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Buongiorno, Grazie, Per favore… It was time to start learning a few local words as has been our practice when visiting a new place. Italy had been in our bucket list for a while and finally everything was in place.

Day 1 : Arrival

We arrived in Rome on April 21st, 2017 which incidentally happened to be the 2770th birthday of the city. Since we had reached late in the evening, we decided to have dinner and retire early. This was our first tasting of authentic Italian pasta and pizza and it was absolutely scrumptious. The food was nothing like the “Italian” food which we get back home. It was more basic, less frills and more taste. We quickly got used to this new experience.

Day 2 : Rome

The day started early as we boarded the Green Line Bus which later dropped us close to the city attractions. From here, We started our guided tour covering Fontana Trevi (Trevi Fountain), the Pantheon, La Colonna di Marco Aurelio, the Palazzo di Montecitorio designed by Bernini, Piazza Navona among others. Our tour guide briefed us about the interesting history of each of the monuments.

Trevi Fountain

Pantheon

 

Piazza Navona

Piazza Navona

Piazza Navona

Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi on Piazza Navona (Fountain of the Four Rivers) – The Nile representing Africa, the Danube representing Europe, the Ganges representing Asia, and the Río de la Plata representing the Americas.

In the afternoon, we proceeded to Vatican city which is actually a separate country. The Vatican museums were amazing with long galleries of exquisite works of art. We followed a slow moving queue into Sistine Chapel where we were greeted by the magnificent fresco of the Last Judgement by Michelangelo. Our final stop of the day was the beautiful St Peter’s Basilica which hosts some amazing works by famous artists.

St Peter's Square

St Peter’s Square

Day 3 : Rome

The day started with a quick cab ride to join a guided tour of the Colosseum. Construction of the Colosseum, also known as Flavian Amphitheatre began under Emperor Vespasian in AD 72 and was completed in AD 80. The Colosseum was estimated to hold between 50,000 and 80,000 spectators and was used for gladiatorial contests.

Colloseum

Colloseum

We then moved on to the Roman Forum which is a bunch of ruins of important ancient Roman buildings. The Forum remained the centre of public life for many centuries and is also where Julius Ceaser was buried.

Roman Forum

Roman Forum

After spending a few hours of exploring the Colosseum and Forum, we were lucky to catch the annual parade celebrating Rome’s birthday. The parade has people dressed up as famous and important characters of ancient Rome, soldiers, gladiators etc. and lasts for a few hours.

Annual Rome Birthday Parade

Annual Rome Birthday Parade

Day 4 : Naples – Pompeii 

This morning, we headed for Roma Termini train station to board our high speed train (top speed which we reached was 300kmph) and we reached Naples in a few hours. After our hotel check-in, we boarded the local train Circumvenezia, to Pompeii,  which was buried under almost 20 feet of volcanic ash when Mount Vesuvius erupted in AD 79. Pompeii has been declared a UNESCO world heritage site and has 2.5 million visitors every year. One can easily spend hours exploring the village which was surprisingly well preserved and restored.

The streets of Pompeii

The streets of Pompeii

When we returned to the train station, we realised that the train staff had gone on a surprise strike. Apparently, this is a regular occurrence in Italy. After a long wait, we managed to take a bus back to our hotel.

Day 5 : Amalfi

We joined a guided tour and settled in for a long scenic bus ride through the winding high cliffs overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea. Our first stop was the beautiful, picturesque town of Sorrento. We spent some time at Piazza Tasso and the narrow alleys that surround it which are a host to numerous eateries. Local gelato and Limoncello – a liqueur – are a must-try here.

Sorento

Sorrento

Next stop was the equally picturesque town of Positano which was an important  medieval port which has been a popular tourist destination since the 1950s.

From here, we proceeded to Amalfi which used to be an independent republic in the 6th century and an important trading hub. The white houses of Amalfi connected to each other by stairways look beautiful and have been the backdrop for many Hollywood movies. After lunch in an open restaurant overlooking the sea, it was time to head back.

Amalfi

Amalfi

Amalfi Coast

Amalfi Coast

Day 6 : Capri

Another scenic location awaited us as we boarded a hydrofoil headed for the beautiful island of Capri. After docking at Marina Piccolo, we headed for Grotta Azzuraa – Blue Grotto, in Anacapri. Blue Grotto is a sea cave which is illuminated by the blue reflection of sunlight passing through an underwater cavity. The cave is closed during high tides and high winds and we were lucky to have been able to enter it. Limited rowboats are allowed inside and there is usually a queue of tourists, eagerly waiting their turn.

Blue Grotto

Blue Grotto

After an enchanting boat ride, we headed for the chairlift ride to the top of Mount Solaro which offers breathtaking views of Capri. The slightly scary ride was made up by the breathtaking views from the viewing point at the peak.

Chair Lift

Chair Lift

View from Mt Solaro

View from Mt Solaro

We then visited the terraced gardens of Augustus which offers panoramic views of the island of Capri. Finally, it was time to board the hydrofoil and head back to Naples.

View from Augustus Gardens

View from Augustus Gardens

 

Continue reading details of Day 7-12 at http://claudeveigas.com/ciao-italy-2/

 

 

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