Sunday, 31 July 2011

The last of Rome

Rome is a typical hustle and bustle city except that every now and then you spot some ruins. Bizarre. 

The church opposite the Trevi Fountain, La Santi Vicenzo Anastazio.

Arch of Constantine, Roman Forum

Christi got a caricature done. I think it's safe to say that it doesn't really look like her but it was pretty cool anyway.

Some rather questionably shaped pasta.

This rather random collection of photos is the last of Italy. Next up is Greece. Wowee, at this rate I will finish blogging about my holiday by Christmas. I like it though. I get to relive all the memories. It's like taking the trip all over again. 

The beautiful ceilings of the Vatican

St Peter's Basilica

Zara, hurry up and come to South Africa!!! Pleeeeeease?

I have mad love for Zara, I tell you. I can't wait till one opens in South Africa next year. I found this messenger bag at Zara in Rome.  Europe's having their summer sales at the moment. I could quite easily have gone crazy if I had more space in my suitcase!

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Sweet tunes

Last post for today, I promise. One of the many things that I loved about both Italy and Greece were the musicians alongside the road. Even the little gypsy children who all sung the same song. This chap's sweet tunes made walking up a steep hill in the heat just a little bit more tolerable. Thank you and thank you again.

Rome, Part IV: The Vatican

This is the view of St Peter's Basilica from St Peter's Square.
 I had just sworn off going out between 12 and 5 because of the blistering heat, but how could I refuse the opportunity to go to the Vatican? We decided to go on a guided tour because it meant that we could skip the horrid queues. We had an incredibly charismatic and extremely intelligent guide called Silvio. I wish I could have had Silvio in my pocket throughout my time in Italy. He could enlighten me with  interesting facts and then entertain me with his singing and his jokes. Ah Silvio, what a champ! 

The Obelisk.
The Pope lives in the building on the right. Second floor, last room on the right hand side. True story, or so Silvio said.

Statue in the Vatican Museum: "Apollo Belvedere"
This is a statue of the Greek God, Apollo. It is considered to be the epitome of male beauty.    

Statue: "Laocoon and His Sons". Such an interesting story behind this statue. If you're interested, you can read about it here
We also went into St Peter's Basilica which was just absolutely amazing. I had to pinch myself to make sure that I wasn't dreaming (had to do that a lot this holiday, actually). This statue, Pietà by Michaelangelo, was in the Basilica. I remember studying this in art when I was in Grade 9. Ever since, I have been fascinated by it. And then I saw it in real life. Wowee, but it literally took my breath away. And I had a little lump in my throat. First time a piece of art has done such things to me. This isn't my picture, of course. In the Basilica we could only take pictures without a flash, so all my attempts were rather futile. But I had to share it anyway. Incredible. 

Rome, Part III : Trevi Fountain

I remember seeing the Trevi Fountain in the Lizzy Mcguire Movie when I was a kid. Yes, I am admitting that I actually watched (and liked) that movie. I wanted to go to Rome sooooo badly after that. Yay that I eventually did.

The Trevi up close.

Even though it looks like I'm fist pumping the air, I actually did throw a coin into the Trevi. Let's hope I will be returning to Rome. Quick question: Who picks up all the coins in the water? And where do they go? Just asking...

This poor soul has to stand in the heat all day and blow her whistle every time some stupid tourist tries to put their hands in the water. Respect. 

Rome, Part II : When in Rome...

When in Rome, there are certain touristy things that you have to do. Going to the Colosseum is one of them!

Some of the statues at the Colloseum.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Rome, Part I : Piazza della Repubblica

This is the lovely Piazza della Repubblica. The fountain in the middle is the Fountain of Naiads

We stayed at the Hotel Patria, about a block away from here. I really wouldn't recommend this hotel to anyone. The decor is so awful that it leaves you in a permanent state of nausea. No jokes. And the shower in my room was clogged for the first two days. My shower routine was as follows: Shampoo hair. Turn tap off. Let water drain. Rinse hair. Turn tap off. Let water drain. Condition hair. Turn tap off. Let water drain. You get the picture. Then on the last day the shower started leaking and I was left in a mad scramble for every towel I could get my hands on to avoid flooding the bathroom. Also not the friendliest staff either. Summary of this paragraph: don't stay at the Hotel Patria. 
In the Piazza della Repubblica is the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri. It really doesn't look like much from the street but once you go in, it really is awe-inspiring. The one and only Michaelangelo was the architect who designed this church. 


Thursday, 28 July 2011

Holiday of the Handbags: Florence find

Ok, so I have a confession to make. I have a thing for handbags. A BIG thing. I bought quite a few when I was overseas. Some may call it an addiction. In that case, I will deny it all. 

I found this clutch at Melrose, a vintage store in Florence. I love love love it! Yes, three times over!

Florence, Part II

Ah, Florence. One of the places that I would like to call home in the not too distant future. I fell in love with Florence. Mad, passionate love. I don’t really know how to describe it in words, but it has a special ambiance. One of being cosmopolitan, sophisticated, stylish but not in the least bit pretentious. The streets are lined with boutiques, leather bag shops, quaint restaurants, chocolatiers and second-hand bookstores that smell of years gone by.

And the people. My word, but the people are beautiful. No, beautiful is not sufficient. Exquisite. Yes, they are exquisite. Both men and women are impeccably dressed.  I couldn’t help but think that I had walked onto the set of a movie. Not some Hollywood blockbuster. A lovely little art house film. It really made me lament the fact that South Africans in general don’t really care about what they wear. I don’t mean being a self-consuming slave to fashion, just caring enough to wear clothes that are an extension of your personality. Ok, enough of me rambling. Back to Florence.

Ladies, I am happy to announce that the stereotype that Italian men are all that and a bag of chips is absolutely and unequivocally true. I cannot tell you how overwhelming it is to walk down the street and every second male falls into the “As hot as Brad Pitt” category. We didn’t get to see as many of the historical sites as we should have. You see, we were distracted by the, erm, shops.  My favourites were Brandy & Melville and a super duper vintage store called Melrose. If you want to do some bargain shopping in Florence, you should hit the leather market. The prices you pay for leather bags and jackets are a fraction of the price that you would pay in South Africa. Despite shopping till we dropped, we did go see the Statue of David. It was incredible. Beyond amazing, really. The food in Florence was undeniably better than it was in Venice. The people were also a lot more welcoming. I could really go on and on about this place forever. But I’ll let you marvel in the pictures instead!
Most common modes of transport in Florence: Bicycles, Vespas and tiny cars to fit on the tiny streets.  I think I should invest in a pretty little bicycle with a wicker basket. 

There's even designated space on the sidewalk for the bicycles. 

Some rather colourful characters took us on a horse-drawn carriage tour of Florence. 

Another beautiful building. So many of them, wow. 

Florence, Part I : Santa Maria Del Fiore

Wowee, but this church is magnificent! Building on it began in 1296 and it was finished in 1436. Question going through my mind: How the heck did you guys build such an intricate piece of beauty with limited technology??? Nothing short of amazing. 

Venice, Part IV : More exhibitions

'The Cloud of Unknowing' is a video installation by Ho Tzu Nyen, an artist representing Singapore in the Biennale. 

I walked into the room with trepidation, really not knowing what to expect. There were these enormous bean bags scattered all over the place and a projector screen which reminded me of being in a classroom. Turns out we had to lie on these huge bean bags to watch the installation. So comfy. If they weren't so big and conspicuous, I would have happily picked one of these babies up and taken it home with me. Ha.
If you want to read more about this incredible piece of work, you can go here

We also went to the Peggy Guggenheim Museum. Old Peggy was a very wealthy women indeed. All the pieces in the museum were part of her personal art collection. Jealous, much? Yes! I want an extensive art collection that consists of numerous masterpieces too! I got to see some Picasso, (more) Dali, Ernst, Modigliani, Pollock and so many more that I would bore you by listing them. 
This is my favourite piece at the Peggy Guggenheim Museum- "Alchemy" by Jackson Pollock. No picture can do this painting justice.  When I had done my rounds of the museum, I found myself going back to it and just staring at its splendor for a little bit longer. Wow. 

And that is the end of Venice. Next up- Florence! But first, lectures for the day. Bleh.