Rome in December 2015 – some more

Because Rome is so endlessly beautiful, here are some more things we saw while walking…We happened to go by a wax museum – so here is Leonardo painting his Gioconda in its window:And here are us girls with our selected heroes meeting by the museum doors: Strange as it is -parrots live in the street of Rome! Poor Faust: And more and more: The Spanish Stairs: Those columns are not real – they are painted:-)!

Vatican in December 2015

One of the days we dedicated to the Cathedral and the Vatican museum. What else could there be – it is too small and to restricted in other areas. And as I mentioned previously – there were no lines at ticket offices. We planned to eat our snacks while standing in a line-  so we had to do it before :-). Do not get anxious and buy Vatican Museum tickets beforehand on-line or iin other prominent basilicas where they even keep special booths and people working them – offering tickets for much higher price. Maybe in busy season that makes sense, not in December definitely. So here are the Vatican gardens ant the inside arts and halls and long super decorated corridors, so rich and immense and varied, that in a couple of hours we came out dizzy…The stairs that are modern: I never stopped admiring different mosaics of the floors and richly painted ceilings and cupolas:   Those strange things were in a Greek section – i have no clue what they are 🙂

Rome in December 2015: Via Apia Antica

As I wrote previously – we started towards via Apia from the place we stayed, walked and walked, and when we reached it – it was pretty narrow and traffic was brushing our sides…Until at some point they directed traffic to another street and we were on a comfy path parts of it from the ancient cobble stones: The St. Calistus Catacombs – they were closed when we reached them. but the top part was impressive and relaxing enough: There was a building on the way with such a variety of cacti in front of it – I was mesmerized! There were churches on the way and of course-  there were sculptures iin them/ Even the footprints of St. Peter or Jesus, oh, I forgot…Because at that place St. Peter met Jesus who told him to return to the city and continue the Christening:

Here is the best part of Via at last! But my company got tired and we had to turn back… One of the gates to Rome with a strange Pyramid, the structure one least expects to see in Rome of all places: That evening we ate in a nice cafe -night bar while they had a buffet-snacks with drinks. Close by what an interesting shop as if from a fairy tale -a man making solely Pinoccios: Again  -we finished the day in Transtevere, where to sit in the middle of its square and look into the flocks of birds doing different figures, listening to various musicians playing- what else can be better? The next day we went up to the hills behind Transtevere – it is also very worth going:

Rome in December 2015

It took me a long time to find time to prepare some pictures from our Rome trip a year ago. We went in December, but not during Christmas, way before it. For a week, with my friend Dainora. And it was perfect. The best thing – no crowds, not at all. There was not a single person by the ticket offices in Vatican museum – that tells all :-). And the weather is just right for wandering endlessly in the city and around it. We didn’t get any rain, just perfect Italian skies! Which I recognized as perfect only on this trip – they are really something! The clouds and how they are set in the sky were different for my eyes this time and they were just beautiful. And everything else was amazing – how can it not be – it is the capital of Italy. With such a history! We admired so many churches, so many old sculptures and some new ones, the views of the city from above its 7 hills, the parks and the rich citizens’ houses, and there are still more left to visit. We walked a lot, a lot, took a bus only once from Via Apia. So here it is, the beautiful Rome! Here is the place where we lived. It was exotic – in a yard of a huge museum of Oriental art! Guess what – we didn’t find time to visit the museum…We found this apartment through Air B&B, you can see it in that building after the bridge in the first floor. It seemed to have been part of the museum. but now restored to a rather comfortable apartment with a living room-kitchen, a very big bathroom and a bedroom, just right for 3 people:  The calm autumn light in Rome was just right for the still hanging leaves on the trees: The view from a not to miss basilica St. Peter in Vincoli and Peter’s vincoli: We are standing on ancient stones, going to the Forum! The bridges over Tiber river, the river itself, so amazing: The little market in the middle of downtown with “a showman” who had quite a performance convincing us to buy his vegetable shredder: But somehow I picked a part of Rome I liked best and I’d like to live there for a while – a dream :-). It is on the other side of Tiber – Transtevere: Those are camellias-  I imagine how it is when they bloom! Here again in the center – Pantheon with its mysterious hole in the top – no rain comes from it! The Trevi Fountain: To be continued!

2015-Italy – Bergamo

P1020379The last stop on this trip was Bergamo – it is by the airport where Ryanair flies. And it is by the snowy Alps that make a super beautiful background! But, this time we came to Bergamo in rain and the day we spent there was very misty and rainy, not so good for pictures. But first of all  -the trip to Bergamo was not easy. WE went to Florence train station, they sold us tickets for the cheaper trains we used all the time -you find their schedules on www.trenitalia.com or www/seat61.com/Italy.htm -and expected it to be as usual – came to Bologna. got into the station to wait for another train to Milan and then to Bergamo. No way…Lots of people waiting, their necks stretched towards the information boards which say nothing-  yes, they say there is a train, but what time it is supposed to come? Nobody knew. at last we found information booth, which is not so evident there, Italy tries to sell tickets and provide information in automats. And we found out that our train company is on strike…So what did we do -we had to buy new tickets in the fast train that took us to some other station, but not Milan, then luckily got a train to Bergamo directly – oh. what a luck that was! Because our hosts in Bergamo were meeting us in the station, so we managed to call them about our schedule change and oh how wonderful it was to be taken by car to the apartment! it was like heaven! We found the apartment as all of them through internet and it is called Cosy Apartment in the City center, Maria Luiza Ponzoni is renting it, 39-3473822666, it is in via Sant Alessandro 82 – in a narrow medieval street in front of a monastery, a very cozy and comfortable apartment, I highly recommend it. Close to a food store, to a good pizza place, and on the way to the upper part of the city. We had to enter through those doors!:P1020389P1020360P1020365P1020372And once we entered the upper city – Citia Alta through those gates of Porta S. Giacomo – we again got into medieval narrow  streets, fun! And so we walked as usual, checked the very old and newer churches. Here is a sample of a fresco in a very old church standing side by side with some newer ones in one cluster, by one square:P1020400 P1020405 P1020414 P1020416 P1020468This basilica that you see on top, came out to be the most impressive church to me on this trip…Well, maybe Santa Croce was equally impressive. Everything was impressive there-  the tapestries on the walls all over – never saw them in churches! The old fresco of the Last Supper, the paintings in the altars, the elaborate wooden mosaics under the main altar fence, the confessionals, the doors, the Donizetti’s grave as well as other noble people’s graves, everything:P1020424 P1020427 P1020430 P1020431 P1020447 P1020448 P1020452 P1020457Again – we walked and walked through nice squares and narrow streets:P1020473 P1020475 P1020483 IMG_1566 IMG_1535Here is how they decorate the window of a store where they sell hair flowers :-)…

My poor Father – we dragged him up the hill so high up to the Castle. There is a funicular, but it was not working that day, so we walked on a cobbled street and it was not easy, but the views were breathtaking. If only the weather would have been a little sunnier:IMG_1543 P1020487 P1020492 P1020497 P1020508 P1020521 IMG_1557And then we went back, my family rested and I still wanted to see the downtown – so here are some pics in twilight:P1020525 P1020526 P1020535 P1020536Here is a monument to their famous son  -Gaetano Donizetti!

Here is Bergamo view from the train station – it was on the day we flew into it, it was sunny – quite a difference!P1010144

All in all  -Italy is a fantastic country, just amazing on each step. Their creativity is endless. Things and places to see are endless. How much time a person can spend there and how much energy one should have to consume so much art and beauty…

2015-Italy – A hike around Florence

To rest our imaginations more from the concentrated art that Florence is, we took a train in the morning and  half hour and 3.4e later got out in Pontassieve, a small town by the river. How did we figure that out – in the internet there is a 100mi ring around Florence for those who want to hike in countryside and be close to Florence. The ring is divided into day hike size segments and each end of the hike has some sort of transportation – a train or a bus. From the station we walked through the town, crossed the bridge and dived into pastoral views with a big working monastery being the first object on our way:DSCF1779 DSCF1783 DSCF1786 DSCF1789The slopes were mostly olive groves, very pleasant in this sunny weather! Up and up the hills that seemed never to end. We expected to meet more old Gothic churches. based on the description – but saw only one:DSCF1798 DSCF1803 DSCF1804 DSCF1810The forests that our path cut through were very pleasant, even exotic. There were even some flowers blooming in this early spring.  DSCF1813 DSCF1814We have a dream some day to walk the Pilgrimage path to Santjago de Compostela. Right now we can’t have a vacation in warm seasons, so we did this as a trial. By the way – he path was also marked on trees, not with a shell, but with something like a Polish flag :-):DSCF1819And there was no summit-  we walked and walked, and as we reached as if one summit-  there was another in the horizon. Then the path disappeared and if it was not for Andrei’s GPS in the phone-  we could have been lost. There were some houses, more like mansions behind big walls and angry dogs in the yards, so how could we ask anyone about the path? Bet the GPS was our showing star and here we went. The forest floors were very dug up -we wondered why? Soon the mystery was solved – there was a man with two medium dogs digging something in the forest close to the road – guess what? Tartiuffo! Or a truffle! I asked him to show me the valued mushroom, so here it is:IMG_1149Yes, it had a specific good smell, but nothing out of this world…Our Lithuanian Borelia mushrooms smell stronger and more pleasant to my nose, sorry Italians or the ones who like to pay for truffles :-). To each his own. And so we continued the trip which already started to seem to me endless…DSCF1830 DSCF1832 DSCF1837 DSCF1841 DSCF1843There was somewhere a monastery on the way worth visiting. but we would have had to go to the side and climb another mountain, and that seemed too much even for my enthusiastic nature…So we went down on a rather steep slope and landed directly into a regular road where buses go by a town In Colino San Donato. The stop was conveniently there and we returned to Firenze. While waiting for the bus I noticed peculiar blue flowers, like little bells spotting a meadow below:DSCF1873 DSCF1868All in all we walked 13.2 km only…in 4h 20 min and felt very tired…But who knows – maybe we walked more, hard to trust those measuring devices or literature :-). So –  we are still not prepared enough for Camino de Santjago.

 

2015-Italy – Florence-2

To make a little break in walking through city and galleries, we took a #7 bus from St. Marcus square where this statue stands to Fiesole:P1020075It is a nice half hour ride up one of the hills that surround Florence. A suburb. The bus stops in an attractive square with two men on horses shaking hands, and the path goes up the hill in a narrow street to the viewpoints towards Firenze:P1020086 P1020079 P1020092 P1020087 P1020099 P1020106 P1020109 P1020111It is a very good place to hike and rest your head from too much art :-)! If we had time – we could have hiked more towards the countryside. also – to a monastery on the other side of town – but as usual – we have too many plans.

There will be more in this post in several days.

2015-Italy – Florence

It took us 1h 40 min by train (9.05e) to get to Florence from Bologna (with changing trains in Pratte). We rented an apartment 10 min from the station, right in the middle of that Egyptian or whatever leather goods street market in front of the big covered Market Hall, several steps from San Lorenzo church. The apartment was a little strange/ it was on the top floor – maybe that was 5th, you enter a little corridor and there is a sofa bed there and a very small kitchen in a nook. Then you climb very steep and narrow stairs and find yourself in a spacious bedroom and the bathroom is also there. So for a person who sleeps downstairs  -it is not very comfortable. But – we managed. the views form the bedroom are outstanding – all the roofs and the domes of two churches, the Duomo including! The adress is Via dell Ariento 7, 39-3473822666, matraina@gmail.com. And immediately went for a walk towards Duomo  -the cathedral:P1010857The Baptistery is under restoration, meaning under cloths, so just the famous doors:P1010860

Duomo is beyond impressive – you can stand in the crowd and look and look at it…P1010864 P1010883 P1010888 P1010894And we walked and walked – the streets are very narrow for the height of buildings by them – so it is not such a very pleasant walk for us, country people at first. But once you get to plazza – a square – there is usually a ‘wow’ sound you want to shout:P1010913 P1010902 P1010873 P1010936 P1010932Lots of buildings in Florence have that specific yellow colors that creates a poetic atmosphere. Nice! So we admired lots of buildings crunching our heads, ate some famous ice cream and famous, but not tasty spaghetti, and reached Santa Croche Church with a statue for Dante in front of it:P1010925 P1010896 P1010911Here is the Uffici gallery: P1010914 P1010931This blog post will be extended soon 🙂

 

 

2015-Italy – Ferrara

Ferrara is  half hour away by train  from Bologna (4.60e) – how could I not see it…especially while I came across a booklet about it in the Padova loft. I didn’t expect so much/ but I think I liked it most of all those cities we saw so far. Who would have known :-). It was even not on our travel plans. Though I have to say I noticed in some book a mention of it as a cradle of Renaissance. This time the train station was pretty far from downtown (20 min walk), but I walked nevertheless. No time to look for buses.  The street was very wide like Champs D’Elysee up to Castello Estense:P1010587 It is open till 6pm, so I rushed through the center of downtown, through the cathedral:P1010588 P1010593

P1010632 P1010599 P1010602directly to the Medieval quarter. The best part – no cars there! only bicycles. And very few people, no tourists, just some locals, some kids when classes finished. And some 2 or three photographers in Via Delle Volte  -so I also followed their example and took many pictures in it, was hard to pick only four:P1010609 P1010611 P1010617 P1010618 From there, through Ghetto to the Renaissance part! There is an abundance of palaces and mansions, also parks, so having several hours was far from enough…Ferrara has to be destination in itself. There are even little towns in the surrounding area, so yes, a destination for the next trip, no less than fro 3-5 days there. the only palace that was not closed at that time and was the most peculiar to me was Palazzo Schifanoia. ir is not in the very center, but still within the ols city walls, and the walk is marvelous. It is really one of the most precious art treasures in the city. Its name., Schifanoia, derives from its original function: loathing boredom and sending away tedium. One big hall is Salone Dei Mesi – 12 months painted on the walls. Boy, those artists who painted – were really not bored…It s a triumph of imagination. So many details, so colorful, so perfectly painted. Sad, but only 6 months are left, the others are destroyed…Here is at least one glimpse of them – I guess it is Torres:P1010660 P1010659The best part  -I was alone there! peace and quiet. Here is the ceiling of the other hall- Salla Delle Virtu -where all christian virtues are represented. It has a splendid golden, painted coffered ceiling:P1010669There is also a museum of Ancient Art, but after seeing those two halls how much more beauty can one consume…From there I walked the main street- “Corso” towards the other part of the city Corso is impressive, as usually Corso’s are in Italy. There is a Diamond palace on the way – it houses art collection, but closed early. Some more churches and palaces on the way:P1010674 P1010678

P1010718 P1010684and I came up to a very big cemetery  – Cimitero Della Certosa  -so big, it takes the whole corner of the wall enclosed city…it has a beautiful  church-chapel and columbarium ansamble:P1010703 P1010700 P1010689 P1010697 P1010696What a wonderful weather tat was! At last it got warm after windy days in other cities. I didn’t was to go into buildings, but the castle was waiting for me, so what could I do. The first part – believe it or not – from those sunny views I got into dungeons…terrible, terrible, especially for my tall body:P1010743 P1010751Then up the stairs – and the views of the castle and mote, then an endless walk through frescoed hall. So many frescoes, especially on ceilings, so that there were big mirrors installed not to break ones neck :-). Visitors can see the ceilings reflected in the mirrors. Most of the frescoes were in repair, so had bandages on them:P1010785

Here you can see little tiny faces incorporated in the ceiling decor; each square is different, amazing…P1010788 P1010841There were some painting exhibits. One of them was Giuseppe Boldini’s  -who is so good in painting beautiful women and their ddresses  -loved it! Here is one sample:P1010816A last glimpse to the castle then a short visit to the peculiar oval entrance area of Teatro Comunale – and I had to rush back to Bologna.P1010734 P1010730 P1010724Ferrara is to be visited for a longer time!

 

 

2015-Italy – Bologna

Bologna is a comfortably short  train ride from Padova. Once you get from the station – you walk by some ruins, some square and get the the downtown -which is narrow streets and all covered walks – maybe they have too much sun or rain that they built all those covered walks, or maybe in that way they can have more living space upstairs.  But it looks somehow different than we are used to:P1010530 P1010551 P1010579The door under the columns to the right -is where we lived – in a very nice one bedroom apartment. It was called Falegnani Suites, Via de Falegnani 16, 3922-646471. The owner was very friendly, she met us in the apartment and we had anything we needed there. The sad part  -we stayed only 2 nights, the apartment was too nice for such a short stay. But it was enough for us to walk around two evenings and one morning.  The oldest University in Europe was the main point of interest:P1010539 P1010542 P1010544 P1010545And what the students paint nowadays on the walls of one of departments: P1010580Bologna is distinguished not only by the abundance of columns,  but also by the two big towers, which are so tall that are hard to get into picture. Also – one of them is leaning:IMG_0966 P1010570 P1010572 P1010854Here are some nice squares we wandered through:IMG_0974 P1010556 P1010558

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and especially with my father the second eve – when he joined us later in order to make his last trip to his beloved Florence. Bologna was the place we met and continued the journey from there:P1010850 P1010851