Showing posts with label piazza. Show all posts
Showing posts with label piazza. Show all posts

Venice at leisure

Venice from Lido

Next day, when we woke up, were very happy to see blue sky after two days of grey sky. Around 9.00 AM we came by boat to hot-spot St. Mark's Square. St. Mark's Basilica which is Byzantine influenced was too crowded to visit that time and unfortunately in evening we ran out of time and could not make it so satisfied ourselves from outside only. Doge's Palace is a gothic palace with bridge of sighs at rear end which is made of white limestone and has windows with stone bars. It connects the old prisons to the interrogation rooms in the Doge's Palace and last view point of Venice that convicts use to see before their imprisonment. Campanile bell tower is worth for city view only but we did not take the flight of stairs as we have lot more to explore. Visiting museum was big NO as we had enough (time was another constraint).

St. Mark’s Basilica blue sky small

Did enjoyed trip along the Grand Canal with hopping on-off. Countless bridges lace together the neighborhoods of Venice. Amazed to see many historical buildings is slowly sinking into the marshy ground…getting tilted?

At afternoon after lunch we took a cruise to one of islands in the Venetian lagoon. We went to Murano where one gets chance to watch Venetian glass blowers fashion their delicate objects known for glassware, lamps, chandeliers and glass jewelry. We started with glass museum and visited few glass factories, they show you the art, but for them it is just part of work. We got few souvenirs for friends and family.

gandola

At evening we came back to Rialto Bridge. Rialto Bridge is famous for its shops. There are three bridges joined together which makes it special. Wandered around saw many taking gondola ride – it’s ‘expensive’. Best if you are a group of four to split the cost for those twenty minutes. Any way, we could not found another couple to share and decided against it. The route from the Rialto to the Academia (one of the famous museum) and back to piazza San Marco winds through ornate squares and is quite interesting.

TIPS: Get a travel pass to ride the elusive water bus – else single tickets are less economical if you plan to spend days touring in order to explore every nook and cranny. We missed few things at Venice; we did not visit the famous Opera house which underwent renovation. We stayed in Lido but we did not explore its beaches. Last but not least we missed to pick up those carnival masks for wall hanging.

It seems Venice is not the place for pasta. Rather, Cichetti (chee-keht-tee) are small portions of food served in bars all over the city, with small glass of wine. You eat while standing in a crowded room. Certain bars display all the Cichetti before you; Sorry, couldn’t enjoy that as I am not a wine-lover.

Siena

Doumo from Distance

There are plenty of places to explore in Tuscan region from Florence as day trip. We decided to visit Siena which is only one hour. Reason for choosing Siena was for its medieval beauty; in that era Siena and Florence were at war when Florence defeated Siena.

Travel by road through Tuscan region is really amazing as you cross those post-card hills. But exhausted from yesterdays walking on the cobble stone roads of Florence I dozed as soon we hit the highway that made Santanu bit furious as he couldn’t share those moments.

Piazza del campo

Bus dropped us near to city center from where we visited top-sights – Piazza del campo square (city hall, museum, bell tower) and cathedral (with a baptistery, cathedral museum and viewpoint) of medieval town with twisting alleyways.

Siena’s city square (unique shell shaped piazza) is huge and it is the main landmark; only accessible by feet or taxi. There are lots of leather shops along Via di Citta (Main Street). Besides, there are numerous other shops and restaurants lined against the narrow lane which we found outrageously priced and too crowded with tourists. We walked along that street and had mouth-watering pizza for lunch in one resturant.

Marble Work small

Siena’s cathedral is outstanding with black and white marble columns and dazzling mosaics on the floor. Do not miss the magnificent Bernini statue of Mary Magdalene (does this bell a ring from Da Vinci’s Code?) hidden away in a niche of marble. Duomo is unfinished as you can see the half constructed outer wall. inside every possible inch of wall, ceiling and floor has been decorated. Adjoining the cathedral is the Piccolomini library which is also must.

Later, we walked to San Domenico (Basilica Cateriniana) with delicate and soft gelatos in our hand. This is a huge gothic church with minimalistic design so there is no fancy marble works or any thing.

Finally, we walked back to the bus stop (to Florence) with my eyes wide open this time.

At morning we crossed famous open market of Florence. But unfortunately, in the morning we were too early and in evening we were too late.

Rome (Sep 5th-7th)

We wanted to visit all the top attractions of Italy in one trip but due to vacation time (for Parisians) and taking off from work and with Pamela's school we could not do. So, we planned for only Rome. We flew with Alitalia from CDG this time in early morning. It was much better than Ryan Airlines in terms of access to the airport. But the initial fun started when just before checking-in we have to run 3 terminals to collect our tickets from Air Traffic office. But other than that running, every thing was smooth. Luckily, we had nothing to check-in.

We started our days visit from Colosseum - just to check if all gladiators have gone home or not. I still do not know how to express my feelings about this magnificent achievement of mankind and engineering, which dates at least 2000 years back. After having lunch we walked along Via del Corso from Colosseum to Roman Forum and all the major attractions to Fontana di Trevi which refers to the three roads. Needless to say, the famous custom-to throw a coin into the fountain over your shoulder to ensure you return to Rome. A second coin will have you falling in love with an Italian, and the third marrying him or her. But we didnot took a trial. Anywayz, on the way we got the taste of traffic rules of Rome. From there we walked towards Spanish Steps (Piazza di Spagna) with all the big brand designers shops around it. After strolling at Piazza del Popolo square we walked to the top of the hill towards Pincio - a nice garden to take some time off under shady trees. From here we went to Pantheon via Piazza Navona another city square with fountain of four rivers and Egyptian obelisk in the middle. WOW !!! extraordinary dome of pantheon is the largest masonry vault ever built. Its really magnificent to see that. Finally, after hectic day of walking day long we decided to move towards Metro-Colosseum for our hotel.

Second day, we planned to visit opulence of the Vatican. So, started with Vatican museum and went to Sistine Chapel. It is must if you want to see the work of Michel Angelo and Raphael the great artists of Italian Renaissance. Better start this way as museum gets closed early around 2PM. From there we went to St. Peters Basilica the main Vatican church. We went to the top; the lift takes up to 3rd floor which is quite at height and from there it is 320 stairs more for the top. The view from the top was worth with those narrow stairs.

Last day, we spent again the whole day for one more last time in ancient Rome. We went inside of Colosseum and Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill. Those big structures with columns still standing just as it use to be really takes you back to history. After doing a final round of walk which included a late lunch close to Pantheon and walking towards Piazza del Popolo on Sunday when most of the road is taken by pedestrians we decided to pack-up. That road is really crowded and you need to watch your belongings that time. And, thus our trip to eternal city came to an end.
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