Italy was a cultural exploration for me. The rich heritage of the country and its world-renowned artists are exemplified in the ancient relics, works of art and historical remnants. That being said, each city is blessed with unique characteristics that distinctly differentiates one from the other.

Rome – Basilica of Saint Mary, Spagna, Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, Basilica of Saint Peter
We arrived two days before the tour began in Rome, so we had time to explore the vicinity around our hotel and shop. 🙂 Our hotel was just 5mins away from the train station.

Basilica of Saint Mary – There are numerous Basilicas in Rome, the most famous of which is the Basilica of Saint Peter, which you’ll see later on. If you think this is ornate, wait till you see St Peter’s. 🙂
Later that night, we trawled the streets of Spagna for my favourite activity, shopping. I’m so glad we were there in winter as there were significantly less tourists.

Prada@Spagna – Our favourite brand!
JW bought me a bag here as a gift. I bought the rest of the bags in my earlier post with my own money. 🙂 Nothing beats paying for your own purchases. The immense sense of satisfaction ensures that you treasure your purchases even more!

Took a train to the Colosseum the next day because we wanted to visit the Palatine park next to it.

We had a tour of the Colosseum the next day and explored the rest of Rome at our own pace.

Colosseum by dayColosseum by night

Trevi Fountain

This is where Raphael’s grave resides :). He is a renowned artist of the Italian Renaissance.
St Peter’s Basilica

Vatican City – Sistine Chapel@Vatican Museums & Florence – Statue of David@Academia Gallery

Florence is one of my favourite cities. It exudes a quiet old-world charm enriched by art and culture.

The Statue of David at the Academia Gallery in Florence and the grandeur of the lifelike paintings painstakingly painted over an arduous period of 4 years on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican Museums left me in awe of Michelangelo Buonarroti, best known as the Italian Renaissance painter and sculptor.

The Statue of David, a symbol of Florentine freedom, was created out of a single piece of marble block. The statue’s posture, body proportions, intense facial expression and piercing gaze are , without a doubt, the epitome of perfection. I have never seen such a well-chiseled sculpture in my life! Needless to say, this was also the very masterpiece that catapulted Michelangelo to unprecedented fame. To this day, I personally feel that no one has been able to surpass his artistic excellence.

Vatican Museums

Sistine Chapel

The Sistine Chapel ceiling is another acclaimed masterpiece created by Michelangelo. (forced to do so by Pope Julius II). The central theme of the painting revolved around humanity’s need for salvation. The paintings are so 3-dimensional, you can almost feel the 300 figures coming to life right before you. Michelangelo painted it from 1508-1512 in the most awkward of positions. Some claimed he was lying on his back, but according to Wikipedia, he was standing. He even wrote a sonnet to describe his discomfort:

Here like a cat in a Lombardy sewer! Swelter and toil! With my neck puffed out like a pigeon,belly hanging like an empty sack,beard pointing at the ceiling, and my brainfallen backwards in my head!Breastbone bulging like a harpy’sand my face, from drips and droplets,patterned like a marble pavement.Ribs are poking in my guts; the only wayto counterweight my shoulders is to stickmy butt out. Don’t know where my feet are-they’re just dancing by themselves!In front I’ve sagged and stretched; behind,my back is tauter than an archer’s bow!

San Gimignano ( a small medieval city in Siena, Tuscany)
San Gimignano is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The entire city has been preserved since the 13th century. The pebbled walkways and rectangular buildings seemingly transported us back in time. Apparently, many of the rich and famous have apartments here.

Venice – City of Love

Venice is surrounded by water so you can only get about by foot or by boat. We walked through the entire city several times and reveled in the curiosities found in quirky corners. We ended up shivering in the cold with aching limbs every time but it was so fun!

Gondola ride

Grand Canal