Tuscan Blogger Adventure Days 4 – 5: Officially in Love with Italy

 

This post is brought to you by CalChews, calcium goodness you can chew which gives you your daily recommended dose of Calcium, Vitamin D, and K, for optimum bone health, minus the risk of heart disease; and by the Lifestyle Network, the premiere cable channel for women in the Philippines. This 5-day getaway was my prize as the official winner for the Tuscan Blogger Adventure by CalChews.

Day 4: Last day in Florence!

I think it’s perfectly fine to admit that I left my heart in Tuscany.

When you visit a city that’s been on your mind for years — sometimes to the point when you’d forgotten it was even on your life list — then you start to see things with gratitude again. Life becomes a holiday for a while, and you begin to live in a moment that you’ve only visualized in daydreams. Tuscany was like that for me. In terms of my financial capabilities at this point in life, a European holiday was furthest from my mind. So, when this trip landed on my lap (or, more like my email inbox!), I knew it was an answered prayer. So, thank you, God, for the blessing! And thank you, CalChews and Lifestyle Network, for taking care of everything! OK, a few more snippets of my last day in Florence. Day 4 of our stay was another life list item checked off: Visit to the Uffizi Museum. I went, I really did. Here is the proof:

Outside the main entrance of the Uffizi

Fountain of Neptune in the Piazza dela Senora, where the Uffizi is located

Guards outside the gate. Couldn’t resist this shot, lol!

My ticket!

The Uffizi Museum is home to such masterpieces as the Birth of Venus and La Primavera by Botticelli, the Madonna of the Goldfinch by Raphael, and The Baptism of Jesus, which was Leonardo da Vinci’s first-ever painting, a collaboration with his master, Verrocchio. No photos may be taken of these, or anything in the museum for that matter; in fact, we saw one of the gallery guards take away a tourist’s camera phone for sneakily stealing a shot of the Birth of Venus. I wish I could have taken a photo: I actually cried when I saw these paintings. I suppose it was because I had waited so long to see them, and I finally did, for free!

Photo from Wikipedia.com

Photo from Wikipedia.com

A view of the famous Ponte Vecchio, from the windows of the Uffizi. This is from a hallway, in the only part of the museum where you are permitted to take photos of the OUTSIDE view, not the artwork.

All I know is that I was amazed by every nook and cranny of the Uffizi, as I was by the rich history of Florence. After the our museum tour, we spent the rest of the day shopping and sightseeing. We had just enough time to walk the city on foot, taking in more of the sights, the sounds, and of course, the smells and tastes of the city’s glorious food. We also never seemed to have our fill of beautiful buildings and landmarks. (Sadly, I found no snow globe of the Duomo, which romantic-ol’-me would have wanted to buy, just so my While You Were Sleeping moment would have come round full circle!)

The imposing Palazzo Vecchio, the original seat of government during the high middle ages

Jewelry shops on the Ponte Vecchio, late at night. The old wooden security gates hearken back to the traditional ones they used during the Renaissance. To this day, only goldsmiths and jewelers are permitted run their businesses on Ponte Vecchio.

My Florence! Tu sei una stella, Firenze! (You’re my star!): This is the BEST view in the city, from the Piazzale Michelangelo. You see all of the city, from the Ponte Vecchio on the left, the imposing clock tower of Palazzo Vecchio, and the unmissable, magnificent Duomo. This is one view I will never forget.

I now understand why an artist like my mom loves this city: It lives and breathes creativity, invention, beauty and culture. From the buildings of old to the many statues, fountains and corner shrines that accentuate the city, Florence is as passionate as it’s ever been about finding beauty and preserving it for future generations.

Day 5: Rome, and Home

Our final day in Italy comprised a 90 minute train ride back to Termini station in Rome, a whiz through Rome to see just one tourist site (according to our group leader, Patrizia, traffic would be terrible on a Monday), and then a 45 minute shuttle ride to Fiumicino Airport for our flight to Amsterdam-Taipei-Manila. Whew.

Rome has a very different architectural landscape from Florence, a bit more magisterial than romantic. In the oldest parts of the city, ruins intermingle with more modern structures, but nothing is 21st-century in its appearance. Everything is still rather old, and some sites, even dilapidated. Still, the capital of Italy still makes for great photos!

We had a total of 45 minutes in Rome, so we had to choose one of the city’s landmarks, and only one, to have quick runabout and photo op. After deliberations, we went for the most iconic of historical sites — and another life list item of mine.

I’m finally here! Celebrating with a gelato, my last this trip.

I love Japanese tourists. They’re always so enthusiastic, haha! (Please get out of the way, I need a photo right about now. Arrigato.)

There we go!

Arched entrance to the Palatine Hills, ruins of Rome’s ancient patrician villas, where the nobles used to live.

The Arc of Constantine stands between the Colosseum and the ruins of the royal palace.

Palazzo Romano, the residence of the Roman Emperor. This is situated on a hill overlooking the Colosseum grounds.

I spied this guy on the grounds. You can pose with these locals dressed as Praetorian guards, for 2 Euro. I’d rather get one for free and sneak a shot with my phone. Hehe.

Despite the touristy vibe outside these ruins, you can still feel the ancient soul of the city. I don’t know if it can be compared to the feeling of seeing a celebrity, though: Being in this old, old part of such an important historical city was like a trip out of time. Me being me, I naturally visualized what these grounds must have looked like in Rome’s golden age, even during its decline. We didn’t get to go inside the Colosseum (Lines were too long, and we had a plane to catch!), so I am more motivated to return. When? I don’t know. But if and when I return to Rome, I shall do so with the hubby. He is a total Gladiator fan, while I am a history buff.

There’s another thing to add to the list.

I’ve been back in Manila for over three weeks now, but my Tuscan adventure (and my Roman blitz) is still vivid. I know that, in time, it will seem like I just dreamed it all up. Looking back at these posts, the photos, and all my musings, I am grateful. But more than that, I believe I am more hopeful as well. I don’t know when I’ll be able to cross off another trip on my life list — so thank you CalChews for supporting me, and making this trip a reality! All I know is, from now on, I’ll be dreaming bigger, more specifically even.

Read the other entries in this Tuscan Blogger Adventure Series:

Day 1: Planes, Trains and a Taste of Things to Come

Day 2 Part 1: Siena? Si!

Day 2 Part 2: Chianti and Pisa

Day 3: A Passion for Food

 

 

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