Thursday, November 01, 2007

Wiser way to visit Italy

I visited Italy with my family in the 70's when I was a married student in Ghent, Belgium. It was not on a guided tour, as I don't like guided tours where they bus you hurriedly from place to place. I went on my own. That means I have to look for accommodation on arrival. Not a very pleasant situation. For one, I have to waste time searching for suitable accommodation when I could have been using the precious time to go sight seeing. Another thing is, you never know if you got the best deal. There was no such thing as the Internet then.

Now with the Internet, you have online hotel booking sites like hotels in Italy. Now from the convenience of your home, you can browse for a hotel in a location of your choice and pick one that suits your needs and budget best. Plus they have a Lowest Rates Guaranteed which gives you the assurance you will be getting the best available deal. This would be a wiser way to visit Italy, and will be what I will probably use if I am ever going to visit Italy again. Zero Waste of time and money.

I visited various cities then. Among them was Rome and Venice.

Rome, capital city of Italy

Rome, I am sure you already know, is the capital city of Italy. And of course I went to the Colosseum or Coliseum, or what used to be referred to as the Flavian Amphitheatre. It is the icon of Rome, perhaps even of Italy and is right in the center of Rome. The Coliseum was used for gladiatorial contests and public events such as executions, re-enactments of famous battles, etc. It had been damaged by earthquakes and stone-robbers, but is still one of Rome's most popular tourist attractions. The photo you see on the left is a photo taken from Yahoo travel, Rome.

There are other places of interest like the Pantheon which is dedicated to the seven planetary divinities and its interior is graced by beautiful, There is also the Roman Forum (Foro Romano) which used to be the commercial, political and religious center of ancient Rome. The Trevi Fountain which in Italian is Fontana di Trevi and is the largest fountain in Rome. It is said that if a tourist throws a coin into the fountain, they will eventually return to Rome. 30 years is too long for me to remember if I threw a coin into the Trevi Fountain, so I can't be sure of visiting Rome again.

But who knows the future? A revisit to Rome may be on the cards. If that ever come to pass, I will not do the same thing as I did during my past visit. I will get online from my home computer and go to online hotel booking sites like hotels in Rome prior to departure and not waste time hunting for accommodation on arrival.

Vatican City

The Vatican City or more accurately, the State of the Vatican City, is located smack in the center of Rome. It is the smallest independent state in the world. Among its tourist attractions is the Sistine Chapel. The photo on the left is a photo of Sistine Chapel, Vatican City taken from Yahoo Travel. Another popular attraction is the St. Peter's Basilica which some consider as one of the finest Cathedrals in the world, and the spiritual center of the Vatican. Others include the Vatican Museum, St. Peter's Square (Piazza San Pietro) and the Vatican Grottoes. A popular activity in the Vatican City is to send a mail from there as the Vatican City has its own post office and it is said that mail sent from there reaches its destination faster than if sent from Rome's post offices just some short distances away.

Venice. also called the "Queen of the Adriatic", "City of Water", "City of Bridges" or "The City of Light"

Venice is not nicknamed the "City of Water" or the "City of Bridges" for nothing. Venice is actually an archipelago of 118 islands separated by about 150 canals with the islands connected by about 400 bridges. A typical canal is shown in the photo on the left which is a photo taken from Yahoo Travel: Grand Canal pictures. Transportation is on water or on foot. Venice is known not only for its canals, but also for its very unique gondolas, some of which you can see in the photo. The gondola is now mostly used by tourists, or for weddings, funerals, or other ceremonies whereas transportation for most Venetians are by motorised waterbuses or vaporetti or private boats.

There are lots of interesting places to visit in Venice among which are St Mark's Square, Campo San Polo, Doge's Palace, Palazzo Grassi, Ca' d'Oro, Ca' Rezzonico, Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo, Fondaco dei Turchi, Palazzo Labia,Scuola Grande di San Marco, Palazzo Malipiero, Basilica di San Marco, Piazza San Marco, Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute, The Arsenal, La Fenice opera house, La Torre dell'Orologio (St Mark's Clock), Rialto Bridge, The Bridge of Sighs, Accademia Bridge, Scalzi Bridge and Piazzale Roma Footbridge.

Of all these, Piazza San Marco or St Mark's Square have a special place in my memory, for I still remember myself taking a photo of my late wife stretching out her hand for the pigeons to perch on. Unfortunately, that was 30 over years ago and I don't know if I can find the photo.

For our visit then, again we were forced to waste time searching for suitable accommodation on arrival. How I wish that there was such a thing as Internet and online hotel booking sites like Venice hotels. We would have not wasted time searching for accommodation but using our short visit for sight seeing, for there is so much to see and so little time.