Saturday, 15 February 2014

10 Favourite places to visit in Italy

10 places I visited in Italy
1.     The Colosseum in Rome – always a big tourist attraction.  I went in on my own, because my host family in Rome did not want to pay for the attraction they had seen before.  The atmosphere was set with moss growing over the ruins, a tour guide walking groups through the building and actors dressed up in period clothing for tourists taking photos.
2.     The Vatican in Vatican City – It was an amazing atmosphere to see the Pope speaking to the people on the last Sunday before Christmas in 1999. The square was decorated with Christmas spirit complete with a very tall, Christmas tree next to a life size nativity display.
3.     The glass maker in Venice – first visitors in Jan 2 2000.  It was spectacular to see a glass maker use his breath little by little to blow a piece of glass into the shape of a horse.  Very fragile with a mazing detail.  And it did not take him long to make.  We watched the process of heating and moulding the glass in around 20 minutes.
4.     Milan train station –  I travelled from the Milan air port across to Vicenza, Veneto train station to meet my second host family in 2003.  On my trip home, I looked trough the shops and found a collection of products made into fridge magnets.  I looked and looked at them all and finally decided on a wood oven frozen pizza, and two packets of dry pasta.  Very cute momentos of the time and place to keep as souvenirs.
5.     The parmesan cheese factory in Reggio nell’Emilia – I was lucky enough to see the cheese making process and storage.  I visited a local cheese maker who was friends with my host family in Reggio nell’Emilia.  Also, I had a quick look at a small Italian bakery in action.
6.     the car free centre in Reggio nell’Emilia – It was refreshing to see the city council organising green transport.  Big car parks were put in next to city bus stops.  Free bikes were available to ride around the city using green energy.  It was a nice approach to keep cars and car pollution out of the city centre and brought many people though the city to shop and meet up with friends.
7.     The bell tower in Florence was stunning.  Old architecture maintained over the years for the community and tourists to explore.  The bell tower was open for an entrance fee to let tourists climb the many steps to a great view.  Coming up the last stairs, you step into view of the cityscape from high up the bell tower.  It was foggy day but the fog over the town still made spectacular panoramas for my own photos to share of my travels.
8.     Winter in Italy with snow.  This is spectacular for anyone who does not have snow back home. I was so hopeful for seeing some snow that I thought the first heavy hail storm was snow.  I went up to the roof top of my host family’s apartment block in Rome.  I took photos and showed my host family.  What looked to me like a blanket of white snow, ended up melting within half an hour.  A blanket of hail must be much thinner than a proper blanket of snow.
9.     Christmas in Italy with nativity displays.  Most towns on each Christmas visit had a display of some sort or another.  Some houses set up a model nativity even taking up half a room.  The most impressive town in northern Italy has a community put nativity scenes in their windows counting to more than 100 displays.  It was wonderful bringing out the community and visitors in Christmas spirit, despite the cold weather.
10. New Year’s in Italy with friends in the mountains. I stayed with friends for three days in their mountain apartment.  We enjoyed the little community but found it to be more like camping when the pipes had frozen over the week before.  We left a bucket of snow near the open fire to melt down to water.  Washing hands became rubbing snow and a bar of soap together.  On the last day, we put snow melted to water into a watering can.  Together we soaped up dishes and then the other person was the tap/watering can to rinse of soap dish by dish.

Ten things I would love to see and experience
1.     anywhere south of Rome
2.     Pompeii in Naples
3.     Sicily
4.     Sardegna
5.     Little Italy tourist park
6.     the leaning tower of Pisa, Tuscany
7.     an outdoor concert
8.     the Carnevale in Venice
9.     Easter in Italy
10. Summer in Italy

What is your favourite place in Italy? Where would you love to go next time?

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