When I watched the movie gladiator or read my history notes back in school I had not imagined even in my wildest dreams that I would one day visit it . And here I was standing in Leonardo Da Vinci airport ,Rome with a signboard reading, “ welcome to Italy” staring at me(I closed my eyes and thanked my stars). With this thought i began my journey to the western European countries starting with Italy.
The first thing u notice when u step out of the airport is an Emporio Armani showroom. Yes we are in Italy where all the famous fashion brands originate! Our Indian guide and our Italian bus driver – pietro (read “peter” in English) were awaiting us and thus we began a beautiful , most memorable trip of my life till date. One observation i made was everythin in Italian , rather nouns in Italian language ends with an “o” like IndianO, LeonardO ,MilanO, GalileO etc and they say bon journO and wherever they use “c” they use it twice – cappuCCinO, Nina RiCCi, GuCCi etc. moral of the story – whenever u spot a word with 2 Cs or a noun ending with O, u know that its got to do something with Italy !pardon me its just my observation ! well, we first went to the colosseum – one of the 7 wonders of the world presently, where once real life gladiator fights took place. It’s an amphitheatre actually and not very aesthetically beautiful if just look at it without that historical significance. And am sure everyone with me felt that ( well gladiator movie isn’t enough to know the significance, and moreover I was a kid when I watched it) . We attended a 3D rewind show which showed the history of Rome and the significance of colosseum. Where we also got a chance to wear clothes like romans, gladiators etc and pose for photographs. We of course clicked pictures of the mighty colosseum where hundreds and thousands of people watched and cheered the real gladiator fights where over thousands of gladiators and animals have died . We toured through the beautiful city of Rome the next day which included the Trevi fountain (where u can wish to come back to rome by throwing 2 euro coins over ur right shoulder, certainly expensive for a wish) and I obviously wished to come back! I really fell in love with the city. They hav actually preserved the old Rome where Julius Caesar once lived (and that felt nice to hav walked on the same street as him!) .Its a treat for history lovers.
It was obvious to visit the Vatican city, a country within Rome (sounds funny to me !) situated west of the river Tiber. Its like going to Rajajinagar from Malleshwaram and Boom! Ur in a new country! The first glimpse of the city (ok country!) is the magnificent st.peters basilica. Woah! I almost forgot I had read about it in angels and demons! My my , it brought back the whole memory of the book , the murders, the climax. There it was – the Mecca/Tirupati of Christians. And whats common amongst mecca,tirupati and St.Peters? The long queue! Whats uncommon? The time it takes to reach the sanctum sanctorum! Well I am only comparing tirupati and st.peters here. The basilica was huge from the inside and magnificent . Though I couldn’t relate much to the paintings or the architecture I just knew that its very religious and very pleasing to the eyes and done by some of the famous architects like Michael Angelo , Bernini etc. I gathered it is the burial of st.peter who was one of the 12 apostles.(there is a huge throne like structure done by Bernini over his burial) One of the realizations I had in my whole trip was that every country has a patron saint in Europe(eg: st. pauls in London, st paul is the patron saint of London) and so peter is the patron saint of Vatican. I saw the famous Swiss guards who guard the basilica. To my shock they don’t hav any weapons except for a petty sword like thing! I felt like clickin an upgrade button on weapons like we click in some of the comp games. No offence intended, but I really think they should consider upgrading their weapons , considering that terrorism is on rise. Anways , after clickin pics in front of some more imp monuments in rome like victor Emmanuel monument we moved into another beautiful city – Florence !
Florence is the capital of the Tuscany region of Italy. I absolutely loved Florence city. Consider this – it s the birth place of Leonardo da vinci, Michael angelo,Galileo , writer of Pinocchio, Donatello etc. I mean seriously? How can one place give the world so many important people? Well it did! And it just adds that x factor to the place. We went to pisa first, saw the leaning tower of Pisa (frankly a little disappointing, may be I had huge expectations.. its just a bell tower which is clearly leaning to one side) . Then we entered the main city of Florence. I could see the European culture in this place. Cobbled street, ancient architecture, birds flying out, some beautiful music being played on the street, beautiful churches, naked human architecture, good looking people sipping beer in the restaurants which are extended to the streets. Woah! I loved it! The worlds famous art school is situated in Florence where Michael angelo once studied under Donatello . There is a famous church situated on the banks of the river arno – the duomo. After the 19th century people in Florence have stopped constructing new buildings in the main city to preserve the beauty of the old architecture and historical value of the city. I just loved that thought of the Italians.We have a lot to learn.
Its said that to experience life – one must go to Italy to eat, India to pray and Indonesia to love. So coming to the important part of my tour- food! Once upon a time two Italian chefs made pizza for an Italian princess named Margheritta and the whole saga of pizzas began (hence the name for one of the veggie pizzas) I am as such a huge fan of Pizzas and pastas and so there it was I tasted pizza, pasta and gelato in Rome. Well frankly there are not many options for vegetarians so I may not be the best judge here, but well I have tasted pizza Margheritta in India and I tasted it in Rome. I liked the Indian version better ! The Italian crust was amazing, very thin and tasty. But the toppings were bland and there were no chilli flakes to add spice. So it was just ok not great. Same goes to pasta. I found it very bland. Gelato is just another name for ice creams and it is not another version of ice cream. It was the same as that in India. Maybe one should eat and pray in india (* winks*) no offence.
The next destination was venice. I think it deserves another post ! keep watchin this space for venice.
p.s. – well one problem all Indians face is – the toilets. well face it guys , its not easy out there in Europe without water! agreed that we have all moved towards western toilets, but water is still an integral part of our washrooms. Italy was a saving grace in Europe. It had a double commode system – one for its main use , the other one for washing purposes! it was a funny experience !!