瀉湖上的奇蹟美城 威尼斯 (Venice)

常被稱為水都的威尼斯(Venice)建立在超過一百多個在瀉湖上用四百多個橋連接起來的小島. 從5世紀至18世紀, 威尼斯是個獨立的共和國 (Repubblica di Venezia), 頻繁的海上商業往來讓威尼斯共和國很富有. 當時亞德利亞海(Adriatic sea)對面的克羅埃西亞(Croatia)很多沿海的城市都受到威尼斯文化的影響, 甚至有些地區曾是共和國的一部分. 現在的威尼斯則是大家都想去看看的美麗城市所以賺進大量的觀光財還是很富有.

我在2004年跟爸媽去義大利時也有去威尼斯, 當時是7月觀光客最多的時候, 本來想說2016年的4月應該還不到觀光季節, 沒想到人潮也是超多, 每個橋上都是擠在一起拍照的觀光客.

剛到威尼斯的時候氣候很不穩, 甚至還下了一場冰雹, 接著就飄雨, 陣陣風吹來真是好冷, 還好後來有出太陽, 藍天下的聖馬可廣場(Piazzetta di San Marco)很美麗壯觀…

在聖馬可廣場上可看到這種有翅膀的獅子像, 是威尼斯的象徵. 

廣場旁顯眼的哥德式建築是總督宮(Doge’s Palace), 在威尼斯共和國時期是行政機關跟法院, 現在是博物館.  

總督宮的北面是聖馬可教堂(Basilica Cattedrale Patriarcale di San Marco), 拜占庭式的建築原本是威尼斯貴族的專用教堂, 從1807年起成為威尼斯主教的辦公室. 

既然總督宮現在是博物館, 就得進去看看 (這是我第二次進去了😆)

總督宮中庭…

從總督宮窗外看到的威尼斯瀉湖…

雖然說總督宮裡面的大廳富麗堂皇, 可以看出當時的建築技術很發達, 在那麼大的大廳中間沒有任何的梁柱, 但我覺得最有趣的是地下室的牢房, 聽說是關不繳稅的人, 牢房還有分大小, 一直不繳稅就會被關到越來越小的牢房, 另外就是威尼斯會淹水, 只要一淹水在牢裡的逃稅犯都會趕快繳稅了😅

從總督宮的窗子往外看可以看到這座嘆息橋(Bridge of Sighs), 這個橋連接牢房跟總督宮的審問室, 難怪叫做嘆息橋… 😬

威尼斯瀉湖…

這個在大運河(Grand Canal)旁富有歷史的5星級旅館–Hotel Danieli, 是威尼斯貴族丹多洛家族(Dandolo)在14世紀建造的, 後來被威尼斯商人Giuseppe Dal Niel在1824年買下改建成旅館, 並用自己的小名Danieli命名. 

這美麗的樓梯還有豪華的大廳都曾在強尼戴普(Johnny Depp)跟安潔莉娜裘莉(Angelina Jolie)的電影–The Tourist出現過. 

瀉湖邊多是賣紀念品的小攤… 

威尼斯最出名的節慶就是每年一度的嘉年華會(Carnival of Venice), 在嘉年華會上大家習慣打扮浮誇戴上面具. 在威尼斯有許多店家賣做工細緻的面具, 這些面具工匠手工打造的華麗面具已經是個藝術品, 有些要價上千歐元.

此外還有許多賣手工玻璃製品的店家, 威尼斯的其中一部部群島叫做穆拉諾(Murano), 以產手工精細製作的彩色玻璃製品出名. 

威尼斯有些街道小小的, 跟水連接的部分也沒有護欄, 晚上有時走太快沒看清楚差點不小心掉進水裡 …😂  

在威尼斯的隔天搭船到穆拉諾島, 天氣陰天還有點飄雨… 

穆拉諾島很可愛, 只是因為陰天都拍不出鮮豔的顏色了…

要價不斐的玻璃製品… 

這烏賊做的真像啊~~~😆

搭船回到本島時還一片霧茫茫… 

無意間發現在大運河附近的花園, 後來才知道是威尼斯皇家花園 (Giardini Reali), 又被稱為”拿破崙的花園” (Napoleon’s Garden) . 

離開威尼斯之前再到聖馬可廣場拍拍照, 只可惜天氣不好, 拍出來感覺跟前一天差很多… 

綠色圓頂的建築是小聖西蒙教堂(San Simeone Piccolo) 位在大運河旁, 威尼斯城”入口”處.

P.S. 本來想說4月來威尼斯應該是不用人擠人, 結果我看好幾座橋上人多到不小心就會掉到水裡, 也聽說雖然威尼斯賺進了不少觀光財, 每年過多的遊客還是給當地帶來不少汙染跟困擾, 直到2020年Covid-19爆發, 遊客大大減少才給當地的生態一個喘息的機會, 不但水變清澈了, 當地還有人看到海豚游進來…

古色古香的山城 西恩納 (Siena)

義大利的西恩納(Siena)是個古色古香的山城, 我在2004年也跟爸媽來過, 當時因為還有其他行程, 只在西恩納待了半天, 當時的我對這個小城念念不忘, 就決定2016年來義大利時必須再來一次, 還要住上一晚才夠. 西恩納在佛羅倫斯的南邊, 從佛羅倫斯搭公車到西恩納只要一個多小時.

要進入西恩納古城的第一站是個古城牆–Antiporto of Camollia. 

這個古城牆只能算是”外城牆”, 需要再往前走約300公尺就會到了”內城牆”–Porta Camollia. 有記錄說這些城牆是在13世紀時建的, 目的是在抵禦佛羅倫斯共和國入侵並保衛西恩納的北側.

進入了古城彷彿穿越時空, 古城在1995年被列為世界文化遺產, 古城內的建築還保有古老的風味–街道多是石板地, 大部分的街道不寬且曲折, 並且有許多小巷子穿越其中. 

西恩納最有名的活動是一年兩次的賽馬節(Palio di Siena). 賽馬每年7月2日和8月16日

在古城中的田野廣場(Piazza del Campo)舉行, 騎士騎在沒有馬鞍的馬背上跑廣場三圈, 往往騎士在中途摔下去, 馬還是可以獨自跑完贏得勝利. 賽馬這一幕也曾經出現在的電影:量子危機(Quantum of Solace)–正當007情報員龐德(James Bond)在審問黑暗角色時, 有個反叛者脫逃出去並混入了正在圍觀賽馬的人群當中…

廣場於13世紀前建造, 周圍有市政廳跟鐘樓, 還有貴族豪宅.

西恩納市政廳(Palazzo Pubblico)建於1297年, 

市政廳的另一面:

廣場中的”歡樂噴泉”(Fonte Gaia)建於1419年, 將幾條水道引水至這個噴泉, 再將水引到周圍的田野, 水池有許多浮雕. 

西恩納大教堂建於1215至1263年, 1339年時決定擴建 但是1348年的黑死病不得不停工, 然後增建的部分就永遠沒有完成了. 

薩琳貝尼宮(Palazzo Salimbeni)的廣場上立著班迪尼薩盧斯迪歐(Bandini Sallustio)的雕像, 班迪尼薩盧斯迪歐是義大利的教會總執事, 經濟學家以及政治家. 他將自己的私人圖書館捐給西恩納大學(The University of Siena). 薩琳貝尼宮也是世界上歷史最古老的銀行–西恩納牧山銀行(Monte dei Paschi di Siena)的總部.  

前方黃褐色的建築是聖吉羅拉莫修道院(San Girolamo in Campansi), 是巴洛克式的建築.

聖彼得教堂(San Pietro alle Scale)是個羅馬天主教地區教堂, 巴洛克式的建築建於12世紀但改建於17世紀, 在西恩納有兩個聖彼得教堂. 

聖維吉羅(San Vigilio)教區教堂原本為私人家族所有, 但是遭遇火災並在13世紀改建, 後來教堂被贈送給西恩納大學. 

齊集薩拉齊尼宮(Palazzo Chigi-Saracini)建於12世紀, 吉多齊集薩拉齊尼伯爵(Count Guido Chigi-Saracini)在1932年成立齊集亞納音樂學院(Accademia Musicale Chigiana), 成為現在國際知名的音樂學院. 

西恩納有個17分區, 在中世紀每個分區有自己的軍隊, 雖然現在各個分區已經沒有行政或防衛功能, 但每個區基本上還有自己的教堂, 街區, 節慶或比賽也常用分區為單位, 例如西恩納的賽馬節就是每個分區來比賽. 其中一個分區是”豹區”, 位於西恩納的西邊, 標誌就是一隻黑豹. 

母狼的雕像 在傳說中,  母狼餵養了雙胞胎兄弟,  其中的一個後來有兩個兒子, 相傳是西恩納的建城者. 

穿梭古城其中…

P.S. 當時在西恩納的兩天一夜大多是陰天還有小雨, 連照片看起來都濕濕的, 無法百分百捕捉西恩納的美麗~

佛羅倫斯權貴家族梅迪西的博物館 (Medici Family’s Uffizi in Florence)

說到義大利佛羅倫斯(Florence)的文化跟歷史就要提一下曾經在此掌權的梅迪西家族(House of Medici). 這個以銀行業致富的家族出了4個教皇跟2個皇后. 梅迪西一開始從醫師起家, 梅迪西(Medici)的意思就是”醫藥.” 喬凡尼梅迪西(Giovanni di Bicci de’ Medici)在1410年是第一個進入銀行業務的家族成員, 從此梅迪西家族開始富有, 當時佛羅倫斯是個共和國, 喬凡尼的兒子科西莫梅迪西(Cosimo di Giovanni de’ Medici)於1434年回到佛羅倫斯時是個成功的商人, 雖說他自己說不介入政治也不是貴族, 但是他的財富為他自己帶來在各方面的影響力. 當時的佛羅倫斯共和國已經跟米蘭公國打了十年多的戰爭, 但是科西莫就是有辦法跟米蘭公爵簽下合約結束了戰爭, 此時不只科西莫被稱為平民的保護者, 梅迪西家族從此更加壯大, 在文化, 藝術, 音樂, 建築上大舉贊助, 對於文藝復興有很大的貢獻.

大家到了佛羅倫斯都會去參觀的烏菲士美術館(Uffizi)收藏的就是歷代梅迪西的收藏品.

烏菲士完成於1581年, 原本是托斯卡納公爵柯西莫一世梅迪西(Cosimo I de’ Medici)的市政司法辦公室, 其實”烏菲士”就是”辦公室”的意思. 烏菲士裡的收藏在安娜瑪莉亞梅迪西(Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici)的指示之下, 所有的收藏品必須留在佛羅倫斯”為大眾服務”, 並且表示這些藝術品為國家所有, 不能被成為統治者的財產. 美術館在1765年開放給大眾參觀.

我在2004年第一次來, 當時館內是不能照相的, 2016年則沒有禁止拍照了. 

波堤切利(Sandro Botticelli)最有名的其中一幅畫–維納斯的誕生(The Birth of Venus)被收藏於此

這幅也是波堤切利有名的”春”(Primavera)

這幅則是達文西(Leonardo Da Vinci)的聖母領報(Annunciation): 

這幅也是達文西的作品, 基督受洗(The Baptism of Christ):

這幅是拉斐爾(Raphael)的金翅雀的聖母(Madonna of the Goldfinch):

橫跨阿諾河(Arno River)的老橋(Ponte Vecchio)上有著許多店家.

石頭打造的橋建於羅馬時代, 在此原本有許多肉販跟皮匠的店家, 甚至有些農夫也在橋上建了小屋居住. 到了1565年, 柯西莫一世梅迪西(Cosimo I de’ Medici)為了要連接佛羅倫斯市政廳(Palazzo Vecchio)跟比提宮(Palazzo Pitti), 委任喬瓦喬維薩里(Giorgio Vasari)修建了”維薩里走廊”(Corridoio Vasariano)經過烏菲士, 穿過老橋, 且藉機整頓老橋上的商店, 肉販跟皮匠遷出, 而變成黃金商人在此營業. 

現在在橋上仍然有很多珠寶店, 販賣大多是作工精細的黃金首飾.

烏菲士美術館外的廣場則有陳列許多複製雕像:

從烏菲士美術館往東南方走約20分鐘的小丘陵上有個米開朗基羅廣場(Piazzale Michelangelo), 廣場上還有一個米開朗基羅(Michaelangelo)的大衛像 (David). 


這裡也是可以俯視佛羅倫斯的好地方:

P.S. 這是聖十字聖殿(Basilica of the Holy Cross), 我2004年來的時候看到外面搭了鷹架在整修, 2016年看起來已經修好了😉

文藝復興發源之地的佛羅倫斯 (Florence)

2004年跟父母第一次到義大利(Italy)就被佛羅倫斯(Florence)的魅力深深吸引, 當時去了好幾個城市–時尚的米蘭(Milan), 湛綠的科莫湖(Lake Como), 莎士比亞(Shakespeare)筆下悲劇女主角茱麗葉的家鄉維洛納(Verona), 經過伽利略(Galileo Galilei)曾經當過大學講師的帕多瓦(Padua)到水都威尼斯(Venice), 然後到了文藝復興發源之地的佛羅倫斯, 繞去看了所有觀光客都會關心的比薩斜塔(Leaning Tower of Pisa), 去羅馬(Rome)的路程中又拜訪了兩個中世紀山城–聖吉米尼亞諾(San Gimignano)跟西恩那(Siena). 那次在佛羅倫斯只待了3天, 但是這個富有文化的城市已成為我心中最愛的城市之一 .💗

直到2016年4月才有機會再排上去義大利的行程. 這次我安排在佛羅倫斯待上了6天, 除了參觀博物館以外, 也想好好感受這個城市的文藝氛圍. 

這次我待在佛羅倫斯的旅館一間在新聖母大殿廣場(Santa Maria Novella Piazza)的旁邊, 一開窗就可以看到新聖母大殿(Basilica of Santa Maria Novella).

從新聖母大殿廣場往東走約10分鐘就到了雄偉的聖母百花大教堂(Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore). 

付費可以爬到鐘樓上參觀, 但我沒上去, 我就是懶我只有進去看了史上最大的磚造圓頂, 輝煌的祭壇, 還有精緻的彩色玻璃窗. 

從聖母百花大教堂往東北邊走不到5分鐘則是到了達文西博物館(Leonardo Da Vinci Museum), 大名鼎鼎的李奧納多達文西廣為人知的作品包括那幅放在法國羅浮宮(Louvre)的”蒙娜麗莎的微笑”(Mona Lisa)跟米蘭恩寵聖母(Santa Maria delle Grazie)多明尼克(Dominican Order)修道院的食堂牆壁上的”最後的晚餐”(The Last Supper)濕壁畫, 他除了是個畫家以外, 還是個全方位的天才, 對於數學, 建築, 音樂, 土木工程, 天文學, 解剖學, 氣象學, 物理力學, 光學都很有研究. 他也是個發明家, 其作品成為後來機械發展的重要概念. 這個博物館很有趣, 有很多互動性質的展品, 還有達文西的設計手稿, 真正參觀後對於這個天才真是嘆為觀止, 沒想到他在15世紀的研究, 理論, 概念, 跟發明原型直到現在都在被應用…

佛羅倫斯的博物館超級多, 從達文西博物館再往北走約5分鐘就到了學術美術館(Galleria Accademia). 雖說這是我第2次來到這裡, 但是跟父母第一次2004年來的走馬看花的記憶已經模糊. 2004年時很多博物館還是禁止在館內拍照, 我覺得是後來到了有手機可以照相的時候, 很多博物館對拍照也不太管了, 只要不要用閃光燈跟腳架就行. 學術美術館展出石雕跟畫作. 

學術美術館中米開朗基羅(Michelangelo)在1504年完成的雕刻作品”大衛”(David)是許多人來此參觀的目的. 這個大衛雕像高5.17公尺, 主角是聖經中的猶太英雄”大衛王”, 這個雕像充分將強壯的肌肉及堅毅的眼神表象出來, 是個讓人讚賞的完美作品.

佛羅倫斯的晚上跟白天一樣熱鬧, 街上滿是商店, 咖啡館, 甜點店跟餐廳. 

從聖母百花教堂往南邊走在Calzaiuoli街上約5分鐘然後向右轉到Calimaruzza街則可到新集市廣場(Piazza del Mercato Nuovo), 白天有許多市集, 喜歡挖寶的人可以來這邊發現很多有趣的手工製品.

新集市廣場有一個野豬銅像(Fontana del Procellino), 很多人喜歡去摸銅像的鼻子以至於鼻子很光亮. 傳說如果摸過野豬銅像的鼻子就會再回到佛羅倫斯, 我沒有去摸, 但還是希望有一天能再回到佛羅倫斯. 😊

P.S. 被趣味化的交通號誌: 大衛像遮住重點 😏 話說這大衛像有個複製品在英國倫敦的維多利亞與艾伯特博物館(Victoria and Albert Museum)在”重點部位”被加上了兩個小掛勾來放上石膏製成的無花果葉, 因為維多利亞女王(Queen Victoria)對於雕像這樣暴露實在太震驚了…😂

Exploring the Splendour of Italy Part 2 (回味義大利 part 2)

San Gimignano was founded as a small village in the 3rd century BC by the Etruscans.

It was a stopping point for Catholic pilgrims on their way to Rome and the Vatican during the Middle Ages and Renaissance period. The city’s development was greatly improved by the trade of agricultural products from the neighboring hills. Although the city declared itself independent in year 1199, it suffered a great loss in economy and had to submit to Florence in year 1348 due to the Black Death that had outbreaks in many European cities.

Florence is known for its history and importance in the Middle Ages and Renaissance era because of its art and architecture. Since it had been a trading center in Europe, it was one of the wealthiest cities during that time.

Not only the city is picturesque and full of romantic atmosphere, its artistic, history, and cultural heritages remain highly praised to now. It has made major steps in music, architecture, education, cuisine, fashion, philosophy, science, and religion in Europe.

“David” is a masterpiece created by the Italian artist, Michelangelo, between 1501 to 1504. It’s a sculpture of a standing nude male that’s a bit over 5 meters.  This marble statue represents the Biblical hero, David.

The one taken in the photo is actually a replica displayed in the Piazza della Signoria. There’s another replica standing on the hills in Oltrarno, and the original is exhibited in Accademia Gallery.

Everybody who goes to Florence cannot leave without a visit to The Uffizi Gallery! It’s one of the oldest and most famous art museums. It’s housed in the Palazzo degli Uffizi. Some sculptures are displayed outside The Uffizi Gallery.

Building of The Uffizi Gallery was originally a palace constructed by Giorgio Vasari in 1560 for Cosimo I de’ Medici as the offices for the Florentine magistrates, thus the name “uffizi” just means “offices.”

Over the years, some space of the palace became a display place for many paintings and sculptures collected by the Medici family or those commissioned by them. Famous artists such as Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo sometimes gathered at the Uffizi.

The Ponte Vecchio is a medieval bridge spans the Arno River at its narrowest point. It still has shops built along it as before. In order to connect the Palazzo Vacchio with the Palazzo Pitti, Cosimo I de Medici had Giorgio Vasari build the famous “Vasari Corridor” above the bridge in year 1565. The house of Medici was originally apothecaries who came to great wealth and power by connecting to other elite families through strategic marriage, partnerships, or employment. A member in Medici family, Catherine de Medici, later became the queen consort as the wife of King Henry II of France, and she would have to face her rival–Dianne de Poitiers, who’s King Henry II’s mistress and resulted the “tale of 2 castles.

Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, Florence Cathedral, is located in Piazza del Duomo. It’s built from 1296 and completed in 1436.

Bacilica di Santa Croce, Basilica of the Holy Cross is standing in the Piazza di Santa Croce, about 800 meters south-east of the Florence Cathedral.

Siena was first settled in the time of the Etruscans, and is famous for its cuisine, art, museums, medieval cityscape, and the palio. This place was a major stage set for the movie–Letters to Juliet which I enjoyed watching and ruminating my trip to here.

Until today, Siena attracts tourists for it’s picturesque sceneries and those who have fondness for humanist disciplines. The University of Siena, founded in 1240, is famed for its faculties of law and medicine.

Duomo di Siena, the Cathedral of Siena, was built in the 12th century. It’s one of the significant representations of Italian Romanesque-Gothic architectures.

Palio horse race is also an important event in Siena. The race is held every year in Piazza del Campo, which is a shell-shaped town square. This place was used as a background stage for the 007 movie–Quantum of Solace.

According to the legend, Siena was founded by Senius, whose father was Remus. Remus had a twin brother named Romulus, after whom Rome was named. Thus, statues and other artwork depicting a she-wolf suckling the twins can be seen all over Siena.

The first impression I had for Rome was from the black and white movie–Roman Holiday starring the prettiest actress and hunkiest actor in history–Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn, in which Audrey Hepburn was a princess who escaped from her restricted life and took a break in Rome where she met the reporter played by Gregory Peck. This romantic story showed several beautiful scenes in Rome and made the “Mouth of Truth” famous. It was a shame that I didn’t get the time to seek it out…

The city of Rome is the capital of Italy and the country’s most populated city. There’s even archaeological evidence of human occupation for at least 14000 years.

The Colosseum in Rome is the largest built in the Roman Empire from early 70’s AD under the emperor Vespasian and was completed in 80 AD under Titus, but later was further modified during Domitian’s reign. The Colosseum was used for gladiatorial contests and public spectacles such as re-actings of famous battles or stories in mythology.

The building was no longer used for entertainment in the early Medieval era but then was reused for housing, workshops, religion, fortress, quarry, and a Christian shrine.

From the movie–Gladiator, it seems that the hollow area under ground (now exposed) were used to cage beasts such as lions and tigers to excite the gladiatorial contests. It was now, however, used by several cats for sunbathing while I visited. 🙂

The Roman Forum is located between the Palatine Hill and the Capitoline Hill. Citizens of the ancient city referred to the location as the “Forum.” It’s part of the centralized area around which the ancient Roman civilization developed.

The Arch of Constantine was erected to commemorate Constantine I’s victory at the Battle of Milvian Bridge on year 312.

Sant’Angelo Castle is a towering cylindrical building that was commissioned by the Roman Emperor, Hadrian. This building was later used by the popes as a fortress and castle in 14th century. It also has a secret passage connecting to Vatican so the pope could escape if necessary. This place is also used as a scene in the movie–“Angels & Demons.” I didn’t go in during this trip, but I was later told that it’s just empty inside?

Fountain of the Four Rivers is located in the Piazza Navona and designed by Gianlorenzo Bernini in 1651. The four gods on the corners of the fountain represent the four major river of the world known at the time: the Nile, Danube, Ganges, and Plate.

Pantheon was commissioned by Marcus Agrippa as a temple to all the gods of Ancient Rome. Its dome is the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome.

Trevi Fountain is the largest Baroque fountain in Rome, standing almost 26 meters high and 20 meters wide. It’s constructed from 1732 to 1762 by Giuseppe Pannini. A traditional legend states that if a visitor throws a coin into the fountain, he/she is ensured a return to Rome. Though Rome is an enchanting city and surely attracts tourists for multiple visits, I think this romantic legend instead makes a fortune for Rome since numerous tourists have tossed coins into the fountain, including me! When will I to return to Rome? We shall see! 🙂

Vatican is a sovereign city-state whose territory consists of a walled enclave in Rome. It’s the tiniest country in the world that has an area of only about 0.44 kilometers square.

Inside the Vatican City are some greatest museums in the world as they display works from the immense collection built up by the Roma Catholic church throughout the centuries.

Pope Julius II founded the museums in the 16th century. The Sistine Chapel and the Stanze della Segnatura decorated by Raphael are on the visitor route through the Vatican Museums.

I first thought these guards appeared a bit awkward due to their unique uniform, but then I realized that they are real pontifical Swiss guards in Vatican. The organization was founded by Pope Julius II in 1506 as the personal bodyguard of the pope and continues to serve that purpose now.

Pyramid of Cestius was built in 18BC-12BC for a magistrate of Rome–Caius Cestius.

The Papal Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls was founded by Constantine I in year 370. It’s one of the four churches that are the great ancient major basilicas of Rome.

Like London, Rome is a city that fuses the past with modern era. Not only it contains numerous archaeological remains, some districts are extremely new and hardly any trail of the history.

Although I have been lucky enough to travel to many countries prior to this journey to Italy, this trip certainly left me a vivid memory and endless enjoyment while sharing the photos and my experience with friends. Part of the reason was that I reached this age so my study for the history allowed me to understand the beautiful art and culture of this country. I certainly loved all my trips to the U.S., Mexico, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, Bali island, France, Switzerland, Netherlands, Germany, but I certainly didn’t feel these countries’ “essences” as deeply. After this trip, I added even more interest in world histories and became a constant goer for museums, this, also helped me to have a more depth in my later trips to Japan, France, England, and Cambodia.

P.S. The beautiful woman I found in Italy, she’s ubiquitous while I was in Italy, wahaha… 😛

Exploring the Splendour of Italy (回味義大利)

This isn’t my recent trip as I was heck busy last year; instead, this is a trip back in 2004. Trip to Italy left me a vivid memory as it was an European trip long after the previous one–a trip that I went with my whole family and long-time family friends, and my first time using a digital camera in a trip! (I know, I was pretty outdated alright…)

Not only Italy is indeed one of the most beautiful countries that’s full of museums, archeological remains, distinguishing cultures, and splendid history, the more important thing is that my whole family was overwhelmed by what we’ve experienced in the trip, and was also lucky enough to have our loving long-time friends to enjoy it with us.

Due to a small incidence a few weeks ago, I decided to write to a hotel at which we stayed during out trip in Venice and very soon got a reply with such kindness and thus brought back the wonderful memories I had in Italy.

The first place we’ve arrived was Milan–the city of fashion. I’m not a person who’s sensitive enough in fashion area; however, Milan is full of history too, in which I’ve been more interested.

Castello Sforzesco, or Sforza Castle in English, used to be the seat and residence of the Duchy of Milan. It now houses several museums and art collections. One of the rooms has a surviving ceiling painting by Leonardo da Vinci known as “Sala Delle Asse.” At this moment, I wasn’t really awake yet as I walked into the castle and even had a few moments of confusion why I was even there!

Chiesa di Santa Maria Delle Grazie, known as “Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie” has red bricks as its facade and is famous for housing Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece–The Last Supper on the north wall. This painting was used extensively in Dan Brown’s novel and later made a movie–The Da Vinci Code.

Duomo di Milano, Milan Cathedral, is a Gothic-style cathedral built from 1386 to 1965 and is the 4th largest church in the world. The height of the nave is about 45 meters.

Galleria Vittorio Emanule II connects Milan Cathedral Square and Scala Square and is named after the first king who united Italy. The design is popular for 19th century. Under the arched roof is a series of stores.

La Scala Theater situates in Scala Square and is a world-renowned opera house. Ballet performances and operas are held in here. It’s under re-construction during the time I visited.

Lake Como has been a popular retreat for aristocrats and wealthy people since Roman times. Now it’s a popular tourist attraction as it’s widely regarded as one of the most beautiful lakes in Italy. It’s also famous for its numerous villas and palaces. The beautiful sceneray is used in Casino Royale too.

Lake Como is shaped like “Y.” The small but beautiful towns of Bellagio, Menaggio, and Verenna are at located at the intersection of the three branches of the lake.

 

Verona is a picturesque town famous of having “Juliet’s house.”

This house is said to be Juliet’s in Shakespeare’s play–Romeo and Juliet. Although Juliet is a fictional character, people flock to “Juliet’s House” and post love notes for good luck under the small balcony believed to be where Juliet confessed her love to Romeo. This is also a significant scene used in the movie–Letters to Juliet. (Yeah, this movie reminds me of my trip here and to Siena!) I heard that the wall was covered by some boards specifically for people to stick their notes on now. While I visited, the wall was full of chewing gums!!!

Verona Arena was built in AD 30 and an amphitheatre that could host more than 30,000 spectators…

Padua hosts the renowned Universita’ di Padova, which was founded in the 13th century and well known for having had Galileo Galelei among its lectureres. This city is also the setting in Shakespeare’s play–The taming of the Shrew.

Venice is known for its several important artistic movements, especially the Renaissance period. The Republic of Venice was an important center of commerce, especially silk, grain, spice trade, and art from 13th century to 17th century. Venice was a wealthy city throughout most of its history. As far as romantic it is for Venice, the main canal has in fact never been open for private yachets, except for the one that’s shooting the movie–Casino Royale–where James Bond cruised in Venice with Vesper Lynd.

Venice stretches across 117 small islands in the marshy Venetian Lagoon along the Adriatic Sea. Due to this location, Venice always traded with the Byzantine Empire and the Muslim world extensively, thus became the most prosperous city in Europe during late 13th century. Honestly, since the city is quite old and most of the parts and foundation have been soaked in the water for a looooooooong time, I found it fancier to look from far away than being in it…

Saint Mark’s Basilica is a Roman Catholic church greatly influenced by Byzantine architecture style. Oh, and the plaza was full of birds… lots, lots, lots… of them…

Saint Mark’s Square is the principal square of Venice, dominated by Saint Mark’s Basilica.Ah~Venice–as said by Indiana Jones in “The Last Crusade.” 😀

Pisa is known for its “Leaning Tower” and University of Pisa, which has dated back to the 12th century.

To be continued~