Visiting beautiful Monte Terminillo

For today’s road-trip, we are going to explore Monte Terminillo!

terminillo37

Terminillo is a location somewhere in central Italy where it is a popular destination during the winter for skiing. Looking through a couple of pictures through google, it looks like a winter wonderland. There isn’t any snow during the summer but the temperature there is still cool and refreshing regardless. It’s a good getaway from the warm and stuffy Rome summer.

It’s a long drive to reach there, approximately two hours. Regardless, it wasn’t dreary at all for me and instead, I was very excited since I’ve never really been to the mountains before.

As we approached Via Salaria, a road connecting to Terminillo, it was already starting to look quite charming with the farm areas and wooden huts.

A cow at Terminillo

And as we started to enter the mountainous area, I saw a number of cool looking signs. There were also yellow and black poles at the side of the roads, indicating how deep the snow was, during the winter.

Road signs at Terminillo
Road signs at Terminillo
Check out the cow sign, poor thing got shot

But it was when I finally got deeper in and saw that we were rather high above, was when I started to really get excited.

Terminillo

Coupled with the beautiful day that we were having, the view was gorgeous. And for the next half an hour or so, I was just content to look out of the window and admire the picturesque scene before me.

Terminillo

There was even a curious scene of a group of people suntanning on the grass of the mountains.

People sunbathing in Terminillo

I even spotted out a sort of mausoleum. Cart says that this was a typical graveyard area for people in small towns. What was interesting to me was that, because of the stacked formation, it looked quite like a condominium.

Graves in Terminillo

After the long drive we were feeling rather lethargic and peckish. So we stopped by a little town called Albaneto and entered a little tavern called La Tana Del Lupo.

Albaneto
Only 94 inhabitants?

It was an interesting place, this tavern of wolves. The wooden build made it look charming. And apparently, it was a popular place to go according to the signed pictures on the wall. It was even the place for the Italian Harley Davidson group to be at, judging by the number of bikers that I saw having lunch there and through the plaque that I saw as we passed by.

La Tana Del Lupo

And everywhere I saw, there were quite large groups of people around having their meal. And I got to see why later.

I was stunned when our food arrived. The food portions was huge! The appetizers alone was three kinds and I was stuffed even before reaching the main course. When my gnocchi arrived, I nearly fainted.

My lunch at La Tana Del Lupo

Needless to say, I hardly touched my gnocchi and felt bad about the food wastage. Next time, I’ll try to remember to always carry a Tupperware with me.

To walk away the stuffed feeling, we then stopped by a little town called Leonessa.

Leonessa

It’s a really pretty town. Because cars are not able to enter inside the premises. Visitors have to leave their cars outside the walls and explore the area by foot.

The first thing that came to my mind was how charming the area looked like. There were cobblestones footpath and with people going by, looking very relaxed and friendly in their little shops.

A door in Leonessa

I quite like the design of the doors in Leonessa – it looked very historical.

We passed by about 3 different types of churches, each one rather decadent inside. I was a little worried about being rude and taking pictures inside since there were people praying, but do I regret at not taking the picture of the gorgeous ceiling and fresco of some of the churches.

Leonessa

It was a very idyllic area all around. And everywhere I go, there were postcard worthy scenes – like this building with the mountains in the background. I think that people living here are very lucky to wake up to see such a lovely view every morning.

Leonessa

Leonessa

As we left the town of Leonessa, at the corner of the entrance, Cart and I noticed a little stall selling potatoes. We bought a sack anyway and found out later that the potatoes are bright yellow inside. So far, we’ve made a couple of dishes with them and needless to say, they were pretty scrumptious.

Potato kiosk at Leonessa

Finally we went back on our road trip and drove to the highest part that the road could take us. It wasn’t the peak, however. I suppose that visitors would need to take the cable, should they want to go any higher.

An unused cable in Terminillo

We parked our car and went for a short hike. As we were probably the only ones there, it felt peaceful and quiet. Standing there, I could see from miles and miles away.

It was almost sunset, and the mountain was bathed in golden light. From the distance you could see the soft hazy formation of the other mountains nearby. And it was so cool, literally! The temperature here is roughly a fresh 20 degrees Celsius.

Summer Temperature in Terminillo

With the wind caressing my face, I was just marvelling and feeling very blessed that I had the opportunity to see this.

It was such a spectacular day for me seeing all the gorgeous natural beauty. Even the stone formation here fascinated me so.

Terminillo

Cart is amused by my antics and thinks that there are even nicer looking mountains. But for me, I think its such a pretty place anyway.

And check out our curious friend.

Super Squirrel at Terminillo

Why, its super squirrel! Squirrel crasher doesn’t have a thing on him!

Visiting charming Castelli Romani

15th of August is a special day in Italy. Italians call it the Ferragosto and it is a holiday all throughout the country. And on this day, Cart and I decided to take the day off to visit Castelli Romani.

Nemi

Literally translated, Castelli Romani means Castles of Rome. Over here, there are a group of towns and the area is unique for its volcanic crater. I was excited to explore the area after the trip to Bracciano where coincidentally, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes got married. But first, Cart and I needed to fill our engines.

We stopped by this quaint little place called Trattoria Dei Cacciatori. This place was special to Cart because his family likes eating there and it was famous for its game.

Trattoria Dei Cacciatori

The place was really crowded. We were very lucky to have an empty table. As we sat down, I looked around, there were many families having a meal together.

Having a meal in a trattoria is very interesting. Its a small family owned place where the foods served are different every day according to the season. How it works here is that the cameriere will verbally list to you what they are serving and you choose among the list. I quite like this method actually because there is no need to boggle the head with a menu. Just give me my choices and I choose one. Very simple!

We started with this pasta with funghi and romano cheese.

Trattoria Dei Cacciatori
I will box anyone who pronounces this as funn-ghaii

Cart enjoyed his pasta very much since he’s always iffy about pasta being al dente. I like how fresh tasting the mushrooms were.

Later we had a side dish of Melanzane alla Parmigiana which I dare say is the best one that I’ve ever had. It was so soft and tasty that I gobbled it up and forgot to take a picture of it!

We ended our meal with tiramisu. The original recipe should not have alcohol in them which makes Cart wonder why there were so many restaurants that uses them in tiramisu.

Trattoria Dei Cacciatori

In any case, one bite and I was in heaven … mmmm… it was orgasmic! I can has moar??

By the end of the meal, both Cart and I were so stuffed that we felt sleepy. And we decided to take a walk around the area. Unfortunately, being summer, it was still uncomfortably warm and I felt sticky and didn’t feel like taking a lot of pictures. Sometimes I wonder if I’ve lost my tolerance to the Singapore heat. I hope that I’d be fine when I return back to Singapore in December.

Driving through Nemi
Notice that we drive on the right?

We then decided to drive through a town called Nemi which was nearby. Nemi is special because of the lake near it.

Nemi Strawberries

Because of the volcanic craters, Nemi is also famous for its unique strawberries. The first time I encountered it, I was curious because it was so tiny! Regardless, it was sweet and ripe and really good in my gelato!

We stopped a while by the roadside to take a look at the beautiful lake in front of us. It was really a sight to behold.

Nemi

Its really gorgeous. The blue of the lake, coupled with the gentle breeze made it feel so tranquil and serene. People living around this area are so lucky!

In the distance, I could spot out a yacht going by.

Nemi

My gosh, how nice it was to just go sailing and enjoy the breeze.

I also saw something in the air. Was it parachuting? Parasailing? Para-para sakura?

Nemi

Regardless of what it was, it looked like a lot of fun. Gosh! I wanna do water sports! Its been such a long time. The last time that I did something like that was in Thailand with Juli and Hema some years back.

I hope that there is something like that in Italy too and hopefully, doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.

In any case, as we approached the town of Nemi, it was crowded! Cart couldn’t find parking anywhere! There was no parking even some kilometers away from the town. Oh my gosh. Apparently, this was THE place to be during Ferragosto.

Nemi

Reluctantly, we had to leave Nemi. Maybe we’ll be here again another day.

Its so gothic in Quartiere Coppede

Recently Cart and I had a walk in a little place in Rome called Quartiere Coppede.

It is an interesting place filled with gothic looking buildings.

Quartiere Coppede

At first glance, I thought that the area was a palatial building judging by the style. It looked as if it was built during the dark ages, opulent and thick styled decorations all around the angular building. I could even imagine several guardsmen on horses trotting through.

Thief : The Dark Project would totally be at home here.

Quartiere Coppede

Surprisingly, the buildings were constructed in the 1920s which is relatively quite modern compared to many of the builds in Central Rome.

Turns out that the designer of the building, Gino Coppede, whom had an eccentric and over the top style, wanted to have something unique which certainly reflects on his last architecture.

Check out this building below, the curved entrance looks as if it was going to draw you in. It was actually a little bit spooky.

Quartiere Coppede

It was then that Cart told me that we were in the same location where Dario Argento filmed his horror movie, Inferno. We were in the same place where a movie was filmed. Cool!

Looking through a couple of youtube videos, it looked really B-Grade horror though. Which is not so bad for me since I actually like shows like Tales from the Crypt.

Quartiere Coppede

By the way, Dario Argento is an Italian film director who is well known for his influence in horror films. One of the films that he produced is Suspiria, which is voted one of the top scariest movies of all time.

Growing up, horror movies was a staple for me. There was a time when my family and friends would have a little gathering watching movies like Sundel Bolong with the queen of horror, Suzanna.

Nowadays I dont have the strength to watch horror shows anymore though ever since watching the Japanese version of the Ring and The Grudge. Because of that, I couldn’t sleep for about 3 days. Yeah, I’m weak, I know

Anyway, I’m actually feeling a little queasy right now so I’ll get back to Quartiere Coppede.

Quartiere Coppede

Regardless of how gothic that the area looked like, I think that its a rather charming place for a photoshoot. I can imagine a bridal photoshoot going on here already. Would be very lovely, don’t you think?

Quartiere Coppede

I wish I was a good photographer

And to end this post, I’ll put a picture which is completely unrelated

Villa Borghese

A very pretty sunset at Villa Borghese

The search for Ewan Mcgregor in Castel Sant Angelo

August is the warmest periods in Rome. With temperatures soaring to almost 40 degrees celcius, the norm for many Romans are to head off for vacation. But at the same time there are a couple of events going about called the Estate Romana. And though it was a balmy evening last week, I really enjoyed myself exploring the passageways at Castel Sant Angelo with Cart and his friends.

Rinaz at Castel Sant Angelo

Castel Sant Angelo is a fortress filled with weaponry. There is a long connecting passageway from here to Saint Peter’s Square. Cart tells me that the pope could run to it for protection from enemies the during times of emergencies such as the war.

But with Angels and Demons fresh in my head, I was on a personal quest to find the insanely hensem Camerlengo Ewan Mcgregor.

There was already a crowd building up at the entrance of Castel Sant Angelo, but after queuing up for a while, we finally headed towards the passageway. I was excited. Initially I wanted to take a video of the exploration ala tv-documentary style. But it was impossible as it was really quite dark inside. Ahem. One would have thought to install some lights inside with the budget that they had.

Rinaz at Castel Sant Angelo

And yet, it was rather interesting walking through the passageway. It was quite easy to imagine oneself as royalty during the 18th century getting through the areas. Just try to ignore the throngs of other people passing through, taking pictures and whatnots

Rinaz at Castel Sant Angelo

The first part of the passageway was sheltered and quite dark and the only source of illumination was from the lights outside. Do be careful when you’re here!

After a short walk, we reached the open part of the passageway. And I was a little surprised. What the movie doesn’t explain is that there are housing really close by the passageways. It was so close that I can peek through the window and see what the occupants are having for dinner. I wonder if they feel intruded with so many gawking people looking in.

Rinaz at Castel Sant Angelo

Above is a picture of a house that got destroyed after the antimatter bomb exploded. And then, I quickly looked around. This must be the spot where the assassin climbs out of the passageway into the streets below.

Rinaz at Castel Sant Angelo

It looked eerily similar. The sights were the same, the streets was the same … but where are you Ewan Mcgregor? And are you sure that your assassin would be able to climb out of the passageway undetected? It’s always crowded with people here.

Rinaz at Castel Sant Angelo

Anyway, a bit more walking and we reached as far as we could go at the passageway. Any further, we’d be chided by that dude sitting there in the corner. But what a shame though. I’m really curious to know how it was like walking all the way to Piazza San Pietro.

Rinaz at Castel Sant Angelo

We turned back and returned to Castel Sant Angelo. When we reached there, there were a number of buskers performing.

Rinaz at Castel Sant Angelo

We say a number of acts, such as tapdancing ladies, a jazz singer, some comedian guy who wasnt really all that funny. And this fire eating act. This guy is probably praying that he doesnt burn his luxurious hair.

We then walked down below to see the prisons. Interestingly, the temperature got cooler as we went deeper below. It was like a natural air conditioning.

Rinaz at Castel Sant Angelo

What was interesting about the prison is that the entry was so tiny that I had to bend down just to get in. This was rather puzzling to me as Europeans are rather large size. Alessandro, Cart’s friend postulated that the doors were small possibly as to make it easier to defend should there be fights happening.

Rinaz at Castel Sant Angelo

I do wonder how really tall people get in and out of these.

We then reached a room where there were many jars such as these although I’m not too certain what the function of these barrels are? Are they toilets? Where the 40 thieves hid to assassinate Ali Baba? Alessandro thinks that they are used to store grains and food.

Rinaz at Castel Sant Angelo

At length, we headed up to the top of Castel Sant Angelo. It was nice and breezy here and you could see heaps of monuments around. San Pietro at the distance, the Vittorio Emmanuele II in the corner, the night scenes and lights outside – looking at all the sights makes me understand why Rome is dubbed the eternal city.

Rinaz at Castel Sant Angelo

And here is an angel making shish kebab.

Rinaz at Castel Sant Angelo

I’m kidding!

The angel statue was conceived when Pope Gregory I saw the Archangel Michael appearing and putting the sword back into the scabbard. And it was prophesied that it was the end of the pestilence.

And that marks the end of our exploration. I had such a lovely evening roaming around the different areas in Castel Sant Angelo. But unfortunately for my feet, it was screaming out in pain from all the vigorous walking.

Rinaz at Castel Sant Angelo

But it was worth it, even if I didn’t get to see Ewan Mcgregor. Where are you Obi Wan? I hope that we shall meet … one day

A day at Piazza San Pietro

August marks one of the most warmest period in Italy. Cart warned me about temperatures soaring to about 40 degrees Celsius. Madness! With this comes a sort of tradition in Rome for its inhabitants to go on vacation during these times to find respite.

One of the popular destinations are the beach. Italians seem to love to tan! And you’d see loads of brown-skin Italians going by. But I still can’t get used to seeing Caucasians as dark as or even darker than I am.

Rinaz at the Sports Center in Roma 12 Italy

It’s funny how when in the first three months, I don’t feel like going out because of the cold, nowadays I’d just hide away at home from the scorching heat. Hence, its a great time for some backdated posts! And today, lets explore Saint Peter’s Square or also known as Piazza San Pietro.

Piazza San Pietro

When we hosted Jerrick in March, we decided to head over to Piazza San Pietro on a Sunday afternoon. Although I’ve already been here, it still amazes me at how large and opulent the place was.

Piazza San Pietro

It makes me wonder, how on earth was this build constructed? Considering that when it was designed in the late 1600s, building technology was not so advanced. Just carrying the sheer amount of marble alone on a horse and carriage is a Herculean feat.

Piazza San Pietro

I spotted a couple of Swiss Guards outside the build to protect the Pope.

Swiss Guards at Piazza San Pietro

Cart tells me an interesting information about Swiss Guards – it was a requirement for them to be Swiss, Catholic and between 19 to 30 years old. But nowadays, I suppose that their function is more as a decorational tradition since the pope has another set of bodyguards. I even saw a couple of tourists trying to persuade the Swiss Guards to pose and take pictures with them. You cant do that!

Entering San Pietro requires a number of rules to be fulfilled. One of them being that the visitor must be decently dressed. Not such a problem for me since I was all bundled up in the semi winter weather.

Piazza San Pietro

There was also a queue that you had to get in where they will do a metal detector check and x-ray bag checks. I was unfortunately carrying a small bottle of tabasco sauce that day and the guard was looking at the screen and then me quizzedly.

Luckily for me, I passed through. Phew!

Piazza San Pietro

I guess it was rather fortunate for us to go to San Pietro on a Sunday since there was a mass. I’ve never seen a mass at San Pietro before.

Piazza San Pietro

If it was opulent outside, the inside was extremely grand to me. Everywhere you walk, there were always be something to see – be it a fresco or a decoration. One big mistake that many tourists do is that they just walk through quickly. Slow down and really take a look at these crafts. Cart tells me that San Pietro is never completed anyway, as in the build is always ever expanding.

Piazza San Pietro

Piazza San Pietro

Similar to the Santa Sabina Church that Cart and I visited in Circo Massimo, there were tombs dedicated to the popes in San Pietro. To be honest, I find it a little bit creepy.

I finally saw a working confessional booth

Piazza San Pietro

It probably is not such a big deal. But the only ones that I’ve seen are the ones from television. In any case, we reached the area where the mass was.

Piazza San Pietro

It was cordoned with a velvet rope. I wanted to go in and take a closer look but Cart doesn’t seem to be comfortable with the idea since the three of us weren’t Catholics. So we looked from afar. I couldn’t see anything.

At length, there were a couple of men in black suits cordoning us as the mass was going to do a procession. I quickly readied my camera.

Okay, it wasn’t that long, but it was still rather interesting to see. Cart tells me that the procession was according to age, youngest first and the eldest are at the back.

All in all, it was a pretty cool day. I quite enjoyed myself 🙂

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A day in Bracciano where Tomkat got married and I didnt even know it!

I was at my in law’s place when I noticed a Geography book on the table. Flipping it open, I saw various maps and was trying to spot Capri – A place where Cart and I visited some years ago.

Somewhere in the corner, my eyes were drawn to a large lake on the left which was not too far away from Rome.


View Larger Map

As the trip to Capri took us about 5 hours, I asked Cart how long it would take to go to Lake Bracciano. Somewhere along the conversation, Cart actually suggest that we would go there!

Hence, last Monday, being a holiday in Rome due to the Patrons Santi Pietro e Paolo, Cart and I went to lake Bracciano.

It took us about less than an hour to reach there by car. Already I was amazed to see this charming view in front of me.

Bracciano, Italy

Cart told me me that that was a common sight. In every region in Italy, the highest peak usually has a castle on it and villages surrounding it.

Bracciano, Italy

We took a short walk towards the castle. The housing area looked quite lovely with the slopes making the staircases look uneven. I quite like the old look and feel of the area.

Bracciano, Italy

We stopped by this small family run restaurant to have a quick lunch where I had a nice plate of Pasta alla Pescatora which was made of various type of seafood in tomato sauce.

Pasta Alla Pescatore

Cart on the other hand had Pasta with truffles and after our lunch, we headed to Castle Odeschalchi which was just a few minutes away by foot. The gates were closed and we realised that we needed to have a ticket to have a guided tour inside the castle.

Castello Odescalchi, Italy

It was such a beautiful place and it was easy to imagine the kings and queens walking up and down this path. The view of the lake was just breathtaking and postcard perfect.

Castello Odescalchi, Italy

It was interesting going through the castle, completely immersed in the feeling of the medieval vibe of the place. I liked looking at the furnitures on display that were actually used during those times.

Unfortunately, guests were not allowed to take pictures inside the castle, so I am unable to share it on this blog. Nevertheless, the guide was retelling about the history of the castle, and there was one that was extremely memorable to me.

Castello Odescalchi, Italy

She showed us a bedroom where the daughter of the Duke, Lady Isabella slept. It was said that she had many lovers. And after a night of passion, she would lead them to a room nearby and then push him down a well, full of spikes and blades.

Castello Odescalchi, Italy

And before we knew it, we were lead out of the castle and the door was promptly shut. While I enjoyed the tour, I wish it wasn’t so rushed.

Cart and I went back to the car and headed to the lake next, which was just a few minutes drive away. If it looked quite lovely in the map, it looks even lovelier to be seen in real life.

Castello Odescalchi, Italy

There were a number of people suntanning and taking a dip in the water. A number were boating and playing with water rides. It kind of reminded me when I was a kid when I lived in Jurong. Lakeside, and was always full of water rides.

Lago Bracciano, Italy

Its so peaceful. Even with the fairly large amount of people there, it was very tranquil just to have the wind in my face and looking at the smooth waves on the water, which by the way, is interestingly clear!

Lago Bracciano, Italy

I hugged Cartcart since Braccia means hug in Italian and as a sidenote, this is a nice site to make Abbracci cookies.

After the walk along the promenade, Cart and I decided to stop by for a gelato and that was when I spotted this :

Lago Bracciano, Italy

I didn’t know that Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes got married here. In fact, I didn’t even know that I was in the same castle where they got married. I wonder why the guide didn’t mention this to us.

Celebrating Cart’s birthday in Garbatella

It was Cart’s birthday last Friday. It was also the first time that we spent his birthday together in 4 years. Hence it was a special day indeed for the both of us.

We decided to head to Potpourri in Garbatella which is a some minutes away from home.

Mirage

On an unrelated note, I find it interesting that the road looked wet, but when we went closer, its gone!

We first went here with a group of friends some months ago, and though I thought the food wasn’t that extraordinary, I was looking forward to satisfying my meat cravings.

Garbatella is an interesting place for me. For one thing, the style of the buildings are a lot different from the ones you’d see in central Rome.

Mirage
A house in Garbatella

The buildings are quite charming. The doors and windows were smaller and the floors were not as tall. It was as if, it was a large sized doll house. I would have liked to take more pictures of the houses, but it was dinner time and almost everyone was at home. I could see them peering at me through the windows wondering what the heck I was doing.

And after a short walk, we soon we entered Potpourri, the restaurant. As it was Friday evening, it was a lot livelier than when we first went here. Being summer, there were a number of people having dinner at the terrace.

For appetizers, Cart had the falafel while I had the Baccalà. A baccalà is salted codfish which is deep fried in batter.

Falafel in Potpourri, Garbatella, Rome, Italy

I didn’t realise how freshly fried the food were that I burned the roof of my tongue when I bit in my appetizers. Ouch! But they were really really good.

And for our mains, Cart had the Vegetable Couscous

Couscous in Potpourri, Garbatella, Rome, Italy

This was so flavourful to me. Though it looks like curry, it’s not. The taste is milder than curry but it was just as wonderful, the mix of potatoes, eggplants, carrots, chickpeas, the seasoning, the saffron. It was so tasty that Cart had a second helping.

Kebab in Potpourri, Garbatella, Rome, Italy

I had the Kebab. The first time that I had this I was a little puzzled as usually we’d eat kebabs rolled up in a pita bread. Here, the bread was separate in a basket. While I was not too impressed with the kebab the first time that I was there, I absolutely loved the kebab that evening. It was not as oily, the meat was tender and juicy and had a generous amount of tomato and spices. Even by the time I was full, I stuffed myself to finish it. Didn’t want to waste it!

It was just wonderful! And I enjoyed my dinner tremendously. I cant wait to come here again!

Feeling completely stuffed, Cart and I decided to walk around Garbatella to ease the overeating feeling. Moreover, its an interesting place to see, you’d see murals such as these

Murals in Garbatella, Rome, Italy

I like the message at the end of this wall, it said, “you are not alone”

Murals in Garbatella, Rome, Italy

To what I know of, Garbatella is an area where many supported the left party. Hence, the political murals scattered all around. In fact, we stumbled upon an abandoned left party headquarters. It all seemed very Che Guevara to me.

Also, there is a TV drama in Italy called, I Cesaroni. I used to like the series as it showcased a plentiful of Rome’s sceneries. I had fun trying to spot out the different locations in the scenes.

The show was based in Garbatella. And here are Lynn, Xiangwen and I, posing at the school as shown in I Cesaroni back in March.

The school in I Cesaroni in Garbatella, Rome, Italy

Cart and I walked up to the cafe as featured in the show and that’s where we noticed this interesting poster.

I Cesaroni Poster in Garbatella, Rome, Italy

At first glance, it looks like a political poster. But upon closer examination, the man in the poster is actually an actor in the show. This is some sort of a viral poster!

What a really interesting place Garbatella is. I should come here again, maybe in daylight the next time

Check out the streetview below!


View Larger Map

Ps : Happy birthday Cartcart!

How I see Piazza Navona

The post about Angels and Demons gives me the inspiration to blog about one of Rome’s spot to see – the Piazza Navona.

Piazza Navona, Rome, Italy

I am not an expert of Rome, so I’ll try to describe it the way that I see it. But there is a plentiful of interesting things to see here.

Usually, Cart and I would usually take the tram. Trying to drive and find parking in the city centre is a maddening, frustrating chore.

Tram in Rome, Italy

Taking the tram, by itself is an interesting experience. Each journey costs 1.50 euro regardless of how long or short it is. You buy a ticket from the dispenser and need to get it validated with the machine inside the tram. Grab a seat and enjoy the view. Sometimes you’d spot interesting scenes like this :

Someone getting married, Rome, Italy

And when you are at your destination, you’d need to press a button or the exit doors will not open. The doors aren’t automatic.

Stop at the end of the line which is the Via Di Torre Argentina where one of the first things that you will see is an ancient Roman Ruins where Caesar was murdered.

Cat at Cat Sanctuary, Via Di Torre Argentina, Rome, Italy

This place is also memorable for the amount of cats here. Cats are very special in Rome and below you’d find a cat sanctuary where you  could play or even adopt cats.

If you walk a little bit further, you’d see a statue covered with paper. This is called the Pasquino.

Pasquino, Rome, Italy

What is interesting about the pieces of paper is that written on it is complains about the pope and the government. In the old days, it was probably dangerous to speak out openly. Hence it became a “talking statue” to express dissatisfaction. Could this be the inspiration for “the head” in Art Attack?

Moving further along for a few minutes, you’d see the pantheon.

Pantheon, Rome, Italy

It is impressively big. My guess is that you could stack at least 50 people on their heads before they could even reach the top of the ceiling.

What’s interesting to me about the Pantheon is that on the top, is a dome. And there is a hole in the middle of it. I’m not sure why the reason for that is. But it makes me amazed at how well preserved the pantheon is, despite the risk of rain splashing in.

And moving along the way, you might find a few interesting things :

Rome, Italy

Jerrick and I stumbled upon this little shop selling all sorts of wooden things! He’s a little creeped out by Pinocchio. But I thought it was charming. Did you know that Pinocchio is an Italian Fairy Tale?

Rome, Italy

This statue reminds me of Thief, the Dark Project.

And at length,  we reach Piazza Navona.

It’s easily distinguishable because there are always loads of people here. There are restaurants all around the area and there are also a couple of people selling toys and flowers. You’d have to be careful though, since they can be very persistent in selling their stuff. Sometimes, if you are lucky, you might find interesting buskers :

For me, one of the memorable thing about Piazza Navona is the number of talented artists there.

Piazza Navona, Rome, Italy

I like looking at the different artworks, especially the caricatures that the artists drew, on the spot. As I loved caricatures, I had a caricature of Cart and I done one time.

Caricature of Cart and Rinaz

Piazza Navona is an interesting place to be. I’ve been told that in the old days, the area will be closed and flooded and there were boat races going on. Piazza Navona, Rome, Italy

I wonder how they did that.


Visualizzazione ingrandita della mappa

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A day in Circo Massimo

At first glance, Circo Massimo might not be of any interest to any foreigners visiting the area. While its true that first thing that you would see is mainly a large and uneventful patch of land but I think that there is more that meets the eye.

Circo Massimo, Rome
Large plot of land where there used to be horse races

The first time I was here was with my friend Narima. We were walking towards the Circo Massimo subway when I noticed an area full of roses. I was intruiged. However, as Narima and her friends were in a hurry to return back to their dorms, I did not get a chance to admire the flowers.

Now that it’s spring, and flowers were appearing, I thought that it would be a good idea to visit the area again. Thus, last weekend, Cart and I headed to Circo Massimo.

Circo Massimo, Rome

It was a lovely and cool day in Rome. Circo Massimo felt peaceful and tranquil. Cart and I were fooling around the statues when we noticed a large group of priests and nuns. And then we walked towards the gardens.

Circo Massimo, Rome

The entire area was full of beautiful roses of a multitude of colours. It was breathtaking to see.

Circo Massimo, Rome

There were already a number of people were there, admiring the roses. Unfortunately for all of us, the gates were locked and we were not able to enter the gardens. We could only peer at the roses through the gates. It was only with closer examination that the gardens only be open on the 10th May.

Not wanting to leave so soon, Cart suggested to explore the area a little more. Initially, I was a little doubtful. What could possibly be anything interesting besides this? But I was game enough to explore and together, we walked towards an almost hidden small road beside the gardens where we found a very charming area.

Circo Massimo, Rome

We had a very tranquil and relaxing walk past regal looking buildings and I noticed a couple of people wearing formal clothes. There must be a wedding going on.

And finally I noticed the bride and groom. How romantic 🙂

Circo Massimo, Rome

As much as I wanted to gatecrash the wedding, Cart was feeling self conscious in his very casual clothes. Hence we continued walking where were saw something very curious.

What’s this? A queue? What could possibly be so interesting in the keyhole?

Circo Massimo, Rome

Circo Massimo, Rome
Poor Joan of Arc, she rescued France and yet got burned at the stake

After queuing up, I found out that inside the keyhole, was a long row of trees and in the foreground was the dome of San Pietro.

Circo Massimo, Rome

Too bad that it wasn’t picked up by my Ixus but It was still pretty cool to peek in anyways. This lady managed to take a better picture 🙂

We then entered the Santa Sabina Church nearby. What was interesting to me about it was that there were decorations on the floor. Cart tells me that they were tombs for the priests and we were careful not to step on top of it.

Circo Massimo, Rome

The inside of the church was large, with huge pillars and lights streaming in. It feels somewhat like Saint Peter.

Circo Massimo, Rome

Right at the far end of the church, I saw a small locked gate which lead down.

Circo Massimo, Rome

We then headed to Aventine Hill right next to the church where there were a bountiful of trees with bright oranges.

Circo Massimo, Rome

It was such a lovely day, almost like a Magritte painting.

There were people strolling along and when we reached one end, you could see Saint Peter and the Vittorio Emanuele monument in the distance.

Circo Massimo, Rome
In the background is the dome of Saint Peter

Circo Massimo, Rome
This dude is pointing to Vittorio Emanuele monument

And that pretty much concludes our exploration.

Probably seems very mundane, but it was such a lovely lovely day and we enjoyed ourselves. It was just something that you have to experience for yourself. Circo Massimo is an interesting place to explore, regardless of what some people might think.

Moreover I found a Porsche! Lets just pose and pretend that it was mine!

Circo Massimo, Rome

An Italian vacation finale

On Thursday, Cart and I went on a road trip from Rome to Sorrento, Cart said that the journey would approximately be about 4 – 5 hours of driving.

Road Trip Map

We left at about 5 pm and only reached Sorrento at about 10 pm. We would have reached there earlier but we misread the sign and turned to the A30 direction on the highway rather than the A3 and thus wasted some time. I was confused to see many different direction signs pointing to the same place.

By the time we reached the resort, we were both quite tired and hungry and we headed to Il Capanno, a restaurant which was recommended by the resort manager. In Italian, Il Capanno means ‘The hut’. Once inside, I was amused by their figurines there

Il Capano

Il Capano

Cartcart tells me that the pizza in this region was one of the best in Italy. You could tell it was a Napoli style pizza was made  here because the dough was thicker nearer the circumference, while thinner in the middle.

Pizza

It was delicious, but I still prefer Roma styled pizza though, as I like thin crust pizzas 😀

Gnocchi

Seafood linguine

Cart had Gnocchi while I really enjoyed my seafood linguine. Yum!

rinaz and cart wearing green to sorrento :P

On our way back to the resort, Cartcart told me to be careful at where I stepped. And that was where I noticed this curious creature. Cart said that it was a snail, but I’ve never seen one without a shell before. Have you?

Snail

Early in the morning we left the resort to head to Capri. I admired the vast amount of colourful lemon trees that was lining all around the area.

Lemon tree in Sorrento

Beautiful isn’t it? The bright yellow against the blue sky? Cart tells me that the people in Sorrento are very proud of their lemons. It has been said that Sorrento lemons are one of the best quality and famed ones in Italy.

We took a mini-bus to get to the port of Capri. Cart and I were impressed at the driver who was able to drive at high speed in the narrow streets of Sorrento without hitting anyone! I also cannot help to notice that the driver was wearing a pair of Gucci sunglasses.

When we reached the port, I admired the charming view of the buildings, to the clear blue sea. The water was so clear that I can even see the floor. It’s probably not very clear in the video at the end of this post, but I could see the fishes swimming clearly. It was almost as clear as a swimming pool.

Port of Sorrento

Port of Sorrento

We paid for the tickets for the ferry ride. As we were on our journey, we were amused by a young man who was selling and calling out “Water, Coke, Coffee”, but in his thick Napoli accent, we heard “What the —-, Coffee” instead! I took some footage for posterity for you to hear it 🙂

Some minutes later we reached the Capri jetty.

Capri

My gosh, this was such a beautiful place. Places like these only existed in postcards and cable TV! I had to pinch myself to see if I was really awake or dreaming. We exited the ferry and walked towards the village and decided to have a tour around the island.

Capri

We took a slow boat ride and what I saw for the next 2 hours was like an interactive Geography text book. I am so in awe with the beauty of what was in front of me.

Capri

Capri

Capri

One of the most spectacular views was the one at the Blue Grotto where we went into an underground cave and you could see the sun’s illumination on the blue water.The colour is intensified by the white sands below. Do watch the video journal below to see the blue grotto in all its glory 🙂

Capri

Cart and I should have brought our swimming attire, for most of the times, I was really tempted to jump out of the boat and just splash into the water! By this time, we both have been quite tanned from a couple of hours we were in the open boat.

Capri

After the boat ride, we explored the island of Capri. The vibe of the area was very touristy. Being summer, there were a large number of tourists walking about. Things costs a lot more here. My heart felt a little pained to see Cart having to spend so much on just the boat rides alone. But being a gentleman, he insisted that we have a nice time and not to worry about anything.

Capri

We decided to stop for break.

Capri

Capri

Capri

I used to dislike rucola. To me, it was bitter and evil tasting. When I saw some in my caprese, I looked with disdain and pecked at it till I decided to just try and give it another chance. I actually liked it! When I had it in my salad, I gingerly tasted it again and found out that it was actually really good! It tastes so much better when it was in a combination with other foods.

And I find myself loving my dessert so much! Cart had the Torta Caprese which is made with thick chocolate.

Torta Caprese

While I had the Pastiera Napoletana. This cake is made of orange rinds, wheat grains and ricotta cheese. It’s a really refreshing treat, not cloying at all. I liked it better than the chocolate one even.

Pastiera Napoletana

We then went to Anacapri, which was a smaller island next to it, where cart got a bottle of perfume for his mum. I explored the shop and noticed loads of lemon related items there, such as the limoncello and lemon soaps. The place smelled delightfully of lemon scents

After we acquired the perfume, we headed up to the chair lift up to the peak of the mountain. Cart said that the view was spectacular there, but we reached there too late and they were already closed.

Cloudy in ana capri

We were a little disappointed. But I saw that the clouds were already rolling in, and I think it would be too cold for comfort should we be at the top.

Unwillingly, we left Capri in the late evening and said our goodbyes to Sorrento. We had a quick drive to Napoli to say our goodbyes to Fabrizio who was camping there with his family and have dinner before heading back to Rome. I looked amusedly at two adorable children in front of me, during dinner, playing some sort of kissing game and suddenly I felt very sad.

Saturday was my last day in Italy. I was calm for most part of the day, but when the last few hours, I just lost it. Its heartbreaking to do this again.

We dropped by his parents place to say our goodbyes and then we rushed off to the airport where I had only 15 mins left to board the plane.

I can still see him vividly, my last mental image of him, staring at me as he stood there, outside the checkpoint. I looked back, sadly, going up the escalator.

I cried in the plane again.

Singapore

When I reached back to Singapore, everything was the same again. It was as if I have never left at all. But I know for sure, I’ve left my heart with someone very special.

rinaz and cart

We’ll work it out, dearest. We can do it.

A video journal of my last 3 days in Italy