Sunday, July 30, 2006

viva italia part V : venezia. (venice)

day 12 - 13 : venezia

day 12, we arrived in venice, strange and beautiful city on water. prior to my arrival in venice, i hadn't expected it to look or feel like what i saw before me.

for instance, there are no automobiles whatsoever on the island of venice. there are no roadways, so people get around by boat - water buses, gondolas, water taxis or their own speedboats. haha this sounds silly but venice really amazed me in that aspect. the main waterway from which you could see venice's most beautiful sights was known as "the grand canal" and this was the route by which we got around venice on its vaporettos or water buses. and because there were no cars, the air was very fresh!

on our first day in venice, we decided to go to murano and burano, two islands off venice. murano was a place for glass-blowing whereas burano was lace-producing.

we met TK's friend kecheng and his friend alvin coincidentally (for the second time) at murano. the first time was at the uffizi gallery in florence!

burano had houses of many pretty colours! interestingly, TK decided when we came back to singapore that clarke quay looks like burano. heehee.

after visiting the islands, we made our way to st. mark's square. we were forewarned by lonely planet italy that the signs in venice could be very confusing. this turned out to be quite accurate, as seen from the sign above... it actually meant that you could walk either left or right and still end up at st. mark's square.

st. mark's square... where the pigeons outnumber the human beings.

and where there was some weird construction work going on at st. mark's basilica, spoiling a perfectly beautiful shot.

love scruffy dogs!

here, we see a man selling pigeon feed for 1 euro. yes, 1 euro to experience the pigeons pecking at you mercilessly!

'tis strange, i feel like shouting "viva italia!" whenever i see the italian flag.

we saw a middle-aged bride and her groom getting into a gondola. gondolas, the choice mode of transport for those who can afford it. a gondola ride could set one back 75 euros, or more!

day 2 in venice, we decided to put our glorious plan of escaping the venetian heat in motion, by staying indoors from the hours of 12pm to 6pm. our first stop was the peggy guggenheim collection, which housed artwork by quite a few famous artists, including jackson pollock and salvador dali. personally, i don't really like art that is too avant-garde... for example, three black dots on a white background? or a banged-up piece of copper?

what i did like was rené magritte's empire of light. the light from the lampost is subtle as compared to the blue of the skies above... but the painting implores one to wonder, why is the little house in darkness when there seemingly is daylight?

and max ernst's the kiss. i liked the contours and the colours.

venice at 2pm was terribly, terribly hot. we were hiding in the shade of a nice church, where various people lay down to take an afternoon siesta. soon, i was fast asleep. this was when my boyfriend started to take embarassing photos of me, but i'm not going to post them! we met kecheng and alvin again. they decided to nap too.

next, we went to palazzo ducale, or the doge's palace.

the palace had interiors that had been unfortunately stripped bare of their original furnishings save for what was on the walls. (the furniture was now at some other museum.) the artwork could have been interesting, but we had already seen too much european art from the early 1900s. we were left feeling rather sleepy wandering about the palace's large but empty rooms.

view from doge's palace.

the bridge of sighs, from which prisoners were able to gaze longingly at the rest of the world for the last time before they were transported to the dugeons.

us at st. mark's square.

this was the only boat we saw travelling at a very high speed down the grand canal, an ambulance boat! when it passed our vaporetto, so much water was displaced that our boat tilted to the side dangerously.

and the gondola, which is quintessentially venetian.

we had a third day in venice, but venice had already lost her novelty for us. we were also suffering from church fatigue and museum fatigue. our options for a day trip out of venice were:

  • going to verona to visit juliet's "house" and "tomb."
  • going to milan to see da vinci's the last supper.
  • going north to trentino to visit the italian alps.

    in the end, we decided against milan because you had to book four days in advance to see the last supper. verona was out because we figured it would be just as hot as venice. we bought our train tickets to trent, eagerly anticipating nice weather in the alps.
  • Thursday, July 27, 2006

    who knew?

    11 august 2005.

    26 july 2006.

    one year later, here we are again. :)

    Monday, July 24, 2006

    viva italia part IV : firenze. (florence)

    day 10 - 11 : firenze (florence)

    day 10, we arrive in florence, the artsy and romantic capital of tuscany. this is a photo of TK queueing. first thing we did when we arrived was to join the queue to see michelangelo's statue of david in the galleria academia. seeing david in the books and meeting him "in the flesh" was quite different. the statue, carved out of one piece of marble and towering at 5 metres, was quite amazing altogether. no photos allowed inside, so here's a picture of david.

    later in the day, we decided to ascend the peak of florence's glorious duomo, santa maria del fiore. it was a formidable 500 plus, vertigo-inducing steps!

    we were rewarded with a close-up view of the last judgement under the dome.

    florence, the city of red roofs.

    dinner was pasta at restaurant za za, highly recommended by lonely planet italy.

    the next morning, we were up very early to beat the crowd at the other important art gallery in florence, the uffizi.

    (photo from wikipedia) of the extensive art collection, my favourite was leonardo da vinci's unfinished the adoration of the magi, which had interesting depth and composition. also remarkably beautiful was sandro botticelli's primavera (spring).

    florence and the river. today was the festival of san giovanni, the city's patron saint, so there were celebrations going on, including a fireworks display when it got dark.

    serendipity led us to watch the argentina vs mexico game! the mexican fans were much noiser with their horns and mexican hats, but argentina won ultimately.

    the fireworks display was quite uncoordinated, with various kinda of fireworks being repeated so many times that the effect became rather muted towards the end. having said that, standing under the brightly lit sky with the rest of florence's denizens made for a wonderful end to our evening. next, we left for venice, city on water.