Showing posts with label Italy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Italy. Show all posts

Monday, June 6, 2011

Milan Tour (Day 5 Part 2 of Chan Brothers Europe Tour)-Duomo di Milano and Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

After our Venice tour in the morning, it was already late afternoon when we arrived at Milan. My wife and I have already heard how Paris, New York and Milan are the fashion capitals of the world. We reached Lombardy and visited Duomo di Milano. The cathedral is dedicated to Santa Maria Nascente.

Our tour group was amazed at the Gothic Cathedral which took nearly 600 years to complete and is the 4th largest cathedral in the world and the largest in Italy. The architecture and the interior design is truly amazing and intricate! On the top of each high point of the church is a god or an angel. We were told that the church is the highest building in the vicinity of a locality and hence it seems to me that Italy is a city of gods and angels with the gods and angels looking after the thousands of people living below them in the cities.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Chan Brothers Europe Tour: Venice- Piazza San Marco (St Mark’s Square)and Gondola Ride :Day 5-Part 1

Today is the 5th day of our Europe tour in Italy. Our tour group proceeded to Venice, the second last destination in Italy. I have also been wanting to visit Venice- a city which is sinking! Since young, I have knew about Venice the unique city and hence it is with great excitement that we embarked on our journey to Venice.

We went to a pier after alighting from coach and boarded a cruise to Piazza San Marco of Venice.

Upon setting foot on St Mark's Square, the St Mark's Campanile,  the bell tower of St Mark's Basilica struck a great impression on me!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Chan Brothers Italy Holidays: San Gimignano Tour (Day4)-Part 4

After our soul-enriching tour of the beautiful Florence City, our tour group headed towards San Gimignano. San Gimignano was not initally in our travel itinery, it was an optional tour which the whole of the tour group agreed to visit, paying around 20 Euros each.

San Gimignano is a small walled medieval hill town in the province of Siena, Tuscany, north-central Italy. It is mainly famous for its medieval architecture, especially its towers, which may be seen from several kilometres outside the town.

Before we entered into San Gimignano after walking up a long flight of stairs, we were awed by the show-stopping scenary:

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Florence City Tour- Piazza della Signoria (Day 4)-Part 3

After Ponte Vecchio, our tour group came to the Palazzo Vecchio ("Old Palace") which is the town hall of the city. This massive, Romanesque, crenellated fortress-palace is among the most impressive town halls of Tuscany. Overlooking the square with its copy of Michelangelo's David statue as well the gallery of statues in the adjacent Loggia dei Lanzi, it is one of the most significant public places in Italy, and it host cultural points and museums.

Next, we moved onto the Loggia dei Lanzi gallery on the edge of the Piazza della Signoria. Here all the legendary heros came alive! We took photos and photos of these statues. I could recognize only a few of these legendary figures from the story books I read during primary school days. I could no longer knew whether they are Greece, Italian folklore, nevertheless indulging in such historic perspective at this beautiful town on this great day is simply a luxury of life:

Chan Brothers 12 Days Europe Tour- Ponte Vecchio (Day 4)-Part 2

After visiting the grand Basilica, our tour group headed to visit Ponte Vecchio. Ponte Vecchio. The Ponte Vecchio ("Old Bridge") is a medieval bridge over the Arno River in Florence, Italy, famous for still having shops built along it, as was common. 

At the heart of Ponte Vecchio, we saw a statue of Benvenuto Cellini who was an Italian goldsmith, sculptor, painter, soldier and musician, and he also wrote a famous autobiography. He was one of the most important artists of Mannerism. But the tour group was more interested in the splendid views of the Arno River around the statue as well as the Lovers' Locks around the statue.

Legend has it that if you and your loved one attach a padlock to any surface of the famous bridge and then throw away the key into the Arno River below, your love will last forever. Millions of couples have come to the Ponte Vecchio for expressly this reason, to lock in their love and throw away the key for eternity.

Chan Brothers 12 Days Europe Tour- The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore (Day 4)-Part 1

This morning, our tour group headed for a relaxing tour of the city of Florence! First, we headed to The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore!

The aforementioned church as well as our city tour are located in Piazza del Duomo, located in the heart of the historic center of Florence, (Tuscany - Italy), where one can find the Florence Cathedral with the Cupola del Brunelleschi, the Giotto's Campanile, the Florence Baptistery, the Loggia del Bigallo, the Opera del Duomo Museum, and the Arcivescovile and Canonici's palace. The west zone of this square is called San Giovanni square.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Italy tour: Tuscan fine dining dinner, Tuscany, La Certosa (Day 3)- Part 4

I still could remember the 2nd dinner my wife and I had when we were in Italy. We were in Tuscany and the dinner that night was a fine dining dinner, Tuscan style. Even when I had the travel itinery, I had started to google on “Tuscan Dinner”, hoping for a clue on what this dinner is all about. Alas, after a hard day of travelling and touring, we arrived at a semi-posh Italian restaurant for our Tuscan dinner.

Italy tour: Piazzale Michelangelo- Panoramic view of Florence! (Day 3)- Part 3

Piazzale Michelangelo, on the hill on the south bank of the Arno River in Florence, was a bonus item to our travel itinery in our Florence, Italy tour. At this place, there was a statue of Michelangelo, of course!

Chan Brothers Tour of Italy: Florence Peruzzi Shopping (Day 3)-Part 2

After our hearty lunch of Pizzas at Pisa and the purchase of the beautiful umbrella featuring the leaning tower of Pisa, the tour group of 24 made our way to another part of Italy, Florence, which is 89 km away. Florence was the third city in Italy we visited after Rome, Pisa. Yesterday, we had also visited the Vatican city, the smallest country in the world.

I am not sure whether to call Pisa a city. As a tourist to Europe, in Italy, I do not exactly know the nomenclature of Pisa, to call it a town, a prefecture, etc. The most important thing to do as a tourist is to have an open mind and to explore! (Below is a photo of a Jewish Synagogue in Peruzzi):

Chan Brothers Italy tour: Pisa, here we comes! (Day 3)- Part 1

This European tour is about hotels-hopping and hence our first night of sleep in Hotel Princess was just for 6 hours. My wife and I woke up at 6.30 am, Italian time, packed our luggage, proceeded for breakfast in the hotel, wore our winter jacket, and went down again, towing our luggage for the tour bus to come.

Today, we would be visiting Pisa, another part of Italy! When we talk about Pisa, we are definitely going to visit The Leaning Tower of Pisa!

I first came across the Leaning Tower of Pisa when I was in primary school. The Leaning Tower of Pisa is also an intriguing structure to me and hence I was naturally enthralled to visit the tower this day.

It took almost the whole morning by coach to arrive at Pisa. As Pisa was quite a controlled area, our tour coach stopped and the tour group took a public bus to reach Pisa.

Italy tour: Our tour of Rome (Day 2)-Part 5

Our (my wife and I) very first night in Europe was soon drawing to a close when we reached an Italian restaurant for our first genuinely European fare: an Italian dinner! It was indeed such a relieve for us as well as, in my belief, the rest of the tour group, as the group has ventured for more than 30 hours or so, unbathed, from Terminal One of Singapore, all the way to Turkey for transit and then to Italy airport, and visited 4 major attractions in Italy without any pause. It was hence a major feat for all of us! We were all tired and my wife and I learnt that the day in Italy at this time of the year, is especially long as at 8pm, we were still soaked in Sunlight as though it is 5 to 6pm in Singapore!

The Italian dinner was comprised of 3 parts: spaghetti, beef and gelato ice-cream (a must try ice-cream when one comes to Italy). My wife and I sat with a pair of old aunty friends from Malaysia for the dinner. Halfway through the dinner, I and another youngster went to buy mineral water bottles from a nearby shopping mart in the train station. My wife and I bought 8 large bottles. The water was cheap, costing just 25 Euro cents per two litres! That was much cheaper than the 1 Euro dollar for a similar bottle the bus driver sold to us.

Water, a sacred resource is made even more sacred here in Italy when we had travelled thousands of miles from Singapore to reach Italian ground. My wife and I had also prepared mineral water bought in Singapore, but they will run out as days pass.

Chan Brothers Europe Tour: Trevis Fountain and Spanish Steps (Day 2)- Part 4

Trevis Fountain and Spanish Steps were the last two attractions for the first day of our Europe tour and our first day in our Italy tour.

Before our bus arrived at Trevis Fountain, our tour manager taught us how to throw the coin into the fountain. There were, as he explained, 3 kinds of throw: throwing after one gesture is good enough, throwing after two or three related to something of a break-up in relationship, hence all of us did not try it.

I still could remember the scene when my wife and I set foot to Trevis Fountain. The sun has gone away, the air was cool and cold and many Italians, cloaked in winter wear were out having fun with friends and family.

The tour group stopped to take a look at a Gelato ice-cream stall recommended by the tour manager before proceeding to Trevis Fountain. The tour manager has earlier cautioned against pickpockets here and hence my wife and I were extra-cautious. We threw our coins and caught our poses on camera and then like the many of our tour members, we bought the ice-creams and indulged in them!

Tour of St. Peter's Basilica (Day 2)-Part 3

Our first day of European tour took us to the smallest country on earth: Vatican City! It was amazing, as the tour manager pointed out, just metres away from a demarcation across the road was Vatican City and on the other side: Italy!

The tour group joined the hundreds of visitors to St Peter’s Basilica and the same tour guide who took us for the Rome colosseum tour regaled us with the amazing history of the holiest church in the world! I was amazed that the construction of the church transcended over centuries, even Leonardo Da Vinci was involved in the intricate design of the church.

Tour of Rome, Italy and Rome Colosseum (Day 2)-Part 2

For this tour, my Dear and I have invested quite a substantial amount, purchasing large luggage, Timberland boots for use on Mount Titlis, Switzerland as well as sling bags to protect ourselves from thieves and robbers. Chan Brothers’ tour manager kept reinforcing to be extra vigilant and careful in Rome, as the message of many pickpockets is being hammered to us. There is a saying and I quote, “In Rome, do as the Romans do” and from what I have been reading about Rome since my early days, Rome is a place I must travel and which I find interesting.

A local Italian woman was hired to give the briefing to our tour group. Basically she briefed us on the history of the colosseum before leading us through two or three long flights of stone stairs to the top of the colosseum. I have never seen anything like that: majestic stone structure which has stood the annals of time.There was so much crowd that everyone is having fun.

I have never watched the movie “The Gladiator” but now here I was, with my wife at Rome Colosseum, the first stop of our European tour. This world-famous tourist landmark and icon was packed with tourists and visitors. The sun was unbearably hot and so was the UV, painting my transition lens an opaque black!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Our Chan Brothers European Tour of Italy, Switzerland and France (Day 1 & 2)-Part 1

It took more than 20 hours before my wife and I finally reached Italy for the start of our 12 days tour of Italy, Switzerland and France! 12 hours of the 20 hours was spent on the flight from Singapore to Turkey, then hours were spent on transit before the 3.5 hours of flight from Turkey to Italy.

When we reached Turkey for our transit to Italy, it was around 6 a.m, Turkey Time. What was interesting to me was that the plane we took, landed on some hundreds of metres away from the airport, and shortly after we descended down the most interesting method too: via the stairs being put down, we took a large bus and were whisked off to the Turkey airport. We spent the next 2.5 hours in Turkey airport, basically waiting, there was nothing interesting to behold at the airport as the language there was Turkey and what caught the eyes of my Dear and I were the interesting Turkey’s evil eyes, a must-buy souvenir for tourists in Turkey.

The transit flight, another Turkish airline was much better than that from Singapore to Turkey. The latter flight has staff who were unresponsive to my needs and they also failed to stop a western couple from talking deep into the night enroute, disturbing the sleep of many including my wife and I despite the passengers nearby asking them to shut up. Foods served by both planes were cheese, milk, drinks, some vegetable here and there, and essential Turkey fare.