Ringing bells & sinking cities.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

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Being in Venice felt like a whole new adventure - a shopping adventure, to be precise! We headed there via water taxi, and with the sun in our eyes and wind in our hair, I remember thinking that I was so incredibly lucky to have a chance to be there..

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Till the wind just about froze me to death and like the horrible wimp I am, I fled inside to a considerably warmer, but less exciting view.

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Every rainy season, about 60 centimetres to 1 metre of Venice is covered with water. It's a beautiful city, but a city that is said to be slowly sinking. Let's hope it doesn't become the next Atlantis. D:

Out of all the cities I've been to in Italy, Venice was probably the most unique. Gondolas float on the canals between buildings, beautiful elaborate masks hang in stalls by the sidewalk, and Murano glass necklaces are sold at every corner.

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Our local guide in Venice was a very dramatic woman, who would emphasize every word she said (which is pretty much counter-productive to the emphasis).

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In Venice, the famous bridge is the Bridge of Sighs.

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See that teeny tiny bridge across the river?

Many couples sit on the gondolas asking to go under the bridge, thinking that it's romantic. But as my guide so clearly enunciated, "Zere is nuh-thing romanthik ahbout zis bridge. Nuh-thing!"

The Bridge of Sighs is connected to a prison - the famous prison in the story of Casanova's escape - and instead of deriving its name from the sighs of lovers, it actually got its name from the prisoners who would sigh as they crossed the bridge to be imprisoned.

Nuh-thing romanthik, see?

By the way, just a note. I honestly don't know why modelling agencies bother looking at other countries for models. They should just come to Italy because EVERYONE IS INSANELY BEAUTIFUL & GOOD-LOOKING OMG.

All they would have to do is close their eyes and randomly point at an Italian person and boom, that person could immediately be a model. The only unattractive people in Italy are all the tourists! At every restaurant, there is at least two super cute waiters, I kid you not.


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Look! Random guy lounging around looking like a model!

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Random salesperson who looks like Chace Crawford! Can't really tell from this pic though but he really does!

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Look! This one can be Hollywood actor, right?!

This was our guide for the Murano glass factory, where we watched some guy turn some blob of goo into a beautiful glass horse.. In under two minutes!

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TADAH!!

Having watched The Tourist where Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp hopped around on random speedboats with Venice as their backdrop, I can assuredly say that it really is as beautiful on screen as it is in real life. The latter probably a little more.

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They have this magnificent-looking clock tower with two figures that move every hour to ring the bell. And omg the sound of the ringing bell is so glorious and full and magical and belvxoqbxowb! It's the type of ring that I doubt will ever get annoying because it's so beautiful!

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The tourists teeming around the clock tower, waiting for it to ring its lovely sound.

And here are other interesting bits & pieces of Venice!

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Hahah, I find this accidental picture very funny!

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Alas, our time in Venice wasn't long, but it left magical memories of beautiful sounds, sunny skies, fancy masks, colourful glass, and of course, handsome Italians. Winking smile

Verona, Italy.

Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou, oh Romeo?

Famed for the tragedy of two star-crossed lovers, Verona is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Italy. The story of the two lovers wasn't first regaled by Shakespeare, but has in fact, been around for ages. However, only the wordsmith's version became popular.

For the uninitiated, Romeo & Juliet is the story of two young lovers caught in between the feud that has been going on for ages between their two families. And uh.. Lol spoiler alert! Due to their families opposing their relationship, they ended up taking their own lives in the most ridiculous way. Actually, the story is quite lame lor, but then again, I haven't read the original text so am probably a very unqualified judge. West Side Story is pretty much based on Romeo & Juliet so if you've seen the former then you get the picture.

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According to our local guide, the families in the story were real and so was their rivalry. The details are slightly questionable here (because I got somewhat distracted by super fashionable Italians) but after the story became popular, the "Cappello" family a.k.a Juliet's family bought a house to be open to the public (??) and uh.. Well, that's where we went!

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The famous balcony.

Italians have many superstitions, and grabbing the right boob of Juliet's statue will apparently bring you luck in love. Naturally, a whole bunch of us tourists all flocked to fondle her very firm golden breast.

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What seems to be another popular (and absolutely disgusting) thing to do at Juliet's abode is to stick gum on the walls by the entrance of her house then write the name of you & your lover/crush/dog.

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The insane crowd wanting to see Juliet's house.

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The gum shown here had solidified and I presume teens and tourists just pile on more gum once the bottom layer has hardened.

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Ugh.

Besides her house, Verona is famed for many other things. Amongst them, the Arena, where gladiators fought to their deaths. The Arena is like a much smaller version of the colloseum but still impressive nonetheless.

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Despite the cold, we took the opportunity to try some Italian gelato as well! £2.50 for a double scoop!

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Tiramisu & coffee flavoured.

Kinda regretted my choice of flavours but it was still really good anyway. Super super smooth!

Verona is a beautiful city (town? district?), so beautiful that even Hollywood stars are willing to fork out millions of euros to live in some place that's teeming with tourists.

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Gigantic monster dog-beasts!!

And the most beautiful part of Verona?

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ME! Open-mouthed smile

Anything special about the buildings by the Arena? Yeap, that's where Leonardo di Caprio lives whenever he's in Italy. He bought that for roughly 4 million euros, says our guide. Angelina & Brad were willing to fork out a lot more for their place though. They paid 21 million euros for a house in Verona!

Ahhh, one day when I make it big as an actress/blogger/lawyer/ruler-of-universe/whatever, at least I know who my neighbors will be. ;)

1

A new season, a new adventure.

Monday, April 16, 2012

To many, Easter marks the beginning of spring. Chirping birds and bright flowers in full bloom come to mind. A few bunnies hopping around complete this picturesque mental image. Arriving in Italy a day after Easter promised exactly that.

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But amidst the guarantees of sunny days and green leaves, why couldn't anyone have the decency to tell us about the BLOODY-FREAKIN'-COLD?!?

We left KLIA on the night of Easter..

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Stopped at Abu Dhabi for a couple of hours, where Yum Cha-ing apparently involves sushi..

And arrived in Italy many many many glorious movie-watching hours later.

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Have I ever mentioned how much I love flying?

Because I really really do!

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I love watching movies on planes too because it's probably one of the only times I feel as though there is no other way I could be doing something more productive. On land, I'd feel as though I should be jogging (pssffftttt) or studying or reading instead of glue-ing myself to the screen but on a plane.. I HAVE NO CHOICE. :D

But enough digression!

First stop?

Milan, where random Italian men who make eye contact bid hello, and couples unabashedly display their mutual affection by fountains and statues.

We were immediately greeted by Castello Sforza, where lesser-known works of Leonardo da Vinci lie.

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Grace, our tourguide in Milan, explaining the strength of the Sforza family.

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The moat surrounding the castle.

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Outside the castle. Yes, my tights are uneven, shhh, it's gonna be a new thing.

In Italy, each city has its own duomo, which is like its "mother church". The one in Milan (the church of Santa Maria) was gigantic with over 2000 statues carved in marble on it.

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We grabbed the chance to enter the cathedral and it was one of the many moments in Italy which took my breath away. Like, really. I actually gasped.

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The stained glass windows within the cathedral have been there since the peak of the Renaissance period, when art, beauty, and knowledge gained popularity within and outside the church. It was a boom in human ability, and Italy was its home.

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Never before had I seen such rich colours on glass, each frame depicting different scenes making it even more spectacular.

As it was Easter Monday, there was a church service going on and it was unique to be able to witness a Catholic service entirely in Italian. After a while, we left for Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, the famous area in Milan where Prada, Chanel, and other branded stores lie.

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Thanks to Grace, we were told of a local tradition that almost all partake in. A mosaic pattern on the ground in the Galleria makes up a blue bull.

"You muz plaze ze heel of ze foot on ze certain 'eh-rea' of de bull and spin tuh-ree hunzred and zixty zegrees. Zis loh-kal tradition will bring you luck!"

Not one to push away luck when it's lying on the ground in front of me, I went for a spin!

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Mom went spinning too!

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With a spin's worth of luck, we headed for Verona next, but that's another story for another day.

And here are some other pictures taken in Milan which don't quite seem to fit anywhere else!

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Wah, act cute.

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Actually cute!

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Some yummy panini thing with super lots of cheese & ham!

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The store we got it from. :)

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Till then, ciao!

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