A Travellerspoint blog

Leaning Tower of Pisa

Today our first stop was the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa! This is truly quite a landmark! Mom and I walked around the Tower, checked it out from every possible angle and even took several of the cheesy pictures of ourselves holding up the tower, like all of the other tourists, of course. After Pisa we had a long bus ride to Northern Italy. The further north we traveled the more the scenery changed. We twisted up huge mountains and finally approached the Alps. How I would LOVE to ski here! When we finally reached Turin, I was very relieved to be out of the bus.

Although I wasn't that excited to be spending the night here, Turin turned out to be a very nice city. First of all, there was lots of great stopping! Mom and I had to hold ourselves back a little though because tomorrow we were headed for Milan. Although I couldnt imagine how the shopping could be any better there. Turin was also a very clean city, especially compared to Rome. We had a nice dinner night, then rested up for Milan!

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Florence

Italian Discovery

Mom and I woke up bright and early, I was slightly hungover--too much Prosceeo. But, we were heading off to Florence so I didn't mind. I slept most of the way there and felt nice and refreshed when we arrived! First we stopped by Piazzale Micelangelo to see a gorgeous view of the city. There was also a lovely replica of "David." I took photos from several angles, both the front and back! Next we went downtown and visited a gold factory. We listened to a demonstration about all of the jewely making they do here and how it's done. After this we visited the Dumo which is a HUGE cathedral. There were many different pieces of art inside that appeared to be beautiful oil paintings...However the museum guide explained to us that this was actually a mosaic! Most of the pieces were so tiny that you could barely see them. I couldnt imagine all of the time this must have taken!

After this we went to the Academia Building to see the impressive DAVID!! Unfortunately, as much as I dont like to admit this, Michelangelo's "masterpiece" wasn't really what I expected. Personally the replica that we saw earlier at Piazzale Micelangelo was a lot bigger and definately more masculine, if you know what I mean.

Mom and I spent the rest of the afternoon checking out all of the leather shops, jewelry stores and boutiques. That evening we had a delicious dinner with Tuscan specialties. Our cute waiter reccommended several excellent choices of apertivi and a Chianti to complement them. I might just be saying this, but I truly believe that the Chianti here tasted richer than the Chianti served in Roma. We finished the meal with glasses of amaretto and our waitor asked me out!! I was extremely tempted but mommy refused. We were off to Pisa in the AM!

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Sistine Chapet, St Peters Bascilica, Bye Bye Katia=(

Today was Mom's first day in Rome! Although she had a tough flight, (dont we all), she was ready to begin exploring the city. First we went to the Vatican to see the impressive St. Peter's Bascilica. I had been waiting for the past two months for this! The intricately painted ceiling was truly amazing. This is the most renowned artwork from the High Renaissance. It was unbelievable to concieve the fact that Michaelangelo had completed this masterpiece by himself, strictly for the Pope. Talk about a committment! After spending the rest of the morning checking out the Vatican City mueseum and grounds I sadly moved out of my apt. =( However, of all the things I will miss about Rome, I think this is probably the least. Mom and I spent the rest of the afternoon on Via del Corso, shopping of course!

Unfortunately this was my last evening with Katia. This was very depressing. We met Daniel and Palo at the Grand Hotel Plaza for pre dinner drinks, (I ordered the pomogranate martini)-delish! After this they took us out for a wonderful seafood dinner with calamari, fresh tuna, squid, formaggio, lots of vino, limoncello and even a sample of deserts! Next we headed to Harry's Bar to listen to some Classical Jazz and sip Prosecco. The band even played "My Way" for us! It was the perfect ending to my unforgettable time spent with Katia! After this we sadly said our goodbyes and I headed back to my hotel to prepare for my trip to Florence!
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Fashion Show at Castle Sant' Angelo!!

Unfortunately my time here in Rome is slowly coming to an end. I have just finished my last final. Luckily these courses are only pass/fail for me. lol. Tonight is the farewell banquet at a restaurant on the Tiber. I have invited Niccolo as my guest! My mother will be arriving tomorrow afternoon. Sunday we leave for our trip through northern Italy and Switzerland. We will be visting Venice, Florence, Verona, Pisa, Bologna, Turin and Milan. I am very excited!

Although I am sad to leave, I have definately been taking advantage of my last week in Rome. Daniel has taken Katia and I out everynight this week and each night has been better than the last. We've had delicious dinners at the best restaurants in Rome, went swimming at the Hilton--with the owner, and sampled fine wines at lavish parties. Last night he even took us to a fashion show on top of Castle Sant' Angelo. Before the show Katia and I went out for manicures, pedicures and new outfits so we were dressed to impress! We arrived at Castle Sant' Angelo right around sunset for the cocktail party before the show. The view here was breathtaking. I think we all took about 20 pics in every direction before even having a drink! The show was quite impressive, (although Katia and I looked better than any of the models) lol. Afterwards we walked around in the castle and looked at all of the showcased fine gems and jewelry. All of the pieces were amazing! After drooling over all of the gems we left for a party at the Hilton! We met Felix, the owner at the door and he grabbed us a table at the front of the stage. Tonight they were hosting a party for the launch of a new energy drink made with sugar cane from Venezuela. There were Italian actresses and actors everywhere as well as several rappers. It was very impressive. I was speaking with Felix about the hospitality industery and commenting on his wonderful hotel. I also mentioned that I work for Mandarin Oriental in DC. He was very impressed with this news and told me that if I ever come back to live in Rome, I will have a job at the Hilton!
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The Great Souk

Tunis, Gammarth

John and I woke up early again and headed for Tunis, the capital and largest city in Tunisia. We began at The Great Souk, yet another market. haha. (A souk is a market place or covered bazzar that is organized into areas according to the goods on sale.) Together they form one vast, colorful animated marketplace. I didn't make quite as many purchases today but John kept spending the dinar like it was nothing! --in actuallity it really isnt worth much. lol. One Tunisian dinar is equivilant to about .57Euro. One thing we learned while shopping is how much Tunisians love Canadians (and hate Americans). John is from Ottawa and for the rest of this trip so was I! One of the merchants further proved this fact when after giving us a perfume presentation he showed us seperate price lists. One for Americans and one for Canadians. lol

After meeting a nice chef at a restaurant, he took us to the see the inside of The Great Mosque. To enter here, I was given a shaw to cover up. Inside we saw the vast courtyard and polished marble, which was still in its origional form and surrounded by graceful arches. Then we were lead to a carpet shop which had about 5 flights of stiars that lead us to a huge lookout point decorated with colorful ceramics. From here you could see the dome of the mosque and all of the surrounding city!
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Our next stop was the Bardo Museum. This museum is located on the outskirts of Tunis and houses one of the largest collections of mosaics in the world. They are from the second to fourth century AD and were found in the homes of some of Roman Africa's wealthiest citizens. This was the greatest, most amazing museum I have ever been to. Anyone with a love or even appreciation for the arts needs to visit this place at some point in their life. I can't even describe how impressed I was!! There are rooms and rooms filled thousands of ceramics and mosaics. The building itself was totally worth the trip. Large arch ways and colorful stained glass decorated all of the rooms as well as large gold domed ceilings. I truly could not believe my eyes.

On the way out of the museum John was talking about heading to another market but I was quite exhausted and was ready to spend some time relaxing back at the resort. He suggested that we just walk to the car, sit in the airconditioning for a bit and then decide. Unfortunately I didn't make it this far. The extreme temperatures finally got to me. (Today the high was 117 in Tunis!) Apparantly I fainted in the parking lot, luckily John caught me and brought me to the car where I regained alertness. lol. So, we decided to head back to the resort!

After sitting in the airconditioning for a while and drinking 3 liters of cold water, I started to feel better. I made my way down to the spa for some R&R. I recieved several soothing treatments for the rest of the afternoon. I selected the very appropriate H2O package. This began with a tranquil soak in the vitality pool which is supposed to completely "wash away stress and leave the world behind." Next I moved onto the steam shower. This provided moist, aromatic warmth with heated floors, walls and seats. The body is to be warmed slowly beginning by opening the pores and finally reaching the inner body and organs. Next was the Rasul Experience. During this traditional Moroccan treatment natural mud is applied to the face, upper and lower body. Dry heat then allows it to cool and release the toxins from the body. After rinsing off I was lead to the massage room for my final treatment, an hour long rub down! This elaborate treatment was truly luxurious!

As you can imagine I am apsolutely thrilled that I decided to come on this trip. It was everything that I hoped for and much more. As much as I enjoyed visiting the popular sites including the Bardo Museum and Tunis it was the culture that I loved the most. I will never forget the deilicous couscous, the arabic music and all merchants at the souks! Tomorrow it is back to Rome.

Posted by veranoamor 09:56 Comments (0)

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