Tag Archives: italy

An afternoon in Pisa

Since we had so much time in Florence, we decided that one day we would hop on the train after lunch and visit a nearby city. Clio would have preferred Sienna, I was more leaning towards Pisa (:D), and at the end the weather forecast seemed to be better towards that direction, so we went for the latter. I am sure Sienna would have been also very nice, but I really liked Pisa. There was so much more to it than the leaning tower.




First of all, it was really nice that the Piazza del Duomo was green and spacious. Then the Cathedral itself was surprisingly much nicer from the inside than the one in Florence. The Baptistery here on the other hand was really not so interesting from the inside. In contrast, slightly hidden behind the famous buildings you could get into the Camposanto Monumentale, which only showed its beauty after passing through the entrance. The hallways and the symmetric architecture places this clearly on top of my Pisa sightseeing list. Highly recommended!





So, let’s get back to our late summer holidays… After our scenic days in Rome, we took the train to Florence. It was a very nice high-speed ride, just a bit more than one and a half hours, and our (really cool) Airbnb apartment was waiting for us only 10 minutes from the station itself. We arrived on the late afternoon of the 12th of September, and since we only left on the 17th, we had four full days to discover the city and its surroundings.





Florence was much calmer than Rome. There were still a lot of tourists, but while in the capital we were in (almost) constant danger of being ran over by a car or a Vespa, the safety and tranquility of pedestrian streets was a very welcome change here. We had great Italian food (pizza for me, pasta for Clio) and ice cream every day, and we could take the sightseeing much easier since the city is much smaller. This way we had also quite some time to play Catan. Since the city is basically an open air exhibition itself, we did not go inside any actual museum (e.g., the Uffizi Gallery or the Palazzo Pitti), except for the Museo Galileo, which we both really enjoyed. We even saw the original lens from the telescope of Galilei.





Of course there were things we really could not skip, so we went inside the Duomo and the Baptistery, and the latter was really amazing. The mosaic ceiling is simply mind blowing, definitely my favourite sight of the city. Then on second place I have the view from the hills over the Arno towards the Duomo, for which we climbed up even twice, the second time especially for me to be able to take a picture in the blue hour too. I think it was worth it.





Some other memories from the city: the market, all the streets dominated by the view of the dome, and all the palazzos with their characteristic facades and roofs. Ah, and the fancy, old-school, brass doorbells :) We had a really great time there! On one of the four days we took the train to Pisa, but that I will leave for a separate post…

Rome – churches, squares, and ruins everywhere

On the following two days, we ventured onto the other side of the Tiber. On Wednesday we did the northern half, while on Thursday we visited the oldest part of the city. Wednesday started a bit cloudy on the Piazza Venezia, we even had a few drops of rain around the Piazza Navona, but by the time we arrived to the Piazza del Popolo it was already too hot to stay in the Sun. The highlights of the day were the totally crowded Pantheon, the awesome but instanteniously melting ice cream we had at Giolitti, the Ara Pacis Augustae (the ‘Altar of Augustan Peace’, the only thing in Rome I had never heard of before our visit), and the small streets near the Trevi fountain (which was under massive scaffolding, so that we did not see at all).






For the following day, we had a guided tour for the Colosseum and the Forum Romanum booked well in advance, in order to avoid the queues. After a rainy morning spent playing Catan at our apartment, we took off. It turned out that besides us there was only one more couple in our group for the tour, which was a bit of a surprise, but then in the next few hours I got the impression that there are almost as many tour guides in this region as tourists… In any case, the Colosseum was very impressive, especially all the different tunnels and passageways through the structure. Then walking around the Forum really gave us the feeling of walking around in ancient times – with very little imagination necessary. I wish we could have seen the Forum around Augustus (not the month). Before taking the tram home, we still had a quick look at the Forum of Trajan and Augustus, bathing in the orange rays of the sunset. For dinner, we went to the same local pizzeria as on the first evening.








The next day we took the train to Florence, but that is something for the next post…

Rome, Trastevere

I am a ‘bit’ behind schedule with the blog, but as always, this only means that we have a busy life, or at least better things to do than writing things here. So let’s jump back a few months! We went on a late summer (based on the temperature, at least) holiday to Italy for 10 days (8-17 of September), starting with 3 full days in the capital. We had a really nice AirBnB apartment in the Trastevere region on the southwestern side of the city, with direct connection towards the centrum by tram, and in walking distance from a train station where the airport trains stop. We also got some great dinner recommendations from our host, so we had the opportunity to eat at really authentic places (where we were more or less the only non locals), and avoid the tourist traps. The pizzas and all the ice cream were always great. The weather was also perfect (maybe a bit too hot for me but not too bad), we had only one half day with rain during the full holidays, which we spent playing The Rivals for Catan (back then, Clio did not kick my ass every time yet, unlike nowadays).

The first day we visited the Vatican, where unlike all the lazy people who preferred standing in line for two hours instead of buying a ticket in advance on-line, we got into the Vatican Museum without one second of queuing. We spend quite some time staring at all the displayed artwork and the frescos of Sistine Chapel and beyond. After a quick lunch, we still went into Saint Peter’s Basilica before leaving the ‘country’. Afterwards we walked around the Castel Sant’Angelo before heading back to the hills of Trastevere. This was a much calmer area with small streets, nice parks, and great views towards both the city and the Vatican. We finished our first day after visiting the Basilica of Our Lady in Trastevere, which is (one of) the oldest catholic churches in Rome. We spent the next two days on the other side of the Tiber, but that is for another post… See a selection of pictures below, and even more on Flickr!