A Trip To Italy....The land Of Gladiators

Tripoto
6th Jun 2017
Photo of A Trip To Italy....The land Of Gladiators by Dhruv

Some voyages have a story to go with. This one dates back to my school days . My sister Divya and myself , were watching the movie Gladiator starring Russel Crowe and were dazed by the combat scenes .Sometime around mid of January this year we were discussing about her upcoming C.A final exams which she was very stressed about . Suddenly i asked her ,Mona ( as i call her ), given a chance what country would you like to travel to and bang came the answer , Italy. I then told her " Look ,you are grown up enough for incentives, but write your exams well .We are going to Italy".I discussed about this travel with my wife Eepsa, despite the initial reluctance since it had been only 8 months since our last Euro Trip , she smiled and I knew the plan was on..

Our flight from Delhi to Rome was a tiring one . We had booked Aeroflot tickets via SVO. The flight took off at 2:00 am from Delhi and unfortunately we got seats 13 A,B and C. They were Wing seats which couldn't be reclined so we almost didn't sleep for the entire journey , the break at SVO was a welcome relief since we got some fresh Moscow air and a good burger each from Burger King. We boarded the next flight and in a few hours , Voila , we could see Rome as the flight started descending and all the fatigue just vanished instantly .

We touched down at 10:30 am at Rome . We were welcomed at the airport by an old handsome man , who drove us to our hotel at breathtaking speeds we can't imagine on Indian roads. We were taken to Caesar's Palace guest house , We were pretty disheartened seeing the place but it was pre booked and we weren't left with much options . Benny the owner of the place greeted and briefed us . He was a friendly yet barefaced Jewish guy who was happy to see Indians . We checked in to freshened up a bit but we were left with a huge confusion which we had faced never before either in India or abroad , the commode and a similar looking object lay side by side ,which left us perplexed on how and what its use was , On googling for a while we came to know that they are called Bidet's. I would urge everyone to know about it before visiting Italy .

And in a while we were off to tour the city were off to tour the city...

Photo of A Trip To Italy....The land Of Gladiators 1/3 by Dhruv
Caesar's Palace Guesthouse.

As pre booked our tour was supposed to start from Roma Termini so we went out of the hotel and followed the directions on the map . We had pre bookings for the hop on hop off Big Bus tours for 48 hours. We took the bus and got down straight at the Colosseum ,one amongst the seven wonders .It was majestic , the sun played a bit of a dampener as it was around 34 degree Celsius .We went inside and all the scenes we watched in Gladiator flashed back . I specifically tried to recollect the scenes from Gladiator as to how the trapdoors in the floor would open up to allow beasts into the combat arena and the gallery would erupt . So many people lost their lives in that stadia .

Photo of A Trip To Italy....The land Of Gladiators 2/3 by Dhruv
A proud Seagull perched on a rock , Colosseum
Photo of A Trip To Italy....The land Of Gladiators 3/3 by Dhruv
Play of Sun and Shade , Colosseum..
Day 1

A view of Colosseum from Palatine Hill

Photo of Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy by Dhruv

The Majestic Colosseum.

Photo of Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy by Dhruv
Day 2

After spending some time we hopped on to the bus again and went on to see the other majestic structures , The Roman forum and Palatine Hill looking down

onto the Circus Maximus which was a track for Chariot races during medieval times , the Pantheon . Since we were sleep deprived we thought of closing the day early and on the way back something caught our eye that we hadn't seen earlier , showed the consciousness of Europeans about family planning .

A Condom Dispenser , P.c : Divya

Photo of Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy by Dhruv

By evening we had dinner and crashed into our beds.

The exhaustion of previous two days took its toll and we were finally woken by the hotel guys calling us for breakfast. The hotel we were staying in was more of a serviced apartment .Since they didn't have a restaurant of their own ,breakfast was arranged at a roadside cafe around 100 meters from our place .

Angolo-D'el -Ćaffe

Photo of Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy by Dhruv

Angolo-Del-Ćaffe was a roadside cafe with Angolo greeting us with a "bonjourno". When traveling to foreign lands, its always good to know the key words of greet and so we responded back with a bonjourno.We were given to select between 3 choices of croissant and another 3 of coffee . The breakfast was delicious ..Post breakfast we went on to explore the city once again

Angolo Del Caffe .. P.C : Eepsa

Photo of A Trip To Italy....The land Of Gladiators by Dhruv

. Our Hop on hop off tickets were valid for 48 hours so we took a walk to the nearest stop that was the Roma termini and hopped on to our bus .Our first stop was the Palatine Hill , the place where Romulus and remus supposedly resided.

Palatine Hill..

Photo of A Trip To Italy....The land Of Gladiators by Dhruv

Following that we took a walk into the Basilica of Santa Maria and Roman Forum .clicked pics of the devastated ruins which spoke numerous stories of their glorious past .We met a seagull parched on a pillar which became an instant attraction amongst tourists for its fearless stature . it sat atop like a king and allowed people to click selfies with it.

Photo of A Trip To Italy....The land Of Gladiators by Dhruv
Photo of Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy by Dhruv
Photo of Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy by Dhruv

We went past the Piazza Venezia until the next stop , the Trevi Fountain . One of the most majestic water bodies man ever made , its a hit amongst tourists and we hardly found a place to click decent pictures.It was already time for lunch and we searched for a small Pizza corner . The pizza's on display were so inviting that we tried to taste a slice from each . they tasted awesome with chilled beer .Then we went on to have some wonderful gelato nearby which tickled our taste buds immensely.

Altare della Patria

Photo of Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy by Dhruv

Altare della Patria

Photo of Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy by Dhruv

Trevi Fountain

Photo of A Trip To Italy....The land Of Gladiators by Dhruv

A Pizzeria near Trevi Fountain

Photo of A Trip To Italy....The land Of Gladiators by Dhruv

Delicious Italian Gelatos..

Photo of A Trip To Italy....The land Of Gladiators by Dhruv

The evening was dedicated to shopping , the ladies went on a shopping spree , selecting collectables from renowned brands which according to them would cost a fortune in India .We were able to catch the last Big Bus and made our way to the hotel & crashed to beds .

Day 3

Me and my sister Divya , both having studied from missionary schools always had this desire to visit Vatican and luckily Eepsa , my wife also shared this eagerness . Since the Vatican tour was scheduled for early hours , we skipped breakfast and took the Big Bus which dropped us at the Vatican stop.

Photo of Vatican City by Dhruv

We crossed the small bridge over the River Tiber to reach the the meeting point , from where our tour started was around 1.5 kms .

Photo of A Trip To Italy....The land Of Gladiators by Dhruv

As the group assembled we were led to the gate of Vatican which was another km from there . Finally when we reached we were amazed to see thousands of people queueing up in the extreme summer heat to get a taste of divinity .

Entry to the Vatican

Photo of A Trip To Italy....The land Of Gladiators by Dhruv

Luckily Varsha , our tour planner from MakeMyTrip had booked " skip the line " tickets so we felt privileged to get access in an easier manner .. Our guide in this trip was an extremely jovial person , whose drooping spects ,grey hair & confident stance spoke about the years he has spent informing people about the masterpieces which were inside. We felt excited . We were first given a virtual tour of the place and were shown the gallery from where the Pope occasionally appears on festive days to wave to the crowd .We had a glimpse of the masterpieces at the Vatican Museums but we all were waiting for the highlight of this tour , the Sistine Chapel , whose walls and ceilings hold the immortal painting of Michelangelo , finally as the decorated hallways led us to the chapel , we felt a moment of silence and amazement . We kept absorbing the wonder for a while until it was time for the next batch and we were asked to leave .

Majestic Dome of the Vatican

Photo of A Trip To Italy....The land Of Gladiators by Dhruv

Hallways of the Vatican, 2D paintings with 3D illusion.. P,C:Eepsa..

Photo of A Trip To Italy....The land Of Gladiators by Dhruv

Since it was around 2:00 pm already and we had skipped breakfast , we planned to skip the St Peter"s Basilica and moved on . We sat down on the stairways of the Vatican an switched Tripadvisor.com on to look for nearby pizzerias , the one which got us moving was called " Pizza Zizza" which had great reviews . Now about this place , other than the great pizza's they serve , its one of the most welcoming places , one can ever be in . They offered us a choice of fantastic pizzas . And we tasted the sumptuous platter for just 30 euros with a pint of beer . In the end when I asked for a selfie , they gave us little hats and goggles to put on and we'll cherish that pic .

Pizza Zizza ;)

Photo of Pizza Zizza, Via delle Fornaci, Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy by Dhruv

It was time to get to our hotel , but our Big Bus tickets had exhausted their 48 hour validity ,so we got prepaid bus tickets by which we can take as many rides we want ,within its 2 hr validity . We kept talking to locals for bus routes and Google translate helped us immensely for people who didn't speak English, I'd call it a lifesaver for foreign tours.We changed buses and finally reached hotel.

The evening ,Eepsa and me decided to talk a walk and we held hands and enjoyed the sun going down sluggishly at the horizon and the restaurants slowly turning their lights on at around 9:00 pm .

Evening lights turning on , Rome .... P.C : Eepsa

Photo of A Trip To Italy....The land Of Gladiators by Dhruv
Day 4

Our train to Florence was scheduled for 11:00 am so we had early breakfast and reached by 9:30 am.Eepsa and Divya decided to explore the inordinate mall at the Roma Termini , whilst I stayed back watching the luggage and surfing my phone .In a while 2 policemen came down in their patrolling vehicle and asked for my passports,documents and trip details . On being satisfied , they wished me well and left . Although a brief encounter but it was tense because its a foreign land .Out train started on time and we started on with our first Eurail experience which is highly spoken of, Our train crossed beautiful landscapes and i just couldn't but appreciate the humongous speeds it was traveling at . Our train touched 270 kph and we reached Florence by 12:30 pm .

Trainitalia

Photo of Florence, Metropolitan City of Florence, Italy by Dhruv

Florence, the capital of the Tuscany region is home to most of the renowned art masterpieces of the Renaissance period .

Our booking was at Hotel Diva, which I'd say is around a good 10-15 kms off the city but I hold no qualms about it since , it was one of the most hospitable properties and the view of the nearby hills amidst the sunset was breathtaking. As soon as we checked in the manager welcomed us and gave us a brief description of the places of visit and also provided us with bus tickets to and fro . We freshened up and left immediately . On reaching the City Centre which is very near to the Santa Maria Novella train station, we stopped by at a restaurant which served us wonderful risotto and ravioli but we learnt a lesson when we ended up with a fat bill . The manager offered us bread and drinking water along with the food we ordered and kept pressing us if we needed up more bread , we did and eventually realised that none of it was complementary , so a tip for prospective travellers " Please ask if water and bread is complimentary ". Then we headed to the landmark we had come to see, Michelangelo museum, the one that holds " David" and he needs no introduction . We were overwhelmed to see history unfold in front of our eyes . It was indeed an enriching experience to watch art that belonged to the 11th and 12th century .. We returned to the hotel late evening and that was if forthe day .

The " David" ... Michelangelo

Photo of A Trip To Italy....The land Of Gladiators by Dhruv

A sculpture at the Michelangelo Museum, Florence

Photo of A Trip To Italy....The land Of Gladiators by Dhruv

Museum of Music , Florence. P.C : Eepsa

Photo of A Trip To Italy....The land Of Gladiators by Dhruv

The Sun setting over Florence Skies...

Photo of A Trip To Italy....The land Of Gladiators by Dhruv
Day 5

We were scheduled for a ride into the depths of the Tuscany region , our trip included a ride to Pisa, San Gimignano and Siena with a wine tasting session and lunch midway .

The bus trip started at 9 am from Florence rail station and we were headed to Pisa, which houses the famous leaning tower . The scorching heat made us yearn for some shade which was very difficult to find, nevertheless the enormous number of tourists showed that the sun couldn't play down the excitement of the numerous people trying to click pics of the tower and themselves in different poses . At times it felt hilarious to see people trying their art in photography with their muse, the leaning tower ..

The leaning Tower Of Pisa..

Photo of Tuscany, Italy by Dhruv

We moved on towards San Gimingnano on a long bus ride but we had to stop for lunch ,this probably was the highlight of the tour as we were taken for lunch to a vineyard.

Stacked Wine glasses....

Photo of A Trip To Italy....The land Of Gladiators by Dhruv

Wine Tasting....

Photo of A Trip To Italy....The land Of Gladiators by Dhruv

. We tasted different kinds of wines fresh out of their barrels . Heavenly ! Followed by that we were served Tuscan lunch which is a bit outlandish. Mainly consisted of bread , a pasta with rogu sauce , salads accompanied by any one of their wines .

San Gimingano is well known for its castle rivalry as to which family could make the tallest one . Row houses on both sides of the narrow lanes gave us a 18th century feel , the castles as we heard were of the 12th century . The narrow lanes are lines by a cluster of different shops .Ceramic & Cheese stood to be the highlight of the place and how can I forget perfumes . The perfumeries looked like straight out of the fairytale books .

The Gate of San Gimignano.. P,C:Eepsa..

Photo of A Trip To Italy....The land Of Gladiators by Dhruv

San Gimignano..

Photo of A Trip To Italy....The land Of Gladiators by Dhruv

Ceramic Store, San Gimignano. P,C:Eepsa

Photo of A Trip To Italy....The land Of Gladiators by Dhruv
Photo of A Trip To Italy....The land Of Gladiators by Dhruv

A Wine Store at San Gimignano.

Photo of A Trip To Italy....The land Of Gladiators by Dhruv

Post that we moved to the last stop of the day , Siena , famous for its medieval brick buildings , the 17 contrade (districts ) extends outward from the piazza shaped like a shell . Was an engineering marvel . The gothic buildings added its own charm to the place .

The Piazza at Siena.

Photo of A Trip To Italy....The land Of Gladiators by Dhruv

The ride back was a long one and we could just reach Florence and rush to our beds .

Day 6

We were going to Venice , Venice as we all know is a marvel of mankind , 80's kids will know the famous song " Do Lafzon ki hai ,Dil ki kahaani", Amitabh Bachchan and Zeenat Aman.. The Gondola rides through narrow alleys is every man's dream. The train from Florence to Venice was not a very long one and we reached Venice in the afternoon ,As we exited out from the train station, Wow, we were just beside the Grand canal and a water taxi took us to the pier near our hotel , Hotel Tintorreto

Hotel Tintorreto,Venice

Photo of Venice, Metropolitan City of Venice, Italy by Dhruv

Venice as I understood is an apotheosis of beauty, art & glamour which exudes from every corner .Well I think I would be lying if I don't mention the slightly distasteful hawker shops selling mainly Chinese goods on every corner run mainly by immigrants probably dampening the exquisiteness in a way..

How beautiful can a place be ,....., Venice

Photo of A Trip To Italy....The land Of Gladiators by Dhruv

We settled down at our hotels which was lining a canal , so we could see occasional gondolas pass by and the interesting fact we found out was that Venice hotels don't have lifts, so climbing stairs was the only way out and since no vehicles can ply on the alleys , human traffic is the only one you see.The fitness of the inhabitants are a proof of their lifestyle.

The lanes and canals of Venice..

Photo of A Trip To Italy....The land Of Gladiators by Dhruv

A Hawker Store on the streets of Venice...

Photo of A Trip To Italy....The land Of Gladiators by Dhruv

We were set up for a guided tour of the city at 3:00 pm and we had to reach a designated spot .well here comes the tricky part , Venice is a maze of alleys and waterways so if you don't keep asking people you might end up at the same place you started ,but for me it was a cakewalk because google maps turned lifesaver and it took us to our destination smoothly.An old lady ,our guide took us through the city landmarks displaying the antiquity of the place , its various art forms and the influence of the merchants of the past years whose crafts have been entwined in Venetian culture hence so rich .

A lavender store ... P,C: Eepsa

Photo of A Trip To Italy....The land Of Gladiators by Dhruv

The sun made us really wary but the history and the shady alleyways kept us going and we finally completed a small tour ,the cherry on the cake here was the Gondola ride , Makemytrip.com had booked a private gondola for us so on producing the ticket we were taken for a ride through the alleyways into the grand canal , how can I describe that feeling ! It felt out of the world with Gondola Oarsmen humming wonderful tunes and giving us a feel of the beauty and culture, you have to feel it to know it , I won't say much.

Photo of A Trip To Italy....The land Of Gladiators by Dhruv
Photo of A Trip To Italy....The land Of Gladiators by Dhruv

A Venetian Square....

Photo of A Trip To Italy....The land Of Gladiators by Dhruv

We ended the day sitting by the canal ,sipping beer and tasting some local pizza .

Day 7

The next day we were booked for a trip to the nearby places Murano,Burrano and Torcelli.I can't thank MMT enough for this experience . The ship started from near the St . Mark's Square and it was a half day tour .We were first taken to Murano , famous for its glass factories , The tour started with a maestro( an experienced glass craftsman) displaying us how he created beautiful glass patterns and artifacts within minutes , we were awestruck , we are then led to the glass artifacts store where we could buy their items , we bought a few memorabilias as Eepsa has special inclination for collectables from the world .

A Murano Glassware..

Photo of Murano, Venice, Metropolitan City of Venice, Italy by Dhruv

Murano Glass Beads

Photo of Murano, Venice, Metropolitan City of Venice, Italy by Dhruv

,After an hour or so we cruised towards Burano , a small fishing village famous for its laces and old churches . We went around the quiet little place and beautiful lavender blossoms which made the place look so beautifully violet .

Burano Laces...

Photo of Burano, Venice, Metropolitan City of Venice, Italy by Dhruv

A bee tasting some Lavender... , Burano

Photo of Burano, Venice, Metropolitan City of Venice, Italy by Dhruv

Our next stop was Torcello , another beautiful place well known for its beautiful patterned and colored buildings , On reaching the place it seemed like a place out of the coloring books where children had just used their imagination to color the houses, and the small waterways in the place gave it a wonderland charm.After spending a while in the place and clicking pics of the stores selling beautiful Venetian masks and leather items , we cruised back to Venice .

Torcello....

Photo of Torcello, Venice, Metropolitan City of Venice, Italy by Dhruv

Torcello...

Photo of Torcello, Venice, Metropolitan City of Venice, Italy by Dhruv

The cruise again dropped us at St .Marks Square , we spent some time in the cathedral and the square where the pigeons steal the show .

St Mark's Cathedral..

Photo of A Trip To Italy....The land Of Gladiators by Dhruv

A little Pigeoneer at St. Mark's Square..,Venice

Photo of A Trip To Italy....The land Of Gladiators by Dhruv

St Mark's Square..

Photo of A Trip To Italy....The land Of Gladiators by Dhruv

As the night drew closer and the Venetian musicians were out on the streets with their instruments and songs and the Venetian masks depicting the exchange of various cultures shone bright at the mask stores. Our hearts started to feel heavy because this was it , the next morning it would be time to leave.

Veniti

Photo of A Trip To Italy....The land Of Gladiators by Dhruv

An Artist , selling his craft, Venice...

Photo of A Trip To Italy....The land Of Gladiators by Dhruv
Day 8

But Venice ; never fails to surprise as they say , what a farewell we got ,I'd remember it for life , We had been booked to Marco Polo Airport on a speedboat , its said that a speedboat ride in Venice is for the opulent ,and we were made to feel like the royalty as our speedboat tore through the grand canal and then the vast sea amidst the slight drizzle and wind as it took quarter of an hour to reach Marco Polo Airport, what a farewell ..

As the flight took off from the small island housing the Marco Polo , we could see the beautiful city getting smaller and vanish asking us for a promise to return . Congé Venice and Italia , till next time.

Marco Polo Airport, Venice

Photo of Marco Polo International, Calle Frezzeria, Venice, Metropolitan City of Venice, Italy by Dhruv

Like the seagull.. lets fly high ...

Photo of Marco Polo International, Calle Frezzeria, Venice, Metropolitan City of Venice, Italy by Dhruv

(All photographs in the blog are our personal clicks )

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