, and the others met the two boys for dinner at the same place as last night. The boys went to fish some more after dinner, but this time, Nonno and Madison joined them. The mosquitoes became too much to handle, so we got gelato and headed back to the hotel. We all have to pack tonight because tomorrow is another travel day. We are heading to Santa Margherita, near Genoa.

July 20 - Day 12 - Friday
Another travel day. We were in the bus and ready to go by nine. Once again we had our own charter bus. This time we were supposed to have a smaller bus that would just be big enough for our group and the luggage, but it ended up being a very large bus again. We had no complaints. We took a one hour ride to Milan and stopped for a few hours in town. We took a tour of the castle in town and of the galleria, a large mall type location outdoors, but covered with a glass dome. Bob Tigri skipped the tour because last night his knee tightened up and he is struggling with it. Nearby was a church, the second largest in Italy, the third largest in Europe. We spent a considerable amount of time there and our tour ended after we viewed the church. We ate at a cafe where Bob Tigri stayed during the tour and boarded the bus once we finished eating and using the restrooms. We completed our travels with a 2-ish hour bus ride to Santa Margherita and arrived at our hotel. We relaxed and wandered on our owns until our 7:30 dinner reservation at the hotel. We received a phone call that Giuliana from the Epidendio side of the family, was going to stop by for a short visit at 9:00 that night. After dinner we met in Noni and Nonno's room with Giuliana, her mother and her daughter and had a great conversation. After they left we were returning to our rooms, and right in our view line, only a few 100 yards away over the water, there was a fireworks show. It happened to be for Festa Santa Margherita di Ligure, a town festival. That came to our surprise, but we enjoyed it. It seems every time we show up in a new town, the greet us with fireworks to welcome us.

July 21 - Day 13 - Saturday
Bob Tigri's knee felt better by morning. I knew we came to Italy for a reason. We came to meet family. Today and tomorrow we had planned to meet all of the Lavezzos here in Soglio. We planned on picking up our two rental cars this morning at 11:00. Christina Lavezzo came to pick up Bob Sullivan and David to pick up the cars. The cars were not ready in time, so our schedule had to be adjusted. While they were out, they decided that we would drive into town and meet Christina and Mauro, her husband, the blood Lavezzo, at 3:00, and hang out in Chiavari until dinner and then go up to the house in the hills. Our group of 14 wanted to go into town early to explore on our own, but between late car rentals and lunchtime, we did not leave until 2:30 and we arrived in Chiavari just in time. When we met, Mauro and Christina's daughter, Giulia, was with them. We saw her when we were here four years ago when she was 13, and now she is 17. When we were in town, we visited a residence that was donated to the city to be a public garden and stopped for some beverages. We stopped by a pharmacy for Bob Tigri to pick up a knee brace just to be safe. After that we went to the Lavezzo house in the mountains. We socialized and had some drinks. Around 8:30 we went to a restaurant and Noni and Nonno treated the entire family of nearly 30 a 5 course meal and left at 11:45. By the time we got home it was time for bed.

July 22 - Day 14 - Sunday
Exactly two weeks down, exactly one week to go. Today we planned to meet the family again. This time we had a free day until about 2:00. We finally left at 3 and drove directly to the Soglio house we went to yesterday where the whole family was. We had some drinks, visited for a while, and shared some stories. Then our group of 14 and Marco and his girlfriend brought us to the original Lavezzo house built 300 years ago that Nonno's nonno lived in and had been the Lavezzo house several generations before that. Since the house is about 300 years old and it has been abandoned for so long, since Nonno's father was born, the house is in bad shape, but that is what makes it cool. The entire house is made out of hand-stacked slate pieces for the entire exterior and many of the interior walls. A majority of the roof is collapsed and many of the walls are tilting. The house seems like it may not last too long. Once one wall goes, it is most likely the whole house will go. We also wanted to see their slate cave where they produced slate pieces, but we had to get back to the current Lavezzo house. On our way back we stopped at the town's church. Once we walked in, nearly everybody gasped. The reason not only being because it was so beautiful, but because this was the church where all the family history took place. Our great, great grandparents got married in that church, Nonno's father worked there ringing the main bell, and so much more. Many of us agreed that out of al the churches we have seen the entire trip to Italy, this church of Soglio was the most beautiful. Bob Tigri saw a wood cabinet the dimension of a wall that was so well made and beautiful that he gasped and said he wanted to cry, knowing that this was crafted so long ago. The church was approximately built around 1700, and then renovated last year. We finally returned to the Lavezzo house where the rest of the family was waiting. We went to sit down at the dinner table outside. This time the Lavezzos were preparing dinner for us. They must have worked the entire day to have dinner ready for us. We had six courses, including rice, pasta, salad, vegetables, meat, and dessert, also followed by coffee. We took many pictures and they prepared a wall in the yard that we could write on to leave notes behind. The evening was great, but it had to end. We ended up leaving about 11:30 and many of us were sad, knowing we wouldn't see them again on the trip.

July 23 - Day 15 - Monday
It took me until Monday night to find an internet connection here in Santa Margherita. It has been four days. I should be able to access tomorrow also, and then Wednesday we change location again. I should have decent connection once in Florence.
Anyway, today we took the scenic tour of Cinque Terre. We took the 11:00 train from here in Santa Margherita to Rio Maggiore at the south end. We bought a ticket to walk the trail. At the next town we took the train two more towns to Vernaza and stopped for lunch and walked around the town. This took a surprising amount of time because after leaving Vernaza, we came back to Santa Margherita and it was around 5:00. These few stops took the whole day, but it was worth it. We then relaxed until our dinner reservations at 8 with cocktails thrown into that free time. After many attempts at the wireless internet in our hotel, after dinner we headed out and used wireless internet from another hotel so you could all be updated after four days. I still have to post pictures for today's blog, I will get to that later, but my prepaid time for internet is now at six minutes, so I do not have the time to do that right now. So in the next six minutes I will finish as much updating as I can.

July 24 - Day 16 - Tuesday
At 10:30 we all except Daniella and Andrea took a ferry to Porto Fino about 20 minutes away. Most of the girls went shopping in the town of Porto Fino. Bob Tigri and Nonno followed along. That group took the 12:00 boat back to Santa Margherita. The other Bob, David, Kathy, Sterling, Trevor, and Madison went up the hill to the town church and a castle. Sterling, Trevor and Madison went down early and fished at the dock for a half hour or so. When the others finished at the castle, they came down and them six took the 1:00 boat back. Bob and Sterling stopped for food when they got back to Santa Margherita and the others returned to the hotel. At 3:00 we headed out and drove to Chiavari to drop off the rented cars. There we met Christina, Edda, and Giulia who drove us to Lavagna so she could say her final goodbyes. In Lavagna, we met the Epidendios, Nonno's mother's side of the family. Christina went back to Chiavari, which is only about five minutes away. The Epidendios walked us to their house and here we socialized and had dinner. This family is not so tightly gathered, so it was only Giuliana, her mother and father, and her daughter. Around 9:30 we had to leave to catch a 10:05 train back to Santa Margherita. The Epidendios walked us through central Lavagna to the station. When we looked at the arrivals schedule, the delay column was filled in with 1:20. We spent a lot of time trying to find an alternative solution. The taxi service would have been expensive because the drive was so long and we would need three taxis, but we called anyway. We at least tried to call. We could not get an answer so we could ask any questions. All the nearby busses are too local to be useful. We had to wait out the long delay. Ten minutes into the wait, we saw a train in the distance so we called everybody to gather up. As it got closer it was not slowing down, and as it was passing, it ended up being a freight train. By the time the train came, the delay became an hour and a half and about five freight trains passed by. We assume that the passenger trains were held back to allow the freight trains to pass for the night. By the time we got back to our hotel rooms, it was about 12:15 when we should have been back before 11:00. So tomorrow is another travel day. We are taking a bus to Florence, our last city of the trip, and stopping in Pisa along the way.

July 25 - Day 17 - Wednesday
Our own charter bus left at 9:00 this morning. Around 11:00 we arrived near Pisa. The bus could only go so far, so it parked in a large parking lot, and a shuttle bus took us right up to the city walls and we walked in. We met a lady who gave us a quick informational tour - very interesting - and we entered the church and the baptistery building. Once our touring ended, it was lunchtime. We ate at a nearby restaurant within the walls of Pisa. On our way out, we separated into certain groups and viewed the street vendors on our way back to the shuttle. We got back on the bus and rode for about one more hour to arrive in Florence. We checked into the hotel, and "it's 5:00 somewhere." Then around 8:00 we went to dinner at the hotel.

July 26 - Day 18 - Thursday
We began with a breakfast provided by the hotel. Around 10:30 all but Kathy and her kids went out to catch an 11:00 bus tour. The bus drove around the city of Florence for two hours with a recorded informational narrative. It was interesting and drove us to very scenic and photogenic locations all around the city and its neighboring villages. After returning to the hotel, Nonno, David, Kathy, Becky, Dani, and Madison went out to the wine country and did some wine tasting. Trevor hung out on his own, and the rest went walking around town and over to the famous Ponto Vecchio and did some shopping for leather and jewelry. Noni, Sterling, and Andrea returned early, while the others kept walking. Hours later, everybody had returned and we met for cocktails and went to dinner at the hotel again.

July 27 - Day 19 - Friday
So Noni's side of the family lives in a small town called Aramo, near Lucca. The town is at the top of a mountain with a very small population. The location is so out of the way that many of the people who live there are young couples with no children. Even Noni's family does not regularly live there. Since Lucca is about a forty-five minute drive from Florence and Aramo is another twenty-five minutes from Lucca, we had pre-planned to rent a car today. We could not get large vans, so this time we got three cars to transport us all. After eating and picking up the cars, we were able to head out of town around 11:00. Noni had her cousin's phone number, so she went to call to let them know we were on the way, but the phone call responded saying that the number was not available. She tried both on her cell phone and the local phone in a cafe, but neither worked. When we arrived in Lucca we parked outside the medieval city wall and walked into the center of the city. Along the side of the parking lot is a river, so Sterling and Trevor got the idea of going fishing again, but they had no materials again either. That didn't stop them last time. While we walked around viewing the lifestyle and several churches, Trevor, Sterling, and Nonno scavenged the grounds. We were able to make a hook out of a paper clip and fishing line out of those sturdy packing straps stripped lengthwise and tied together. After our lunch in town, we kept some bread for bait. By the time lunch was over, we had to keep time, so we headed out pretty quickly to drive to Aramo. On the way back to the car, Trevor and Sterling threw in their home made fishing pole, but it proved to be a waste of time. When we arrived Aramo, Noni ran into someone, and after some Italian communication, she realized that this neighbor had her cousin's phone number. Noni was then able to contact the family and planned that we would walk around the town for a while and we would meet them at the cemetery 1000 feet back down the road. After some more Italian communication, Noni recognized that the neighbor was the ex-husband of her cousin's daughter, who we met during our last trip to Aramo four years ago. He was on his way out, so he left, but we walked up the hill and saw Noni Rina's house and enjoyed what we saw. Then we met Rensa and her granddaughter Sara. We walked through the cemetery seeing the burials of Noni Rina's mother, father, and others, the Giulianis. Around 5:30, we had to begin our way back to Florence so we could get down the mountain and get some water to re-hydrate - it was hot up there - and return the car before 7:00 with a full tank of gas. Once we got into the center of Florence, the traffic separated our three cars and we had to head back to the car rental place on our own. It ended up that we got back to the car rental office at pretty much exactly 7:00, but since it is Italy, the employees were already gone and the office was closed. There was a place to drop off the cars after hours so once all three cars showed up, the cars were returned and we all headed back to the hotel. We met for cocktails and split up for dinner. Noni and Nonno went to the restaurant at the hotel. Trevor was on his own, Bob and Arlene went out on their own, and the rest went to a large square and ate at that restaurant and got gelato on the way back to the hotel.

July 28 - Day 20 - Saturday
Today we all met for breakfast at 8:30 to eat together. While we were eating Bob Tigri wanted to make a toast since it was our last meal together on the trip. He wanted to do this last night, but we ended up splitting up for dinner. So Bob thanked everybody very humbly explaining that he really appreciated the opportunity to parttake in this trip. At 9:45 we had reservations to go to the museum with the statue of David. We spent an hour or so going through the Museum of instuments within the museum and admiring Michaelangelo's scupture. Once we left the families split apart, going to some shopping district to shop. Around 2:00 everybody had individually returned to the hotel, and Bob Sullivan and Juliane went to the Uffitsi Museum while the others just hung around. At 4:30 we were all at the hotel again to catch a large private charter bus that transported us to the train station. At 6:45 our train departed and headed to Rome. We took a bus near the airport and checked into the Sheraton for the night. Early in the morning we will be heading to the airport to come home.

July 29 - Day 21 - Sunday
Up early for breakfast and a quick departure to the airport. With a few complications with the baggage, we were in our private charter bus on the way to the airport by 8:00. At the airport, a few more comlications with the baggage and customs, but then we were in and at our gate ready to go. We boarded at 10:15 and our scheduled take-off was 10:45. We ended up a bit delayed for takeoff. Our plane finally was pushed out of the gate at 11:45 and we took off just before noon. We landed in Cincinnati after a scheduled 9:56 hour flight to take a connecting flight to San Francisco, but we have about a 5 hour layover and we have to get our baggage and chek them again. While we were getting our luggage in Cincinnati, Juliane and Andrea's bags were not brought to the carousel, so we let it go until San Francisco to see if the luggage still made the connecting flight. We got some dinner around 7 to hold us over through the night so we wouldn't have to eat once we landed. Also while waiting in Cincinnati, I was using my computer while it was charging, and for the first time in three weeks I had a conversation with a random person that I could understand. This person then was on the phone and it felt weird that I was able to understand what was being said. So at 8:45 we left Cincinatti and arrived in San Francisco around 10:30 local time. By this time, it has been about 25 hours since we woke up in Rome .Andrea and Juliane's luggage never showed up. The other families headed home while we filed lost luggage. The bags should show up by Tuesday. Then we took some time to find a ride home and finally got home right about midnight. After considering the time to get home and situated, we were out and about for 27 or so hours. Luckily some of us slept on the plane, and also we get to go to bed as soon as we get home. As long as today may be, it is worth it because the trip was worth it. We all enjoyed it and managed to tolorate each other just fine. Now we all get to go home and share our detailed memories with everybody.

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