Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Italy :: Venice I ::

Day 3 in Italy : Piazza San Marco, Venice.

Most Italian cities have several piazzas (city squares) with streets radiating from the center, while shops and other businesses are found on piazzas as it is a perfect place to set up a store. As for the St. Mark's square, it is said that Napoleon called San Marco "the drawing room of Europe." True that, the square was wonderful one that topped the piazzas I've been to. Although you know what it is looks like now, but nothing prepares you for when you walk around the square and see it for the first time with your own eyes. It is famous for a reason! (:

We booked a double room at Palazzo Minelli that feature view of the San Luca Canal, and it felt like a small apartment where there are waiting lounge and kitchen right outside of our room - spacious, and very comfortable. Also, it was pretty awesome waking up in the morning the next day, and found myself standing by the window to enjoy such Venetian atmosphere. This B&B is located at a good location as well, there was nothing here we didn't like - it was perfect for what we wanted. (˚▽˚)   

We came back to St. Mark's Square after checked-in our hotel for the bell tower, Campanile di San Marco. The queue was shorter than I expected in the late afternoon, and it didn't take long until our turn to take the elevator all the way up so chillax, no legs fatigue to climb stairs. :D

It costs €8 per person, quite pricey I would say but quick and easy access to the top; And, once at the top exited the elevator to find myself overlooking the city of Venice of 360 degree views around me on the rooftops, 8 euro actually well worth for the incredible views on all four sides as it is said to be the highest tower in the city.

Spectacular views, are they not? :p


After being captured by the awe-inspiring views for an hour over the rooftop, we decided to get out and down because we as human have to eat to fulfill our hunger need. Of course, travel for the good food as well. As we strolled around the city, we found ourselves standing in front of a fine restaurant craving for an authentic Italian cuisine, so we stepped in to be seated. We've ordered two kinds of spaghetti, one of them was squid ink bucatini, the other I don't remember, and a medium-size grilled fish to be shared. Sad to say the dishes we ordered were just mediocre to my liking.

Rialto Bridge, being one of the most iconic site in Venice, is regarded as the true heart of Venice. This landmark bridge characterised by its 24-foot arch is built on approximately 12,000 wooden pilings that still support the bridge more than 400 years after it was built.

St. Mark's Square, Venice, at night -- accompanied by orchestras playing classical music. It was very enjoyable, so romantic as well seeing couples around hugging and slow dancing at night while some preferred to sit and enjoy as time goes by slowly with the rhythm~~! Words couldn't describe any further details on how wonderful the atmosphere was on that night, all I can tell you is my memory of three days two nights in Venice still flows through my mind in an animated technicolour. :O

Ponte di Rialto (Rialto Bridge)
We loved the bridge! We came late at night before clock stroke twelve to walk the history and smell the smells, we were glad it wasn't as crowded as during daytime. The view of the Grand Canal from each side of the bridge was breath-taking. A surprise was the capacity of the bridge is strong and wide enough to have a wide walkaway in the middle with two rows of shops on each side. It was stunningly romantic! :D
(っ◔◡◔)っ ♥

It was a lovely walk around the city at night, but before it got too late we had to go back our hotel to recharge our batteries for the next day in Venice to Burano.


Thursday, 4 September 2014

Italy :: Rome II ::

Day two in Rome!

The enormous arena of the Colosseum is the largest remaining iconic symbol of Imperial Rome that still in existence today. The ancient Colosseum, also known as the Flavian Ampitheater, is no doubt one of the great works of Roman architecture and engineering. It surrounded to the east by the Roman Forum, and on the other sides, across the busy city traffic, by the Esquiline, Caelian and Palatine hills.

The following pictures below taken with my camera Canon G1 x are a glimpse of its former glory! ^_^

The monumental 3-tiered ancient Roman amphitheater once used for events such as gladiator games, chariot races, animal hunts as well as executions.

Clear view of the Arch of Constantine from the top, end side of the Colosseum's visitor floor.

After our visit to the great Colosseum, we walked around outside past the Arch of Constantine to explore more ancient ruins, Roman Forum (originally a marketplace) and Palatine Hill, where the Arch of Septimus Severus, Temple of Saturn, Arch of Titus and the House of the Vestals are located. We killed two birds with one stone and visited Roman Forum along with Palatine Hill whilst we were there, because the ticket allowed entry to both sites with just €12  - worth every penny! :D

Ruins of the Forum, looking towards the Capitol.

There was a lot for us to see at the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. The history packed into these sites is overwhelming, like Arch of Septimus Severus, where the eldest Caracalla and his younger brother Geta were initially joint emperors until Caracalla had his younger brother assassinated after the death of their father Septimius Severus. Of having lots of history to catch up on, one could actually spend more than two hours there. However, on my case, I couldn't enjoy as much as I wanted to under the blaze of the desert sun (back in June/Summer) w/o any sun protective items ╯.╰  ..

Even so, it was an amazing visit! ≧◔◡◔≦

We did a lot of walking, and ran out of water quite early during the visit. Of that reason, we were completely worn out and dehydrated at the end of the visit of Roman Forum. If you're planning a visit to the Forum, remember to bring plenty of water and wear a pair of comfortable shoes as uneven rocky roads are everywhere! :O

Light lunch at a random cafe - thin and crispy pizza top with Italian tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese served with parma ham on top. It was so gooooood having it with a glass of freshly squeezed watermelon juice, something thirst-quenching in a very hot day. And, parma ham!! :P

Housed in the Galleria Borghese in Rome, the works by Italian artist Gian Lorenzo Bernini credited with making the Baroque style of sculpture such as Daphne and Apollo (on the right) to his dynamic statue of Rape of Proserpine (on the left) featuring the abduction of the young daughter of Ceres by Pluto, and so forth.

Bernini was a true artist! I love his statue of Daphne and Apollo depicts the scene of Daphne who was a semi-human, semi-tree where her body encapsulated with bark, her feet molding into roots and sudden stop in being caught by the god Apollo during her chase.

Life-sized marble sculpture of David by Gian Lorenzo Bernini (on the left). The subject of the work, according to bible, David about to throw the stone that will bring down Goliath (a giant Philistine warrior), which then allowed David to behead him. On the right side showing a tower-like composition is the sculpture of Aeneas, Anchises, and Ascanius, which it depicts the moment that Aeneas carries his father, and his son behind from Troy. In his father's hand, he carries a container with his ancestors' ashes, and two tiny statue of Roman household gods on the top of the container.

Not to be a total Christianity-like person, to tell you the truth I am not a Christian; but, the declaration doesn't mean I am not into the stories in the bible. In fact, I am very interested at biblical narrative and so does Greek myths that explained why I'd spent money visiting Italian museums. Also, I am grateful to my partner who's a Christian, and has a wealth of knowledge; if it wasn't him, I wouldn't have known any to tell.  ≧◔◡◔≦

mural painting
The Judgment of Solomon- an interesting story between two women both claiming to be the mother of a living child, and in any case I got you if you are interested to know just simply click on the underlined to read under biblical narrative. ^__^

Every little thing is intricately perfect in this museum that built exclusively to house hundreds of the Borghese collection of paintings, sculpture and antiquities! Fyi, we bought our entrance fee at €13 on its website and ticket reservation was required to reserve a time slot.

After Borghese museum, we continued on our planned schedule to Castle Sant' Angelo, one of the most historical significant monuments of Rome. This structure was started in 135AD as a mausoleum for emperor Hadrian, then became a fortress and a refuge of the Popes in times of danger. That was all I know from the outside of the castle, it closed by the time we got there with our ticket bought in advanced. It was a total waste of €10.50 an entrance ticket, still feeling bitter about it that we couldn't visit the castle on time. Anyway, it was truly one whole day well spent in Rome with my partner and the next day to Venice!

Next update, Venice! (>‿◠)✌   


Thursday, 28 August 2014

Italy :: Rome I ::

Ay-up readers! I've been on the trip for more than a week a couple of months ago, and have visited 3 of the most famous cities in Italy. Rome is one full of history everywhere, also one of the city I've bookmarked way before I came to the UK. I had not done much traveling before I came to England and I knew it will be an excellent choice to study abroad considering the places I wanted to visit outside of my term-time; so, I made it! Rome was the first city I set foot in to discover many ancient monuments, interesting medieval churches and museums, fountains, and Renaissance palaces with my own eyes along with my best companion.

The main façade of the church - Christo Salvatori indicates the church's dedication to "Christ the Saviour".
Soon after we checked-in our hotel and had grab-and-go sandwiches on the way, the first church we had our eyes set on the very first day was Archbasilica of St. John Lateran. It is deemed the oldest Christian church in Rome founded in early 4th century and it houses the Pope's chapel - the church of the Pope! It has no entrance fee, defo a place to worship, sit down respectfully and mediate. I was very much in awe at the scale of the building and not to mention that intricate art has always been my thing since young. The view down the nave past Borromini’s niches with statues of the Apostles to the baldachin over the high altar and the apse with Papal cathedra at the very end was just incredibly magnificent.

I was pretty overwhelmed at the details on the carvings and art works in such beautiful basilica especially the dome of the Lancellotti Chapel with stucco work, I surely took my time around as this church is extravagantly decorated with paintings and stunning sculptures everywhere.

The Ascension of Christ above the Altar of the Blessed Sacrament, frescoed by Giuseppe Cesari.

The Papal cathedra that located in the apse, which makes this basilica the cathedral church of the Diocese of Rome as the cathedral Bishop of Rome. For that very reason, unlike many other Roman basilicas, it holds the title of Archbasilica.

The spectacular set of stairs of Trinità dei Monti well-known as The Spanish Steps is the main attraction between the Piazza di Spagna at the base and Piazza Trinità dei Monti, dominated by the Trinità church at the top that's currently under construction. On the square, just below The Spanish Steps, a fountain in the shape of a half-sunken ship of water overflowing its bow best-known as Barcaccia Fountain can be found. It was no surprise to see tourists from different countries and even architecture students taking their time on their seated spots sketching as this daring architectural feat with its intersected ramps and stairs providing the city with a particularly intriguing attraction.

As this attraction is a crowd-pleaser, please beware of those persistent flower peddler who'd pushes a steam or even a bunch of rose to your face and cheats with flowery words for money. I got tricked, and took us quite a while to get away from him. Nevertheless, it was a good experience taking into account we learned his cheeky trick and did not lose anything other than time. ^__^

As we walked away from The Spanish Steps, the area around the square is where to find the most reputable fashion brands and designers in the world such as Dior, Valentino, Hermés, just to name a few. The most well-known shopping street featuring luxury brands would be Via Condotti. :O

After quite a far distance away in search for the largest and the most famous Baroque fountain in the city, Trevi Fountain, we finally found it but at the same time seeing the monument completely surrounded by scaffolding had our high hopes in it crushed to pieces. Having seen the pictures of Trevi Fountain from the Internet for some times it was one of the places I wanted to go most! I literally shouted in surprise at my partner that "It is under refurbishment!" and my mood instantly went dooooooooowwwn T__T. 

When it is fully refurbished, I am sure it will be a beautiful site to see and not to forget to throw a good wish penny!

Hunger kicked in as soon as our hope has been crushed by the news of under refurbishment, so we decided to have snacks around and caught by the smell of pizza fresh from the oven just right next to the attraction! Dry-cured ham has always been one of my favourite food, how could I ever resist it especially accompanied with melted cheese and mushroom! *drool all over again*

To be continue...