Mozzarella and Tomatoes 2 : Been there, done that

Why would anyone go to Italy, or even more specific, to Italy’s most well-known cities?
To see ancient stones, of course!

We have visited Pisa, Firenze, Siena, Rome, Vatican and Venice. And most part of what you see in those cities are ancient stones, ancient buildings and ancient paintings. After having studied Latin for six years, it was very nice to finally be able to use it by translating Latin sentences in Rome for example, or to see buildings and places we’ve been talking about such a long time. Next to that, I discovered that marketplaces are mostly the best places to visit if you want to get te atmosphere.
But let me start at the beginning, as we say here. In Pisa there isn’t much to see next to the ‘lawn’ with the three buildings: the cathedral, the tower and the baptistery. These buildings are really white, that was what struck me in the first place. And let me tell you, the tower is really leaning. If you come too close, you’ll feel slightly uncomfortable out of fear that it will fall. These buildings are impressive, just like all the other buildings in Italy. Soon enough you get used to this kind of high and great buildings, but they are worth seeing, really.

In Firenze (Florence) there are impressive buildings (surprise!): the cathedral and the baptistery. They are so over the top decorated and colourful that they make you instantly happy. I’ve never seen such a colourful church as far as I can remember. I always try to imagine people making and building such buildings. Those people were real artists. When you see the carving, you just can’t imagine real people making those with their own hands. So detailed and correct, so stunning. And the gate of paradise is as amazing as the rest. Although the gate in Florence is a copy, it is such a masterpiece… I always find it a pity that I can’t see all the details.

Siena was for me the most cosy place. There aren’t any leaning towers, just one cathedral (‘just’), but the marketplace is the best marketplace I’ve been so far, and Siena has an authentic feeling. We’ve been to the (highly decorated) cathedral and to the house of Saint Caterina (whom I didn’t know). We’ve also seen her head and finger. Weird. Visit Siena if you want to feel the Italian atmosphere.

Guess what’s there to see in Rome? Oh yes, ancient stones all over! Forum Romanum (Roman Forum), for example. It takes loads of imagination to see what it once was, because now there isn’t much left but fractions. Still, the feeling of ‘people once walked here, lived here, when all the buildings were still buildings…’ is worth the trip. I cannot catch the idea that 2000 years ago (even longer) people did not know that so many decades later, tourists would come to see their city. They have touched the stones too, they have seen them, they have breathed there, and now we did that. The Colosseum gives the same feeling. What was extremely amazing about that giant place, is that they were able to remove the people in only 15 minutes. Loads of people could sit there, and still it only took them 15 minutes to empty the Colosseum! Of course, the ‘greatness’ is as well stunning, but I already told that.

At the Vatican, we climbed the dome of the Saint Peter’s Church. Fascinating place of course, and if you consider climbing the dome, make sure you are prepared! I’m not a scaredy cat, but when we climbed the final stairs and the walls were bent to the right (both of the wall were bent to the right!), I started feeling slightly claustrophobic. It was soon over, because after those stairs, there were wider stairs, later on varied with very small but straight ‘walled’ stairs. Climb the dome and you can do whatever you want ;). Many steps. Many steps. But a great view when you’re at the top of course!

But it was Venice that stole my heart. It has this authentic feeling, beautiful buildings and a fairy tale-like atmosphere. The San Marco was built in 1027 (or was it 1072?) and it still looks fresh and shining. All the bridges, the Doge’s Palace, ahh, the water and the gondolas, the shops with all the masks… For a girl, that is just too seducing. I imagined myself in an ancient, beautiful, silk dress walking through the small alleys. Maybe it’s due to a book I once read, but Venice is for me the most mysterious and intriguing place.

So much for he essentials, this is what we did. Slightly boring maybe, but necessary for the futher parts of Mozzarella and Tomatoes. Make sure you understand that we followed a strict (but always wrong) scheme, with not much time to shop or eat or whatever. Sorry for the ‘secness’ of this post, but the next ones will be about the food, the people, the many things that went wrong… Stay tuned!