The alarm went off. Eyes opened. First thing out of bed was to ruffle the curtain drapes and peer out the window.
Nevertheless, we decided to push on with our plan to visit the neighboring islands Torcello and Burano. Who knows, maybe by the time we reached, the weather would have improved.
After an hour of traveling which involved transferring from one vaporetta to another, we finally reached the shores of Torcello. At this time, the rain was falling even more heavily. And the winds. The piercing winds!!
Compounding the depressing weather was the virtually empty streets as local vendors were all holed up at home while tourists that were as hardcore/foolish as us were far and few.
Well, I suppose our luck was going to run out sooner or later. Misfortune came in the form of rain as soon as we arrived at the train station. Thankfully we managed to find our way through the notorious Venetian alleys to our hotel.
First order of business was to hook ourselves up with tickets for the water taxi which is locally known as vaporetta. It is easily the only viable public transport if you wish to get around Venice. More often than not, you will see signs proclaiming “Vaporetta” pointing in all sorts of obscure directions while walking along the streets.
Unfortunately, this time round we fell victims to the maze of Venetian streets while trying to locate the vaporetta stop. Wandered for a good 20 minutes trying to make sense of the map/following the crowd/returning to base and starting all over again. Finally located the stop with the insides of our shoes feeling slightly soggy. D:
Proceeded to purchase the 72 hours tourist pass even though we would be staying for 2 days only. Value for money since a single ride cost 6 euros.
#1 Ella Ella Eh Eh | LC-A+ RL | Fuji Neopan SS | BUY IT!
Waiting to board our first ever vaporetta ride! Rather than being uber hyped about it, I remembered us shivering while holding our damp tickets, second guessing if we were waiting at the right stop.
An early start to the day with us all geared up for our pre-booked Tuscany tour with Walkabout Florence. Only to meet with a slight setback as it started pouring just as we were about to make our way to the tour bus. It proved to be the only disappointment of the day as the tour turned out to be freakin’ awesome!!
Time flew by all thanks to our guide Steffano who kept us entertained throughout the bus ride to our first stop, Siena. Highlights include the Siena town square also known as Piazza del Campo which is supposedly one of the greatest city squares in the world.
Florence is well known for its collection of sculptures and paintings which are proudly displayed in museums across the city. But apart from its assortment of art works nourished with years of history, there are also artifacts of the less artsy kind to be admired in the Museo Galileo.
Rather than being a shrine dedicated to the life and times of Galileo Galilei, the museum housed a huge collection of scientific instruments and inventions from the good ol’ days of the 15th to 19th century. A very educational tour that will no doubt invoke tonnes of challenging whys and hows that parents will find hard to answer.
Suffice to say, the amount of information to digest left my holiday brains in a state of paralysis. Can’t say I’ll do any better with my normal day to day brain. Doubt there will be many left wearing t-shirts with “Nerd” or “Geek” emblazoned across their chests if they were made to tour the museum before they could gain the right to don them.
Time to recharge with a quick lunch at one of the top rated eateries on TripAdvisor, All’Antico Vinaio. Similar in concept to the sandwich joint we visited yesterday, it was located along one of those cosy alleys serving up cheap tasty sandwiches and glasses of wine.
Ordering was a challenge though as there was no fixed menu and the chefs were not fluent in English. Due to the store’s popularity, the queues were a huge clump of people squished against the counter. Ordering methods varied as there were customers who carefully questioned the identity of the various ingredients before making a decision or those that pointed randomly at the ingredients. I went for the “anything with truffle” option.
Dragging ourselves out of bed early and eating takeaway breakfast prepared with love by Massimo was quite the bittersweet ending to our time in Rome. Saying goodbye can turn out to be pretty stressful too. Tackling the morning metro crowd, navigating the unfamiliar Termini station and having to constantly check for the train’s arrival.
Once on board, it was fairly straightforward. Look for seat, store luggage, sit and wait for train conductor to collect tickets. Before you know it, the stress returns and you’re scrambling to buy bus tickets and searching high and low for the right bus stop.
Stepping inside the historic center of Florence, we realised that Florence is quite a different kettle of fish. The roads are easier on the feet, the pace is a bit less rushed and its winds a little bit biting.
Lunch was takeaway sandwiches from I Fratellini which was yummy and easy to order. After satisfying out tummies, we dived straight into the Duomo.
#1 POW! | LC-A+ RL | Lucky 200
Ok, maybe this is not as powerful as the title sounds, but the actual scene was quite a sight to behold. Masses of people just crowding around, trying their darnedest to capture the Duomo from all sorts of angle and distance.
Today’s main feature is Vatican City which we had already pre-booked a half day tour with Dark Rome tour operator. With the tour we would be able to access some restricted areas and (most importantly) skip the entry queue. You know its money well spent when you see snaking queues forming outside the entrance at 8:15am.
We got to the meeting place quite easily and everyone else in our group were on time. From then onwards, our guide when about clearing all the administrative stuffs to ensure our entry was fuss free.
The guide then gave a general introduction of Vatican City, touching on its minute population (around 800 if I remember correctly), the Swiss guards who had to live within the compound and how the dome of St Peter’s Basilica was designed to be just slightly smaller than that of the Pantheon by Michelangelo (can’t quite recall the exact reason). She also shared various interesting facts and trivia which helped saved our brains from shutting off.
We first explored the Pinacoteca, the Vatican art gallery where the famous works of Caravaggio (The Entombment of Christ is pretty epic), Leonardo and Raphael can be found. It was mentioned that Raphael took inspiration from Michelangelo, especially from his Sistine Chapel frescoes to capture the gestures and movements of the characters in his Transfiguration. It is pretty evident that the stances of the characters from his earlier work, The Crowning of the Virgin Mary (which can also be found in the Pinacoteca) are less vivid in comparison.
Oh look at me going on and on like a sir.
It’s an early day today!
There is quite an interesting story about the chains which are on display at the main altar. However, the main draw for us was Michelangelo’s statue of Moses.
#1 What Up Mose | LC-A+ RL | Voigtlander Vchrome 100 DX
I’m definitely not an art connoisseur but was nevertheless left in awe by the details etched on the statue. Hats off to that orange dude from TMNT.