Saying cheese in Italy

Saying cheese in Italy

Just like a slice of margherita pizza, Italy is best served hot. Summer in Italy brings out its most vibrant side, with bright shades dominating the sea of tourists and the locals at their friendliest.

When we flew down to Rome after a week in Eastern Europe, we were transported into a time that shaped up early Christianity, boasted of gladiators, celebrated Michelangelo’s artistic spirit and had ancient fountains. Our three-hour walking tour of the Colosseum, the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill led to discoveries like Julius Caesar’s burial site and the enchanting story of a she-wolf who rescued twins, Romulus and Remus, with Romulus eventually becoming the founder of Rome. It’s also interesting to learn how Romans in the olden era called the Colosseum’s exit pathways Vomitoriums as large crowds of people could leave the amphitheatre at a time. Later, we visited the Pantheon and marvelled at the open eye of the dome’s centre that brought in rays of light, creating a mysterious aura. At many piazzas, we saw beautiful churches adorned with golden works of art and painted ceilings. Remembering the proverb ‘Rome was not built in a day’ brought a smile to my face.

The next day, we were at the Vatican and Sistine Chapel, taking in its museums and revelling at the 12th century masterpiece on the ceiling, ‘The Creation of Adam’ by Michelangelo. In the evening, we walked down to the Trevi Fountain and joined many people who wished upon a coin and threw it in the clear blue waters, full of hope. A quick trip to Villa Borghese and its Gallery saw us in the company of artists like Raphael, Bernini and Caravaggio.

No trip to Italy is complete without visiting the vineyards of Tuscany. We left the next day in a coach for a one-day excursion to the countryside. A 40-minute walking tour of the medieval Montepulciano town set the tone for the quaint day ahead. A light drizzle was a warm welcome from the sunny days so far. We travelled further, with the highlight of the trip being a visit to the 18th century estate and winery of Poggio Il Castellare of Montalcino. The farm-cooked three-course lunch, tasting four types of wine from their cellars and an open view of the vineyards combined with the graciousness of the host left us with beautiful memories of the trip.

After four beautiful days in Rome, our next destination was Florence. We saw beautiful fields during the train ride from Rome to Florence. On reaching, we visited the Galleria dell’Accademia which houses Michelangelo’s famous sculpture ‘David’ and were amazed to see the veins of his lifelike hands detailed out in marble. Florence is known for its leather goods and we were soon out exploring the San Lorenzo market. What’s eye-catching in Florence is the facade of the Duomo in unique shades of green, white and pink marble.

The next day in Florence included a half-day visit to the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Climbing up 300 steps was not as hard as it was made to be and was well-worth the view. We finished the day with a walk down Ponte Vecchio, the oldest bridge in Florence, overlooking the river, dotted with small shops.

We saved the best for the last, with our final destination being Venice. On arriving, we couldn’t wait to discover the canal and its secret Venetian alleys. A leisurely walk along the route threw up magical sights. As dusk neared, we hopped on for a gondola ride, joyfully getting serenaded by the gondolier and basking in the romantic vibe. Floating on the waters of Venice can be one of the most mesmerising experiences one can have.
We woke up the next day to leave for a tour to the Venetian islands of Murano, known for glassmaking, and Burano, popular for its brightly painted fishermen houses and traditional lace-making. It was a visual treat to walk around the narrow lanes of Burano island and witness the laid-back life. This also marked a lovely end to our eight-day holiday.

Grazie Italy! Just like good wine, you have a way of leaving behind a sweet lingering taste that makes me want more of you.

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