Tag Archives: italy

Travels With Trevor Barr and Family —Ashes to Ashes — Eruptions and Frequent Anger of Volcanoes–Italy



The Vatican Museum in Rome is still the favourite museum of the elder Barrs– the kids not so much. Jenn first fell in love with it at the age of 23 when she did her first Western Europe back packing experience. She couldn’t believe what they had in the museum, and Trevor said he could have spent a lot more time there.  He said he could barely explain in words how incredible it was.There are priceless works of art, collected by the popes or often expressly commissioned by them. More than 70,000 pieces are on exhibition in over 42,000 square meters, with another 50,000 pieces preserved in the vaults and storerooms. Like Trevor told me: forget about seeing everything in a single visit: it simply can’t be done.


The most sought-after stop on the Vatican Museum trail is without doubt the Sistine Chapel, however every room is rich in history and precious examples of life from every era. From the first moment you enter the Vatican museums, you start to feel like a part of history that is being written here. Although the Vatican museums are becoming touristic places more and more, if you just ignore that fact and let yourself be overwhelmed by numerous pieces of art that are displayed here, certainly you will have an unforgettable experience.



The region (coastal strip) between Naples and Sorrento is serviced by a local light rail like operation with 4 lines. But it is really several small coastal towns linked. Jenn asked a local taxi driver there if he was from here and he said no. She asked where he was from, and he said about 2kms from there.

Of course since we are still in Italy, we need more food photos. Real Italian pizza is usually made with more herbs and spices to make it unique. They also seem to put on many more toppings. There is almost no similarity to her. REAL Italian pizza will make your mouth water when you see it BEFORE its cooked. So what do we want to do now? Eat Pizza?


How about some homework in lovely Italy or some glamping? Heck no! Let’s go to Pompeii!

Pompeii Before


Pompeii After

trev ves glam

It was lunch time in the ancient Italian city of Pompeii. Vesuvius, the nearby volcano, was about to begin 19 hours of spectacular eruptions. All the people in the 600-year-old town of 20,000 could have escaped. There had been time to flee. But in 79 A.D., no one recognized the inherent danger of the mountain’s warnings.

By the time Vesuvius stopped belching poisonous gas, the bustling city of Pompeii was silent, completely buried by volcanic ash and debris. It remained silent for 1700 years.



The people in Pompeii and Herculaneum were taken by complete surprise when the volcano erupted. However, the signs were there in the form of a series of earthquakes. In 63 AD, a massive earthquake shook the region, and damage from the earthquake was still being repaired when Mt. Vesuvius erupted 16 years later.


At that time, around 20,000 people — manufacturers, merchants, and farmers — lived in Pompeii, and another 5,000 lived in Herculaneum. The region was a popular summer tourist destination, and  there were some smaller towns and resort areas as well. Many of the people who did not flee when the eruption started were buried alive by ash and other molten material. It is estimated that about 16,000 people died in the eruption.


Normally after a natural disaster, cities are rebuilt, but not this time. Apparently the damage was so extensive and the effect of the tragedy so great that no attempts were made to reoccupy the area. Looters, however, did return to Pompeii, digging tunnels through the ash and debris and making away with many of the city’s riches.


Historians believe that Pompeii was buried under 14 to 17 feet of ash and pumice. In 1748 when explorers examined the site, they found that the volcanic ash had acted as a preservative, and many of the buildings and even the skeletons and remnants of city life were still intact. This city frozen in time has provided historians with a glimpse into what life was like in ancient Rome, and more than 1,000 casts have been made of recovered bodies that were preserved in the ash. The city of Herculaneum was less fortunate — it was buried under more than 60 feet of mud and other volcanic material.


In the 18th century, it became popular for western art, theater, and architecture to draw on Ancient Greece and Rome for inspiration. Scholars believe that this movement, called neoclassicism, was heavily influenced by the excavation of Pompeii.


The only active volcano in mainland Europe, Mt. Vesuvius is considered one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world. It is a complex stratovolcano, which is a highly scenic and highly deadly type of volcano. Stratovolcanos have gentle lower slopes, and then rise steeply toward the peak. Their eruptions are explosive and involve pyroclastic flows, which are fast-moving currents of fluidized rock and gases. Mt. Vesuvius is located on the western coast of Italy, making and cities and towns such as Naples highly vulnerable to destruction in an eruption


Mt. Vesuvius is still considered an active volcano. The most recent eruption occurred in 1944, and experts believe that a massive eruption could happen again soon, posing potential danger to the more than 2 million people who now live in the area.


Be careful Trevor!

We don’t want to get the volcano riled up!


Oops! Too late!

Actually, this is the black sand beach called Positano on the Almafi coast. Positano has been a welcome beach retreat since the days of Roman nobility and even the ancient Greeks. Looks like fun!

Stay tuned to next week where we are headed to Greece with the Barr family.


Buy Linda Secaspina’s Books— Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac and 5 others on Amazon or Amazon Canada.

Part 1- Travels with Trevor Barr–The Overture

Part 2- Travels with Trevor Barr Sous La Ciel De France

Part 3- Running with the Barrs through Spain

Part 4 – O Solo Mio Italy 

Part 5-Travels With Trevor Barr — Postcards from Venice –Part 5

Part 6-We’re Off Running Again in Italy – Travels With Trevor Barr and Family

We’re Off Running Again in Italy – Travels With Trevor Barr and Family


Linda has been pre-empted for a couple of weeks due to an over booked schedule. We now resume our weekly travel program with the Barr Family.

Jenn Barr emailed a few weeks ago and had this to say about Italy:
I must say that Trevor was pumped for Italy–but he really looked forward to Rome and Pompei. But, I had been to Venice before and knew he would love it. He was just curious (as always) but still waiting for Rome! But when we arrived at the train station we became enthralled at the immediate sights that are really out of this world. Amazing architecture, a hymn in the air…not kidding…and gondoliers in stripes shuttling people about everywhere. I turned back to look at him with a smile as we exited the train station and he was visibly in awe of his surroundings. It’s another world. That was truly one of the most satisfying moments of the trip for me.

As Trevor told me when I interviewed him at The Moose for this story he said,”it was more than what he ever thought it was going to be.”

Jenn said Venice is city is a maze of narrow canals and alleys, and that not one photo or video she has seen truly does the city justice. Their city maps make no sense at all, and  you just have to wander, explore, and navigate yourself while being so visually stimulated you feel like you are in the real Santa’s village. Sure, it’s a tourist trap to some extent like many others–but it is a city full of residents, workers, students, people and pets going about their daily life.


It was HOT when the Barrs were there (felt like 40C). Trevor’s suit case at that time had busted wheels when it came time to leave. Another thing she will never forget (nor their kids) is how Trevor navigated them all back through the winding streets/alleys and over countless pedestrian bridges with stairs on each end back to the train station in 40 degree weather while carrying a 40 lb (minimum) suitcase on his shoulders. While the rest of the family leisurely pulled our luggage behind and followed him (while at times saying “Dad….you sure this is the way?”).

Turns out– after the Barrs left, the city of Venice placed a bi-law against suit cases with wheels. You now get fined big bucks now if you pull one in the city. As Trevor said,”no one makes anything tough enough for a world journey.”
Rome is a city of countless churches and monuments – the only thing that might outnumber churches are bars – one on every corner and mid-block also. There is an abundance of exquisite fountains and faucets where Romans drink and refill water bottles throughout the days, the water still coming in by way of the ancient aqueduct. There are the ancient ruins, palaces and villas at every turn, piazzas and obelisks – look right and you’re missing something on the left.


The Colosseum is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Rome. It is an ancient Roman amphitheater which was built between 70-80 AD. It could seat up to 87000 people in the audience, an audience that came to see gladiator tournaments, fights between wild animals and executions.


Speaking of wild animals, did you know there is a law in Rome that allows cats to live without disruption in the place where they were born. If you look carefully, you will see hundreds of wild cats climbing the walls of the Colosseum, and sleeping among the ruins of the Forum. At the Largo de Torre de Argentina you can see a cat sanctuary amongst the ruins of four Republican temples.


Rome is not like any other city. It is a city of Museums and history and it’s off next to Vatican City!

Part 1- Travels with Trevor Barr–The Overture

Part 2- Travels with Trevor Barr Sous La Ciel De France

Part 3- Running with the Barrs through Spain

Part 4 – O Solo Mio Italy 

Part 5-Travels With Trevor Barr — Postcards from Venice –Part 5

Travels With Trevor Barr — Postcards from Venice –Part 5


trevkcbirthdayvenice (1)

The last time we saw The Barrs was in a preview of Venice where they celebrated daughter’s Kaceys birthday in St. Marco square during a fireworks festival honoring long-ago plague survivors.  However, the family told Kacey all of Venice was celebrating her birthday. They were not far off as, nothing ever seems straightforward in Venice and what a wonderful thought for her to remember for the rest of her life.

Venice never quite seems real, but rather an ornate film set suspended on the water. The alluring sceneries, timeless architecture, enchanting language, cuisine, the people– it’s impossible not to love Italy!  Few countries in the world can rival Italy’s cultural legacy. There’s something magical about this place. I decided to write about the Barr’s  time in Italy on a slower level for some reason, as it seems like a dream.

Imagine the audacity of building a city of marble palaces on a lagoon, Venice, capital of northern Italy’s Veneto region, is built on more than 100 small islands in a marshy lagoon in the Adriatic Sea. Its stone palaces seemingly rise out of the water. There are no cars or roadways, just canals and boats. The Grand Canal snakes through the city, which is filled with innumerable narrow, maze-like alleys and small squares. If you are in Venice, then travelling down the Grand Canal is a must. Going in the evening must be amazing with the reflections of lights on the canal. You can buy a travel card for the Vaporetto if you intend on going down the canal more than once, with times ranging from 12 hours to a week. The canal itself takes between half an hour to an hour depending on how you choose to travel. Beats the bus!
Dodges palace is a must. Doge’s former residence, the Gritti Palace, now a supremely elegant hotel that reopened last year after a 35-million-euro renovation. technically orivate chapel. Next door to basicilla priceless artwork. Feasts of days gone by are available in miniature at happy hour, when bars mount lavish spreads of cicheti (Venetian tapas).

Bring your camera, because when you find the iconic Bridge of Sighs, you will probably want to take a photo, or two, or three. This is one of the main attractions in Venice and ever days literally crowds of visitors come to the bridge, just to walk across. I was interested to learn that the bridge was actually once used by Italian prisoners, en route to the dungeons. The bridge is fully enclosed and features two actual layers, so that the prisoners going to and from the dungeon would not bump into each other. Well that’s what they say anyways.

TREVSt Marko

TREVSt Marko2
The Piazza San Marco (St. Mark’s Square) is where you will find the Bell Tower, which is actually a part of the basilica. The Campanile has become quite a sight on the square and is around 100 metres tall. It was built in the 10th century and then some 800 years later, disaster struck, it fell down in 1902. It was then re-built, although somewhat slowly, and is now as beautiful as it probably ever was.
Venice lives on like a kindly maiden aunt, always alive, but you are never quite sure for how much longer.
Here’s hoping she has a few more years left, because as Trevor said, you just have to keep on going to visit her.


As Robert Browning once said, “Every one soon or late comes round by Rome”- and that was the next stop for the Barrs.

Part 1- Travels with Trevor Barr–The Overture

Part 2- Travels with Trevor Barr Sous La Ciel De France

Part 3- Running with the Barrs through Spain

Part 4 – O Solo Mio Italy 

Travels With Trevor Barr — O Solo Mio Italy — Part 4



What is Italy known for? Pizza, pasta, Verdi, and the Coliseum? Where to begin, where to go? When life gives you twists and turns, Italy is the place to go. It’s a young country, formerly made up of independent city states – now called regions. Each area has its own personality, its own dialect and its own cuisine. Moving from region to region – and sometimes from town to town – introduces travelers to new local specialties, and it’s a shock to those of us who think we already know what Italian food is. Like Trevor said,”they must have had 99 different kinds of pizza”. French fries on a pizza? Honestly? Is this really Italy?


In Italia, they just add work and life on to food and wine naturally. Everything you see you owe to pasta. Fresh pasta that tastes like nothing like it does here, and the list goes on. The Barrs flew from Barcelona to Turin. It was again a game of “what would we like to see next?”  Once they arrived at a destination they hoped there would be WiFi.  Each destination arrival was a place to make yourself comfortable while Dad scouted around to see what was available. Trevor said they always seemed to find a place to stay within 30- 60 minutes. Turin the capital of the Piedmont region is a city that has fantastic architecture, and after the Winter Olympic Games of 2006 the city has been restructured and once again gained its splendour.

Turin is also a city of mystery, because it is called “the city of the devil” and has one of the most celebrated relics: the Shroud of Turin.  After Turin they traveled to La Spezia where you can purchase an all day train pass that also allows you to hike the Cinque Terre trails. What is Cinque Terre? As Trevor said, the following pictures are not photoshopped. Incredible!


The main attraction of the Cinque Terre is the landscape. Mediterranean herbs and trees grow spontaneously from the top of the hills down to the water level. Well embedded in this magnificent natural scenery, one can admire the intense human activity of the ancestors, when the wine terraces were built.

It must have been an enormous work of transportation, carrying all the heavy stones on men’s shoulders and women’s heads. It was a project of love through the centuries. In fact it’s estimated to have taken about 200 years to build the entire stone-wall network. Its total length has been calculated to be at least equal to the Great Wall of China.


Walking is very popular, especially on the main coastal paths. It’s worth exploring some of the higher paths to Volastra (above Manarola), Monte Negro (above Riomaggiore) or paths that begin outside of the park such as the trail between Levanto and Monterosso.

Traveling by car is by far the worst way to explore the Cinque Terre, because there is little parking. To get from one village to the next involves driving all the way up to the high road and back down again. Sounds dangerous to me and not very enjoyable!


The leaning tower of Pisa really needs no introduction. Together with the coliseum in Rome, I am convinced that many people see the tower as the total image of Italy. The work on the tower commenced in the 12th century, and it began to tilt to an angle even before it was fully completed. The tilting is attributed to the poor foundations which the tower was built on. To get in, you pay around 15 Euros, or  you can admire the tower for free from outside. There’s no looking at a normal building again, especially after seeing the tower of Pisa.


Next it was on to Florence where I personally would have headed immediately to the Gucci Museum. Florence, capital of Italy’s Tuscany region and birthplace of the Renaissance, is home to masterpieces of art and architecture. One of its most iconic sites is the Florence Cathedral, with its terra-cotta-tiled dome engineered by Brunelleschi and bell tower designed by Giotto. The Galleria dell’Accademia displays Michelangelo’s “David,” while the Uffizi Gallery exhibits preeminent works such as Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus” and da Vinci’s “Annunciation

On to Venice and what Napoleon once called the “the drawing room of Europe”– What does that mean? You will have to find out next week!


A photo preview of Venice where they celebrated daughter’s Kaceys birthday in St Marco square during a fireworks festival honoring long-ago plague survivors.  However, the family told Kacey all of Venice was celebrating her birthday. They were not far off as, nothing ever seems straightforward in Venice and what a wonderful thought for her to remember for the rest of her life.

Part 1- Travels with Trevor Barr–The Overture

Part 2- Travels with Trevor Barr Sous La Ciel De France

Part 3- Running with the Barrs through Spain