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Milan is about Piazza del Duomo, one of the major landmarks in the city. The setting is rectangular, with a vast area about 183,000 square feet. The piazza is by far the foremost tourist attraction of the city. In the centre of the square, the statue of the first king of Italy, Vittorio Emanuele II stands impressively.

What had charmed me about the main plaza is not because of the fact it is the main shopping streets, but the magnificent architectures of the piazza and Milan Duomo. The structure of the piazza consists of an octagonal space topped with a glass dome. The arcade contains restaurants, cafes and bars (some of them are the oldest in town) and high-end brands such as Prada, Gucci, Louis Vuitton… 

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Milan Duomo is the fifth largest cathedral in the world, displaying a flamboyant Gothic architectural design. Although the construction started since 1386, it was dragged on for centuries and was finally completed in 1965. Many architects were involved and the original design kept altered, but the final outcome was surprisingly homogenous Gothic design.
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Milan Duomo

The Milan Duomo is free to enter, but you’ll need to pay a fee if you want to enter the Treasury or Crypt (located inside the church) or access the rooftop (elevator and stair entrances located outside the church). The interior is expansive but rather low in light. Visitors are expected to keep the noise level low as there are people who come here to pray.
An important thing to note for those planning to enter the cathedral is the dress code. There guards at the doors strictly check if your dressing covers your shoulders and knees. Initially I was not allowed to enter, but luckily I had my scarf with me. I just need to wear my scarf around my waist, like a sarong.
The interior inside the Duomo

The interior inside the Duomo

I would advise you to be careful of the street vendors offering birdseed for feeding the pigeons. It is a way to steal while you’re distracted. Another favourite trick is to ask you to break a large bill. The bill they give you in return is usually counterfeit, but by the time you realise, they’re already gone with your money. Or, even offering help to take photos, but run away with your camera.

City of Milan is about lifestyle and fashion. Despite of being one of the most ancient cities in Europe, Milan remains the centre for high-end fashion, all about fashion designers, supermodels and international paparazzi.

I’m pretty sure that everyone knows about the Leaning Tower of Pisa, one of the wonders of the world.

The world-famous landmark is located at Pisa, a small city in Italy. Being more famous as an university town, the city is very simple and quiet. Tourists go to Pisa mainly to visit the leaning tower which is located within the square of Piazza dei Miracoli or Field of Miracles. The whole complex is an UNESCO World Heritage site where you can also find the The Pisa Baptistry of St. John, the Pisa Cathedral, and the Camposanto Monumentale (Monumental Cemetery). 

The simplicity of Pisa

The simplicity of Pisa

To reach the the square of Piazza dei Miracoli, we have to board the special bus from the bus terminal. You may need to queue up to ride the bus as there are many people from all over the world visit the place daily.

As I entered the complex, the first building was the The Pisa Baptistry. It is the largest baptistery in Italy. The building in the middle is The Pisa Duomo or Pisa Cathedral. The cathedral is a masterpiece of Romanesque architecture which dominates the monumental Piazza dei Miracoli.

The Baptistry and the Pisa Duomo

The Baptistry (left) and the Pisa Duomo (right)

The last landmark is the Leaning Tower, the main attraction among the three magnificent landmarks. The Leaning Tower was initially built as a bell tower during Europe medieval era. However, in the middle of its construction, the tower started to lean soon afterwards due to subsidence of the ground underneath its base.

Tourists were seen everywhere, busy posing in their most creative ways. Not a few would lay down on the grass or climb up the fence to get the best pictures. So how far did I do to get mine?

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(Sst, I did climb up the fence though..)

For those who wanted to climb up, the tower was reopened in 2001. It is recommended to reserve or buy the tickets online in advance. The ticket can be bought at €18 (the price maybe changed). You can purchase the ticket on the day, but be prepared to wait for hours or the tickets might be sold out.

Good news come for you who will visit the city before January 2015. Starting from the month of May 2014 to January 2015, there will be an exhibition by Polish artist, Igor Mitora, displayed. The exhibition includes about a hundred works, with sculptures, bronzes, cast-iron works and drawings by the artist. Example of one of the artist’s work is the fallen angel statue below.

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The Fallen Angels Statue by Igor Mitoraj

It was truly an experience to be able to visit Pisa and see the Leaning Tower with my own eyes. More over, Pisa is a safe city where you do not need to worry about your safety. Of course, it’s good to watch out for pickpockets especially in the touristy areas.

Website: www.opapisa.it/en

* For Igor Mitoraj. Angels Exhibition: 
Opening Period: May 17, 2014 – January 15, 2015
Opening hours: May – October: 8AM-8PM (daily), November – January: 9AM-5PM (daily)
Admission: 3€ (free under 10 years old)

 

My trip too Venice was a last minute and sudden plan. Since we were at Rome and it was only 4 hour train ride, we went to Venice for a day trip. So we bought our ticket in the train station the day before our departure to Venice.

We took the first train for Venice at 6:50AM. Lucky the guesthouse we stayed in was nearby to the train station. It was only 3-5 minutes walk. So we were on-time for the train.

About 10.50AM, we reached Santa Lucia train station at Venice. The city amazed me. It is so beautiful despite of being surrounded by water. I would say Venice is more beautiful than Rome.

This is the view outside the train station. Beautiful right?

We walked around the city and saw Italian food again. As expected, our lunch was pasta again. There were a lot of gelato ice cream shop. Tempted, we bought a cup. Of course, the original always tastes better 🙂

To get to Piazza San Marco, we took the water taxi.

At Piazza San Marco, we went to St Mark’s basilica and Doge’s Palace. Not to forget, we experienced hopping on a gondola rides with a handsome and young gondola man.

Although it was quite tiring because we had to head back to Rome with the last train, but it was a memorable trip.

Our last stop in Rome is Fountain de Trevi, the largest Baroque fountain in Rome and one of the most famous fountains in the world.

We took metro again to the nearest metro station: Barbarini.
From the metro, we walked for a few blocks to the Fountain. It was interesting to see Rome architecture which mostly consisted of the dome and the arch.

On our way to, we saw this group of people running around in a big circle. Maybe they were playing some games or doing some activity.

This signage showing that we were almost there. There were a lot of people going to the same directions too.

Throw your coins into the fountain and they are ensured a return to Rome

The fountain was full of people. Just like the rest of the visitors, we took a coin and throw it into the fountain. It is believed that by doing that, we can return to the city.

So do you believe the legend will come true? Who knows…

We went to a few places on the second day in Rome. Our first stop was Museum Vatican and the Sistine Chapel. I was so excited to see with my own eyes, the great artworks of Michelangelo, Sandro Botticelli, Pietro Perugino, Pinturicchio

If the day before, St.Peter’s amazed me with its great structures, Museum Vatican did the same too. Almost all the walls in the whole museum decorated by painted, done personally by Renaissance artists. I really wondered how they could paint the each of the ceilings. They were so breathtaking..

Finally we entered the Sistine Chapel and could see the most famous painting in the world: The Creation of Adam and The Last Judgment, both by Michelangelo. I really wanted to share the picture here, but I should not. The room was strictly guarded by the securities and they did not allow any pictures to be taken in this room.

After a few hours exploring the whole museum, we headed to the famous Colosseum. On our way there, we pass by one of Rome’s most notable monuments called Monument of Vittorio Emanuele II.

After walking for quite a distance, we saw the shape of the Colosseum from far. We did not go in because it was late and they have closed the place. So we only walked around the amphitheaters. To be frank, the place was quite spooky.

On our way back, we passed by another attraction which called The Roman Forum. It was the Forum of ancient Rome that also became the centre of the city’s politics and business at the time.

While visiting Rome, we made a visit to Vatican, officially the smallest country in the world, located entirely within the city of Rome, Italy. Vatican City’s boundaries are undisputed even though the country is located entirely within the city of Rome. Some of Vatican’s famous places of visit are the St. Peter’s Basilica and St. Peter’s Square, Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel. The state is ruled by The Pope and has a population of 842.

We took metro to St.Peter Basilica Station and walked to the stone wall which is somehow the border line of the Vatican and Rome.

St.Peter Basilica Train Station

We entered Vatican through St. Peter’s Square. From the gate, we were welcomed by Bernini’s Piazza di San Pietro and St. Peter’s Basilica. The Square is huge and can fit thousands of people. If Rome is not as beautiful and clean as what I expected, Vatican is so serene, cleaner and amazed me. I’ve seen the Square in ‘Angels and Demons‘(by Dan Brown) movie, but to be there and saw directly with my own eyes, it was an unforgettable experience.

Aren’t they amazing?

Bernini’s Piazza in St. Peter’s Square

Obelisk at St. Peter’s Square

St Peter’s Basilica

St. Peter’s Basilica, is the most important and the largest church in the world. It is designed by Donato Bramante, the famous artist Michelangelo, Carlo Maderno and Gian Lorenzo, renowned sculptor/architect. The enormous dome of St. Peter’s was designed by Michelangelo.

Entering the church, everyone will be wowed by the interiors and the architecture. The place has a lot to offer. Great structures, carving, gold coated pillars and ceilings telling their own stories… No matter you’re a Roman Catholic or not, you will end up admiring them. The most famous monument in the St. Peter’s Basilica is the Michelangelo’s Pietà, a marble sculpture of Mother Mary holding the dead body of her son, Jesus.

 

Our lunch was late. So we just went into any restaurant nearby and ended up eating pasta (again). My lunch was fettucine with bacon and potato. Looked delicious, but the taste was alright.

Fettucine with Bacon and Potato

We saw this mini van when looking for the place to eat. Obviously, they were selling snacks / italian food too. Panini, Pizza, etc… I like the way they decorated the mini-van, attractive and colourful.

 

 

 

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