Thursday, August 3, 2000

Italy - Rome

Rome...Roma is truly a grand city.
I expect old cities to be full of narrow streets, stacked houses, and little alleyways. Many old cities do have all of those conditions. It is almost a requirement for a reminiscence of bygone civilizations.
Rome, on the other hand totally surprised me. The streets were relatively straight, large and they all led to the Roman Forum, the center of all activities of Ancient Rome.
It IS true! All the roads really lead to Rome...
This is an actual Roman Forum...whatever is left of it and when I saw this, I wondered how many people have walked the same path I have walked?
Perhaps even Julius Caesar himself walked on this path?

Roman Forum
There were two very prominent arches...
Triumphant arches. The stories of the triumph are carved inside the arch.

Triumphant arch
The structure with triangle roof is Curia, there Senators debated. Unbelievably, the structures is still very well maintained.
I wondered...
What sort of business they talked about? Could it be that current political activities were in existence in Rome of B.C.?

This was once a Temple of Romulus.
I am sure you are well aware of the story of Romulus and Remus, how they started Rome. This temple is very interesting because it still has the original bronze doors that existed in Ancient Rome!
The lonely columns that are standing once used to be the place of Vestal Virgins...

Temple of Romulus
After walking through the hot and dry streets of Roman Forum, I encountered a refreshing path to the Palatine hill. Up the mountain there are villas of old Emperors, the cool air and shades from the trees as well as spectacular view of Colosseum!
I wonder if there is anyone who does not know what Colosseum is...
Even if you've never been to Rome, you've seen it somewhere...on the television, in the movies (Does Gladiator ring any bell?)...
It was famous for the gory games during its prime and now famous for the sheer massive structure of it.
It was once able to hold around 60,000 people!
I think that equate to a baseball stadium.

I wonder if anyone can guess what this interesting site used to be...
Perhaps you guessed it correctly, perhaps not. It used to be a market place with many stores, stalls...
So many people buying and exchanging goods. Can't you see it in front of your eyes? Use your imagination!

Market Place
Books and DVDs about Rome:
The Agony and the Ecstasy: A Biographical Novel of Michelangelo The Agony and the Ecstasy Rome: The Complete Series
Empire: The Novel of Imperial Rome (Novels of Ancient Rome)  Antony and Cleopatra: A Novel (Masters of Rome) The First Man in Rome Grass Crown
Rome (Eyewitness Travel Guides)

Wednesday, August 2, 2000

Italy - Venice

I have no words to accurately describe my feelings toward Venice.
It is the city that made me completely speechless with wonder.          

Initially, I had expected some disappointment at seeing the city. I had too high hopes and usually the reality could never really compare to my imagination.
But Venice turned out to be a place I had dreamed of and more.

Venice canals
The train entered the city atop a water way...
I know rail was somewhere on solid bridge or ground, but the only thing I could see outside the window from the train was water.

Venice canals
As we got out of the the train station, the first thing that greeted me when I walked out from the train station was a tall bridge...

Train station
It is rather impossible to tell, but Venice is composed of hundreds of little islands. There really is no road to speak of. The taxi and bus are both on the water.  
Venice canals
I strolled...across the bridge, through the narrow streets, in search of San Marco. I had a map, but it was absolutely useless. There really was no good way to mark the small little streets on the map. 
Strangely enough, I somehow knew where I was going.
On the way, I walked into a small mask shop. 

San Marco

Venice Grand canal
I had always found the time of Veronica Franco fascinating, the days of honest courtesans. When women could only excel and be free by being a social outcast.

Venice canals
The artist was about to finish the final touch to the golden mask.
I thought I'd traveled back in time, the time of the Republic of Venice...

Venice canals
Books about Venice:
  The Honest Courtesan: 
Veronica Franco, Citizen and Writer in 
Sixteenth-Century Venice (Women in Culture and Society Series) Story of Veronica Franco Venice 697-1797: A City, A Republic, An Empire  
Eyewitness Top 10 Travel Guide to Venice (Eyewitness Travel Top 10) Venice Sketchbook (Sketchbook Series)


Tuesday, August 1, 2000

Italy - Florence

We arrived at Florence after sun down. It was a warm summer and the streets were still full of people. The first incredible site that greeted me was Duomo...the grandest landmark of Florence. It is in the middle of the city, standing tall. 

Bagello Museum
There is a river that runs through the city...and over it, a most incredible street-bridge, Ponte Vecchio. Near the bridge, there is Palazzo Vecchio. This is where some of Medici resided. The Bell tower and Uffizi. The gallery facing the river. It is full of beautiful Medieval art...Boticelli for one, and it is impossible to take one's eyes off from the ceiling. I had the worst creak in the neck!

Uffizi Museum
This sculpture of David by Michelangelo is an impressive sight, drawing the visitors to the Palazzo.I wish I lived in the time of Lorenzo Medici...the patron of art and the greatest mind of the century. 

One of many Davids in Florence

Palazzo Vecchio
Books Related to Florence:
The House of Medici: Its Rise and Fall Medici History   Brunelleschi's Dome: How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented Architecture
The Palace Historical Vampire Fiction based during Medici era
Rick Steves' Florence & Tuscany 2010 Top 10 Florence and Tuscany (Eyewitness Top 10 Travel Guides) Florence Travel Guides