With Backpack

One World in One Lifetime

Archive for the ‘Italy’ Category

Travel Tips Italy

Posted by Heliocentrism on May 20, 2018

2017

You have to bring:

  • Just your prescription medication and a doctor’s note.
  • Everything else can be bought here.

Things you can buy here or bring with you:

  1. Luggage:
    • You can use a suitcase or a backpack. A Backpack gives you a little more mobility, but it’s not a must-have here.
    • But, dragging your suit case on the cobbled stones will get irritating.
  2. Clothes:
    • You can buy anything here.
      • If you like leather, this is the country for you to shop.
  3. Towel:
    • Bring your towel if you are staying in a hostel.
  4. Shampoo, conditioner, and body wash:
    • All hotels provided guests with shampoo and body wash.
    • You are never given conditioner.
    • You should bring your own toiletries if you are staying at a hostel.
      • You can buy shampoo, conditioner, and body wash at any convenience store or grocery store.
      • Grocery stores: Carrefour  is nice, Conad is okay
        • Smaller grocery stores in Italy tend to be oddly shaped. (I just find that weird.)
  5. Deodorant/ Antiperspirant:
    • You can find this here.
  6. Sunscreen:
    • No problem; you can find it here.
  7. Over the counter medicine:
    • There are lots of pharmacies where you can buy cold medicine and pain killers like aspirin.
    • It’s best if you know the generic or chemical name of the drugs you need.
      • Instead of asking for Bufferine, ask for ibuprofen.
    • I would still bring some medications for basic illnesses like diarrhea, fever, and constipation.
      • Don’t run out of these.
      • It’s always tough to look for medication when you’re already sick.
      • It’s easy to find what you want if you have a label of the drug you are looking for.
  8. Other things you should bring:
    • Hat
    • Sunglasses
    • Flip-flips
    • Smartphone
    • comfortable shoes. (There are lots of cobbled stone roads and sidewalks.)

General Tips:

Clothes:

  • Wear the right clothes to enter churches.
    • No shorts or sleeveless shirts.
    • It’s best to have the right clothes with you all the time. You never know when you might want to check out some church on your walk back to the hotel.
    • When you enter a church, take off you hat and shades.

Food:

  • Never pick a non-fast food restaurant at random.
    • Look online first.
    • Check the reviews.
    • Look for a menu with prices online.
  • Watch out for seating fees and service charges.
    • Seating fees  = €3~6 per person
    • Service charges = 10 ~ 20% of the bill
      • If your total is €20 with 10% service charge and €5 seating fee for 2 people. Your bill is now €32. You just paid €12 for simply showing up.
    • Not all nice restaurants charge these, but the ones that do will say that they do on the menu.
    • ALWAYS look at the menu before you enter the restaurant.
      • Either look at the menu online or at the front door of the restaurant.
  • Cook for yourself as much as you can.
    • Eat out only a few times.
    • If you cannot cook for yourself, then look for cheap restaurants or simple sandwich shops.
  • How to find a cheap restaurant:
    • Never go into a restaurant close to where many tourists are.
    • Walk a few blocks away from any tourist attractions.
    • Go down an alley.
    • Kebab shops are usually pretty cheap and they serve good pizza.
  • When eating in a restaurant, or even a kebab shop, never order drinks.
    • Buy your drinks at a grocery store and drink after you leave the restaurant.
      • Iced tea at a grocery store = €0.45~0.65
      • Iced tea at a kebab shop = €2~2.50
      • Iced tea at a restaurant = €3.50~4.50
    • Don’t even ask for water unless you know for sure it’s complimentary.
      • Sparkling water is usually just as expensive as a regular drink.

Transportation:

  • ALWAYS keep your ticket.
    • DO NOT throw away the ticket until after you have gotten to your destination (for the bus) or left the station (for the train).
  • Never not pay for the bus or train.
    • They might not check every time. But, they do random checks and fine people without tickets.
    • If you have a ticket that needs validation, make sure to get it validated.
    • Even if the bus is crowded. Ask someone for help getting your ticket stamped from the machines placed at the front, middle, and back of the bus. People help each other all the time on the crowded bus by stamping other people’s cards in the machines.

Tickets:

  • To make sure you get to see the thing you came all the way to Italy to see, you should buy your ticket ahead of time.
    • But there is a bit of a gamble. Unlike the UK or France where it’s either cheaper or the same price to buy tickets online ahead of time, in Italy it will always cost about €4 more.
    • If the line isn’t too long, I say save your money and wait the 30 minutes.
    • When it comes to Vatican City, ALWAYS buy your ticket ahead of time.
  • Do not lose your ticket or throw it away until you have left the building. You might be stopped and asked to show your ticket.
  • You will spend a lot of time in Italy in line, even when you buy your tickets ahead of time.
    • Bring e-books, audio books, paper books, movies, games, water, and a snack.

Money:

  • Get cash from ATMs.
  • Don’t tip.

Scams:

  • I’ve seen the:
    • Survey Scam
    • Free Bracelet Scam
    • If someone approaches you on the street asking, “Where are you from?” It’s a scam!
      • Honestly, it may feel like you are being very rude, but the best way to deal with most scam artists is to just ignore them. Pretend you don’t hear them or you don’t speak whatever language they are talking to you in.
    • Here are some other scams


Italy

How to get there:

You can enter this country by land, water, or air.

Phone:

  • 113 – police
  • 115 – fire
  • 118 – first aid

Website:

Data:

Downloads:

Videos:

Books: 

Notes:

  • Many of the streets and walkways are paved in cobblestones making it harder to walk on with the wrong type of shoes.
  • Apparently, you can drink from any of the water fountains you see.
  • Watch out for pick-pockets.
  • Get your tickets ahead of time when going to see popular things.
  • You never know when you might what to check out a basilica. So, make sure to dress properly, or you won’t be let in.
    • Not shorts. Make sure that at least your knees are covered.
    • No sleeveless shirts.
Advertisements

Posted in Italy | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Milan

Posted by Heliocentrism on May 15, 2018

November 3rd, 2017

We were not too sure what to do in Milan. Milan is known for fashion. Mark and I don’t “fashion”. So, when you’re in a new city and you don’t know what to do, go to the biggest museum or church. We headed to the Milan Duomo.

I thought we would just pop in and be out in an hour or two. But, Mark got us combo tickets, so we saw everything that the ticket would allow us to see. We ended up spending the whole day here with a short break for lunch.

First we went inside the Duomo. Of course, it had a lot of saintly corpses on display. I don’t remember how many this church had, but it had more glass coffins than I have ever seen in one place. Most of the men had some information about their lives, though now I can’t remember if the biographies was on a plaque or in the Duomo’s guide app I downloaded.

The Milan Duomo also had many of these wonderful sculptures. I think they were all paid for by very rich people who didn’t want to be forgotten. They commissioned artists to make these elaborate works of art in hopes that people generations to come would pray on their behalf. I guess it worked.

We went down to, what they called “the archaeological area”. It really wasn’t that interesting. But what was fun was looking for the dinosaur on the front of the duomo. It wasn’t hard to find at all. (I’m not sure if it really is a dino though.)

After lunch, we climbed the stairs (to save €4 each on the elevator fee) to the top of the church. We walked around on the level in the photo above then took another set of steps to the very top of the roof. There was a nice view of the city, but I am afraid of heights, so I didn’t look out or down for too long.

I could look down at Milan, or I could read about the view from the Duomo’s Tour Guide app.

Our tour could have stopped here, but we went down and entered the museum because it was part of our ticket. The museum was not interesting at all. It’s just filled with all the stuff that fell off the church. Statues that have been replaced are put in the museum along with gargoyles, tiles, and rocks. Then they capped that all off with some miniature replicas of the church. But I had already spend almost an entire day at the church, so the scaled versions weren’t very interesting.

But we did see this guy playing a theremin. That was fun, interesting, and very unusual. I bet you’ve never heard a theremin played on the street.


Italy

How to get there:

You can enter this country by land, water, or air.

Phone:

  • 113 – police
  • 115 – fire
  • 118 – first aid

Website:

Data:

Downloads:

Videos:

Books: 

Notes:

  • Many of the streets and walkways are paved in cobblestones making it harder to walk on with the wrong type of shoes.
  • Apparently, you can drink from any of the water fountains you see.
  • Watch out for pick-pockets.
  • Get your tickets ahead of time when going to see popular things.
  • You never know when you might what to check out a basilica. So, make sure to dress properly, or you won’t be let in.
    • Not shorts. Make sure that at least your knees are covered.
    • No sleeveless shirts.

Duomo di Milano Italy

Basic Information

Website:

Downloads:

  • Guide App
  • The app is free, if you just want to read the information.
  • If you want the audio and video guide, you will have to pay about €5

Cost:

  • Duomo Pass A – € 16.00
  • Duomo Pass B – € 12.00
    • Both passes include the same thing, but pass A includes an elevator ride to the top of the Duomo. With pass B you will have to climb the stairs.
    • CATHEDRAL & TERRACES
    • DUOMO MUSEUM
    • ARCHAEOLOGICAL AREA
    • SAN GOTTARDO CHURCH
  • Cathedral – € 3
    • Includes the Crypt of St. Charles, the Duomo Museum and San Gottardo in Corte Church
  • Terraces – € 9 or € 13
  • Archaeological Area – € 7
    • This is inside the church, so you will need to buy a ticket for that.

Hours:

  • Cathedral 8:00 – 19:00
    • Inside the Cathedral
    • The Crypt of St. Charles
      • Monday – Friday: 11.00 am – 5.30 pm
      • Saturday: 11.00 am – 5.00 pm
      • Sunday: 1.30 pm – 3.30  pm
    • Archaeological Area
      • 9.00 am -7.00 pm
    • The Terrace
      • 9.00 am -7.00 pm
  • The Duomo Museum – 10.00 am – 6.00 pm
    • Inside the Museum
      • 10.00 am – 6.00 pm

Video

Notes:

  • Don’t Miss: (In the Duomo)
  • The Dino
  • Buy your tickets online.
  • You can also buy your tickets at the museum, but the line is long, disorganized, confusing, and very crowded.
    • The fastest thing to do is to get in line for the ticket machine when you can.
    • Some machines only use credit cards, but one or two take cash.

Don’t Miss:

Map:

Posted in Italy, Milan | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Let’s Talk About Money

Posted by Heliocentrism on May 10, 2018

Tuesday, October 31st – November 1st, 2017

When we got to the train station at Venice, we checked google maps to see our options for getting to our accommodations. They were a 1 hour walk or a 15 minute boat ride. We looked to see the cost of the 15-minute boat ride. It was 8€ per person, so 16€ for the both of us. It only cost us 20€ (about 10€ each) to get to Venice from Bologna, a ride that took about 2 hours. We walked.

As we were walking, we saw a sign explaining the prices for gondola rides. It cost 80€ for a 1 hour ride which could be split between up to 6 people. The ride would cost 100€ if you wanted the gondolier to sing. I told Mark that we were probably the only tourists in Venice who would never set foot on any type of boat.

Mark and I aren’t rich people. We’re far from poor, but we aren’t rich. We don’t actually have a budget. But we do have a good sense of what we are willing to buy and how much we are willing to pay for it.

Even before this trip, we refused to pay for things that weren’t important to us. For example, we had pay-as-you-go phones. Neither Mark or I are phone people. I feel more comfortable communicating by text or email. But, because we had jobs, we needed phones. For the longest time we actually shared a phone, buying a second phone only when that became too inconvenient.

Our pre-paid phones were used mainly for people (our bosses) to call us. We would go months without putting money on the phone since incoming calls are free. We would only add minutes to our phones if we were planning to call several people for some reason. And, even then either Mark’s phone had minutes or mine did; never both.

On the other hand, we had the fastest internet we could find. To us the internet is very important. If the car needed a new widget for safety reasons, we would get the best widget. We’re not cheap, we just don’t like needlessly wasting money on things that we don’t care about.

Gummies are very important to me.

What we do on this trip depends on the balance of cost and convenience on one side and how important the thing is to us on the other. It was important for us to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa, so we went there. When we got there, there was a long line for the 18€ tickets to climb the steps to the top. Since we could see the tower for free, we stopped at that. The long line, the climb to the top, the high cost of tickets… none of that seemed worth it to us.

Many tourists might refuse to eat pizza at kebab shops in Italy. They might feel it’s not authentic enough. I don’t think that’s quite true. The pizza is authentic enough for the many Italians who eat there… Also, “authentic” restaurants that cater to travelers are a rip off. You can end up paying a lot in seating fees, service fees, and inflated prices for drinks and in the end your meal is not that much better than the food you get at a kebab shop.

Of course, Mark and I try out some of the nicer restaurants. But we do our research first. We find places without all the extra fees. Then we only eat in these types of places once in a while. We mostly try to cook at the apartment we’ve rented, buy from sandwich or kebab shops, or buy ready to eat meals from grocery stores. No, it’s not glamorous, but I do get tired of eating in restaurants and being taken advantaged of by people who prey on naive tourists.

We do a lot of walking. Sometimes, it’s because we want to save on transportation. But mostly, it’s an easy and cheap form of entertainment that helps you find things to make your trip better. That candy store a few photos above, we found it because we were walking to the basilica. The kebab shop (that had many types of interesting pizza toppings like pickled artichokes and brie) we found on a walk to a grocery store. We’ve found interesting parks, shops, restaurants, and museums all because we walked to a place instead of taking a bus. Also, it’s way easier to take photos on a walk than it is to get a bus driver to stop the bus and wait for you to snap some pictures.

We will stay almost anywhere so long as it is clean and convenient. I would rather stay in a nice clean hostel than a shabby hotel. (I prefer to rent an apartment, but that is only practical if we are in town for at least a week.) I know many people look down on sharing a room with strangers, but I don’t think it’s so bad. What I hate is staying in a dirty place with a moldy bathroom. Hosteling International usually have good accommodations. Mark and I try to stay at a hostel in the HI group whenever possible.

Most of what we save money on for this trip is long distance transportation. We mostly fly Ryan Air, Air Asia, and other discount airlines. It’s actually cheaper than taking a train or a bus. There are just a few rules to getting away with paying the least amount possible.

  1. Pack light.
    • Never have check-in luggage.
    • Make your carry-on as small as possible.
  2. Do the online self check-in.
    • Print out your own boarding pass or have it on your phone.
      • Each airport has its own rules. Some require you to have a printed pass others will allow you to just have it on your phone.
  3. Eat before your flight or bring your own food.
    • Buying food on the plane is expensive.
    • Some airlines like Air Asia say they do not allow you to bring your own food, but everyone does. I’ve never seen them do anything about it.
  4. Stop caring about where you sit.
    • Some discount airlines will seat you wherever and make you pay more to sit next to your friends or in a better seat.
    • Make yourself as comfortable as you can with snacks and movies on your phone and sit wherever they put you.
  5. Stop caring about when you fly
    • If you use google.com/flights/ you can look at the flight grid and pick the cheapest day to fly.
    • It might be cheaper to fly earlier in the day or on another day.
  6. Stop caring about where you fly
    • This one might be harder for people who aren’t traveling for a year.
    • Sometimes there are deals for certain destinations for reasons.


Italy

How to get there:

You can enter this country by land, water, or air.

Phone:

  • 113 – police
  • 115 – fire
  • 118 – first aid

Website:

Data:

Downloads:

Videos:

Books: 

Notes:

  • Many of the streets and walkways are paved in cobblestones making it harder to walk on with the wrong type of shoes.
  • Apparently, you can drink from any of the water fountains you see.
  • Watch out for pick-pockets.
  • Get your tickets ahead of time when going to see popular things.
  • You never know when you might what to check out a basilica. So, make sure to dress properly, or you won’t be let in.
    • Not shorts. Make sure that at least your knees are covered.
    • No sleeveless shirts.

Saint Mark’s Basilica

Basic Information

Website

Downloads:

Cost:

  • 5 € – Basilica
  • 8 € – Bell Tower

Hours:

    • 9:30 – 17:00

Video

Notes:


Basilica dei Frari

Basic Information

Website

Downloads:

Cost:

  • 3 €

Hours:

  • Su 13.00 – 18.00
  • M – Sa 9.00 – 18.00

Video

Notes:


Don’t Miss:

Map:

Posted in Italy, Venice | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Conspiracy

Posted by Heliocentrism on May 5, 2018

Sunday, October 29th – 31st, 2017

Bologna is a place that isn’t so much for sightseeing, but for eating. There are many dishes that are either famously from Bologna, like Bolognese sauce or baloney, or Bologna has made their special version of the recipe, as in the green lasagna or the tortellini in broth. I was fully expecting to eat my way through the city when, after a few meals, I realized that I just didn’t like Bolognese food. In fact, I hate it.

Don’t worry, I didn’t starve while I was in Bologna. There were many restaurants that served the Rome style versions of things, like carbonara pasta or carbonara tortellini. Mark, on the other hand, loved the Bolognese food. I would eat like a Roman and he would eat like a Bolognese.

But the food wasn’t the only let down in Bologna. We went there to hunt down a conspiracy theory which turned out to be pretty much… well not solved, but miss directed.

On June 27, 1980 Itavia Flight 870 going from Bologna to Palermo crashed into the Tyrrhenian Sea. There were no survivors. 81 people died.

Traffic control in Rome said that the plane just disappeared. It took several hours to find where the plane hit the water and many, many years to retrieve some portions of the plane.

Right off the bat, there was a mysterious phone call from an “insider” claiming lies were being told. It didn’t take long for people to not believe what the Italian government said. Many thought that a missile brought down the plane.

There were accusations thrown at the French military. Some thought Libya had something to do with it. Other’s said the UN was acting a bit shady. Some even thought that the Italian government had something to do with it. At one point, France was sued for misconduct but that suit went nowhere.

There was an investigation and it was concluded that an Italian missile took the plane down. The investigators stood by their report for a couple of days then retracted it when it was pointed out that there was no way to reach this or any conclusion with only the small percentage of the plane they had retrieved.

Years passed and the conspiracy festered. The family of the passengers who had died wanted answers. Another investigative team was assembled. This time, no one from the Italian government would be involved.

The new team started by looking for more of the plane. After finding that, they came to the conclusion that a bomb in a bathroom near the tail was what caused the plane crash. No French, UN, or Italian missile was to blame. But, few people believe this.

To recap, the conspiracy theory is that some government or government agency caused this. But I want to know why no one is wondering who put a bomb on this plane. Why was this plane blown up?


Italy

How to get there:

You can enter this country by land, water, or air.

Phone:

  • 113 – police
  • 115 – fire
  • 118 – first aid

Website:

Data:

Downloads:

Videos:

Books: 

Notes:

  • Many of the streets and walkways are paved in cobblestones making it harder to walk on with the wrong type of shoes.
  • Apparently, you can drink from any of the water fountains you see.
  • Watch out for pick-pockets.
  • Get your tickets ahead of time when going to see popular things.
  • You never know when you might what to check out a basilica. So, make sure to dress properly, or you won’t be let in.
    • Not shorts. Make sure that at least your knees are covered.
    • No sleeveless shirts.

Museum for the Memory of Ustica

Basic Information

Websites:

Cost:

  • free

Hours:

  • Tu, W, Th 15:00 – 18:00
  • Sa – Su 10:00 – 18:00
  • Closed Mondays

Videos:

Notes:

  • There is a pamphlet in English. Other than that, everything else is in Italian.

Archiginnasio of Bologna

Basic Information

Website

Cost:

  • 3 euros

Hours:

  • 9:00 – 19:00

Video

Notes:

  • Don’t Miss:
    • Anatomical Theatre
    • Stabat Mater Lecture hall
      • Eisenstein once gave a lecture on Relativity here.

Don’t Miss:

Map:

Posted in Bologna, Italy | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Galileo’s Middle Finger… and some other fingers and a tooth

Posted by Heliocentrism on April 30, 2018

Friday, October 27th – 28th, 2017

Florence was all about museums. We visited 3 museums in this town, The Museo Galileo, The Galeria Academiei, and the Uffizi Gallery. Most of the things you go to Florence to see are in one of these 3 museums. There are a few more Florentine museums, but we didn’t have time to see any more.

Galileo Galilei

The first was the Museo Galileo. There, we went to see Galileo’s telescopes and instruments, all the stuff that belonged to the Medici family, and of course Galileo’s middle finger. This museum came with a free Audio Guide app which you could download using their free wi-fi. On the app there was audio information on the more popular things, written information on everything, and videos that explained the science behind many of the instruments.

I don’t know how interesting the audio guide is, objectively. I was already keen on seeing most of the stuff on display, so I was willing to wade through facts and figures and I thought the audio guide was great. I’m not sure how I would have liked it if I just didn’t care so much about Galileo, his instruments, and pioneers of science. But, overall I thought the audio guide and the hands-on section did a good job keeping my interest.

The one thing I just could not turn away from for a long time was Santucci’s armillary sphere. It’s basically like that scaled version of the solar system you did as a project for science class in elementary school. Except, this one puts the earth at the center, instead of the sun. This makes the whole thing really, really complicated. It took 10 years to make and I’m not sure how long it took before it stopped functioning.

If it were heliocentric, the math would have been so much easier and Santucci could have whipped one up in a few weeks. But, he might have been arrested like Galileo was, so maybe this was better.

Next we visited the Galeria Academiei. We went just to see the David. I mean, if the David weren’t there, we would have never stepped foot in this museum. But, since we paid for tickets, we wanted to experience everything there was to see. So, we rented an audio guide for two and it quickly made us moan out of share boredom.

The audio guide was very informative, but it was dry. It never told us why we should care about the pieces we were looking at. What was the artist trying to convey? What was he or she living through? What was I meant to feel? I know nothing about art and I really need the audio guide to help me understand what is going on.

However, I did have the free audio guide I downloaded from Rick Steves’ website. It was not very long. It only covered the David, the prisoners, and some of the instruments. It was a vastly different experience. I went from feeling burdened that I had to walk through a museum to being delighted to see pieces of history with stories to tell.

When you’re at an art museum and see that the price of the audio guide is almost as much as the entrance tickets.

Last we went to the Uffizi. Honestly, we almost didn’t go there. We knew it was the place to be when travelling in Florence. But I think of myself as an art barbarian and didn’t want to waste money on this museum if the audio guide didn’t have good reviews. I couldn’t find reviews for the audio guide, since no one really does that sort of thing. But, in my search I found another Rick Steves’ audio guide for the Uffizi.

Steves doesn’t cover many of the things in the Uffizi, but he covers enough that I feel I got my money’s worth of enjoyment out of the museum. Steves does a great job at getting me to care about the works on display. While listening to his guide I understand why a work is important and sometimes, I even like the art.

Everyone has an audio guide, whether rented or downloaded.

Overall, the audio guide makes or breaks the museum. If the audio guide is bad, the museum will be boring and I will learn nothing. I think this is why I love the museums in London so much. They seem to understand this and put extra effort into making good audio guides. (So much so, that they tend to run out and people queue to get the next returned guide.)

That face you make when you learn what’s really going on in the painting, thanks to your audio guide.


Italy

How to get there:

You can enter this country by land, water, or air.

Phone:

  • 113 – police
  • 115 – fire
  • 118 – first aid

Website:

Data:

Downloads:

Videos:

Books: 

Notes:

  • Many of the streets and walkways are paved in cobblestones making it harder to walk on with the wrong type of shoes.
  • Apparently, you can drink from any of the water fountains you see.
  • Watch out for pick-pockets.
  • Get your tickets ahead of time when going to see popular things.
  • You never know when you might what to check out a basilica. So, make sure to dress properly, or you won’t be let in.
    • Not shorts. Make sure that at least your knees are covered.
    • No sleeveless shirts.

Museo Galileo

Basic Information

Website

Downloads:

Cost:

  • € 9.00

Hours:

  • 9:30 – 18:00

Videos:

Books:

Notes:


Galeria Academiei

Basic Information

Website

Cost:

  •  € 8,00
  •  € 6,00 – Audioguide
    • The Audio guide is very informative, but extraordinarily boring
    • Use the Rick Steve’s Audio guide instead.
      • It’s doesn’t have as much information, but it’s way more interesting.

Hours:

  • 8:15 – 18:20
  • Closed Mondays

Video

Notes:

  • The audio guide for this museum is great if you really want to know as much information as you can get. Unfortunately, it’s really boring. So, if you aren’t overly excited about the art presented here, you will find everything rather dull.
  • So, if you want all the information you can get, rent the audio guide. If not, download the free Rick Steve’s audio guide.
  • You can pay more to skip the line, but it is only worth it if the line is very very long.
    • When I went, it was around noon and the wait in line was about 30 minutes. We bought sandwiches and ate them while we waited in line.
  • Don’t Miss:
    • Michelangelo’s David

Uffizi Gallery

Basic Information

Website

Downloads:

Cost:

  • € 12.50

Hours:

  • 8:15 – 18:50

Video

Notes:


Don’t Miss:

Map:

Posted in Florence, Italy | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Pisa

Posted by Heliocentrism on April 25, 2018

Thursday, October 26th, 2017

So many people wanting a hi-5

Pisa is a pleasant little town with not much to do. Everything you will go to Pisa to see is set in a little square you can circumnavigate on foot in about 20 minutes. Also in the square are all the touts trying to get you to buy their non-sense. Right outside the square are many souvenir shops, cafes, and restaurants.

When we got to Pisa, I had the beginnings of a cold. A slight fever and a scratchy throat wasn’t bad enough to make me stay home, but I was glad to be in Pisa where there wasn’t a lot to do. We walked around taking photos of the leaning tower. Then we started taking photos of people doing weird poses next to the leaning tower.

We didn’t climb up the steps of the tower. This wasn’t because I was feeling under the whether. We just didn’t want to. It might sound strange to go all the way to Pisa, Italy and not climb the tower. But, we just did not want to. It seemed like a lot of work for very little pay off. Plus it cost €18. Maybe if we had a burning desire to be at the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, if the cost weren’t so high, if there was an elevator, or if I weren’t sick we might have done it. Instead we sat in the shade on ground level and stared up.

We did go into the cathedral. It was very nice inside. There was a €2 audio guide box that we listened to before walking around. It told us what to look for and explained the history of the church.

For lunch we found a grocery store and ordered a sandwich. We got some drinks, fruit, and snacks. We went back to the square and ate near the tower as we people-watched. It was a very relaxing day.


Italy

How to get there:

You can enter this country by land, water, or air.

Phone:

  • 113 – police
  • 115 – fire
  • 118 – first aid

Website:

Data:

Downloads:

Videos:

Books: 

Notes:

  • Many of the streets and walkways are paved in cobblestones making it harder to walk on with the wrong type of shoes.
  • Apparently, you can drink from any of the water fountains you see.
  • Watch out for pick-pockets.
  • Get your tickets ahead of time when going to see popular things.
  • You never know when you might what to check out a basilica. So, make sure to dress properly, or you won’t be let in.
    • Not shorts. Make sure that at least your knees are covered.
    • No sleeveless shirts.

Leaning Tower of Pisa

Basic Information

Website

 

Cost:

  • €15 + (booking fee if you buy it ahead of time)
  • You can buy various combo tickets of all the building and museums around the tower.

Hours:

  • 9:00 – 19:00
  • Closed Mondays

Video

Notes:

Map:

Posted in Italy, Pisa | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Things You Find in Churches

Posted by Heliocentrism on April 15, 2018

October 18th – 24th, 2017

The Pantheon

When we walked through the museums of Athens, I felt like Mark and I were going through dead people’s things. But in Rome, we passed that and just rummaged through the dead people themselves. There were many churches that had corpses of nuns on display or skeletons clutching prayer books. We didn’t go to all of them for a lack of time. But, that didn’t mean we didn’t see some interesting things.

The Mouth of Truth

We went to see the Mouth of Truth at the Basilica of Saint Mary in Cosmedin. This disc was made famous by some movie I’ve never heard of. I know of the Mouth of Truth, but not of the movie that made it famous.

To get to the point where you can stick your hand into the mouth, which may have been some sort of drain cover in the 2nd century, Mark and I had to stand in line for about half an hour. Closer to the end of the line is a donation box so confident that you will add to the collection, that it thanks you for your contribution before you even check your pockets for change.

St. Valentine’s skull

After you’ve snapped your photo you are led into the church. Right away you are presented with relics. One of them is St. Valentine’s skull.

We came to stick our hands into a pagan disc’s mouth and we were shown the skull of a saint. But wait; there’s more! For another donation, we could see the crypt of some pope name Hadrian or Adrian. His name kept changing on the information board for his crypt. Oh yes, we donated and took the creepy stairs down to the cold and dark crypt.

Hadrian

I was disappointed. I thought we were going to see Hadrian, the emperor who couldn’t stop building things. We visited his mausoleum earlier that day, only to find that he was no longer there. Well, he wasn’t here either, because this Hadrian was a pope not an emperor.

At San Pietro in Vincoli we saw a sculpture done by Michelangelo. It is of Moses with horns. The horns come about from someone’s mistranslation of a verse in the bible.

Also in the same church are some chains welded by St. Peter. I don’t completely understand how he welded the chains, since the joining happened long after Peter’s death… But, whatever.

At the Pantheon, which is now a Catholic church, we found the crypt of Raphael and the women for whom many think the Margherita pizza is named. Her crypt is behind the big purple one of her husband’s. He was some sort of king of Italy. Who remember’s now? He was some guy married to a woman for whom a famous pizza was named.


Italy

How to get there:

You can enter this country by land, water, or air.

Phone:

  • 113 – police
  • 115 – fire
  • 118 – first aid

Website:

Data:

Downloads:

Videos:

Books: 

Notes:

  • Many of the streets and walkways are paved in cobblestones making it harder to walk on with the wrong type of shoes.
  • Apparently, you can drink from any of the water fountains you see.
  • Watch out for pick-pockets.
  • Get your tickets ahead of time when going to see popular things.
  • You never know when you might what to check out a basilica. So, make sure to dress properly, or you won’t be let in.
    • Not shorts. Make sure that at least your knees are covered.
    • No sleeveless shirts.

Transportation

  • To use the bus, tram, or metro, you will need to buy a ticket.
    • For the metro you can buy the pass at the metro station.
    • For the bus or train, you will need to buy the pass at a shop that sells bus tickets. They are usually the same place where you can buy cigarettes or lotto tickets.
    • The metro pass and the bus pass are the same thing.
      • The pass lasts for 100 minutes from the time they are activated.
      • They are activated when you scan them to get into the metro or on the bus.
      • They allow only one scan into the metro, but unlimited bus rides for the 100 minutes.
        • e.g., You can do a round-trip by bus, but not by metro (if it’s done within 100 minutes).

Colosseum

Basic Information

Website

Downloads:

Cost:

Hours:

  • 8:30 – 19:00

Videos:

Books:

Notes:


Capitoline Museums

Basic Information

Website

Cost:

  •  € 15,00
  • Included in the Roma Pass
    • € 9,50
  • Video Guide – € 6.00

Hours:

  • 9:30 – 19:30

Notes:


Castel Sant’Angelo

Basic Information

Website

Downloads:

Cost:

  •  € 14,00
  • Included in the Roma Pass
    • Concession – € 7.00

Hours:

  • 9:00 – 19:30

Notes:

  • You can use their wifi to download the audio guide, but it’s faster to just use your data.
  • The audio guide’s script is written on all the walls, with no extra information.

Le Domus Romane di Palazzo Valentini

Basic Information

Website

Cost:

  •  € 12,00
  • Included in the Roma Pass
    • Concession – € 8.00

Hours:

  • 9:00 – 18:30

Notes:

  • This can only be seen with a guided tour, which must be book ahead of time.
    • You can book online, or just drop by if you’re in the area.
    • If you book online there is an extra €1.50 fee per ticket.
  • I highly recommend doing this tour.
    • The tours is of one ancient Roman house and a room in an adjacent home.
    • There is a lot of walking and standing.
  • They use lasers to recreate rooms of a house as it would have looked in Roman times.
  • The tour lasts for about 1.5 hours.
  • You cannot take photos inside.
  • You are not allowed to bring big bags on the tour, but there is a locker you can use.

Trajan’s Market

Basic Information

Website

Cost:

  • € 11,50
  • Included in the Roma Pass
    • Concession – € 9.50
  • Audio guide – € 6,00.

Hours:

  • 9:30 – 19:30

Notes:

  • Unless you get an audio guide, the information is mostly in Italian.

National Roman Museum

Basic Information

Website

Cost:

Hours:

  • 9:00 – 18:00
  • Closed Mondays

Notes:

  • These are 4 museums for the price of one.

Villa Torlonia

Basic Information

Website

Cost:

Hours:

  • 9.00 – 19.00
  • Closed Mondays

Video

Notes:

  • This was Mussolini’s bunker.
  • Sometimes the bunker is not available for viewing.

Dont’t Miss:

Map:

Posted in Italy, Rome | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Al Italia

Posted by Heliocentrism on August 21, 2010

April 01 – 07, 2005

All Pictures

Young and sassy

He’s going to die, so we should leave the city.

I planned this trip… well, sort of. This was when I learned backpacking motto number one: things very rarely go as planned.

We were supposed to stay in Rome for most of the trip. I wanted to see every square inch of the Italian capital and Vatican City. When we were finished with them, maybe we would move south to some little Italian town. Or we could just stay at the beach near Rome.

The first and second day we toured Rome. We visited the Colosseum, Spanish Steps, and many more must-sees. At the end of the second day the clerk at our hostel told us that if we wanted to see any of the museums in Vatican City we should go tomorrow. “The Pope is about to die and when he does everything will be closed.”

The night before Pope John-Paul II died

The next day we ran through several churches and museums in and around St. Peter’s Square. It all happened so quickly that I didn’t have time to take in much of it. That night we caught a train to Naples.

My guess is that the Pope died that night because there was a lot of chaos on the train. We tried to buy tickets, but the counters were closed. We boarded the train anyway because someone told us that we could buy our tickets on the train. Normally there is an official who comes by to check your ticket or sell you one. No one came by that night and we rode for free.

Just laying in the middle of the road taking a photo.

See Naples and die

We didn’t actually do much in Naples. We planned to, but never got around to it. Other things just called out louder for our attention.

First we went to Pompeii. It was very sad. There are many casts made from the bodies of victims. Looking at their very expressive body language you can see how afraid they were. There was one of a child who made him or herself into a ball. I could almost hear that kid crying.

Going to the hot spring!

For most of the vacation we were on Ischia or Capri, but mainly Ischia. At Sorgeto beach on the island of Ischia there is a most wonderful, free hot spring. I soaked there for hours at a time.

Water comes from a volcano and leaks out of earth boiling hot then it mixes with the ice cold water of the Tyrrhenian Sea. The big rocks at the beach can be used to make seats and to form a tub. Bathers move the rocks around to create higher or lower tub walls and let in more or less sea water. This adjusts the temperature of the natural tub.

There was a restaurant nearby that sold overpriced food, but it had the only shade for miles. If you go, make sure to bring plenty of water, food, and maybe a beach umbrella.

2 more days in Italy!

No, no, not cancelled… transferred

We bought our round trip tickets on Ryan Air. It’s a great airline for cheap flights around Europe. The trouble with this no-frills airline is that there are no guarantees.

The day before our flight back to Manchester (well Liverpool, then we would take the train into Manchester) we spent the night at Ciampino Airport. We tried to stay in the arrival area because it had better seats, but it was closed off. No one would say why, but we figured that it had something to do with the Pope’s funeral.

As we were moving over to the departure section my travel partner thought he saw John Kerry. At that time John Kerry was running for President of the US. I thought my friend was just being too wishful. Why would John Kerry be in a tiny run down airport like Ciampino?  Later I found out that Ciampino was where all the heads of state flew into Rome for the Pope’s funeral.

The following morning, when it was time to check-in, we were told that we wouldn’t make the flight.

Me – Why not?

Clerk – Because it’s too far away.

Me – What?

Clerk – You are at the wrong airport.

Me – But this is the airport in which we arrived.

I looked at my flight confirmation paper. Sure enough, it said I would depart from Ciampino. “Look,” I showed the guy my paper, “it’s says Ciampino.”

Clerk – Yes, but that changed. Ciampino is closed for the next week. See the sign?

He pointed to a small white board sign that listed several flights and stated that they are now leaving from some other airport. We had spent the night at the airport in the departure section and we never saw this sign.

Me – How long has that sign been here?

Clerk -I put it out 5 minutes ago.

Me – Where is this new airport?

He took out a little map of Italy and pointed to a city… on the other side of the country.

Me – That’s not in Rome!

Clerk – No. That’s Pescara. You’ll need to take the train.

Me – So. I’ve missed my flight! How am I going to get back to England? I have class on Monday.

I asked the man if I could at least get a refund on my flight so that maybe I could have some money to pay for another one. He told me that RyanAir only gives refunds for cancelled flights.

Me – But the flight was cancelled!

Clerk – No, ma’am. This flight was not cancelled. It was transferred.

My friend and I asked to speak with the manager. We explained that we were at the airport since the evening before and there was no indication of the change. The manager, in his Italian fashion, said, “No problem. I’ll put you on tomorrow’s flight.” He printed out new flight confirmations for us and even gave us directions to find the train station.

I was very mad until I got on the train and looked out the window. Italy is a very beautiful country and now I was going to be able to see the other side.

All Pictures


The Colosseum

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 41°53’24.8″N 12°29’32.3″E

Go to Colosseo on Linea B

Website:

Cost:

  • €12 (including a €3 exhibition charge) standard,
  • €7.50 reduced rate.

Hours:

  • 8:30 –  one hour before sunset,
  • Open every day except Christmas day and January 1st.

Saint Peter’s Square

How to get there:

  • 41°54’07.9″N 12°27’26.4″E

By Bus –

  • From Central Rome take bus #64
  • Once in Vatican City, everything is in walking distance.

Website:

Downloads

e-mail: stpetersbasilica@gmail.com

Cost:

  • Free
  • The Museums and tours will cost money

Hours:

  • St. Peter’s Square is always available.

Notes:

  • Some of the churches and attractions in this city have a dress code.
    • Please have your shoulders covered,
    • Don’t wear shorts or shirts that are too short,
    • and take your hat off

Naples 

How to get there:

By train:

By Boat:

Website:

Notes:

  • Naples is the city that we used to get to Pompeii, Ischia, and Capri.

Pompeii 

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 40°45’02.8″N 14°29’22.1″E

By Train –

Phone: +39 081 8575331

Website:

Cost:

  • If you are an EU citizen and you are under 18 or over 65 you can get in for free.
  • € 11.00

Hours:

  • November – March, 8:30 – 17:00 (last admission 15:30)
  • April – October,  8:30 – 19:30 (last admission 18:00)

Videos: 

Notes:

  • Drink lots of water. It’s a lot of walking.
  • Bring your own toilet paper.

Ischia 

How to get there

By Boat from Naples:

Website:

Notes:

There are many hot springs on this island.

  • I went to the one called Sorgeto Hot Springs in Panza.
  • Boiling hot water from the volcano mixes with the freezing water of the sea to make a very nice natural hot tub.
  • To get there take a bus to Panza and follow the sign towards the beach. It’s about a 1km walk. There many steps that lead to the beach.
  • The hot spring is free to use.
  • Bring your own water and food. There is a restaurant there, but it doesn’t have a wide selection, it’s quite overpriced, and it’s not always open.
  • I read somewhere that people sometimes bring potatoes and eggs to cook in the hot water.
There were many movies that were filmed or partly filmed on this island. Among them are:

Capri

How to get there:

By Boat from Naples –

Website:

Notes:

  • The Blue Grotto, though really beautiful, isn’t worth it if you pay too much. The whole thing will last about 5 minutes.
  • The Chair Lift to the top of Monte Solaro is completely worth it. Even if you, like me, are afraid of heights the view is just too good to pass up!

Pescara

How to get there:

By Plane –

By Train –

Website

Notes:

  • Every July Pescara holds an International Jazz Festival called Pescara Jazz.

Map:


Posted in Capri, Ischia, Italy, Naples, Panza, Pescara, Pompeii, Rome, Vatican City | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

 
%d bloggers like this: