Vacation time

It was a very hectic April for yours truly as the labour of love (thesis related) came to a fulfilling end. May has opened up vistas for travel and fun here in Europe again.

I am presently enjoying some lovely weather at Florence in Italy…dashing off this post from the third floor of our hotel that is overlooking mountains with the blue skies almost brushing them. The view in front of me looks like a neat canvas! Well, P and I arrived in Florence on Saturday. We went to a beautiful place called Siena in the Tuscany region, on Sunday. It was Cinque Terre on the Italian Riviera yesterday. The details of the visits shall be posted later. Btw, this is my third consecutive trip to Italy! We decided to choose scenic, nature friendly options this time over the usual touristy ones.

Wow, this country is rich in art, culture, (cuisine) and history. With nature’s artistic and magical touch added to it, Italy is no doubt a traveller’s paradise! It’s exploring time now. Hence keeping the post short. Ciao! 🙂

Enigmatic Venice!

How about dwelling in an island nestled between canals, away from the rest of the world? How about travelling on a ferry from one place to another? Or rather, owning/renting a boat and rowing it yourself away to glory for the sheer joy of it? Sounds like a fantasy?

Well, I’m talking about Venice in Italy!

Gondolas, bridge, buildings

Canal, gondolas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Situated on the Adriatic sea in the northeast of Italy, Venice is an archipelago that has 118 little islands and it is the capital of the Veneto region. It is a traveller’s paradise what with its unique artistic splendour!

A lane in San Marco island

We ended our Italy trip in style, here in this naturally wondrous place. As we arrived, we refreshed ourselves and visited a cafe close to the train station. Unbelievably, the cappuccino, croissant and the veg pizzas we had were an absolute gastronomic delight! Gosh! The pizzas were wafer-thin, freshly made, and they were being sold like hot cakes! In fact, there was not a single moment we missed home food while in Italy!

Piazza San Marco       Vaporetto

 

 

 

 

We took a ride on the vaporetto (water bus) and reached San Marco island. As we entered, we got a preview of the island and it only whetted our appetite to explore in detail. St Mark’s Basilica and the Clock Tower in the Piazza San Marco attracted a lot of tourists. It  seemed like a good shopping area too!

We decided to take the walking trail that was given in our guidebook, basically to get an essence of the local culture. We walked atop several bridges, beneath which were little canals and boats called gondolas. We stopped by each one of the canals to enjoy the beauty around.

We realized the island was a proper town as there were several medieval looking lanes and streets with homes, restaurants and neat shops that were selling some exquisite jewellery and handmade products. Well, as it was to be expected, we ended up buying a pair of silver earrings for yours truly – convinced that the design was exclusively made in Italy! 🙂 Interestingly, one of the shops had this board: Made in Italy and not in China!

Hmm…if there is an opportunity, I would love to visit an enigmatic Venice again!!!

The Vatican Elegance

After visiting a couple of “wonders” of the world, we were off to the smallest country in the world – Vatican City!

It’s the area (110 acres only) and the population (just about 800 people) that make it the smallest country in the world. But remember size doesn’t matter! It’s the seat of the papacy and boasts one of the world’s most magnificent churches and museums: St Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums.

Courtyard of the Vatican Museums

This time too we’d purchased the tickets to the Museums online (19 euros each including a four-euro online processing fee) to ensure we don’t lose time waiting in the long queue. We had chosen a Wednesday to visit the Museums – we’d read that many visitors throng the St Peter’s Square instead to listen to the Pope’s address on Wednesday mornings.

The Museums indeed wowed us with sculptures and paintings from different periods in history – from ancient near eastern antiquities of the prehistoric times to the contemporary art of the 20th century. “The Vatican Museums are spoken of in the plural because they represent all forms of art, all aspects of human civilisation, at every epoch and every latitude…” thus read the Vatican Museums guidebook we had purchased in the reception area of the museum. The book was colourful with pictures and relevant information. It was so interesting to go around looking at the collections, especially those whose mention was made in the book!

The ever popular School of Athens fresco by Raphael

A portion of the Vatican gardens

The collections were all housed in the Apostolic palace that overlooked the popular Vatican gardens. Our six-hour expedition within the Museums culminated with a visit to the famed Sistine Chapel.

The frescos (paintings on wet plaster, on a wall or ceiling) in the Sistine Chapel were indeed breathtaking! The Italian Renaissance artist Michelangelo’s paintings of the “Last Judgement” as also “Creation of Adam” were a beauty. We felt humbled by  those numerous immaculate paintings on the ceiling what with their profound three-dimensional effect!

The next day we visited St Peter’s Basilica, which is a very popular church with spectacular interiors – emerging again from the times of Renaissance. The dome of the Basilica is seen from many vantage points in Rome!

St Peter's Basilica (interior)St Peter's Basilica (exterior)

Spanish steps below, dome of the Basilica on the right upper sideWell, if you’re an art connoisseur, be sure not to miss the Vatican City while in Italy! Just a  word of caution – the eateries there could fleece you! 🙂