Travelogue: Pretty Venice, Baroque Bologna and Ancient Rome

Back from my two weeks break, which I absolutely needed. 12 days of Europe, which was packed, rushed and sometimes scary but now back in sunny Singapore, I really missed the weather over there. I think that is probably the only thing I missed terribly. This trip with the folks was with a tour cos the folks cannot walk too much and I thought going with a tour will save me much grief. It was an early morning flight to Milan. Flight was very comfortable though met with lots of turbulence and food was surprisingly good! No wonder Singapore Airlines is sought after widely

With my red passport and cute nails, take me away. I’m not coming back! Nah, just kidding, still love SG deep deep

Promptly knocked out once I board cos I was just so tired but caught sight of this view when I woke up for breakfast

Everyday is a new beginning. Smile often, laugh a lot, forget yesterday and realise how blessed you are

There was supper but in a rush to finish the food so I can continue sleeping, there is no photo. The beef goulash for supper was really tender and nice, which I thought was better than the chicken fried rice. Yeah, fried rice for supper (ohmygosh)

Breakfast

I slept 70% of the journey, ha, and 12 hours later, we landed and proceeded to Venice by coach. Stopped by Autogrill on the way for a quick lunch cos we would have all fainted if we waited for lunch in Venice. Autogrill is very common on the highway or what we term as highway food. Service is like Ikea-style where you take whatever you want and then pay at the cashier. And even though it sounds simple, it is still comical when we all have language barrier. I was observing the group before me who had a hard time communicating with the server who kept asking quanto, quanto! (Goodness knows what is she asking)

I don’t think food here is very fantastic. Ikea serves better food. I thought the dessert was not bad though and the dad couldn’t resist a bottle of red wine cos it only costs €5.50

Though the food was okay only but it’s still mad packed with people. I guess when you are on the highway and you need food, this is the best you can get

An hour later, we took the water taxi to Venice cos the city is surrounded by water and no cars can go in so you either take the water bus or the taxi. The dock looks like a place where the rich takes their yacht out to play

This is the water taxi, quite nice hoh. It looked like our own private yacht

Welcome to Venice!

Lots of Venetian masks for sale. Very pretty but no use for them back in humid Singapore unless you have a masquerade party every other day

We went on the gondola ride, one of the 3 optional activities offered by the agency. It’s quite silly cos if you choose 1/3, you have to take all 3. How is this even optional? But okay for the experience, we went ahead

Our boatman is a very fierce guy, or maybe Italians are generally not friendly. The key to taking the boat, is to sit still and not move around cos the balance is very important if not the boat might overturn

Buildings of Venice

We went to this glass blowing factory as well. The glass were really pretty, but too expensive

Thoughts on gondola: I don’t think it’s worth it to take the ride. It is better if you just take a walk cos you will be able to explore more. The gondola is just a faster way to see the buildings of Venice and I think the folks like it better. Honestly, after 20 minutes, the buildings start to look the same

We met a local guide later who took us around St Mark’s square or what known as Piazza San Marco and explained the history of the place. It was a very short tour cos there’s actually not many places to introduce us to but I guess the use of a local guide is always better in terms of local knowledge and history

Doges Palace

Where all the political, social and economical decisions take place

Bridge of Sighs

The famous bridge where prisoners will take their last walk from the prison. Looking through the small window, that’s the last view of the world and it is assumed their will sigh after looking, hence the name. Come, let’s all sigh (*sighs*)

The 2 important guardians of the square

Bell Tower

Which was damaged many many times by lightning and fire

Love this shot with the light

Shopping arcade

One of those expensive cafes where a cup of coffee costs €20 if you sit outside and drink cos people here pay for the music and ambience to sit and people watch

One cute doggie among the many many fat pigeons

The very important and beautiful cathedral of Venice, St Mark’s Basilica where it is decorated by minerals, gold and glass. The colour is due to the change in chemicals and not painted so yes it’s very pretty. A pity we don’t have time to go inside the church but there was a long queue outside

Passed by this shop and decided to get my gelato!

My first Gelato!

It’s like the best meal of the day. I was very happy ha. The pistachio was divine 🙂

Venice is beautiful, with colourful little houses and the architecture is just magnificent, though by day ends, there is very little people left. For those who are dropping by, try one of the cicchetti bars or just explore the little city

Dinner was arranged at the hotel. First hotel for the trip was at Crowne Plaza Padova

Dinner was acceptable, and I can say so cos it was one of the better dinners we had in Italy. The rest was really so bad I wanna cry

That’s it for day 1 as we await the next day of adventure

xx

Good morning! Breakfast was a simple, edible fare of bread, ham and lots of pastry

We set off for city of Bologna after breakfast. Weather was chilly but still perfect to sightsee in such environment

The architecture of Bologna is noted for its palette of terracotta reds, burnt oranges and yellows. The town center, characterized by miles of attractive covered walkways, known as porticos, is one of the best preserved in Europe and is second to Venice in terms of beauty according to Italians

Giambologna’s Neptune Fountain

One of Bologna’s symbol. More than the famous Neptune statue, I enjoyed walking the streets and seeing how the locals lived.

The library

Basilica of San Petronio on Piazza Maggiore

The church looks big on the outside, but it’s pretty small and empty inside

Palazzo D’Accursio, City Hall

Moving on from the square

I think I appreciate this quaint part of the town more. Too much reds is pretty boring. We passed by their local market and decided to take a look

And of course stopping to get my second gelato. The mango one was super good!

Seafood anyone? But €41.90/kg?? Okay I don’t really know how much is that. I hope it’s good though

Fresh fruit

And really fresh flowers

It’s a pity I didn’t get to try what Bologna is famous for – Bolognese. I really wanted to try that. That’s the thing with tours, you never know how the schedule changes. I think we would have time to have lunch on our own but cos someone wanted to go Prada shopping so we added Barberino outlet shopping at the last second

This is how the outlet looks like. It really doesn’t look like outlets

Ate at this place called W.O.K cos it serves Asian cuisine. You would have think it’s only our second day in Italy and we are craving for Asian food but the thing is after having so much bad experience with bad Italian food, sometimes Asian comfort might not be a bad choice after all, or so we thought

Very colourful interior

Pad Thai and Fried Rice

Nowhere near Asian standards, but I think I will choose this over the bad Italian food

The main attraction here is Prada so I think if you like to buy Prada/Miu Miu you might like it here. The prices ranged from €450 – 650 so it’s pretty cheap, plus you get tax refund so everyone else on the group came out with one or two bags. Ha. Though shops here aren’t extensive in terms of brands, I think it’s better to visit The Mall or Space for outlet shopping

Spend the next 4 hours travelling to Rome when we caught sight of this!

Dinner was yet again arranged at the hotel. The hotel, Holiday Inn Rome Pisana was located at super ulu location, we can’t even find the supermarket and dinner, was officially the worst meal ever

It looks bad and tasted really jia lat. Somehow my photos made them look actually quite tasty but no, do not be deceived. Lol

xx

I was actually quite skeptical of the breakfast cos of the bad experience with dinner. Surprisingly breakfast was decent. The rest of the group jokingly said they should have given us breakfast for dinner and we would have been much happier

See, so much food! There’s sausages!

Sometimes when you are met with such little variety of food, every addition is a luxury

We proceeded to Vatican City, the world’s smallest country to see St Peter’s Basilica, the world’s biggest church. How ironic right. For those who planned to come here yourself, it is very very important to come before 9am. The line to queue to go in after 9am is insane

There, the queue

St Peter’s Basilica was the brainchild of Michaelangelo, who was a painter,  a sculptor and an architect. Apparently in olden days you are either a painter, a sculptor or an architect so to be all 3, it is very rare

Swiss guard guarding the church

It’s actually pretty interesting that they chose Swiss guard to guard the church cos in the past, the role of Swiss guards is for important personnel like royalty and European dignities, so they kept the tradition of it

The holy door that opens every 25 years

The door is shut from inside so it has to be broken down, then we asked how does the person who closed the door come out? Not sure if they have to rebuild it after they break down the door either. Apparently it will open this year cos of some jubilee celebration. The next time the door opens, it will be in 2025

The famous statue of Virgin Mary carrying Jesus Christ

The original statue was carved by Michealangelo when he was very very young but the statue got destroyed by a crazy person. So they reconstructed the statue and it’s now protected by a bullet-proof glass

The church is very grand for the size speaks volume of it. Much of the interior is decorated by mosaic which is quite magnificent

Roaming around in my new hi cut 😀

What’s Rome without The Colosseum. I think it would be quite a sight to witness The Colosseum in its original state. I guess the current state it is in now, it exhibits its own beauty as well

Just people everywhere.. and pickpockets maybe

Proceeded on to the next attraction but It was mad crazy with people that day cos it was their public holiday, to celebrate the liberation of Italy

OMG

Just look at the amount of people on the Spanish steps! Honestly I don’t know what’s the story of this attraction. It’s called Spanish steps cos the Spanish embassy was nearby. Like okay….

Spot the embassy

And so I googled Spanish steps but the explanation does not seem to trigger any interesting facts, other than the 135 steps linked the Trinità dei Monti church to Palazzo Monaldesch, Wah, thanks. We could have totally just skipped this attraction then

Next up,

Trevi Fountain without fountain

It was closed for re-construction. BOO. Though according to the local guide, Fendi actually contributed the source for the restoration

So I sourced this image from Google, to let you see how the original looks like (Credits to trevifountain.net)

Why did they bring us here again since it’s closed? No idea..

So no Trevi Fountain, gelato it shall be!

I had the banana and walnut, which was so good 🙂

ootd: in my Topshop vest

I was taking this when suddenly people started crowding and looking at me take the photo. So paiseh =/

And it’s actually not cold in Italy then but the weather is still nice to sit around under the welcoming sun

Lunch was arranged at this Chinese restaurant. I think this is like one of the best meal we had so far, judging by how the plate was cleaned at the end of the meal, lol. Either the Italian food arranged was really bad or everyone just missed Asian food or people just cannot do with rice and vegetables

Really decent food

The rest of the day was just spent traveling to Florence, with a dinner pit stop at Macdonalds which I think Singapore’s Macs is much nicer, plus our ketchup and chili sauce is FREE. They charge like 25 cents for one packet of ketchup which is like total ripoff please. See, grass is not always greener on the other side 😉