A Travellerspoint blog

Italy

Venice

sunny 28 °C

We have finally made our last stop in Italy and the grand finale' was Venice. P1040680

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This city has it all. The merchant families still exist and literally hundreds of shops selling everything from Antiques, Carnival masks to Murano glass. We wandered in and out of the tiny streets and alleyways getting lost and found just taking it all in. Getting around is easy, its either walk or water taxi or if you've got plenty of spare cash, take a Gondola. There seemed to be a million tourists in the city and although it was a bit crowded in San Marco's square and the surrounding streets we found we didn't have to go too far to find a quiet spot.P1040664

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The style of Venice is evident everywhere with orchestras playing in cafe's on the square and the latest Gucci4P1040684.jpg fashions worn by the waiters. We spent a couple of days in Venice before driving through the Brenner pass to Innsbruck. Looking for a bit of downhill excitement on mountain bikes. Lets hope for no broken bones! Andiamo :} P1040657

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Posted by mike1967 00:02 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Vatican Museum and St Peter's Basilica

Oh my what a wonderful experience. I started in the Vatican Museum after about an hour lining up to get tickets. The first corridor we went into was dedicated to marble statues.P1040466

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It was around 50 metres long and lined each side with shelves of busts and statues. What was amazing was the actual amount of these that were there. Previous to this, in other museums, I saw maybe a display of 15-25 in a collection but in this room alone there would have been hundreds. There were two rooms that were dedicated to animals, both real and mythical.P1040473

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Again to see so many in the same place was amazing. And so started the rest of the amazing journey. Another corridor the same length had painted ceilings, as did most of the rooms, however the sheer size of it was what made it stand out so much.P1040491

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Along the walls of this corridor were hand painted maps of Italy and some of it’s regions at different periods of time. I was really looking forward to seeing some of the Old Master’s paintings and couldn’t wait to get to the Raphael Rooms. To think that these painting were done in the 1500’s and are still such a wonderful sight to see, they have been well preserved.P1040507

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As I was walking through I came to a room where there were more recent Religious artworks and were pleasantly surprised to find a Salvador Dali. I shouldn’t have been surprised by anything at that stage but there was much more to come. Corridors with wall sized tapestry artworks, a case with antique Bibles, antique World globes and so continued the journey towards the Sistine Chapel. The first sight inside the Sistine Chapel was jaw dropping. I was expecting to see a working Chapel with pews and all but it has been emptied of all except the Altar and a bench seat around the edge, so you can stand and appreciate the sheer beauty of the artwork from Michelangelo. The entire inside walls and ceilings are decorated with frescos from the Master and I just stood there amazed. It is such a lot to take in and it would be lovely to be able to photograph it to look back on but I don’t think that you would ever capture the true effect as a whole. (And photography isn’t allowed anyway)
I moved onto St Peter’s Square and Basilica from the Vatican Museum and I thought that it would be hard to top what I had just seen. Again the sheer size of the Basilica is enormous and it is hard to imagine how long it took to build and how labour intensive it was.P1040526

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There are many small chapels inside and many Pope’s are entombed within, each Pope has a bust or carving about them somewhere inside telling of their achievements.P1040521

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One chapel has an amazing sculpture from Michelangelo.P1040523

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There is a small museum called the Pope’s Museum within St Peter’s and it holds many vessels, plates, candlesticks and crosses used over centuries and also robes that they have worn. They are mostly gold and encrusted with jewels (some are amazingly large!) Again there was no photography allowed in here.
After walking around for about 6 hours I left feeling that I could have stayed longer as there seemed to be more to see. So with that feeling in mind I am sure that if the opportunity came again I would happily spend the time to experience it all again. Patti

Posted by mike1967 09:56 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Italy

sunny 28 °C

We have arrived in Rome and hit the ground running. After a short stint on the Amalfi coast we decided we definitely needed pepping up and Rome was going to be the place to re-invigorate ourselves. Camp is a resort like place called Tibor, on the outskirts of Rome but an easy half hour train to the centre. The city is indeed beautiful and deserves its place on the world stage.P1040357.jpg There is so much to see and so many places worth visiting that a stay of three or four days will be on the cards. For us the most impressive thing is the architecture. There are many buildings still standing and still in use after such a long time and it seems like every corner you go around there is another stunning chapel or a fresco on a wall. They are only a thousand years old, no big deal. Have a look at that one, its two thousand years old. For the boys the highlight of Rome has been the beautiful girls everywhere, the shopping and “aww yeah, the Colosseum was pretty cool”. P1040367

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Just to hear how the Roman’s operated was hilarious. They were so sophisticated using false floors and lifts with intricate pulley systems, numbered tickets and urinals but then just for a laugh at intervals between Gladiator battles they would get a few criminals and “buggerers” strip them naked and throw them to the lions to defend themselves or to the gladiators for a bit of practice. P1040384

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The poor old Christians really got a bad deal and would run at the gladiators hoping for a quick kill..gruesome. It was actually fairly rare for a Gladiator to meet his death in the Colosseum due to the fact that you would have to pay one hundred times his value to his owner. What wasn’t rare was the animals and people of shaky morals being butchered mercilessly. Most of the ancient sites we have seen can be hard to imagine what they would have looked like in their prime however Rome seems to be filled with sites that are still as they were. We stopped and had a drink from the Trevi Fountain and the only way I can describe it is to say “ it’s bloody gorgeous”.P1040348

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Apart from the people everywhere, all trying to get a good photo it’s magic. We just waited a little while, saw a little opening at the side and joined the throng. Most of the tourists are on a tight schedule, get the photo then get out but we were in no hurry so time to enjoy. The fountain is still supplied by a first century BC spring fed aquaduct and the water is beautiful to drink. P1040452

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We continued to march through Rome and made it to the Pantheon. Bloody clever these Romans. The Pantheon is two thousand years old and is now a church. It is intact in every way and if that is not enough to separate it from the most buildings in the world, it has the largest masonry vault ever built. We are accustomed to looking at intricate ceilings being made mostly of timber and plaster but the Pantheon is all concrete. It is said that if the dome was built using modern concrete it would have collapsed under it’s own weight a long time ago. The Piazza del Rotonda outside is a central meeting point for Roman’s and tourist’s alike and is buzzing with activity. A fantastic place to people watch with buskers and hawkers playing a merry dance with police, café’s and bars offering happy hour drinks at outrageous prices all dominated by a central fountain.
It all got a bit much for the weaklings so the boys opted to catch the train back to camp ( an adventure in itself, another lost and found story) so the wrinklys’ decided to march on to the Spanish Steps. It’s another place that’s great to sit and take it all in. Dinner was bloody great and we could live it up a bit because the boys decided they weren’t hungry ( nearly had heart failure at that one) and we were on our own. I felt a little guilty in the end so asked the restaurant to make us a pizza to go and brought it back to the van. At this stage it was 10:30pm so I just threw it in the door and waited until the van stopped shaking before I reckoned it would be safe to enter. They were “bloody starving”, poor loves. We have more time in Rome and yet more places to visit. Currently I’m trying to look busy with a “do not disturb look “on my face while Pat does most of the work and the boys are sleeping in. It seems life on the road isn’t much different to life at home. I expect” the Wippet “will get us all moving pretty soon. Andiamo.

Posted by mike1967 01:16 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

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