Saturday, November 16, 2013

It’s Amore!! Day 1 - Italian Holiday

Like many Software professionals, my interest in Digital Photography started once I started work. My enabler for life with all this is my husband (my then boyfriend) who decided that a DSLR would be the perfect wedding gift and that was how this journey started for me.

When two of my passions - Travel and Photography, crossed roads it gave rise to this wonderful experience. I really started having so much fun with travel and photography, when on 1st December 2011 two very tired people, after having the first hand experience of traditions and customs of Indian wedding, decided to pack their bags and head out on their honeymoon to Italy. And that is how the clicking frenzy began.

Having slept through the entire flight from Delhi to Vienna and Vienna to Rome, we were all set, quite excited I would say, for our 9 days in Italy. After checking into a charming Bed & Breakfast in a century old building called Hotel Modigliani, we decided to get a feel of Rome and orient ourselves to the city and settle in early. Next day was the big plan to conquer the Vatican City.

Travel Tip:
Rome is well connected by the subway system and they have 72 hours and day passes too. 

We had taken the 3-day pass and after a nice heavy breakfast at the Bed & Breakfast we took the metro to Vatican City. You know you are in the vicinity of the Vatican City the minute you step out, not only because of the St Peters Church but because every other person you meet is a guide offering tours of St Peters Church and the Vatican Museum. But after all, it was our honeymoon and isn’t there a saying more than 2 is a crowd? So we decided to depend on our Guidebook and walked on towards the St Peter’s Square!  

As we walked into the Basilica, we were completely awed by the architecture but calling it Majestic is an understatement. The history of the place and the humongous architecture to add to it, would keep you dazed for quite some time. The best part of all this is that, you don’t need to be religious to feel the divinity the basilica imparts.

If I don’t talk about the Sculptures inside the Basilica, then I would not be doing any justice to it. You are bound to stand in front of many sculptures carved artistically and with precision. And not mentioning about “The Pietà” would be a crime. This sculpture would catch your eye the minute you step into the Basilica and turn right. Michelangelo’s masterpiece, this piece of art depicts Lord Jesus on the lap of his mother Mary after the crucifixion. Note the intricate work on the sculpture, the realistic drapery on Mother Mary and the veins and ribs of Lord Jesus. It took us some time to realize that all this was made from marble and marble alone.

As we walked further into the Basilica, we came to the main altar...

Fun Fact:
There are 3 altars located inside St Peters Basilica. This is the view from the main altar and below this one is located another altar and below that is another.

We were running out of time and had to choose between going down to see the altars or climb up the cupola to get a view of Vatican City\Rome from the top! We decided to go with the latter.

Climbing meant taking the lift 3 floors for 14 EUR each (disclaimer: this was in the year 2011, they might have revised the rates now) and then walking up a narrow spiral stairways and slanted path along the cupola.

And then for the grand finale, the view of the St Peters Square from the very top of St Peters Basilica; a view from the Cupola. You can walk around the cupola and it would give you a bird’s eye view of the entire Vatican City!

One day in the Vatican City is not enough, a lesson well learnt to be told to the others. But since we had planned for only one day at the Vatican, we had to wrap up our tour of the Basilica and get to the Museum before they close. You wouldn’t want to miss the Sistine Chapel now, would you!

We grabbed some quick lunch and made our way to the Vatican Museum. Believe me when I tell you, you would need one full day at the museum. The museum of Maps, the museum of Tapestry, the Egyptian Museum, the Etruscan Museum, the Sistine Chapel, just to name a few.

Photography is prohibited in the Sistine Chapel. But it is one sight you would never forget in your life. It is like walking directly into a painting; all the walls are painted and so is the ceiling. Sitting inside the Sistine Chapel and looking at all those paintings, every minute little detail painted, we felt a little lost. To imagine Michelangelo at that very place, hanging upside down from the ceiling or at the wall painting The Last Judgment is quite an experience; no camera can capture that! But its feeling you will never forget.

We were physically tired after that long day but mentally, we felt quite refreshed. We then walked to the Spanish Steps, on our way back to the hotel, and sat there watching the people and talking about how great the day was and of course about the great question “to whom does the credit go to for planning this awesome honeymoon”… psst… it all goes to me!