Thursday, March 07, 2013

Europe Trips: Italy: An Italian Sojourn Part 1

Europe is one of the most beautiful continents in the world – spanning multiple countries with rich culture, history, scenic landscapes, architecture, paintings, sculptures, sun, snow, sand, party and pristine blue waters. It can manage to emote even the most un communicate of human beings to gasp in its glory.

Since the continent has over 49 countries, it is a boon in disguise for various travel & tour operators – in addition to the economies of these countries. The travel and tour operators take one through either a multiple country trip – 10 countries in 7 days or single country trip - France in 5 days. Though these trips are well planned and work out economical (since you travel by coach/bus, are in a group – which gives benefits of collective bargaining) – they still don’t do enough justice to these countries.  This is because of a jam packed pre determined tour schedule for which you have to be regimentally on time each day – to ensure you cover the areas identified for you by the tour operator are ticked off the list. If there is some place you may not want to spend more time and focus elsewhere, the changes of flexibility are limited.  The other option to visit these countries is more painstaking and may work out a tad more expensive, but nevertheless more fulfilling – planning it by yourself.
Frecciargento trains - fastest in Italy - clocking 250kmp

I am a game for the latter as it gives you more satisfaction in the end – of having experienced a foreign country the way you want it to. I am glad my wife is a willing partner in crime! Be it spending time in attractions which you like, experiencing different food & drinks or soaking in non touristy sections of the city – you can design your own plan and execute it. One of such trips we planned was for Italy and it was absolutely breathtaking and enchanting.

In over 5 days  and 6 nights we covered 5 cities across Italy, travelling from the South to the North of this vibrant country. We took all possible modes of transport in this process – Flights (to and from Italy), Trains (Intra Italy), Bus (Intra Italy), Metro (Intra Rome), Vaporetti / Water Bus (Intra Venice), Gondola (Intra Venice), Train (Intra UK) and Bus (Intra UK).

Within Italy, we took high speed trains – travelling over 650 kms of the country in one day – when we were in four different cities on the same day – Rome, Pisa, Florence and Venice. Not to mention the numerous kilometres we walked within each of these cities to explore sight- seeing places and enjoy our trips.

Food wise, it was fantastic to taste the following:

Gelato - waiting for your mouth!
Pizza, Pasta, Risotto, Bruchetta, Soup, Grilled Vegetables, Spinach and Ricotta Cheese Pie, Panini’s

Freshly squeezed orange /arancia juice, Apertif (Spritz), House Wine in numerous restaurants, Warm wine roaming the streets in Venice, fantastic cocktails and mocktails, Local Beer, Coffee with national liquer, cappuchino, Moccachino

Gelato, Strawberry tart, Almond Cake, Lemon Cake

Being a vegetarian – we never felt out of place in Italy as the options were numerous across Rome, Vatican City, Florence, Pisa or Venice. Though Venice is more famous for its sea food, you will still be able to get your vegetarian food in a local restaurant – unless ofcourse the laziness in you moves you towards a McDonalds or chain restaurant.

Our draft itenary (which was executed successfully) was as below:

Day 1: Land in Rome at night
Day 2: Vatican City Museums + Sistine Chapel  + St. Peters Basilica, Trevi Fountain, Colosseum at night (from outside)
Day 3: Old Rome (Colosseum, Forra Romano, Palatine Hills), Pantheon, Piazza di Spagna/ Spanish Steps, Jewish Ghetto, Campo de Fiori, Piazza Navona, other fountains.
Day 4: Travel  Rome-Pisa-Florence-Venice.  Covered Leaning Tower of Pisa in Pisa. In Florence we covered Florence Cathedral (Duomo), Museum de Academia (that houses David), Piazza de Signora and Ponte Vecchio bridge
A Venetian Carnival Mask
Day 5: Venice – Burano Island, Gondola Ride, Calle Varisco (narrowest alley in Venice), vaporetti trips, Rialto bridge, walking around the city
Day 6: Grand Canal Tour in vaporetti, St Marks Basilica, Doge’s Palace, Bridge of Sighs and other famous bridges in Venice, Jewish Ghetto’s, walking around the city

Day 6, we flew back to UK in the evening as well. Though the above looks very hectic, we gave quality time to the sights we chose to visit and see places to absorb the rich culture, history of Italy.

Thanks to a tour book we purchased we in advance, we could read a few things before visiting a place – to appreciate it better. Also various free apps on Apple & Samsung library gave us rich information on Italy’s sight seeing places and related history – which enriched our visit further.

More insights on this trip on the next blog. Till then Ciao!


Vishius said...

And again Atreya has rocked for me by providing vicarious thrill of visiting another country.... Keep them coming...

Atreya rocks said...

Thanks bro for the encouragement. Will keep it dated with the Sojourn!