Saturday, 22 November 2014

Italy, Rome (Interesting Places)

I really had a lot of fun in Rome. There were so many sights to see and the piazzas were some of the places you would love to hang out. For me, the fountains at the piazzas were the highlights. They were extremely interesting with statues of mythological gods and goddesses, as well as other creatures.  

The Italians absolutely love their statues. In fact, they were everywhere. 

Here, statues were seen lining along the bridge towards Castel Sant Angelo. This towering cylindrical building was built by Hadrian, the 14th emperor of Rome. He wanted it to be the Mausoleum of Hadrian where he and his family will be placed after their deaths. Up till now, the urns of the previous emperors and their families could still be found in its Treasury Room. 


When Rome became a papal state in the beginning of the 14th century, the popes used this building as their fortress and castle. Hence, its name - Castel Sant Angelo.

The place was quite packed with tourists when we arrived at 9 am. What I found irritating was the large number of unlicensed vendors selling faked branded bags along the bridge. We couldn't really enjoy our scenic walk without keeping a look-out for any approaching vendors.

A fat pigeon was eyeing our food as we ate our brunch. There's a cafe in the castle and the view was really nice. We could see the St Peter's Basilica from where we sat.

Castel Sant Angelo is connected to the St Peter's Basilica via Via della Conciliazione. I didn't take much photos in St Peter. For the first time in my life, I saw so many towering statues in a building. It was just too overwhelming for me so I stepped out immediately. I was kind of giddy too because of the smell coming from the incense. I'm just not used to all these.

We walked to the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museum after that.

Here is one of the paintings by Raphael in the Raphael's Room. I thought it was 3D but I was surprised that the wall was actually flat. Raphael is definitely one really great painter.

Everywhere I turned, I saw more statues and paintings. Each room was heavily decorated starting from the floor to the walls and to the ceiling above our heads.

My senses were consumed by these images and the riot of colors spun in my head, meshed into a disorderly spiral. For awhile, I felt like it was difficult for me to focus on anything and I yearned for a blank wallpaper, but there was none. It did not surprise me at all that I was kind of relieved when we stepped out of the Vatican City. I'm not sure if anyone felt the same way as me but that's how I felt. My trip to the Vatican City was not what I would have expected. 

I was so glad that we came back to the centre of Rome. I could breathe the open, cool air much easily. 

If you go to Rome, this is definitely one of the places you can't miss. The Pantheon is unique in its design and you could also see Raphael's body in one of the crypts there.

That's all from Italy. Ciao.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Italy, Rome (Palatine Hill)

I have to be very frank here. I know nuts about Palatine Hill even though I have been there. The reason here is because my memory of it is very sketchy and limited, and there's not much information I could read on.

However, I can say that the most enjoyable part of my journey up the Palatine Hill was the walk along the Palatine Garden. I find the shapes of the trees delightful to watch; the whole garden itself was really beautiful.

We found some ruins on top of the hill. The guide told us that the Palatine Hill used to be the residence of the rich and the royalty during the Roman Period because the air was cooler and fresher here. The common people, on the other hand, lived at the bottom of the hill. 

These are some of the interesting structures on the Palatine Hill. If I'm not wrong, the first picture is the Temple of Saturn and the second picture is the door to the library. I really don't get the names of the buildings at that time although there's truly one particular place that got my full attention.

It's the House of the Vestal Virgins. The statues found in its compound represented the six Vestal Virgins who were in service at that time. Some of the statues had lost their heads though. 

In the past, the Emperor appointed 6 vestal virgins when they were still at a very young age. Their task is to perform sacred rites. For the rites to produce the desired results, the vestals had to remain pure (virgin). I found this interesting because I didn't know that the Romans were very superstitious and animistic in their beliefs. Since the emperor appointed the vestals, they were regarded very highly in the hierarchy and enjoyed privileges that normal women did not have, such as the owning of land. In addition to this, anyone injuring a vestal could be punished by death.

Hmm... that's all I have for the Palatine Hill. My next update will be on all the other places I have visited in Rome.