Thursday, April 17, 2014

Italy (Mar)

3-13-14 Milano

Long drive to Verona this morning. Main attractions were the sets of the Romeo and Juliet movie. Especially Juliets house and its balcony. I couldn't care less. The Arena in the center of town was pretty cool too. More complete than the Colosseum, but also less complex.

I purchased a small pen case for my shake pen, as I was worried I would lose the blasted thing.

Made our way to Milan in the afternoon. Climbed onto the roof of the Duomo, the cathedral in Milan's central square. First time I've ever done that, wander the roof of a cathedral. All kinds of exciting.

Flying back to Taipei in the morning.

3-12-14 Venezia Outskirts

Hopped on a bus this morning for Venezia's ferry terminal. Made it there a bit after noon. We boarded a seaborne version of a tour coach, basically a craft holding around thirty or so people. First stop was a visit to the island of Murano to see the glassmakers. It was about then that I realized I probably would be able to afford any Murano glass sculptures any time this lifetime. Luckily it wasn't really my style. Still, the short glimpse inside the workshop was very interesting.

We hit San Marco Square after leaving Murano. Venezia isn't quite what I expected, but it is still the most interesting city I've ever visited. A gondola ride is a definite must. A 20 minute ride through the canals gets you a very intimate view of the common city, not just the landmarks. Certain people I know would complain about the smell of the canals, however.

For some reason, all the gondolas are black. They look like funeral hearses.

San Marco's Belltower got me a high elevation look at the city for 8Euro. Totally worth it.

Wanted a mask. Got a leather theater mask instead of a paper one from one of the many mask shops just to be different. That and I like leather.

Also picked up a few watercolors of the city. I'll frame them and hang them in my room.

I really enjoyed this city, what little I was able to see. I'll be back next time. With more money.

3-11-14 Firenze

I spent most of the day in Florence, though we visited Siena in the morning. Almost the entire day was spent around churches of different architectural styles, but did not actually enter one. The one in the center of Florence, Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore is the most externally impressive cathedral I've ever laid eyes on. Covered in strips of white and dark marble, it matches what people picture of Renaissance Italy quite well.

I did spend some time in the Uffizi Gallery viewing works by many masters, though I will say that the experience is quite wasted on me. I like what I like and I don't know why I like it. I did get quite a good shot of the old bridge, Ponte Vecchio from the second floor of the gallery that should turn out quite well, so all is not lost.

Did not end up buying any of the famed Florentine leather.

Will need to spend more time in Florence next time around. Still lots to see.

Venezia tomorrow. Really excited. Kinda.

3-10-14 Firenze

Sorta kinda drunk at the time of writing.

Visited Pisa. It really is leaning a lot. Cool. Hard to take picture.

Bought a bunch of chocolate. It was expensive. Regretful in hindsight.

Dinner had more meat than the last three days combined, and more wine than I could drink.

Went to a supermarket for cheese and more wine.

(Trails off here. I don't remember much, so it must have been a good day.)

3-9-14 Salerno

After an excellent breakfast at the hotel, there was something of a rush to Napoli Harbor, where I caught a ferry to the island of Capri. An hour's ride and we landed on a very charming vacation spot, albeit one in it's off season. The island very much reminded me of Catalina back home, but older and more convoluted. And more cats.

I rode a somewhat antiquated chairlift to the top of island. On the way up, I noticed the many gardens on the hillsides of the town, as well as numerous lemon tree groves. I learned later that lemons were a local specialty. Very beautiful views at the top, as expected.

Had lunch, with an excellent Chianti, before exploring the town. Lots of shops and winding side streets. Most of the shops were closed, but I learned that the narrow alleys would be packed full of humanity come summertime. I got lost for a bit in the residential alleys during my wandering, but my sense of direction lead me out of the labyrinth eventually.

I caught another ferry to Sorento and hopped on a bus upon landing. I took lots of photos on our way along the coast to Almafi, as the sky was being cooperatively mesmerizing, even as the bus was being troublesome and shaky. We stopped in Almafi proper for more pictures and a quick walkabout. St. Andrew's Church was really fascinating, as I'd never seen the like. Very Moorish.

Got back on the bus and headed for my hotel, reaching it some two hours later.

Pisa and Florence tomorrow.

3-8-14 Napoli

What a day.

Left Rome early in the morning for the 3 hour drive down to Pompeii. Come to think of it, a movie by that name was recently released, though I've not a chance to watch it. I'm sure the movie sets are not historically accurate though. The site and its tours do not really say much about the volcano's eruption or it's effects, and instead emphasizes the day to day lives of residents of the city. I didn't get to spend too much time on the site, but I did learn that prostitutes are named after wolves in Italian, but not why it is so.

Lunch was pasta and calamari with bland wine.

Made it to Napoli in the late afternoon. I wandered about the waterfront for a bit, exploring the harbor's castle before dinner. I concluded the security situation in Napoli is worse than Rome, due to the heavy police presence(in packs) and the graffiti covered walls of many historical sites and buildings. It's really quite sad.

Hotel wifi is damn expensive tonight, so I opted to go without. Sorted pictures instead. Almafi tomorrow.

3-7-14 Rome

I was only back in Taipei for a day before I headed back out to Italy. During that time, I discovered that the gold eagle I bought was a reproduction and only worth it's weight in gold. Expected, but sucks.

A daylong flight to Rome with a layover in Hong Kong resulted in a early morning arrival. First stop was St. Peter's Basilica. Having a visited many a cathedral, I will say that this one is unique in that it is the first that had a security cordon. There were lots of masterwork marble sculptures inside, most notably that of Mary and Jesus by Michelangelo. I spent a good hour in there, but I will say it didn't strike me as all that different from all the other cathedrals I've visited.

We visited what was left of the Colosseum after lunch, and I was greatly surprised at how very little of the original structure remained. Most of the visible Colosseum was reinforcing brickwork from the restoration way back when. What original pieces are left compose a very small fraction of what I saw. Somewhat disappointing,

Visited the Neptune Fountain afterward, which was all kinds of impressive. I spent 2Euro making a wish, then had gelato. It was right about then that I started to get really tired of white statuary, but Rome don't care.

I had a quick standing Cappuccino at a nearby espresso bar near the Pantheon. I have issues with that particular building. The bloody great hole in the ceiling seems interesting conceptually, but totally fails in practice. Also, Rafael is buried in there.

I wandered a bit more before I hit a Rimowa retailer, where I rode a Classic Flight 29” around the store before buying it at near half the Stateside price. Now I have room for my souvenir.

Ravioli dinner was followed by a night bus tour of the city. We hit the hotel pretty late. I had a hot bath to soothe my sore back(yay! No roommate!) before settling down to write all of this.

I didn't get to see even a quarter of what I wanted to in Rome. Doubtless I'll have to return in the future.

Pompeii tomorrow.  

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