Rome to Venice

Last Day in Rome

Day 8: Sunday, May 26. We were leaving on the train for Venice at 12:15PM. Since this was Sunday, we needed to find a church; this was not a big problem in Rome. We wanted to attend Mass at St. Peters with the Pope, but once again just did not have the time. During breakfast we discussed how we could get to Mass before leaving.

As I was settling our bill with the desk clerk, I heard church bells pealing. I asked the clerk what church it was and where it was located. I was informed that it was Santa Maria Maggiore and that it was two blocks away. This was one of the churches that I had heard about for years and we were right next door to it. We had plenty of time to attend 9:30AM Mass and still catch our train.

Santa Maria Maggiore

Santa Maria Maggiore or Saint Mary Major was constructed in the 5th century under the direction of Pope Sixtus III. This was after the Council of Ephesus in 431 accepted as dogma the fact that Mary was the Mother of God. According to legend Pope Liberius was told by a vision to found a church in a location designated by immaculate snow. The church has been changed and added to over the years. Following the directions from the hotel desk clerk we walked up a hill to the church.

Mass was being celebrated in the Pauline Chapel constructed by Flaminio Ponzio in 1611 and named for Pope Paul V of the Borghese family. The Main altar was surrounded by magnificent marble columns about 30 ft. high, capped by beautiful gilded angels. In the center of the wall in back of the altar was a large painting of the Madonna and child in a frame protected by glass and surrounded by four gold angels. The painting is purported to have been painted by St. Luke but the work has actually been dated to the 11th century, 1,000 years later.

After Mass we walked around the church; at  the far end of a long hall was an altar. The design of the altar was very similar to the main altar in St. Peters. I had no idea to whom it was devoted. We descended some stairs at the side and found a small silver urn. Whose ashes did the urn contain? Nearby there were some confessional booths. I saw a priest emerging from one and hurried over and asked if he spoke English. Imagine my surprise when he informed me that he was from Boston and was there to study. I questioned him about the altar in front of us and the mysterious urn. He told us that we were looking at the holiest part of the church.

The main altar was surrounded by a huge baldacchino (altar canopy) which was modeled after Bernini’s masterpiece. He further explained that the altar protected the Crypt of Confession that houses the silver urn containing five pieces of the manger that once held Jesus at his birth. What a rush that was!

We said farewell and visited the gift shop where we purchased a few souvenirs. It was time to return to the hotel, check out and catch our train to Venezia or Venice.

Rome to Venice with Good Company

We walked to the Roma Stazione for the last time, checked the train schedule to see if there had been any track changes and approached our train, which was waiting for departure. We searched several compartments looking for a place to sit and found a compartment with two unassigned seats so we exercised squatter’s rights and grabbed them. We placed some of our luggage in the overhead rack and the rest immediately outside our compartment where we could watch it. We then waited to see who our travel mates would be for the five-hour ride.

Our companions soon entered the compartment. It was a man and woman and their daughter. He was a professor at Georgia State University and his wife also taught school. They were on a four-month teaching assignment in Heidelberg and had taken some time for a brief holiday in Italy.

We spent the rest of the trip talking to our companions about their experiences in Germany. They had traded homes with a couple in Germany for the duration of this assignment and swapped both homes and cars. They had obtained access to a Mercedes-Benz. Such a deal!

As we glanced out the window, we saw the train was moving across the causeway and pulling into the Santa Lucia Stazione in Venezia.

This is an excerpt from my book “Fulfillment is a Place”, a trip taken by my son and I to fulfill my desire to travel Europe. The book is available through Amazon Books



Day 7: Saturday, May 25. It is a beautiful sunny morning and we have a great day of adventure planned. We’re going to use our Rail passes for the first time, and Florence is our destination. My first experience using the Rail pass was very pleasurable. Imagine! No crowds! No lines! No check-in! It was a traveler’s dream.

We picked up a city map in the train station and walked outside into the beautiful city of Firenze or Florence. We walked down the Via De’Panzanii to the Via De’Cerretani it was several blocks, going toward the Piazza Duomo.


The Duomo (Italian for Cathedral) has one of the most beautiful exteriors I have ever seen; colored tiles and stones are assembled into a gorgeous mosaic. It looks like the designer had sat with a pad in his hand and spent years performing geometric doodles until the plans were completed. This use of colored tiles is indigenous to Florence; the octagonal dome built without the aid of scaffolding is unique to the Duomo and was considered an engineering marvel.

The Duomo is dedicated to Santa Maria del Fiore, Our Lady of the Flower. It was built on the site of a Christian church; construction of the cathedral began in 1294 and continued until 1436. Some of the most famous Italian artisans cooperated in the completion of the church, Giotto (better known as a painter of frescoes), Arnolfo di Cambio, Andrea Orcagna, and, most notably, Filippo Brunelleschi, who was responsible for designing and building the dome, which dominates the Florentine roofline



Ghiberti’s Gates

Facing the cathedral and campanile is a smaller, octagonal structure, the Baptistery of San Giovanni (6th-9th centuries), noted for its gilt-bronze doors, elaborately worked in high relief by Andrea Pisano and Lorenzo Ghiberti. These beautiful bronze panels named The Gates of Paradise depict various scenes from the Bible. In a few weeks I’ll be able to compare them to Rodin’s Gates of Hell. I was stunned at the level of detail that Ghiberti had breathed into this magnificent work. The midmorning sun granted a golden highlight to the figures, providing many of them with halos. It was difficult to imagine that these doors had survived all these years, later I read that the original doors are kept indoors to protect them from the weather.



Unfortunately, at the time we were there both the Duomo and the Baptistery were closed and being short of time we pressed onward. Our next target was the Bargello.


The Bargello is located near the Piazza della Signoria. A crenellated 94M (308-ft) bell tower tops the building.

The Bargello houses a large collection of sculptures by Italian masters. Among its treasures are Donatello’s David, Perseus by Benvenuto Cellini, and the Rape of the Sabines by Giambologna.  In the Upper Loggia is the Donatello Room and his David and St. George, and St. John, also works by Ghiberti and Brunelleschi. The lower hall houses a collection of 14th century sculpture including several by Michelangelo.

In Search of the Uffizi

Mark and I set out in search of the Uffizi. I had never heard of the Uffizi but it was purported to have the largest collection of Italian Renaissance paintings in the world. We soon found ourselves at a river. This was the famous River Arno, how often had I found that word in crossword puzzles? I looked to the right and further down the river saw a bridge. At this time my mind was concentrating on one objective, finding the Uffizi. Too bad, it would have been nice if I had recognized and crossed the legendary Ponte Vecchio built in 1345. I still regret some of the things we missed because of our time limitations.

We continued to walk around the area and eventually came upon the Piazza de Uffizi where the entrance to the museum is located. We had to wait for perhaps 15 minutes to gain admittance to the museum. I have talked to others that informed me we were fortunate to gain admittance. If I haven’t already said this, “We were very wise to pick the dates for our fantasy trip”. We wandered through the museum; I had never seen such a fantastic collection of Old Masters in one place.

There were paintings by Giotto and others dating from the 13th century; Giotto’s beautiful altarpiece; The Annunciation and Saints, by Simone Martini dated 1333; Filippo Lippi’s hauntingly beautiful, The Coronation of the Virgin dated c:1441-1447; then there was Botticelli, The Adoration of the Magi, the two paintings of Judith and the Discovery of the Corpse of Holofernes, perhaps his most famous works Primavera and the Birth of Venus, Michelangelo’s The Holy Family; Raphael’s Madonna of the Goldfinch and St. John in the Wilderness; Titian’s beautiful Venus of Urbino and Leda and the Swan; another painting that became etched in my mind was Judith and Holofernes by Artemisia Gentileschi.

You may think I have a thing about Judith. The story is fascinating and may be read in the Book of Judith in the Old Testament of The Bible. The Israelis were under siege by Holofernes (a general sent by Nebuchadnezzar), they were quickly running out of food and water. Judith, an attractive widow, volunteers to save them. She dons her finest clothing, perfume, and makeup, and wanders into the enemy camp posing as a traitor. She proposes that she will show the enemy how to take the Israeli town with no casualties on their part. Holofernes becomes enamored of her. Judith gets him drunk. While he is sleeping she cuts off his head and sneaks out of camp with his head as a trophy. When her treachery is discovered in the morning, the enemy is so unnerved that they depart.

The return trip was uneventful, I don’t remember but I imagine we both slept most of the trip. Still tired from our exciting and strenuous day we returned to the hotel to pack. We were leaving tomorrow for that magical, mysterious, place Venice.

This is an excerpt from my book “Fulfillment is a Place”, a trip taken by my son and I to fulfill my desire to travel Europe. The book is available through Amazon Books



Pantheon and Trevi Fountain

The Pantheon was significantly built at the confluence of two small streams, the Aqua Sallustiana and the Annis Petronia. Legend stated that near this area Palus Caprae (the mythical founder of Rome) was transformed into a Hero by Mars and taken into the Heavens. In 27BC Marcus Agrippa built a temple on this site. After suffering through two fires the temple was totally rebuilt by the Emperor Hadrian. You remember Hadrian don’t you? This is the same Hadrian who built the monuments in Athens. He really got around! When the temple was rebuilt Hadrian gave Agrippa written credit for the structure. The temple was dedicated as the Pantheon (Pan means All and Theo means God, therefore dedicated to all the Gods).


The front of the temple is a large columned square with six steps leading to the portico. As you go through the portico you enter the Great Hall itself. A huge dome shaped like a half-sphere tops the Hall. The dome has a radius and a height of 21 meters and was made from poured concrete. How did they ever get a cement mixer that high? It seems that I read somewhere that huge mounds of earth were packed around the top of the structure and the concrete was poured down into the forms. This dome stands today as an architectural miracle and was the model for the Jefferson Memorial and the dome at the top of St. Peters. Over the years the Pantheon has been restored several times. In AD202 Septimus Severus and Caracalla did a restoration. In AD608 the Emperor Foca gave the temple to Pope Boniface IV who dedicated it as a church to St. Mary of the Martyrs. Fifty years later Emperor Constantine stripped the dome of its beautiful bronze panels and left it up to Pope Gregorius III to replace the missing panels with lead sheeting. Pope Pius IX also did some major restoration in 1857. As previously mentioned the Great Hall is a large open circle with seven chapels and eight tabernacles surrounding the walls. These tabernacles presently house the bodies of King Umberto I, Victor Emanuel II, and that most famous of artists, Raphael.

Trevi Fountain

Built by Nicolo Salvi in 1762 under commission of Clement XII, the Trevi Fountain is based on a design by Bernini. The water flows into the fountain from the ancient Aqua Vergine aqueduct. This also supplies water to the fountains in the Piazza Navona and the Piazza di Spagna. You may wonder what a Trevi is? Legend states that the fountain is named after a young maiden who directed the Roman soldiers to the original spring where they might drink. She is depicted in one of the bas-reliefs above the fountain. image020 The huge fountain is 26 meters wide by 20 meters high. It depicts two large Tritons (Mermen) pulling a seashell serving as Neptune’s chariot. Legend states that anyone throwing a coin into the fountain will return to Rome. I can assuredly state that this works since I returned to Rome with my wife (yes, the same wife that would not go with me on this trip, but that’s another story) in the Fall of 1999. The next stop is The Vatican. Hope to see you there.

This is an excerpt from my book Fulfillment is a Place, a trip taken by my son and I to fulfill my desire to travel Europe. The book is .Available through Amazon Books


Roman Antiquities

The next day was spent visiting antiquities:

The Colosseum:

This immense amphitheater was built by the Emperor Vespasian to immortalize his family name. The Colosseum took 8 years to build and was inaugurated in AD80 by Vespasian’s son Titus. Ancient documents state that the Colosseum would seat 87,000 people, it is commonly believed that 50,000 is a more likely number. It stands 165 feet tall and is built as an ellipse with axes 610 feet by 515. The Colosseum is three stories tall with eighty arches around the perimeter in each story. There was a cover called a velarium that could be pulled into place and provided shade for the spectators on sunny days. The floor of the structure was wood and below the surface were cells and holding pens used to house the human and animal combatants before the battles. Acropolis

The Roman Forum

Once the center of commerce and activity for the ancient Romans, the site of the Senate House, the meeting place for the decision-makers and ruling body of the citizens of Rome. It was also the site of many temples and monuments to the power and grandeur that once was Rome, however only the faintest vestige remains of these once enormous edifices, much of the stone has been either taken by collectors (don’t try to take any) or reused in other buildings



We headed down the Via del Corso toward what seemed ,to be a huge block of marble surrounded by a traffic circle. This enormous monument gleaming whitely and topped by its twin charioteers, appropriately named “the Wedding Cake”, was built in 1885 to commemorate the unification of Italy. The monument houses the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier as well as a museum. I can’t begin to communicate the feelings that this monument inspires in me. It is so wide, and so tall, and so white, and so imposing that it insinuates itself into many vistas of the city. For example, as you look out over the Roman Forum from the Arch of Titus, you can see the twin charioteers looking down protectively.


The Coliseum and the Forum were exactly what I had expected. I was blown away by the Memorial to Victor Emmanuel.

Were any of you surprised by this monument?

This is an excerpt from my book Fulfillment is a Place, a trip taken by my son and I to fulfill my desire to travel Europe. The book is Available through Amazon Books


We finally arrived in Athens and found our hotel. It was located in the old section of Athens called “The Plaka” and our room had a view of the Acropolis. We grabbed a bite and began walking and walking uphill till we reached our destination 515 feet above sea level. Displayed before us were the temples:                                                                             Acropolis

The Propylaea means foregates; this was the entrance to all. This structure was completed in 431BC.

Next was the Erectheum (Okay, grow up. I heard some giggles over the name) completed in 407BC. The most famous feature were the Caryatids, statues of maidens used as columns.


Finally The Parthenon completed about 432BC. It was designed to honor Athena for assisting them winning a battle over the Persians. It is said that Pericles (he of the   Golden Age of Pericles) supervised       much of the construction.

As we were departing the Acropolis we saw a small hill with a memorial in front of it. The placard said this was the site where in AD50 Saint Paul spoke to the Athenians about The Unknown God; for a rerun of this speech refer to youtube  Oops, I meant Acts 17:22-34.


One more temple I could never forget is The Temple of the Olympian Zeus. This colossal structure was completed in 132 AD. Today it is little more than 15 columns in the middle of a cinder lot. But what columns, these are God-sized columns. They reach! They stretch! No, the appropriate word is, they soar 90 feet upward reaching toward Zeus himself. Remember that the columns of the Parthenon are only 34 feet tall, these are three times that height.


My main comment on these ruins is, “If we had sights like these, we’d probably tear them down and build parking lots.

More to come


More Time

Going back to the start. “It was time.” Time for what?

I had retired early with the expectations of enjoying life, and with enough frequent flyer miles for two first-class tickets to anywhere in Europe.

One evening these plans were dashed when my wife told me she was afraid to fly that far. I pleaded, cajoled, threatened, — and gave up. Of course I managed to throw this at her occasionally.                                                                                                  Anger

Jackie could tell I was upset but she couldn’t overcome her fears.         .

Then she came up with a brilliant idea. She called my son Mark and asked him if he could travel to Europe with me. He said if he could sandwich it in with work and Law school he’d certainly go.

Mark was able to get the time off and we started our plans. This would be the best trip of my life! The fulfillment of all my travel hopes and dreams, “Fulfillment is a Place”.

So “What time was it? It was time! Time to Start, time to Plan, time to Do!


Have you ever wanted something so badly, it seemed that you could taste it?

Tell me about them. This a family blog so keep it clean 😉

It was Time

It was time!                  MC900019961

This is the opening sentence to an eBook I recently published on Amazon.

Fulfillment is a Place, is a travel narrative that I originally published with B&W photos; who can afford color printing costs? However, the technological improvements made to the Kindle Fire and other readers have now made it possible to use color photos in our publications.

I didn’t realize how much work I was getting into. I took advantage of the opportunity to workdo some editing and then went to the photo albums. After selecting photos I scanned them to digital format.

This little clip is supposed to represent Sisyphus rolling the stone up the hill (kinda poor isn’t it, best that I could do).

The next problem was identification; I knew what the pictures were but how do I tell you.

In a printed book the photos are inserted with a description that stays in place (with the photo). The flexibility of eBooks make this impossible. Fonts can be made larger or smaller thus captions can be separated from the photo.

So what’s the solution: Some people advocate creating a Table with the photo in one row and the caption in a row below this. The table consisting of photo and caption firmly attached is scanned as a jpeg and inserted into the eBook.

I prefer to increase image- canvas size. This leaves the picture the same size but adds space to the top or bottom. The caption can then be typed into this space.

Any other ideas?

Did you all know that you can use color pictures in eBooks? Of course you did.

More to come


A Little Help From My Friends

I’ve had a lot of stress recently, most of it self-imposed.

I’m not going into a lot of detail but it was caused by upgrading to a new computer and a new printer.

The first problem I encountered was attempting to print promo copies of my book cover. In the past I used PS Explorer 4 but discovered that it could not be used with Windows 7 X64. I tried various photo printing software packages; none of them would produce the desired size. I could resize the picture but when I went to print it I could not use that size.

Then I realized, I had replaced my old HP Photosmart printer with an HP Officejet printer. It’s a much nicer printer, but lacking some of the niceties for printing photos. I finally conceded and accepted the printers size choices.

HP Officejet

HP Photosmart



Next I realized I needed to print more business cards. I couldn’t find my business card template anywhere. I searched the hard drives on both of my computers. The file could not be located.

Where is it?

No problem, I back all my important stuff to Spideroak a cyber-backup company.

Evidently, I didn’t recognize the missing template as being important. All of my other files were there except for the one I needed.

That must be somebody’s law like Murphy’s Law or The Peter Principle.

Does anyone know of a law that deals with finding something that is lost?

I almost forgot my biggest catastrophe, the one that brought me to my knees.

In order to improve my Branding efforts as taught by Kristen Lamb in her book “We Are Not Alone” , I attempted to move my web domain from (my company) to (me). As a result, I lost access to my old web page and my new and improved blogpage.

I immediately sent a 911 call to my EMT Laird Sapir.

Laird threw all of my information into a virtual blackbox, turned a crank a few times, said a few hocus-pocuses, and sent me a message that it was all fixed. Talk about your Supermoms—.

I mentioned my stress problem to one of the people in my Bible discussion class. He gave me a copy of a book by Charles Swindoll, “Stress Fractures”. It’s an excellent book that uses Bible passages to apply to stressful situations. In addition it explains what caused the stress in the Bible passage and how it relates to life today.

The first chapter cited Exodus 18:13-26. Moses is told by Jethro that he has assumed too much responsibility and it will tell on him.

24 Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said. 25 He chose capable men from all Israel and made them leaders of the people, officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. 26 They served as judges for the people at all times. The difficult cases they brought to Moses, but the simple ones they decided themselves.

Why do we think that we can handle our troubles alone. It is so easy to ask for assistance from those more knowledgeable or thinking more clearly.

Before I retired, I delegated responsibility frequently and the results were far better than if I had tried to do the work alone. Since these people reported to me it was natural to delegate to them. But today I have no one reporting to me, ergo no delegates.

What to do?

What else? Turn to your friends.

As the Beatles song goes, “With a little help from my friends “.

So I did, and my stress melted away. At least, for a day or two.       

What do you do to relieve stress?

The Importance of Knowing What’s Important

The Olympics have brought many surprises.

First the number of World Records that have been broken. Can you believe it.

But Second, the mean and nasty comments that have been aired to the world at large.

Gabby Douglas was attacked by African Americans because her chemically straightened hair did not represent the natural condition that God had given her.

Lolo Jones was the subject of an unwarranted attack by a New York Times writer who thought that she was more concerned over her appearance than winning.

These criticisms gave no credit for what was important, their accomplishments. The years of training and sacrifice that brought them to the Olympics as designated representatives of the USA; the very best that we had to offer.

Then there is the political scene with the GOP demanding that Obama show an official copy of his birth certificate and the Dems insisting that Romney produce his tax returns.

While I would like nothing better than to discover that Obama is an alien, maybe even from Saturn or Uranus (no pun intended, yeah right), does it matter?

No, what matters is that the country is suffering. Suffering from ideological and economic divisiveness. What is important is to work together to heal our wounds actual or imagined, and bring our country out of its doldrums.

I won’t discuss who are the winners and losers, only that the arguments are so deeply ingrained into our mentality and the chasm so deep that there must be some losers and some winners.

Again, what is important is Knowing What’s Important!

I don’t often get on my soapbox but I’m really tired of the fighting.

What do you think?



Doing “Writerly” Things

I’m back. Did you miss me? You probably thought I gave up on blogging.

With all deference to Kristen Lamb, who has taught me, “Blog several times a week”, I’m guilty and I have no excuse. I allowed myself to get ensnarled in a myriad of projects, anything but writing.

I thought that if I wasn’t going to write, I could do other “Writerly” type things.

What kind of things? Oh, you know–er–um.

  • Take out the trash
  • Buy a new battery for my Dana
  • Build a new website or
  • Improve the present site

The following item provided a push: I got an email from GoDaddy telling me that my Hosting fees were coming due. I was paying for hosting fees on both my website and my blog, and I thought

“Hey, this looks like the perfect time to eliminate my website and move it to my blog. That shouldn’t be too difficult for a techie like me.”


In my early days before the dawn of the PC I had worked as a programmer using Assembler language for the S360. I must have done a fairly good job as I was paid well.


Having said that, I sadly confess, (hides face in shame  and murmurs) “I am totally inept at WebPages”.

You ask, “Why”.

(Said in total FRUSTRATION)! “Because, I have no CONTROL!

At my age CONTROL becomes very important. My wife wants to CONTROL me; the government wants to CONTROL me. You have to fight for every last thing that YOU could possibly CONTROL, and I can’t even CONTROL where a picture is going to be placed.

I insert the cursor at the point where the picture should reside, I Insert image; it appears, filling the entire page. Oh well I can handle that. With great skill, I shrink the image to the desired size, yes that looks good.

No, I want it a little closer or farther from the text, it doesn’t matter which. The damn picture won’t move!

After throwing a minor tantrum, I realize that I have not activated text-wrap and therefore the picture is locked in position, I change the setting and move the picture to the spot where I want it. Success


So now I have a Word document to copy to my Blog site. I do a Copy and Paste from Word to WordPress.

Looks pretty good but where are the pictures. Oh right, I have to Insert them, No you can’t Copy and Paste them.

Okay, I find the jpegs and upload them to WordPress and then insert them into my Page/Post. The picture magically appears–but it’s not where I want it. I try moving it, nudging it, backspacing it, nothing works—-I go to edit the picture to see if I can set the location. Oh, yes there it is, Left, Center, Right.

How about 1/8 inch to the right of the text?

What do you mean I can’t do that! I used to manipulate individual Bits of a Byte, and you’re telling me I can’t do that. Programmers can do anything!

(With profuse apologies you say), “I didn’t realize that you had this extensive technical background; you can do anything you want using CSS.

What the Hell is CSS? Oh it’s another language like HTML, XML, Java, and Pearl?

Languages, what kind of languages are those? What happened to Autocoder, Assembler, Cobol, and Fortran?

You never heard of those. What’s the world coming to?

Back to your languages, I know where Java is, do they speak Javanese? What about Pearl is that short for Pearl Harbor? I thought they spoke English?

Oh, you say it’s a programming language. Well, I should be able to master that.

I bought a book, WordPress Web Design for Dummies, I looked through it, I slept on it but it wouldn’t sink in. I needed a Rosetta stone to make sense out of this.

I sent a message to my mentor Laird Sapir who suggested a marvelous website with tutorials and opportunities to practice the lesson. was a big help.

Armed with my new knowledge I added fonts to my blog, changed font size, changed colors…..

But I still couldn’t place those pictures exactly where I wanted them.

In desperation or frustration over my inability to CONTROL I emailed Laird who readily agreed to help me. I felt an immediate sense of relief the moment I turned the problem over to her. In a week the pages were ready for publication. Her rates were very reasonable and I was very pleased.


So here I am writing this blog post to announce the new pages added to my blog site Donald Bueltmann

What do you think of it? Please let me know.

I have now been able to return to my WIP a trilogy about a parallel universe.

So what’s the purpose of all this rambling…?

You have to choose your role in life. Are you a writer, a publisher, a web designer, etc? Do what you excel at and give others a chance to demonstrate their skills.

One of my other mentors Harvey Stanbrough said this on his blog “I’m a Little Annoyed”

I think I’m going to listen to Harvey and remember this last experience and stick to what I know I can do and give others a chance to show what they know.