All posts filed under: Italy

Rome Day 2: Vatican City, Sistine Chapel, and the Pope!

We got up at 6am and starting lining in front of Vatican City by 7am.  Vatican City is the smallest internationally recognized independent state in the world, with a population of less than 1,000 and governed by the Pope.  We were lucky enough to be walking distance from our hostel, but even so, we were already greeted by a line up of early birds waiting by the entrance.  Minute by minute the line grew exponentially!  My advice is definitely go as early as possible!  And wear conservative clothes, they have strict policies.   Our main objective was to hit up the Vatican Museum which can also get packed very quickly.   Beautiful collection of sculptures and artwork The Sistine Chapel was definitely the highlight of our trip to the museum.  It is not large by size, but what makes this place famous is the art that sweeps every corner of the interior graced by none other than the Michelangelo himself.  Renown pieces such as The Last Judgement and The Creation of Adam are housed within …

Rome: Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Roman Forum

We came from the all time high of our Tuscany tour to the bustling and crowded city of Rome.  As much as I don’t want to kick off our 4 day adventure in Rome on a negative note, I have to admit I wasn’t too thrilled about smoggy air, hoards of evident tourists, and dusty streets.  This should not be surprising as Rome is a hot spot for both vacationers and business.  Aside from our impressions of the city, the second thing on our mind was food and at this point I was already a little sick of pizza but it literally is the most readily available street food.  We grabbed a slice for dinner and retired early to get ready for a jam packed day of sightseeing the next morning.   We stayed at Gaius Roma B&B and I make a point of mentioning this because the owners of the place are an old married couple and they are honestly the NICEST people I have come across.  They are so polite and genuine and they …

Best of Tuscany

Our next stop after Venice was Florence!  The city itself is not extremely exciting or big, but we had a full day “Best of Tuscany” tour lined up.  We started the day bright and early, reaching our first stop in the beautiful city of Siena.   We were lucky to get a tour by a local who told us some pretty interesting facts about this medieval town.  Siena is divided by “contrade” which is Italian for neighborhoods and each contrada had its own symbol derived from an animal.  Some of the animals were pretty common like eagle and badger, but there were some pretty ridiculous ones like unicorn and caterpillar (heck, I wanna be on the unicorn team!).  The citizens of Siena are sorted into these contrada right after birth and there is a lot of pride involved in representing their own contrada.  In fact, they go as far as to have these symbols engraved into the regions of each neighborhood so you’ll always know whose turf you’re on.The one famous tradition that is held …

Fruits of Venice

Although we only had 1.5days in Venice, it was more than enough time to explore the relatively small city.  We woke up to catch the morning open market blooming with colorful fruits, glistening fish, and pungent spices.  I couldn’t help but think how wonderful it would be to be able to have such an arsenal of fresh produce to work with on a daily basis.   The fish market was very impressive, selling everything from entire stingrays to chunks of shark to giant octopuses.  The inner foodie in me was churning with curiosity on the potential dishes that these exotic cuts could be transformed into. We bought a few fresh fruits to go and dipped into a little cafe for our breakfast and coffee.  Unfortunately, I have no idea what this cafe is called nor will I really remember where it is hidden in the many intricate small streets in Venice but this place had the BEST prosciutto croissant and their cappuccino was very good too.  The croissant was tender with just the perfect amount …

Charmed by Venice

London and Paris were both nice…but it wasn’t until Venice that it finally hit me.  I’m in Europe.  Venice was just so significantly different from the city-like London and Paris where it was simply a variation of Toronto.  After over a week of damp chilly weather, we were graciously greeted with the pleasant warm breeze of Italy.   We took a boat into Venice from the airport.  It was such an enjoyable ride.  The closer we got to the city, the more excited we grew!   I could not stop taking photos of Venice’s colorful houses.  All of which were eroding from waters and age.  Yet there was something so rustic and magical about this floating city.  This was one of the few places that is truly what you see in postcards.       We were very lucky to be staying close to the Rialto bridge which links the markets and is one of the most important bridges in Venice.  It is very lively on either side of the bridge.  Streets adorned with vendors …