Backpacking from Rome to Vienna - Part 1

Tripoto
18th Dec 2016

A backpacking trip across Europe has always been on my mind. Towards the end of last year - 2016 that is, I could eventually make it happen.

Starting in Rome and then exiting Europe from Vienna, I spent 16 days in between, staying in 9 cities and visiting 4 countries.

Photo of Backpacking from Rome to Vienna - Part 1 1/1 by Abhinaba Chatterjee
The mirror image of 3, that's how the route map turned out to be
Day 1

Landing at Fiumicino, I took a train to Termini, to get to where I would be spending the next 4 nights. It's very important for me to choose a central stay location, so that I can make the most out of the stay, and Termini was ideal. Piazza della repubblica was a short walk away from where I was staying, and a visit to the cathedral was just the beginning of what would for the next few days be moments of boundless amazement.

Day 2

The next day, I headed to the western part of Rome, starting with Trinita dei Monti. Climbing up the Spanish steps, I caught the first view of the Rome's skyline

Trnita dei Monti and the Spanish steps leading up to it

Photo of Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy by Abhinaba Chatterjee

Skyline from Rome, as seen from Trinita dei Monti

Photo of Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy by Abhinaba Chatterjee

Next destination was the Piazza del Popola. This huge Piazza with the obelisk at it's centre is a treat to the eyes. There are a number of cathedrals around the Piazza, which are probably not mentioned in a map. I visited quite a few of them; the uniqueness of the architecture and the richness of artwork in the interiors of the cathedrals always amaze me.

Inside of a cupola in a cathedral around Piazza del Popolo

Photo of Backpacking from Rome to Vienna - Part 1 by Abhinaba Chatterjee

If you appreciate Western Classical music, then Rome is a great place to attend a concert. Vivaldi's Four Seasons is one of the greatest pieces of music, and I have been keen on listening to a live concert. The last time I was in Europe, in Prague, I narrowly missed the concert; this time there was no missing. Listening to my favorite musical piece and that too in the setting of a church, was a perfect start to the trip and the perfect finish to the day.

Saint Paul's Within the Walls Church, venue of the Vivaldi concert

Photo of Backpacking from Rome to Vienna - Part 1 by Abhinaba Chatterjee
Day 3

I started the next day early and headed straight to the heart of Rome - to the Colosseo or the Colosseum, as we know it.

Sculpture on the Arch of Constantine

Photo of Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy by Abhinaba Chatterjee

One of the many gates of the Colosseum. Notice the plaque with a portrait of a warrior.

Photo of Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy by Abhinaba Chatterjee

Reminds you of The Gladiator, doesn't it?

Photo of Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy by Abhinaba Chatterjee

One of the other gates, where you can spot the Roman number

Photo of Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy by Abhinaba Chatterjee

Heading west from the Colosseum, I crossed the great forums of Rome and was greeted by the magnificent sight of the Monument of Vittorio Emanuele II.

View from the Monument of Vittorio Emmanuele II

Photo of Backpacking from Rome to Vienna - Part 1 by Abhinaba Chatterjee

The statue of Victor Emmanuel

Photo of Backpacking from Rome to Vienna - Part 1 by Abhinaba Chatterjee

From here, I walked down to the other biggest landmark of Rome - the fountain of Trevi or Fontana di Trevi.

Facade of the Trevi Fountain

Photo of Backpacking from Rome to Vienna - Part 1 by Abhinaba Chatterjee

Trevi Fountain

Photo of Backpacking from Rome to Vienna - Part 1 by Abhinaba Chatterjee

From the Trevi Fountain, I headed to the Pantheon. This is one place I was most eager to visit. The grand architecture, and the sheer historical significance, left me spellbound. It was a gloomy and rainy day in Rome, and it didn't help my photographs, but the sight of the rain falling through the oculus of the Pantheon, more than made up for all the gloominess.

Ray of light from the oculus illuminating the dome of Pantheon

Photo of Backpacking from Rome to Vienna - Part 1 by Abhinaba Chatterjee

The last stop of the day was Piazza Navona, replete with interesting fountains and a gorgeous cathedral.

Fountain at Piazza Navona

Photo of Backpacking from Rome to Vienna - Part 1 by Abhinaba Chatterjee
Day 4

I started the next day with a visit to the far west of Rome, to the smallest country in the world, Vatican. After catching a quick glimpse of the St. Peter's Basilica and the square, I headed to the Vatican Museum.

Dome of the St. Peter's Basilica and the facade

Photo of Vatican City by Abhinaba Chatterjee

Well, pages can be written about the Vatican Museum itself, owing to its vastness and richness - the mummies of Egypt, statues from different periods of Roman history, paintings and frescoes and the greatest work of art - the ceiling of Sistine Chapel. Without saying much, let me provide a pictorial glimpse of the museum.

The iconic bronze pine cone

Photo of Backpacking from Rome to Vienna - Part 1 by Abhinaba Chatterjee
Photo of Backpacking from Rome to Vienna - Part 1 by Abhinaba Chatterjee
Photo of Backpacking from Rome to Vienna - Part 1 by Abhinaba Chatterjee
Photo of Backpacking from Rome to Vienna - Part 1 by Abhinaba Chatterjee
Photo of Backpacking from Rome to Vienna - Part 1 by Abhinaba Chatterjee

Galleria delle Carte Geographiche, or the gallery of maps. Astounding!

Photo of Backpacking from Rome to Vienna - Part 1 by Abhinaba Chatterjee

Words can't describe the magnificence of the Vatican museum, hence no point attempting. After what was quite an overwhelming day, I wanted to see a side of Rome which is more regular, more normal. Taking the suggestion of a friend, I decided to visit Trastevere. Trastevere is at the southern part of Rome, across the Tiber. For the first time in the 4 days that I was in Rome, I came close to the day-to-day life of the citizens of Rome, except obviously when I visited the smaller cathedrals off the tourist map. It felt great to see people shopping for Christmas - buying flowers and cheese and wine and meat. And it also told me, how conveniently generations of Romans have balanced glorious history with contemporary lifestyle, and it isn't as common or easy.

Day 5

Last day in Rome, before I head to another glorious Italian city - Florence, and I felt I still hadn't had enough. The day was bright, there was a nip in the air, and what would be better than a walk along the Tiber. Starting from the Vatican, I walked past Castel Sant' Angelo and Pallazo di Giustizia and crossed the Ponte Umberto I.

Photo of Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy by Abhinaba Chatterjee
Photo of Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy by Abhinaba Chatterjee

To carry over from last evening's experience of the regular life in Rome, I visited the open market in Campo de Fiori. From there I continued my walk along Tiber and crossed Isola - the island on the Tiber and made one more visit to the Trastevere, before bidding Rome goodbye.

Buying vegetables in the Campo di Fiori market

Photo of Backpacking from Rome to Vienna - Part 1 by Abhinaba Chatterjee

It was time to move on to the next stop on my trip map, Florence. Getting to Florence from Rome is simple, there are trains almost every hour from the Termini station. I took a slow train (3 hours journey time) as it was cheaper and would also allow me to enjoy the Tuscan landscape, not zip past at a breakneck speed.

Day 6

Florence is the birth place of Renaissance, so there is art in every corner, literally. Apart from the Renaissance period art and architecture, Florence is replete with street art.

I made my way to Piazza della Signoria. The following photographs provide a glimpse of the magnificent sculptures of Renaissance era which are at display at the Piazza and along the way.

Example of Florentine sculpture

Photo of Florence, Metropolitan City of Florence, Italy by Abhinaba Chatterjee
Photo of Florence, Metropolitan City of Florence, Italy by Abhinaba Chatterjee
Photo of Florence, Metropolitan City of Florence, Italy by Abhinaba Chatterjee
Photo of Florence, Metropolitan City of Florence, Italy by Abhinaba Chatterjee
Photo of Florence, Metropolitan City of Florence, Italy by Abhinaba Chatterjee

The picturesque Arno

Photo of Florence, Metropolitan City of Florence, Italy by Abhinaba Chatterjee
Photo of Florence, Metropolitan City of Florence, Italy by Abhinaba Chatterjee

Fresco on the interior of the cuppola

Photo of Florence, Metropolitan City of Florence, Italy by Abhinaba Chatterjee

The bust of Dante Alighieri on the

Photo of Florence, Metropolitan City of Florence, Italy by Abhinaba Chatterjee

A visit to Florence is never complete without the view of the city from Piazzale Michelangelo; because it is the best view of the city.

The skyline of Florence, dominated by the grand dome of the Duomo

Photo of Backpacking from Rome to Vienna - Part 1 by Abhinaba Chatterjee
Day 7

Like you can't miss this amazing view of Florence, you also can't miss visiting Galleria degli Uffizi. It not only gives you a lesson on the evolution of art in Europe but also houses some of the greatest paintings of the world.

Giottino's Pieta, 1360-1365, painting on wood

Photo of Florence, Metropolitan City of Florence, Italy by Abhinaba Chatterjee

Gentile Da Fabriano's Adoration of the Magi, 1423

Photo of Florence, Metropolitan City of Florence, Italy by Abhinaba Chatterjee

Filippo Lippi's Coronation of the Virgin, 1439-1447

Photo of Florence, Metropolitan City of Florence, Italy by Abhinaba Chatterjee

Sandro Botticelli's Primavera, 1482

Photo of Florence, Metropolitan City of Florence, Italy by Abhinaba Chatterjee

Sandro Botticelli's Birth of Venus, 1484

Photo of Florence, Metropolitan City of Florence, Italy by Abhinaba Chatterjee

Piero di Cosimo's Incarnation of Christ, 1498-1505

Photo of Florence, Metropolitan City of Florence, Italy by Abhinaba Chatterjee

Michelangelo's Doni Tondo, 1506-1508

Photo of Florence, Metropolitan City of Florence, Italy by Abhinaba Chatterjee

The Basilica of Santa Croce is yet another landmark of Florence, but I could only see it from the outside. Though I had walked down the Ponte Vecchio, but the best view of it was from the Uffizi.

Basilica di Santa Croce

Photo of Backpacking from Rome to Vienna - Part 1 by Abhinaba Chatterjee

Ponte Vecchio

Photo of Backpacking from Rome to Vienna - Part 1 by Abhinaba Chatterjee

Before I move on to my next destination, let me provide a flavor of the street art I saw in Florence.

An artwork of Blub. This is from the project titled 'Art knows how to swim'

Photo of Backpacking from Rome to Vienna - Part 1 by Abhinaba Chatterjee

Now this is funny! This is a Blub creation of Clet Abraham, another artist whose work is all over Florence, holding his creation.

Photo of Backpacking from Rome to Vienna - Part 1 by Abhinaba Chatterjee

Clet Abraham's handiwork. One of the many altered signs.

Photo of Backpacking from Rome to Vienna - Part 1 by Abhinaba Chatterjee

My last destination within Italy was Venice, and I wanted do a brief pit stop somewhere before getting there. So bidding Florence goodbye, I headed for Bologna. Bologna is quite close to Florence and is well connected by train. It was Christmas eve and I didn't have elaborate plans, and Bologna seemed perfect.

I lazily walked down the streets and walked into the cathedrals before reaching the foot of the Two Towers - Asinelli and Garisenda. It was quite surprising to learn that the Tower of Asinelli was the tallest leaning tower in Italy, much taller than the tower of Pisa (97 meters as compared to 56 meters).

Sunset from the top of the Tower of Asinelli

Photo of Bologna, Metropolitan City of Bologna, Italy by Abhinaba Chatterjee

Terracotta roofed houses of Bologna

Photo of Bologna, Metropolitan City of Bologna, Italy by Abhinaba Chatterjee

Tower of Asinelli, crude but incredibly tall

Photo of Bologna, Metropolitan City of Bologna, Italy by Abhinaba Chatterjee
Day 8

The next morning, before leaving for Venice, I walked down to the University of Bologna - the oldest university of the world. Its alumni include Copernicus, Malfighi, Galvani, Marconi, Enzo Ferrari and had Dante Alighieri among others, as faculty.

It was time to head to Venice and a train journey later I was there. Again, the less I say about the Venice, the better. Its visually so rich, that I'll let some of my photographs do the talking.

Basilica di Santa Maria from Ponte dell' Accademia

Photo of Venice, Metropolitan City of Venice, Italy by Abhinaba Chatterjee

Basilica di San Marco

Photo of Venice, Metropolitan City of Venice, Italy by Abhinaba Chatterjee

Sunrise from Palazzo Ducale

Photo of Venice, Metropolitan City of Venice, Italy by Abhinaba Chatterjee
Day 9

Few tips however on Venice - If you are in Venice for limited time, it's quite useful to buy the 24 hour vaporetti ticket. It gives you quick and convenient access to different parts of the city. It's quite easy to get lost, rather end up at dead ends, and might lead of loss of time.

At times there is a long wait for a vaporetti, so in case you need to be somewhere on time, get to the vaporetti station well in advance. Some stations don't have a ticket counter, but one can buy tickets on the vaporetti.

If you are going to Murano or Burano, be mindful of the vaporetti schedules. Due to large gaps between two trips, often there is a rush, so get to the station in advance. More so, if you are photographer, this can get you the best spot on the vaporetti.

Burano

Photo of Venice, Metropolitan City of Venice, Italy by Abhinaba Chatterjee

Sunset of over Venice, captured from the sea

Photo of Venice, Metropolitan City of Venice, Italy by Abhinaba Chatterjee

The benefit of staying near San Basilio - waking up to this view

Photo of Venice, Metropolitan City of Venice, Italy by Abhinaba Chatterjee

A Burano house never goes undecorated

Photo of Venice, Metropolitan City of Venice, Italy by Abhinaba Chatterjee

The Italy part of my trip was complete and it was time to head north east. My next destination was Bled, in Slovenia. The trip got only more interesting from here, and definitely colder.

Watch out for the part 2 of the post. 

3 Comment(s)
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which camera and photo editing software has been used.... pics are gr8 ... do throw some light... thanks
Sun 06 11 17, 19:05 · Reply · Report
Thanks Dhiraj. Indeed, Lake Albano looks so pretty.
Thu 03 30 17, 08:49 · Reply · Report
Good post Abhinaba. What you perhaps missed was a day trip from Rome. We went to Castle Gondolfo, the site of Pope's summer palace, a 45 train ride. View of the Lake Albano was heavenly. You can check out my blog diytravelexperiences. wordpress.com. Best. Dhiraj
Fri 03 03 17, 03:46 · Reply · Report
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