K.Nan and I went to 5 cities - Milan, Verona, Venice, Rome and Pisa - in that order. after a 16 hour flight with a brief stopover at Abu Dhabi, we arrived in Milan in the morning. something happened to our group. because of a possibly contaminated food served on flight, someone in our group suffered a food poisoning and, threw up at the windscreen of the bus, of all places. our designated bus driver, Bruno started jabbering in Italian, and i guessed the words weren't complimentary. our tour manager, Leon (who is the tauke's son) told us not to worry about Bruno and said that it's the Italian thing. he proceeded to tell us that pickpocketing is notorious not only in Milan,but throughout Italy. oh great! i thought drily.
that morning we went to Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele which is a building with glass topped roof and houses world renowned brands such as Prada (which is Milan's own product) and Louis Vuitton. there were a few restaurants and gelateria and i had my first Italian pizza and gelato here. we went to snap pics at Piazza Duomo but later quickly went back to the galleria as there were some unsavoury looking men looking at us. we felt safer at the galleria as the police made regular rounds there.
we heard Pink Floyd was going to perform there. of course, the main attraction is the Giuletta's balcony, or Juliet to you and me. obviously it's not really Juliet's balcony.
after Verona we made our way to Venice. Venice, we discovered, is an island. of all the Italian cities that we visited, Venice is the most beautiful, with palaces and other grand buildings. i'm reminded of Heath Ledger's movie in which he played Giacomo Casanova and the setting was in Venice. of course, no trip to Venice is complete without the gondola ride, so we paid 25 euros each. we were told that for a sum of money the gondolier would sing. our gondolier refused to sing, but switched on his radio instead. we also went to Murano glass factory. very nice pieces but i was very nervous all the time we were there. delicate goblets and vases... could you imagine what would happen if that was my clumsy day and i knocked the pieces down? in Venice, i purchased some Venetian lace and masks that the Italians wear during the Carnivale.
after walking for so long until our feet couldnt walk anymore, we arrived in Florence to have dinner. bus tours arent allowed to enter tourist spots, so we had to walk for half an hour to the restaurant. it was a muslim owned restaurant, and it was a nice change to be able to eat pastas and pizzas without worrying and asking the waiter about the ingredients and the halalness.we didn't tour Florence that day, we proceeded to
Rome. oh, before that i have to tell you about Tuscan countryside, because Florence sits in Tuscany. it was all that i dreamed of, only that i wished we had stopped at one of the villages and learned how to make fresh pasta. the Tuscan country always have villas on green rolling hills with vineyards or olive or cypress trees completing the picture.
Rome was very warm. we reached there mid-morning and spent hours lepaking as some of our groupmates went to the Vatican City. we then went to take pics near the piazza vittori emmanuele, the Coliseum,
the Forum. theres a sense of thousands years of antiquity and civilisation when you see all these ruins. i half expected to see Julius Caesar speaking at the Forum. after the ruins we went to take pics at the Spanish steps (though i don't know the significance of the steps) and then the Trevi fountain (where people always toss the coins hoping that they will return there). that evening we had dinner at another Muslim owned restaurant. splendid chicken curry.
that evening Bruno brought us to Pisa. the hotel that we stayed in was not familiar with Asians, especially Muslims so dinner wasn't that great. we had a choice of minestrone and basic pasta with olive oil for starter and baked fish as the main course. i had maggi afterwards. the next day we went to Pisa Leaning Tower. it was amazing to see that it's still standing tall.
after 5 days of tour we returned to Malaysia. i must say that Italy is a must go to place for any avid traveller. still have a few places left in my list.