Italy was not on our list of places to visit right now, August may not be the perfect time for this but perfection is a mistake, every frame has its own story and a true traveller will seize every opportunity. So did I, and if you wanna unwind yourself, come along. Let’s begin our Tour De Italia
A strict vegetarian that she is, my wife was sceptical in the beginning but thanks to our tour organiser, Make you travel, the issue was taken care of well and a personalised attention from the owners themselves was an adorable start.
We reached Rome in the afternoon, nothing remarkable at the Fiumicino airport ‘Leonardo Da Vinci’, whether similar to Delhi, hot and humid, regular modernistic ambience and a tiresome mind from a long journey, have I made the right choice? but the magic was to unfold soon after.
An impression of grandeur and vastness displaying rich historical treasure the capital city inherited, standing tall on the mounts of seven hills exuding great architectural show of classical Roman styling with statues and monoliths decorating almost every frame even the regular buildings were perfectly trimmed to size and artistically sculpted to compete with each other giving the city a remarkable symmetry and Grandeur.
Think of Rome and Roman architecture and the massive Colosseum is sure to hit your senses. The mammoth amphitheatre is the largest of its kind in Italy and stands tall about 50 meters in height.
“Look at my wife, donned in a beautiful red hat and standing beside her royal carriage… truly a queen. I, on the other hand, am in a different world right now.”
“Scorching heat from the majestic Sun and the congested calescent queue fail in their objective to burn down my excitement, in fact, a chilling wave of nervousness shivers through my bones when I walk through the large ghetto gates of the Colosseum, once an eternal entry for the gladiators.
Standing on the balcony, I stare at the huge elliptical gladiator arena with large rows of brick walls and steps flanking my vision. Half the central arena is laid open exposing the underground Colosseum like a wound gone sore.”
Let’s not talk about wounds, let’s discuss remedies and Italy had a perfect remedy to offer for a burdened mind…trip to Capri islands, ‘The Blue Grotto’.
Travel is as much a part of the journey as the destination itself. Travel to Capri islands had a rejuvenating ramification.
“I am standing on the upper deck of an elegant ship, the cool sea breeze is gently caressing my body as also the soul, a flock of seagulls are flying effortlessly beside me and along with me, the vast expanse of the calm sea has engulfed my vision and the warmth of the sky so clear, has embraced me like a mother. I can be here for hours together.”
To reach Capri one has to travel to Naples about fours ride by bus from Rome. From Naples, it takes around a hours drive by motorboat or Ferri to reach the caves of Capri. The entryway to caves is small and can be accessed only during low tides and in small rowboats in lying down position. when the light enters these closed caves through small openings all the other colours are reflected back imparting a crystal blue colour to the water inside the caves… Blue Grotto.
“The oarsman is pulling the boat with the help of iron chains inside a dark halo and I enter lying in the boat, face up, surrendered, surrendered to the mystic powers of the Almighty, and to my utter surprise I am blissfully cuddled up in her radiant blue lap.”
Look what I spotted at Capri Island…a fly sitting on a toad’s head
Florence and Pisa
From Rome, we moved to the beautiful city of Florence, once the fashion capital of the country, in fact, it was the capital of Italy from 1865 to 1871. Like Rome, Florence too had the typical Italian ambience, clean dustfree roads flanked on either side by the tall yet symmetrical buildings, fashionable shops and signature cathedrals.
Santa Maria church stands tall in the central piazza and even after 600 hundred years of its construction boasts of having the largest brick dome in the world.
“Bathed by the heat of the August Sun, I bow to the statue of Dante Alighieri standing on the front facade of the church and step inside, from the ‘inferno’ of outside world to the ‘comedy of the divine’.”
Pisa is a little distance away from Florence, about an hours drive. What a lovely quint town it is. There is a definite tinge of serene quietness in its ambience, beautiful houses with floral decoration in their balconies, people moving around the town and the capacity to nurture great minds like Galileo and Michel Angelo.
“Only the quietness of mind has the firmness to hold wonders”.
Talking about wonders, Pisa is home to one of the wonders of the world the ‘Leaning Tower Of Pisa’, ready to fall onto the ground from centuries but not yet or ready to kiss the ground but denied permission.
From Florence to Venice, a bit long journey, we stayed at Padova, a quiet but elegant industrial town on the outskirts of Venice. About 45 mins away from Padova, lies Venice, a labyrinth of backwater canals and a shoppers paradise. You will find all the giants of the fashion world from Gucci and Armani to Hugo Boss and everyone else on display here.
“Shopping is not my cup of tea, I am just walking around in the street traversing the lanes and the bridges over canals, smitten by the amazing beauty and the adorable history of the floating city. Letting go of everything, I am floating in a Gondola, looking at the ships ashore, at the bunch of girls relaxing on the wooden wharf and a traveller like me capturing the moment”
My wife was worried about the food during travel to a foreign land, as always, but it was well taken care of by the tour operators, imaging eating almost homemade Rajma-Chawal at ship bay in Venice. Of course, you can get everything from continental, Italian and Chinese to even Japanese cuisine easily.
There’s a lot to see and imbibe in Italy especially if you have taste in history, architecture and fashion, so plan your trip accordingly devote and plan a little longer trip if possible.
It may not be cost effective for your tour organiser but plan your itinerary properly if you wish to relish the Italian beauty up to your liking. For example, I would have loved to see Venice in the evening as well but was denied due to time constraint. Ideally, I think, my trip should have started from Venice instead of Rome this would have given me a chance to admire Venice in the night but this would have meant extra charges for a package tour operator ( night time charges for Ferri and Gondola are comparatively high, I am told).
Italy in August is quite sunny so keep a good pair of sunglasses, a hat and lots of drinking water with you. Water is costly and sure, you will require plenty of it.
Street markets in most of the places in Italy are flooded with Bangladeshi and African migrants some of them have the sole ulterior motive of cheating so be aware.
Even the Gondola boatsmen are no less when it comes to unruly behaviour and cheating…’Mallahs in Armani scraps (you can compare them with their Indian counterparts of Varanasi and Allahabad)
Signing off for the day, if you like reading travelogues, you can read My Travel Diaryand also the anecdotes at my site, my personal recommendation is Doctors Diary.