Thursday, December 24, 2009


Behind the green door where the
branch meets for church!

Ross welcomes us in!

Jim holding a darling little girl named
Samantha at church on Sunday.

Merry Christmas everyone! I am so far behind on my blogging but I am determined to catch up very soon. Last Sunday we had a chance to go to church with the kids. It was our first time visiting their congregation and going to their branch was really delightful.

They go to church in Caserta which is a town north east of their home. It is a medium-sized town and one of my favorites. Heading away from Naples does wonders for a town and it is cleaner and more relaxing and just a fun place to visit. It is not on most tourists "to do" list which makes it an even more authentic and wonderful experience.

One thing I loved about their branch was that the people were so friendly and accommodating to us. There are about 1/2 Italian and 1/2 English speaking people in the branch. They have head phones and that was our first time experiencing that. It was great. One of the elders just did the interpreting when someone was speaking was about 1/2 and 1/2 time for each language. Another thing I loved was walking into the church meeting area (which is a floor that is leased in a tall old building) and it was like coming home. Everything was familiar and that felt good after being in a foreign land for a few weeks.

Laura and her friend sang a beautiful Christmas duet which was a treat for us as we had not heard her sing in church in a long time. And Relief Society was amazing and very spiritual with the whole lesson being taught in Italian and a sweet lady sat right behind us and translated the whole thing. We are looking forward to going back this week.

The Kids

Reggia or Palace at Caserta

After Church we were heading to the Palace in Caserta which is called the Reggia. This place is absolutely a must see as far as I am concerned. This palace was built in the 1700s by the King of Naples and was designed to be like the Palace of Versailles but just a little bigger! This Palace took 10 years to build and was only used formally by the king for one year before he replaced his dead brother as the King of Spain.

Last time we came I fell in love with it and decided it was worth climbing the immense staircase again. Here is the first flight. At a right angle to it is the second set of stairs exactly like it. The entire stariway, both sections was sculpted out of one piece of marble.

Italy the land of a million stairs!
When you get to the top you are half way into the Palace Rotunda

In this beautiful building the acoustics are amazing and when we got to the Rotunda there was no one there. Our family gathered around and sang some Christmas songs and we sounded awesome. I am saying that only because the building made us sound that way, if you know what I mean. Laura and I sang a couple of duets..I have never had so much fun singing before. Our voices were just ringing through the whole place very loudly. We sang Away In a Manger and Hark the Herald Angels Sing at the top of our lungs. My favorite touring moment so far.

Some passersby stopped to listen. I was totally embarrassed but hid behind our daughter's skirts who is the real singer. It was so neat for me as I have always wanted to be able to sing but never had the talent or the nerve. We also had lunch in this neat part of the palace as Laura brought us a little simple picnic.

Rossie having his sandwich.

This Palace has the most gorgeous ceilings. This one is still my favorite. The first time I saw it it literally took my breath away. I love this! This one got to me more than the Sistine Chapel because it was the first frescoed ceiling I had ever seen with my own eyes. The pictures do not begin to tell the tale. The other part of it that I adored was I could view it in solitude in this room with just our family. I am not a big crowd person and I feel that being jammed in with lots of others is very distracting.

This is what I climbed the stairs for ~ I have never seen
a more beautiful fresco than this one!

Some ball gowns of the time
on display in the huge ball room!

I was flat out coveting this!

So, OK, there are 1200 rooms in the palace and I could go on and on but instead I will take you outside to the beautiful gardens to see the waterfall.

This is a view of the Reggia from the waterfall. While we toured the palace and rode the shuttle to the waterfall, Robert and the boys walked up to the waterfall from the Reggia, we got there first, it is a long way. During WWII they use to land small planes in the water here. The Nazis took over the palace for a time during the war. Fortunately, it has been returned to the Italians, its rightful occupants.


LA Adams said...

Beautiful, awesome, what a grand experience! Is Samantha Rossie's sister? This is really a fantastic place.

Caroline Craven said...

You are having so much fun, singing in the rotunda of the palace, and at the top of your lungs to boot. I could only do that in a foreign land! I love that you and Laura got to do that. Keep sending the fun pics and the great blogs about Italy. You are making me want to go - not a difficult mission.

Marie said...

wow Bonnie, that is so amazing. I just had to show this to Todd so he could see it as well! Thanks so much for sharing your lovely trip with us so generously. I am enjoying every moment of it! Sending you holiday love! xxoo