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Old 13th March 2010, 18:03   #1
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Thumbs up An Old Travelogue - Italy 2006

Friends,
We have some of the most entertaining story tellers and photographers in the forum, whose fantastic style of story telling has inspired me to write about my travel to Italy which happened in Dec 2006.

Facts/Names/Places/Information/Prices are true as per Dec 2006, so may not hold true now.

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6 days, 20 hours of travel, 3 missing bags, 2 wonders of the Medieval world, several new kinds of pizzas and dozens of lingering moments. That's how I would sum up the trip to Italy.

Italy has been a place which has captured the imagination of many a people. Some of the world's most famous monuments. (If u haven't heard about the Colosseum, u've probably been living under a rock...go n watch Gladiator for God sake). There were many things in my mind when I was planning the trip and along with those a secret fear… Will it be as beautiful as I expect it to be?? It would be a shame to come out of it thinking 'it's good but I expected more' (I will enlist one such experience in Italy later).

Now, u might have heard many people say that - Italy is a lot like India. Ritu Dalmia, of Diva - the best Italian restaurant north of Vindhyas, and the host of the culinary show Italian Khana on NDTV Goodtimes, goes to the extent of saying that - Italians are the Indians of Europe. (Couldn't help but also mention how I heard someone say Texans are the Punjabis of US). We knew how right they were when the flight landed in Milan without the check-in luggage. I as a thumb rule travel light when on vacation and don't check-in anything for intra-Europe travels. But the rest of the people weren't so lucky. What resulted was an awefully long wait for the luggage and an even longer in the line to register missing bags. Apparently half the flight's luggage was missing. The next thing we did was catch a shuttle to reach the city center using the shuttle bus which plies every 20 mins or so (This is the cheapest way to reach the city center. Ticket €5). Malpensa airport is a mere 48 kms from the city center so the shuttle took another hour. All this ensured that we just had time to grab a bite at the Milan central railway station and board the train for Rome. All the plans to see the Duomo di Milano went down the drain. Ah, what a beginning!!!

The better part of the journey was spent sleeping so I won't comment on how beautiful the countryside was. 4 hrs and 45 mins later we were in Rome Central station. The delay can be attributed to Tren Italia. Did I hear someone say another similarity?

Anyways we decided to cool off our heels that night and attack Rome the following morning. The missing baggage, the wait n the effort to explain the Italian lady at the reception, who spoke no English, that we were expecting luggage the next day took its toll I guess.

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Old 13th March 2010, 18:17   #2
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The next morning after a hearty Italian breakfast of croissants, butter, cheese, honey and a lovely cappucino we were off. First up - Musei Vaticani & Cappella Sistina. Here lie some of Michelangelo's greatest works like The Last Judgement and Histories of the Genesis (which adorns the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel).

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The Vatican Museums displays work from the extensive collection of the Roman Catholic Church. Pope Julius II founded the museums in the 16th century. It consists of the Gregorian Egyptian Museum, Gregorian Etruscan Museum, Sistine Chapel, Raphael's Rooms, Pinacoteca and the Ethnological Missionary Museum, the most famous being of course the Sistine Chapel. Tickets cost €12 per head. The Sistine Chapel is such an important and popular historic place that it has a swarm of people in it. Its fame rests on its architecture, which evokes the Temple of the Old Testament, its decoration, frescoed throughout by the greatest Renaissance artists, including Michelangelo whose ceiling is legendary, and its purpose as a site of papal religious and functionary activity, notably the conclave, at which a new Pope is selected.

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(Photo source:http://academics.skidmore.edu/weblog...%20sistine.jpg)

The Sistine Chapel is named after Pope Sixtus IV and was built at the end of the 16th century. His nephew Pope Julius II asked Michelangelo to paint the ceiling of the chapel. From 1508 -1512 he painted the ceiling all the time lying on his back. His paintings show the scenes from the old n new testament. Instead of the 12 figures of the apostles that the Pope had suggested Michelangelo ended up painting more than 3000. The ceiling was unveiled on October 31, 1512, and the whole world came running to see what Michelangelo had done and certainly it was such to make everyone speechless with astonishment. Central to the ceiling are nine scenes from the Book of Genesis of which the Creation of Adam is the best known. God is depicted as a bearded old man with His arm wrapped around a female figure, normally interpreted as Eve, who is not yet created and waits in heaven to be given an earthly form. God's right arm is outstretched to impart the spark of life from his own finger into that of Adam, whose left arm is extended in a pose mirroring God's. The ceiling can be better understood with the help of the below diagram.

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(Photo source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi...diagram_A1.PNG)
Dr. Frank Lynn Meshberger of St. John's Medical Center in Anderson, Indiana believes that the famous 'Creation of Adam' panel contains an image that has been misunderstood for half a millenium - a brain that symbolizes God bestowing intellect on man.(more...)

More than 20 years later he was asked to paint The Last Judgement. The Last Judgment is a depiction of the second coming of Christ and the apocalypse. It took 5 years to complete. The work is massive and spans the entire wall behind the altar of the Sistine Chapel. When it was unveiled in 1541, the Pope Paul III’s MC, Biagio da Cesena, was upset to see a caricature of himself in the painting. During the five years of work this guy had bothered Michelangelo so much that he decided to paint him in the caricature of Minos – Judge of the underworld. (The guy with the snake around him in the bottom right corner). In the painting Michelangelo shows himself as a limp skin held by St Bartholomew near the cloud (The saint is just near the left foot of Christ).

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(Photo source: http://vr.theatre.ntu.edu.tw/fineart...gelo-1534x.jpg)
From 1981-94 the Chapel was restored. This work was sponsored by a Japanese TV channel, Nippon TV, in return for the exclusive media rights for the ceiling.
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Old 13th March 2010, 18:39   #3
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Moving on from where we left. After Vatican Museums n Sistine Chapel it was time to visit Basilica di San Pietro (St Peter’s Basilica). The first thing you’ll notice about it is that it’s HUGE. The basilica is built in high renaissance and baroque style & covers an area of 5.7 acres and has a capacity of over 60,000 people. St. Peter, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus, was allegedly buried here in A.D. 64 near the site of his execution, and in 324 Constantine commissioned a basilica to be built over Peter's tomb. The current Basilica’s construction began on April 18, 1506 and was completed in 1626. because of such a lengthy contruction the chief architect position was held by many artists. The first was Donato Bramante. When he died great painters n artists like Raphael and Michelangelo took over and finally Carlo Maderno finished the work.

On the front façade of the basilica you can see the words inscribed -
IN HONOREM PRINCIPIS APOST PAVLVS V BVRGHESIVS ROMANVS PONT MAX AN MDCXII PONT VII (In honor of the prince of apostles; Paul V Borghese, pope, in the year 1612 and the seventh year of his pontificate).

For a long time it was the world's biggest church, but in 2000 it was dethroned by Basilica of Our Lady of Peace situated in Yamoussoukro, the administrative capital of Côte d'Ivoire. This was built as a clone of St Peter's Basilica and has aroused much international controversy, for the lavish building glittering with Italian marble sits in the middle of an impoverished African city where only a minority of homes have running water and adequate sanitation, and the cost of the basilica doubled the national debt.

St. Peter's has a strict dress code: no shorts, no skirts above the knee, and no bare shoulders. You will not be let in if you don't come dressed appropriately. And ladies if you find the Swiss guards cute then don’t bother coz they have to be single, devout Christians to qualify for the job.

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As you enter the basilica the grandeur and beauty of the interiors hits you in the face. There are more statues, monuments and memorials than I can remember. Immediately on the right aisle is one of the Vatican's greatest treasures: Michelangelo's Pietà, depicting the Virgin Mary cradling the dead body of Christ. This is considered by some to be one of Michelangelo's greatest works of art, completed when he was 24 years old in 1499 AD. It is the only work signed by Michelangelo (on a diagonal ribbon carved across Mary's breast - MICHAELA[N]GELUS BONAROTUS FLORENTIN[US] FACIEBAT - Michelangelo Buonarroti, Florentine, made this). Its noteworthy that, Michelangelo makes Mary and Christ appear to be about the same age. Mary has youthful features, although she would've been middle-aged at the time of the Crucifixion. Michelangelo portrayed her as a young woman to convey her purity and chaste character. An act of vandalism on May 21, 1972, after which the Pietà, is secured behind reinforced bulletproof glass.

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Over the main altar stands a 30 metres (98 ft) tall baldachin held by four immense pillars, all designed by Bernini between 1624 and 1632. The legendary location of the burial place of St. Peter after his crucifixion is reportedly under the massive baldachin.

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The Basilica’s Dome is also a dominant feature of the Roman skyline. The paraboloid dome is a double layered structure with a spiral stair case between the outside and inside layers of the dome is 42.3 metres in interior diameter, rising to 120 metres (394 ft) above the floor.

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For a fees of €7 you can take an elevator and then climb to the top of the dome. Def worth a visit believe me. I especially enjoyed the part where u walk between the narrow space between the outer and inner shell of the dome. The space is very less, hardly 2 feet at some of the narrowest points and almost claustrophobic.

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rom the dome you get a magnificient view of the Piazza di San Pietro (St Peters Square). The open space before the basilica was redesigned by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, from 1656 to 1667, under the direction of Pope Alexander VII, as an appropriate forecourt, designed so that the greatest number of people could see the Pope give his blessing. At the center of the oval stands an Egyptian obelisk of red granite, forty meters tall to the cross on its top and the surrounding Colonnade which has 284 columns made in classic Baroque style.
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Old 13th March 2010, 19:03   #4
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Left the Vatican to explore the city further, but just before that we caught a bite to eat at one of the roadside vans which you will find near every tourist spot. Now the van was being run by Bangladeshi brothers. Infact everywhere in Rome, you will see lot of Bangladeshi guys selling stuff on the street, managing souvenir shops and other things. Since my friend is a Bengali he managed some cool discounts and some handy travel tips throughout our stay in Rome.
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From Vatican we started walking towards out next destination, the Spanish Steps. En route we came across Castel Sant'Angelo. The Mausoleum of Hadrian, popularly known as Castel Sant'Angelo, initially was commissioned by the Roman Emperor Hadrian as a mausoleum for himself and his family. The building spent over a thousand years as a fortress and castle, and is now a museum.

It was in the late 16th century that the French king comissioned the building of the steps to reach the Trinità dei Monti church, which is one of the two french national churches in Rome (other one being San Luigi dei Francesi). However the steps were finally built between the 1723 -1726. Now the square below was called Piazza di Spangna hence the steps got the name Spanish Steps. In the early 19th century Keats & Shelley lived and worked here. During that time so many English were there that it was nicknamed ‘The English Ghetto’. The house right to the steps where Keats died in 1821 now houses the Keats Shelley Museum.
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In the middle of the square you see a fountain which was comissioned by Pope Urban VIII to commemorate a destructive flood in Tiber around 1600. After the water receeded the boat was found at the spot. La Fontana della Barcaccia (Fountain of the Boat). It was the last work of architect Pietro Bernini, father of the famous Gian Lorenzo Bernini. If youve seen Bachna Aae Haseeno, you will recall Ranbir dancing here on the song 'Small town girl'.
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On the steps and around the fountain a lot of people assemble just to laze around, catch a breath or just do nothing. You may also see a lot of locals there. At the top of the steps you will find the church and lots of artists displaying their work. The street which leads you to the steps is lined on both sides by some of the best names in fashion - D&G, Versace, Gucci et al and you may also find a line outside each such shop for entry. If I am not wrong, there is also a Ferrari shop. I remember going in there, but not buying anything from there.

From Spanish Steps we headed to Fontana di Trevi. Probably one of the most famous fountains in the world. Some of you readers might recall the famous scene from Federico Fellini’s movie La Dolce Vita, with Swedish actress Anita Ekberg in the fountain. One of the most celebrated images from cinema.
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The fountain is located at the intersection of three roads hence namedtre-vi(a). Work started in 1732 under architect Nicola Salvi and got completed in 1762. Giuseppe Pannini finished the work after Salvi’s death in 1751.

On top of the fountain is the coat of arms of Pope Clement XII, who began work on the fountain. In the center is the magnificent figure of Oceanus (Neptune), son of the Sky and the Earth, which dominates everything in its regality. He is the power of water, impressive in his capacity to give life and at the samer time destroy it. He advances in a chariot in the form of a shell. His chariot is pulled to two sea horses accompanied by tritons. The horse on the left advances violently symbolizing the sea in tempest, indicative of its violent, destructive nature. While the horse on the right advances calmly representing the calm state of the waters, useful and life giving. The two niches at the sides of Oceanus are the allegoric statues of Fertility (left) and Health (right).
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The foutain looks most impressive during night when the sculptures n the water is floodlit. A traditional legend says that if a visitor throws a coin into the fountain, he is ensured a return to Rome. Two coins will ensure a marriage will occur soon, while three coins leads to a divorce. However you need to throw the coins in a special way. Turn your back to the fountain n throw the coin with your right hand over your left shoulder.
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After Trevi it was time to head back and we made a walk till our hotel stopping shortly in between at the Piazza della Republica. The Fountain of the Naiads sits in the center. Naiads are the nymphs who protect rivers, lakes, oceans and the underground. Although finished in 1900, the fountain was not turned on until a year later because the female statues were considered by many people too provocative for the times.
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Old 13th March 2010, 20:10   #5
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Brilliant pics there. Thanks a lot for sharing.
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Old 13th March 2010, 22:43   #6
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Great pics.
Love the pic snapped at St.Peter's Square.
Absolutely fantastic stuff.
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Old 14th March 2010, 00:20   #7
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Next morning, time to hit one of the timeless wonders of the world – The Colosseum – perhaps the most famous and enduring monuments of the culture and cruelty of the ancient Romans.

The construction started in 72 AD under the rule of the Emperor Vespasian of the Favian dynasty and hence was originally named Flavian Amphitheater. The construction was finally completed in 80 AD under Emperor Titus. It got the name Colosseum thanx to the colossal statue of Emperor Nero next to it - Statuas del Gigante Nerone. (The reconstruction of Colosseum with the Nero's Statue).

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This huge amphitheater could hold about 60000 people who could enter through any of the 80 doors and occupy seats according to their social status. The inauguration of the Colosseum was marked with 100 days of games. The fights took place in the sandy arena. (Arena is the latin word for sand). It was used until 6th century after which it was abandoned till the middle ages. Amongst the beast fights and jugglers and magicians the most popular event was the the gladiatorial events (munera). ’Ave Caesar, morituri te salutant’ – (Hail Ceaser, We who are about to die salute you.) that’s what the gladiators used to say before starting the fight. The gladiators who fought were not only slaves and prisoners of wars but also free men who fought for wealth and fame. In view of their popularity these games were often supported by politicians seeking public support. The last gladiatorial game in the Colosseum is recorded in AD 438, when the games were abolished by the Emperor Valentinian III.

For €11 you can get an be a witness to this great historical wonder. Be there preferably early coz the crowds tend to swell with time.

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Just outside the Colosseum is the Arco di Constantino. This arch was built after Emperor Constantin's victory on October 28 in 312AD against Massenzio in the Milvio Bridge battle.

Here I met a former project mate of mine who was now working in Amsterdam, and had come to Rome at the same time. During all my travels in Europe, I have always met someone from my company. My travels have mostly been during popular holidays like Xmas and Easter and I guess thats the time when everyone gets to visit places. Imagine this, I met someone in Paris and then about a year and a half later ran into the same guy in Belgium, and all this while I never had any contact with him. I still don't have any contact with him, but I believe someday I will again run into that fellow.

From Colosseum we moved on next to the Roman Forum. The Forum is located in a valley that is between the Palatine hill and the Capitoline hill. It originally was a marsh, but the Romans drained the area and turned it into a center of political and social activity. The Forum was the marketplace of Rome and also the business district and civic center. It was expanded to include temples, a senate house and law courts. Much of the forum has been destroyed. Columns and stone blocks are all that remain of some temples.

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The Arch of Titus (Arcus Titi) is a triumphal arch that commemorates the victory of the emperors Vespasian and Titus in Judea in 70 AD, which lead to the conquest of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Jewish temple there.

The inscription in Roman square capitals reads: SENATVS POPVLVSQVE·ROMANVS DIVO·TITO·DIVI·VESPASIANI·F(ILIO) VESPASIANO·AVGVSTO which means - "The Senate and People of Rome (dedicate this) to the divine Titus Vespasianus Augustus, son of the divine Vespasian."

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The Basilica of Constantine (Basilica Constantini) was begun by Maxentius in 306-310 and completed by Constantine in 312-337. Today we can see three huge vaults from the original building. The basilica design later became a model for Christian architecture. For the Romans it was a center of justice and civic affairs.

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Temple of Antoninus and Faustina (Templum Antonini et Faustinae). When the wife of emperor Antoninus Pius died in A.D. 141, he had this temple constructed in her honor, and twenty years later at his own death, the temple was rededicated to them both.

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Temple of Castor and Pollux (Templum Castoris) was erected in honor of Castor and Pollux, the twin sons of Jupiter. Only three massive columns remain.

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Temple of Saturn (Templum Saturni) - Legend has it that an altar was built at the foot of the Capitoline Hill for Saturn and that a temple was erected on the same site. In early times, the grateful inhabitants brought their wealth, grain, wool, and oil, to offer the first fruits to the god who had blest them, and to have him guard the remainder of their treasure.

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Arch of Septimius Severus (Arcus Septimii Serveri)- This triumphal arch was erected in 203 A.D. to commemorate the Roman victory over the Parthians in honor of the Emperor Septimius Severus and his sons, Caracalla and Geta. Reportedly Napolean was so impressed by the Arch of Septimius Severus and the Arch of Titus, that he ordered his architects to reproduce these in Paris; the result is the Arc du Triomphe de Carrousel (a life-size imitation of the Arch of Septimius Severus) and the more famous Arc du Triomphe, which maintains the exact proportions of the Arch of Titus, though several times larger.

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On top of the capitole hills after a long flight of steps is the La Lupa Capitolina. The legend says that Romulus and Remus were nursed by a She-Wolf. Romulus becoming the first king and founder of Rome!!
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Old 14th March 2010, 00:45   #8
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@Jayabusa & //M
Thanks for the kind words.

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Brilliant pics there. Thanks a lot for sharing.
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Great pics.
Love the pic snapped at St.Peter's Square.
Absolutely fantastic stuff.
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Old 14th March 2010, 01:35   #9
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Hi

Thanks for sharing the great pictures and travelogue.
reminded me of my visit to St Peter's Basilica and Rome during 2005.

till date along with Taj Mahal, Great Wall of China, Rome Colosseum remains as some of the most magnificiant creations of humans. I had the fortune of visiting all these wonders of the world.

Waiting for more. Unfortunately i do not have any pictures of my visit to these wonders as all these visits (plus visit to Paris tower) have been on official trip and i did not carry any camera with me.

hope to visit these again this time with the camera and with family.
till such time, i will read this travelogue.
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Old 14th March 2010, 15:51   #10
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From Roman Forum moved onto The Pantheon, which is arguably the best preserved ancient building in Rome, coz of its constant use thru the ages. Standing in front of this structure I felt both intimidated and overhwelmed. Due to the size, structure, symmetry and the fact that something made 2000 yrs ago stood so marvellously, withstanding the test of time.

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The original Pantheon was built in 27 BC-25 BC by Caesar Augustus’ general Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa to to commemorate the Victory of Actium over Antony and Cleopatra. His name is inscribed on the portico of the building. M·AGRIPPA·L·F·COS·TERTIUM·FECIT - Marcus Agrippa, son of Lucius, during his third consulate, built this. Now as Julius Caesar lends his name to the Cesarean section, Agrippa lends his name to Agrippated Birth - he was born feet first.

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The Pantheon was intended as a temple to all the Gods. During its two centuries as a functioning temple, statues of gods filled the niches, animals were sacrificed and burned in the center; the smoke escaped through the only means of light, the Oculus. Now I overheard some guide telling his troupe that when it rains no water enters the Pantheon via the Oculus which has a 27 feet diameter. One of those things to which I would have to “see it to believe it”. Sadly it didn’t rain that day & I cant give a word on that.

After Christianity replaced paganism in Rome, the Pantheon was abandoned for a time until the Byzantine emperor Phocas gave it to Pope Boniface IV. In 609 AD, the Pantheon was consecrated as a Christian church.

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The main altar of the church is opposite the entrance, and the original 7th-century icon of the Madonna and Child can be seen above it. The interior is very rich and most statues inside are in pretty good shape. In the piazza outside the Pantheon is a lovely fountain topped by an ancient Egyptian obelisk.

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Outside almost all tourist attraction in Rome, you will find people dressed as Galdiators ready to pose with you for a small fee. Do it by all means if u r interested. The light was dwindling by the time we left the pantheon and I had decided earlier that I would visit the Colosseum at night when it would be all lighted and beautiful. Some of the people were not so excited by the idea and so me n S went to the Colosseum. Caught a bus and realised only after boarding the bus that tickets were not sold in the bus. You had to buy them before boarding. Travelling without ticket in Rome public transport was certainly not on my list of must-dos, but now that it happened m glad :P

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Travelling halfway across the city to visit the Colosseum at night was worth every nickle i spent. Actually I didnt spend any. Doesn't it look awesome?

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The other set of people who headed back to the hotel experienced an unsucessful attempt of pickpocketing on them. Rome like any other city has its share of crime. As a traveller who’s there for a small time, one should be careful and try not to get involved in any unpleasant incident. A theft, fight or loss of belonging is not why one would like to remember Rome.

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Monumento a Vittorio Emanuele II

Throughout Rome you will see fountains or water sprouting from the mouth of a lion/elephant kinda thing. More often than not the water is safe to drink, but don’t take chances. Drink it only if u see locals drinking it. Another thing which is quite common is that every now and then you will run into something which is historical. There's history in every nook n corner of this city. One cannot possibly know about everything but I try to capture the image n go back n read about it later.

The main mode of travel in Rome was walking. Believe me, this is the best way to explore. Walking thru the roads n streets, one notices not only the shops, buildings, houses from much closer quarters but also the people going/returning from work, people idling on the sidewalks, street vendors, the billboards, the signs and many such things.

The number of designer shops per square kilometer must be the highest in Rome. Almost all big names in fashion seem to be present here. Most of them are from here. And you will also find fakes being sold at every street. An authentic looking designer Gucci/Fendi/Prada handbag for as less as €25. €15 if u bargain a bit.

Though my fav shops were the number of pizza outlets in the city. Almost every second street will have one. While covering the city I would often hop into one of these and come out with a slice of pizza. In most such shops they sell pizza by the weight of the slice you want. And it comes out to something between €2 - €4. Allows you to sample a lot. There’s a huge difference in the way pizza is eaten elsewhere n Italy. Here most of the pizzas are veg, with generous toppings made of all kinds of vegetables and the freshest ingredients. I did not find a single place that had chicken pizza but the ham more than made up for it. *slurp*

They say there’s a city named Rome on every continent (I find it hard to believe..errr Antarctica??). I bet none of them is like this. 2 days in Rome slipped right past me and it was time to move on to the next destination.
Another dream come true!!
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Old 16th March 2010, 02:20   #11
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The next morning we left for Pisa. The day being 25th Dec the hotel mngr packed some Xmas cake for us. Really nice fellow, spoke perfect English and helped us a lot in getting the missing luggage from Milan to Rome. Anyways the train journey to Pisa was about 3 1/2 hours and it being Xmas, many of the travelers were desis. True to the tradition, I again met people from my company. I would say that go to any popular tourist spot in Xmas or Easter holidays n just shout the 3 alphabets that represent my company’s name, chances are you will see few Indian faces staring at u.

The train journey from Rome, Lazzio to Pisa, Tuscany is especially very enjoyable as the train runs along the sea for a large part of the journey and you get to enjoy the sights of magnificent villas, the vineyards & the Italian Riviera.

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Hopping off at the Pisa Central station we deposited our bags at the locker room and headed off to the tower. The walk (Yes, I love walking) from station to the tower is a leisurely 20 mins max. Just walk straight from the station. Chances are that there will be more people walking in the same direction. The walk would lead you across the river Arno, some old quarters of the city with pretty aged buildings & narrow lanes at times.

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It was a sunny day and the Torre pendente di Pisa (Leaning Tower of Pisa) was visible in its full glory, fighting a battle with gravity. Breathtaking!!

It is situated behind the Cathedral and it is the third structure in Pisa' s Campo dei Miracoli (Field of Miracles). The other two being the Duomo n the Baptistery. The Leaning Tower is infact just the bell tower to the Duomo, but def much more famous.

The Tower stands 58.36 mtrs tall. The construction commenced on 9th August 1173 and is spread over two centuries. Even before it was complete the inclination was evident and corrective measures have been taken from time to time. The tower was closed in 1990 because of the danger posed by the continuing tilt, but reopened in 2001.

An Old Travelogue - Italy 2006-4.jpg

Galileo is said to have proven that objects of different weights drop at the same rate by dropping a cannon ball and a wooden ball from the top of the Leaning Tower. For a fees of €15 you can take a ½ hr trip inside the tower, a must do. A batch of 30 or so people are allowed in at a time, so make sure u reach the tower in time. The 294 narrow, winding n foot-worn steps lead you to the three levels where you can stop in the tower. The view from top is amazing. And so is standing there getting urself clicked.

An Old Travelogue - Italy 2006-5.jpg

The campus has huge sprawling gardens, and lot of people r there just enjoying the sun. Next to the tower is the Duomo, the medieval cathedral entitled to St. Mary. The exterior façade is white n colored marble, huge bronze doors. Notice (on the top) the statue of Madonna with Child and the four evangelists Mathew, Mark, Luke & John. Inside there are frescos on the dome and an awesome mosaic in the apse - Christ in Majesty.

An Old Travelogue - Italy 2006-6.jpg

Midway down the nave hangs a special bronze lamp. It is commonly known as Galilieo's lamp, since it is believed that the great scientist Galileo Galilei figured out the law of the pendulum by observing the lamp as it swung back and forth. The inside also has some very beautiful stained-glass works.

An Old Travelogue - Italy 2006-7.jpg

Opposite to the Duomo is The Baptistery, dedicated to St. John the Baptist. An impressive building. Some more time was spent in the lawns eating pizza hamburgers n sipping the good ol Heineken. The pizzas here were sad and disappointing.

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And ofcourse, we clicked the age-old clichéd poses supporting the Leaning Tower of Pisa.


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Pisa is just an hour away from Florence by road or rail, so it might be a good idea to include the same in your travel iternary. I wasn’t as thoughtful while planning the journey.

For people who r interested in visiting other things in Pisa there is Orto botanico di Pisa, a botanical garden operated by the University of Pisa, Oldest Botanical garden in Europe.

If u r interested in reading a much finer travelogue of Pisa then please read Mark Twain’s - The Innocents Abroad.
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Old 16th March 2010, 03:30   #12
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Thanks for sharing lovely pictures along with the description. I'm surprised to see your ability to write an excellent travelogue nearly after 4 years of your trip.
I have a pretty bad memory to be honest :-)
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Old 16th March 2010, 06:33   #13
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ISP, Brilliant snaps. My only comment to what the NDTV lady says: "Italians are Indian of Europe" is that they still maintain their places very well !

That should a BIG lesson for us.
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Old 16th March 2010, 11:46   #14
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I hope you get this opportunity soon. Last post will be up tonight which features Venice. I havent seen the Taj Mahal but hopefully someday soon.
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Hi
Thanks for sharing the great pictures and travelogue.
reminded me of my visit to St Peter's Basilica and Rome during 2005.
till date along with Taj Mahal, Great Wall of China, Rome Colosseum remains as some of the most magnificiant creations of humans. I had the fortune of visiting all these wonders of the world.
Waiting for more. Unfortunately i do not have any pictures of my visit to these wonders as all these visits (plus visit to Paris tower) have been on official trip and i did not carry any camera with me.
hope to visit these again this time with the camera and with family.
till such time, i will read this travelogue.
Actually I did write a travelogue immediately after the trip and posted on my blog. I am using that as reference.
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Originally Posted by Paradox View Post
Thanks for sharing lovely pictures along with the description. I'm surprised to see your ability to write an excellent travelogue nearly after 4 years of your trip.
I have a pretty bad memory to be honest :-)
Thanks. Yes, the way the people maintain their places is definitely a lesson. Another thing to ponder is why we would not litter and vandalize the property abroad but wouldn't think twice about doing the same back home.
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ISP, Brilliant snaps. My only comment to what the NDTV lady says: "Italians are Indian of Europe" is that they still maintain their places very well !

That should a BIG lesson for us.
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Old 16th March 2010, 11:55   #15
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Originally Posted by lsp View Post

Thanks. Yes, the way the people maintain their places is definitely a lesson. Another thing to ponder is why we would not litter and vandalize the property abroad but wouldn't think twice about doing the same back home.
I studied at a place in Bangalore, where the whole campus was spic and span. The same guys who just when stepped off the campus started behaving the same rusty/dusty way they used to. I used to wonder (I still do), what binds them inside the campus?
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