Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Italy - Day 6: Pisa

Pisa is another rewarding place. All the main attractions lie in the northwestern angle of the city walls, around the well-named Campo dei Miracoli (the Field of Miracles). The appearance of the cathedral and baptistery owes much to the influence of Islamic architecture, which Pisan merchants and scholars experienced through their existence trade contacts with Moorish Spain and North Africa.

 Campo dei Miracoli

The Duomo, built netween 1068 and 1118, is one of Italy's major monuments and contains one of its greatest scultures, the magnificent pulpit by Giovanni Pisano.

The Battistero (baptistery), built in the same Pisan Romanesque style as the cathedral. has another fine pulpit, sculptured in 1206 by Giovanni's father, Nicola.

The gleaming marble surfaces of the buildings are covered in arabesques and other ornamentation, as densely patterned as an oriental carpet.

The Campo Santo monumentale (monumental cemetery) lies at the northern edge of Piazza del Duomo (the Cathedral Square). It is a walled cemetery, which is claimed by many as the most beautiful cemetery in the world.

Leaning Tower of Pisa

in 2001, after more than a decade under wraps to halt the dramatic tilt, the iconic Torre Pendente (Leaning Tower) reopened to public. Visit are now limited to 30 people at a time.

An obligatory picture of Mum fixing the leaning tower 

Mine doesn't look so good anyway

Me and Pisa 

View looking up

Built in 1257 by Giovanni di Simone, the Spedale Nuovo di Santo Spirito (New hospital of Holy Spirit) is located on the southest edge of the square

The building of the old hospital

Mum and I had panini for lunch

Panino terracina, an un-grilled panino

Panino Prosciutto

Caffe Cappuccino

Caffe Latte

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Italy - Day 5: Milan

Milan (Milano) is one of the world's fashion capitals, and home to both Leonardo's Last Supper and the world's premier opera house, La Scala. Above all, Milan is the centre of business in Italy, and it is here and in Provincial Lombardy that the demand for federalism - ambodies by the right-wing Northern League - is strongest. The prosperous Milanese are courteous but reserved towards visitors.

BikeMi, a bike rental service in Milan.
Milan faces a serious problem of automative congestion in the downtown areas. Many people in Milan use a bicycle to solve the problem. The bike sharing service offers citizens and tourists low-cost access to bicycles within the city to ease traffic congestion.

The pinnacles and carved rosettes of the Duomo are seen from far.

The English novelist D.H. Lawrence called the Duomo "an imitation hedgehog of a cathedral", because of its pointy intricate exterior. This gargantuan Gothic cathedral (the third-largest church in Europe after St. Peter's in Rome and Seville's cathedral) was begun in 1386 but not finished until 1813. Decorating the exterior are 135 pinnacles and over 3,400 marble statues from all periods.

Facade of the Duomo

Inside the church is simple, majestic and vast. Five great aisles stretch from the entrance to the altar. Enormous stone pillars dominate the nave, which is big enough to accommodate some 40,00 worshippers. In the apse, three large and intricate stained-glass windows attributed to Nicolas de Bonaventura shed a soft half-light over the area behind the altar.

A gruesome statue of Leornado da Vinci, together with his four apprentices, stands at the centre of Piazza del Duomo.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, Italy's oldest and most elegant shopping mall. Its four-storey arcade is full of boutiques, bookshops, bars and restaurants.
Mother and daughter, and the architectural bit.

Famous mosaic bull of Turin - people spin their heels in the hole for luck

I am a happy shopper in Milan! Yeah! LV!

Sitting down to watch the world go by at Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, a perfect people-watching spot.

Bar del Corso's signature coffee - Affogato @ EURO 10

Always end your meal with a cup of authentic Italian pick-me-up - Tiramisu.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Italy - Day 4: Verona

Built in the distinctive local pink marble, Verona has a rosy hue, as if the sun were constantly setting. What was once a thriving Roman settlement is today one of the most prosperous and elegant cities in Italy.

The Piazza Bra is where the Veronese gather day and night to talk, shop and drink together. They sit ans stroll in the shadow of the glorious 1st century AD Roman Arena, the third largest structure of its kind in existence.

Roman Arena is often used for city fairs and, in summer, up to 25,000 people at a time fill it to attend performances of popular Italian Opera - notably Verdi's Aida.

Many street artists are seen along the streets in Verona

The famous mercato (market) in Verona, selling mainly fresh fruits and sourvenirs

Hanging there for centuries. Was told that if a woman who is completely "pure" walks under the hook, it will fall onto the ground. I tried but nothing unusual occurred. Maybe I am not pure enough. (???)

Verona is, of course, the city of Romeo and Juliet. Through the Capulet and Montague families immortalised by Shakespeare did actually exist, the story of the star-crossed lovers was entirely fictional. However, what is now a rather seedy bar on the Via delle Arche Scaligeri was allegedly the Casa Romeo. Rather better maintained is Juliet's House, a medieval town house complete with balcony and recently opened museum. 

Most people are drawn to Verona because of the Juliet's Balcony.

Romeo's beloved Juliet immortalised in bronze.

Tourists flock in to touch Juliet's breast (the statue's, ok?) for good luck.
*Cheeky Ming Na committing a disgraceful act*

A sight to behold

Unlike our Cameron products, these strawberries are sweet, juicy and succulent.

My favourite panini with prosciutto (ham) and Formaggio di Bufala (buffalo cheese).

Fish and pasta set


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