Travel to Italy

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by Angelskates, May 30, 2012.

  1. Angelskates

    Angelskates Active Member

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    Oh. Gotcha. ;)

    Wow, awesome! I also haven't done it for years, which is why I want to do it. :)
  2. milanessa

    milanessa engaged to dupa

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    Ooooh. You're gonna be sore. :lol: Enjoy!
  3. Angelskates

    Angelskates Active Member

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    The last time was probably 2003, in Gansu Province I did a 5 night horse trek. Previous to that it was probably also 10 or so years, but I did fine. That was a wild experience (sleep in tents in yak country and basically riding several hours a day). I'm hoping this one will be more chilled :) It will definitely only be one day!
  4. alilou

    alilou Crazy Stalker Lady

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    OMG that sounds so awesome! I would love to do that (Mr alilou probably not so much :lol: )

    I do think China is in our future. I keep mentioning it to him. Maybe in a year or so.
  5. Angelskates

    Angelskates Active Member

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    Actually, although the trek was awesome, I would never do it again. They treated the horses terribly :( And our car was carjacked on the way back and we were left stranded on the side of the road with no signal on our mobiles, in what was a planned attempt (that worked) to get money out of foreigners. The horse trek was the only good thing about the trip, and I'd still never do it again because of the way they treated the horses.
  6. alilou

    alilou Crazy Stalker Lady

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    That's so sad. At least the trekking was good. (((((((horses)))))))
  7. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

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    Some even smaller than 1/5". It is brilliant! The modulation of color and tone is just impeccable for a medium which cannot be blended. One of the reasons you can take photos in St. Peters, is because the mosaics are not effected by the flash on cameras. Strangely, the Basilica San Marco (Venice) is also mosaic, but you cannot take photos inside of it.

    Where, in Florence will you go riding? I don't think I've ever seen horses in the city proper.
  8. alilou

    alilou Crazy Stalker Lady

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    Yes yes cruisin - the mosaics are amazing, as you say the modulation of tone and colour - on such an enormous scale - it almost beggars belief. How did they do that?
    Here on my blog are close up photos that show the tiles. I really had no idea if the photos would come out or not - it's quite dark in there and you're not allowed to use flash.
    Scroll down about 3/4 of the way. I was amazed at the detail I was able to see in the photos. I'm still blown away by it.
    http://alisonanddon.wordpress.com/2011/11/25/rome-and-milan/

    I didn't know San Marco is mosaic too. I want to go back there now and have another look :lol:
  9. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

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    The mosaics in San Marco are larger pieces, and the style is Byzantine, so less detailed. You can actually see a dramatic development in technique (modulation) from the earlier mosaics to the later ones. Though the later ones are still rather stiff and outlined. If you go upstairs in the Basilica, they have sections of some of the damaged mosaic up on the walls, they show how the walls are prepared for the mosaics. The illustration is sketched into the mortar and the mosaics placed into it. Most of the mosaics in the Basilica San Marco are made of Murano glass. There is a lot of gold, typical of the Byzantine period, which is actual gold. Behind the nave is the Palla d'Oro, it is a panel depicting the life of Christ in gold leaf and precious gems. It costs an extra Euro or two, to see, but it is well worth it.

    I agree that the Pieta in St. Peter's is the best. Though I do like this one, in the Opera del Duomo (Florence) as well: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bootsintheoven/2198429400/
    The St. Peter's Pieta, in my opinion is even more magnificent than the David (the Academia in Florence). The wonder of this Pieta is the sense of weight the figures have. It is not just two connected, carved figures. There is an actually sense of the Madonna holding, supporting, cradling, her child. The way that Christ is draped across her lap, creates a real feeling that he is heavy and lifeless, and she is truly supporting the weight of his body. The faces are also exquisite.

    My favorite statue of the Renaissance is Donatello's Mary Magdalene. It is in the Opera del Duomo, in Florence. It is polychromed wood and I swear it has a soul. The pain and suffering that it exudes is exquisite. It is a devastated, wasted figure, that makes you cry. I loved it when I studied art history in school. but, the first time I saw it in real life, it almost knocked me over, it is that powerful.
    http://klloaiza.wordpress.com/2011/02/16/mary-magdelene/

    Your photos are wonderful. It's nice to see other people's photos. What they choose to shoot, as opposed to what you choose to shoot.
  10. alilou

    alilou Crazy Stalker Lady

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    ITA re the Pieta. The one in St Peter's still has me spellbound.
    And Donatello's Mary Magdelene had me floored too. Such a powerful piece.
    I studied art in school but it was such a long time ago I hardly remember any of it, so now I'm of the school "I know what I like" :lol:
    Your knowledge is impressive.
    Thanks re the photos.
  11. skatesindreams

    skatesindreams Well-Known Member

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    crusin and alliou, I was a Humanities major in college.
    I really appreciate your photos and discussion of all these "glories"!
  12. Angelskates

    Angelskates Active Member

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    Tinami, I forgot to tell you that I didn't see any cats to feed, so I gave my food to someone I saw at the Colosseum yesterday who was going to Tivoli today - she just sent me some photos of cats munching happily. :) :cat:

    I also wanted to say a huge THANKS for the suggestion of Grand Hotel Vesuvio; I arrived today and it is a fabulously swanky hotel. I was a little worried coming from the train station that it was a far from the town centre, but the views and the hotel are totally worth it, and there is a convenient free shuttle bus.

    Tomorrow I go on the day trip up the Almalfi coast and then the next day I go to Pompeii, then the day after a full day at Capri and Anacapri.

    Any recommendation on going up Vesuvio?
  13. alilou

    alilou Crazy Stalker Lady

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    Just got caught up on all your blog posts. What a great time you're having :cheer2:
    AND a new camera! Isn't Italy amazing. Everywhere you go will be different.
    Enjoy Positano/Amalfi/Capri. The boat ride alone to Capri is worth it.

    (I do remember that Versuviana train from Naples to Sorrento :yikes: - but at least part way through we got seats which helped.)
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2012
  14. skatesindreams

    skatesindreams Well-Known Member

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    I'm loving your blog and lovely pictures!
  15. Nan

    Nan Just me

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    I'm having a wonderful time catching up with your blog and photos. Thank you so much for sharing all this! :)
  16. Angelskates

    Angelskates Active Member

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    Today was the Amalfi Coast...I took 600 photos...that's how much I loved it. Of course, I took 540 before freaking out because my *brand new* camera wouldn't take anymore and I discovered the default setting was on large photos :shuffle: That's why they've been taking so long to upload!

    The decision not to got to Vesuvio and/or Ischia was made for me, as those tours don't run on Fridays, and Friday is the only day I have free. Off to have a siesta while my photos are uploading...glad you're enjoying the blog. :)
  17. Angelskates

    Angelskates Active Member

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    I took the metro from Naples to Sorrento! :mad: Hated every second of the one hour and twenty minutes sardined into a hot subway, with luggage. My Beijing friends were stunned when I told them it was a far worse experience than Beijing subway in peak hour and 40 degree heat; only because it was so long...but still :yikes: I'm thinking of forking over the cash to take the ferry back to Naples, or a private car.
  18. alilou

    alilou Crazy Stalker Lady

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    Of course in my post I meant the train to Sorrento, not Capri (and have now changed it). We didn't know there was a subway between Naples and Sorrento. And I'm glad of it. It sounds hellish. The train was crowded and stopped at 29 of 33 stations along the way, and took one and a half hours, but at least it was above ground and we got seats part way through.
    We got a private car back to Naples. To go from Positano to Sorrento (to hook up with the train) by private car costs 50 euros. To go to Naples will be 90 (or perhaps 100). We decided that train ride in one direction was enough so forked out the 90 for a comfortable air conditioned ride all the way to Naples. Sometimes it's just worth spending the money.
    Didn't know there was a ferry (or perhaps there wasn't when we were there in late October) but that sounds like a lovely way to get back.
  19. Angelskates

    Angelskates Active Member

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    Confirmation of the private horse riding on July 4th! The riding will be a maximum of two hours on paths through the woods, olive tree groves, vineyards and "panoramic lines with sight on the suburb of St. Gimignano". The riding stables that I'll start at are located in Certado, which is one and a half hours from Florence. I am so excited!

    Today I went to Pompeii for half a day. I'm glad I went, but didn't find it as fabulous as I thought it would be...it was the history that makes it interesting, other wise it's just ruins nowhere near as beautiful as the ones I saw in Rome (the Coloseum etc.) Half a day was enough, especially in the heat. I definitely found it interesting and beautiful - especially as I have taught it several times as part of a unit with my kids, but I think I've been too spoilt now!
  20. alilou

    alilou Crazy Stalker Lady

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    Loved yr posts on Sorrento/Positano/Amalfi/Capri :swoon:
    Brought back many wonderful memories.
    Have fun horse riding in Tuscany :cheer2:
  21. Angelskates

    Angelskates Active Member

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    I arrived in Florence today, and a huge shout out to Tinami - all three hotels so far have been so different and fabulous! The Relais Cavalcanti is like a boutique hotel, it's stunning and homey! I LOVE IT! Loved San Carlo's location, Grand Vesuvius was, well GRAND, with a pool and stunning views...really pleased with all of them!! Thanks, Tinami!
  22. skatesindreams

    skatesindreams Well-Known Member

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    Your hotels do look wonderful.
    I've been checking the websites; and vicariously enjoying them!
  23. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

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    Very nice!

    skatesindreams, I've been in Florence 3 times and every time have stayed here: http://www.plazalucchesi.it/ I love the location, right on the Arno and right behind the Santa Croce. And the concierge is the best ever! There are more luxurious hotels in Florence, but we stay at the Plaza Lucchesi because of the location and concierge.
  24. Angelskates

    Angelskates Active Member

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    I'm not for luxury, I'm usually not for a concierge either, I just like to be comfortable, and of course, free wireless!

    Last night I was completely blessed to hear and see a once a year orchestral and choral concert outside the Duomo! It was the Orchestra e Coro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino and this year their theme was "Il Maggio È Solidarieta" with donations to the Italian Red Cross helping the victims of the recent earthquake. I actually had tears in my eyes; the scene was a feast for the ears and eyes, and I sat there for ages taking it all in. It was a very spiritual experience for me, being in the presence of such beauty. Totally overwhelming and magical. I would have come just for this, and it was completely unplanned!
  25. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

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    Ordinarily, I don't worry about a concierge, but the one at Lucchesi is amazing. First, we found that in Italy, it made things so much easier to get tickets for all of the museums via the concierge. He called the museum, made a time reservation, we paid him for the tickets, and then just went to "will call" picked up the tickets and avoided lines. He also was brilliant in recommending restaurants. We don't like the "fancy", tourist places, so we asked him to send us to places he goes to. Every restaurant he sent us to was incredible! And every restaurant he sent us to, we were treated like long lost family :lol:. I, also, got into a conversation with him (our first trip) about my Italian heritage. My maiden name does not sound Italian, though my father's parents were born in Italy. We didn't know if it was a French spelling and that the family was originally from Northern Italy, or it was changed when they immigrated. So, my concierge friend did a search for me on the Italian version of "family tree".
    3 years later, when we went back, he remembered us. Then when I went back with my friend, two years ago, he really went out of his way for us. It makes you feel special, when people are that kind.

    Sounds absolutely magical!
  26. skatesindreams

    skatesindreams Well-Known Member

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    Angelskates, I have tears in my eyes, just reading your post about the concert.
  27. alilou

    alilou Crazy Stalker Lady

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    So happy for you! THIS is what travel is for, these planned, or, usually unplanned, experiences that move us to tears or joy or rapture or excitement or all of the above. I can feel it just from your description :swoon:
  28. alilou

    alilou Crazy Stalker Lady

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    Just caught up on all your blog posts. Sounds as if you're having a fabulous time. It was such a great trip down memory lane for me - of course we have some of the same photos! And great to see pingu! She showed me and Mr alilou around Milan for an afternoon. Please say hi for me if you read this while you're still in Milan. I guess you're getting pretty near the end of your trip.

    Can't believe you watched Mark Webber win his F1 race! Mr alilou is a huge F1 fan so I always know what's going on and was thrilled when a fellow Aussie won :cheer:
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2012
  29. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

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    Just catching up on your photos, also going down memory lane :).

    The sunflowers are magnificent, this time of year. By september, they will be gone (or, at least mostly gone).

    Little trivia, the Uffizi was the office building for the Medici. Uffizi literally means offices. The Palazzo Pitti was built for Luca Pitti (a banker), but was later sold to the Medici.

    When you saw the David at the Academia, were you taken aback by it's size? In situ, it appears to be the size of a real person, it was intended to be an optical illusion. Walking around Firenze, and seeing the replica outside of the Palazzo Vecchio, you get used to having a sense of it's size. But, when you see it all pristine and white in a domed room, by itself, it really hits you, just how big it is.

    Did you have a chance to go to the Mercato Centrale? Inside, the foods are just amazing. Outside, great souvenir shopping, and you can negotiate :lol:!

    You mentioned that sitting at a restaurant or cafe in Venice costs more. I found that throughout Italy. It's called the coperta, which means blanket & = cover charge.

    Ooo, you took photos in the Basilica! You're not allowed! You got lucky, they're really strict there. Did you see the Pala de'Oro?

    Did you sit and have a drink in the Piazza San Marco in the evening? It is one of my favorite things in Venice. The orchestras playing around the Piazza, people waltzing in the middle of the Piazza, with the birds and the backdrop of the Basilica - just amazing!

    So happy you had a wonderful trip. thank you for sharing your photos and experiences.
  30. Angelskates

    Angelskates Active Member

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    We were allowed to take photos at the Basilica, many guides were even helping take some. There were rules of where and what (as with most places), but the ones I took were allowed - the guards saw us and the tour guide said she owed them all coffee all the time :p And they were far from strict, for everyone. The only photo I took that was not allowed was at Michelangelo's David and actually they were pretty lousy and enforcing any of the "no photo" rules anywhere I went. I found that rather pathetic actually - worst in the Sistine Chapel, which was appalling. Either enforce it (and the silence) or don't, but don't make it worse by just YELLING, "Silence, no photos!!" in a bored voice.

    The only place I went to with a cover charge only for sitting down was Venice. All the rest of the cover charges were regardless of how you ate, everyone paid them.

    Mercato Centrale was nothing special to me. In fact, they have similar things in Beijing... and Australia... ;) some of them are even better.

    I sat down at Piazza San Marco and found it no where near as nice as most, if not all, of the other Piazzas I ate in.
  31. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

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    We experienced it everywhere: Firenze, Pisa, Siena,...

    Ah, but you can't get the vinegars and oils anywhere else. And upstairs the olives and other delicacies are just incredible. I'm not talking about the stalls outside, I'm talking about inside.

    I've been to the silk market and the pearl market in Beijing, I thought they were horrible, sorry.

    I wouldn't have eaten in the Piazza San Marco. But the orchestras and the ambiance are wonderful, in the evening.

    Did you go to the Piazzale Michelangelo at sunset? Brilliant!

    My daughter took a photo of David, at the Academia. She did it with a tilt screen, which she held at her waist. I was rather :mad: with her for doing it. It's really unfortunate that people take photos in places where they are not supposed to. The flashes are not good for the frescoes and paintings. I never really understood why you were not supposed to take photos in the Basilica San Marco since it is all mosaic and not effected by flashes. I was shocked that we were allowed to take photos in the Louvre and the Musee d'Orsay. But, we were.

    Did you go over to Murano? It's really fascinating.
  32. Angelskates

    Angelskates Active Member

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    As am I. There is nothing there I can't get at the speciality markets in Beijing (or Australia). There's at least two markets specialising in Italian and European products in Beijing- and they have vinegars and oils from Italy, Venetian sweets (the owner of that stall is from Venice) etc. You can get almost anything, anywhere these days. I like to buy local so I wouldn't buy anything there that I wasn't going to eat there anyway. My hotel in Sorrento gave me two bottles of olive oil, but I have specialty oils (made in Australia, and absolutely divine) and vinegars in Beijing. Italy is famous for mass making, but it, IMO, doesn't necessary have the best of these products in the world anymore - or at least you don't need to come here to get it.

    No need to be sorry, I don't like either of these markets either, but seriously, what a ridiculous comparison. :rolleyes::rofl:

    I don't disagree, but it's the same ambience as all of the piazzas I went to, but not as good, IMO. There's orchestras (or jazz bands, or whatever) in all of them. Best piazza was Florence for me, easily.

    David is not a fresco or mosaic, and it not affected by photos. Many of the things not affected, they don't want you to take photos of because they want you to buy stuff. But it's their responsibility to enforce their own rules, and they don't, not even in the places where the flashes do affect the surroundings. They did a terrible job there. If they don't take it seriously, they shouldn't be surprised when no one else does.

    Nope. I saw glass making around the corner from where I was staying (and have seen and done it in Beijing myself as well), and don't like big, touristy places like that. bought some glass though, but for family, not me. I didn't hear one good report about Murano - from Italians, Venetians or foreigners. From all reports, it wasn't worth it and it was all about SELL, SELL, SELL. I had friends who went there the week before me and said skip it since I only had two full days. I'd rather meet up with friends, which is how I spent my second day.
  33. skatesindreams

    skatesindreams Well-Known Member

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    Angelskates,

    Thank you so much for sharing your memories of such a special trip; and allowing me to see Italy through your eyes.
  34. cygnus

    cygnus Liberal Furry

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    I have stayed there too- really liked it. Pity we never thought to use the concierge. The location is great, though.
  35. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

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    The head concierge is really fantastic. His name is Michele, in case you're ever there again. He is really friendly, very efficient, and just plain nice.
  36. Angelskates

    Angelskates Active Member

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    So, I'm bumping this thread up because I'm going to Italy again this summer. :cheer2: This time I want to do Rome, Sorrento, Florence, and Sicily. I'll stay in the same places in the first three, but any suggestions for Sicily? Any suggestions for order? I'm excited already!
  37. IceAlisa

    IceAlisa Port de bras!!!

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    Taormina in Sicily (rather touristy but beautiful beaches and town).
  38. Angelskates

    Angelskates Active Member

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    I'll be doing a Taormina and Mt Etna day trip at least :)
  39. IceAlisa

    IceAlisa Port de bras!!!

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    If you are a migraine sufferer, be ready with meds--climbing up Mt Etna can be a trigger. It's really cool though! :)
  40. Angelskates

    Angelskates Active Member

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    Thanks for the tip, I take migraine medication when I travel, but have never needed it. I get maximum of once a year migraines.