A Travellerspoint blog

Italy

October 23rd

Rome to Petrio

sunny 25 °C

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I got up and headed over to the hostels cafe for breakfast. After washing down yet another chocolate filled croissant with a latte I headed over to the train station to organize my ticket back to Petrio. After waiting for half an hour in a snaking queue, leaving my bags in the hands of another women to try the automatic machines to have her run over frantically and advise me my bags were slowly being overtaken by the moving queue.... Anyway you get the picture... I eventually arrived at the counter, purchased my ticket and headed out to find the mouth of truth. I wandered for ages and finally got my bearings! With a spring in my step I charged towards the epic monument that was sure to relieve me of my hand. As I reached the Colosseum I realized that time was quickly running out so I spun about and trundled back to my hostel to get my bags. I grabbed a bite to eat and headed down platform 1 at Termini, Rome's central station, to board my train. The train ride was rather un interesting other then the odd beggar asking for cash and dodging the ticket collectors like they were the grim reaper themselves. I arrived into Sinalunga and was promptly, and to my great relief, greeted by Ugo. After arriving back "home" I poured myself a glass of wine, set my washing on and told tales of my great adventures in Paris. It was great to be home and in the company of friends!!!

Posted by classique 02:08 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

October 22nd

Rome

sunny 25 °C

I allowed myself a little sleep in and, after a chocolate pastry and a cafe latte, I headed off to the Colosseum. After getting another wad of cash out I booked a guided tour of the Colosseum and the Forum. After waiting for a little while we headed off around the Colosseum to begin the tour. After finding out how the exterior was adorned, where most of it is now, and how it was all assembled, we headed inside. We were taken around the middle section and shown where the emperor, nobility and commoners sat. Prior to the completion of the Colosseum, the emperor had the Colosseum flooded and a ship battle took place within it. The outer two rings which stop half way round fell down through several earthquakes many years ago. Due to the amount of animals brought in from around the world they found in 1855 that there were 420 differently species of flora within the Colosseum. We were also shown how water was brought in to feed the fresh water drinking fountains within the Colosseum. The tour ended after around 40 minutes and we were given 30 minutes to wander around before the tour for the Forum began.
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I wandered around with an American woman for a while. We realised that time was running short so we headed out of the Colosseum and I purchased a super sized donut as a lunch time feed before commencing the tour of the forum. The guide took us over to what used to be the elite shopping district within the Forum and explained how the hierarchy worked. After about 20 minutes or so the tour ended and the American lady and I went for a wander around the forum and Palatine hill wandering into some of the buildings which were accessible. There are some incredible sights here which I wish I had had a guide to explain to me.
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Some of the buildings are three stories high with earth and ground all the way around them. Eventually, at 3:30pm I decided to head off as I wanted to catch the free waking tour of Rome so we parted ways. After walking up, down and all around Rome for an hour and a half, I eventually arrived at the Spanish Steps just in time to join the tour.
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Here are the hordes at the Pantheon!
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The tour group and I headed off to several catholic churches which all seemed to be in the middle of a service, to a nunnery (or convent as they call them now now-a-days :-)), past a Rolex store, and eventually finished the tour at the Trevi fountain.
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With an appetite to rival some of the statutes at the Trevi fountain I headed back up the street to a recommended Italian restaurant which was thick with customers. After spending some time deciding what would satisfy my taste buds I bought a pasta to go which only ended up costing 5 Euros. I headed back to the Trevi fountain with my mouth watering feed, took a seat and devoured the pasta whilst admiring the beauty before me. I then headed to the Gelateria across the way and got a pana cota gelato to top the evening off nicely!
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Posted by classique 21:28 Archived in Italy Comments (1)

October 21st

Paris to Rome

semi-overcast 6 °C

I decided that even though i`m not much fussed on museums I might as well go and have a look at a highly over rated picture called the Moaning Lisa... or was it Mona Lisa... ah well. I got up later then I had hoped and only just met up with two of the Aussie lads that who I was going with to the Louvre. We all arived at 10 am which was a full 2 hours later then we had planned.
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As it turned out the Pyramid entrance had been closed fro staff meetings and was due to open at 10:15am so we ducked under the ropes and waited at the head of the queue for the 3 minutes it took to open. It was pretty awesome a s there was a queue at the other entrance that would have taken between 30 and 60 minutes to get through. Within 10 minutes we were in the Louvre and headed to the Mona Lisa. Thankfully there weren`t a lot of people in front of it so I got a picture of myself in front of it. I would have posted it here but when I saw the state of my hair in the picture I figured there was no reason to make the Mona Lisa look any better!
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We then checked out some cool art and loads of boring stuff and even more boring stuff. Who would`ve thought that there could be so much information in one place. Within two hours my brain was overloading. We headed out in search of a restuarant which the New York Times stated as having the best falafel in Paris. We located the joint and headed in for some falafel. It was pretty good but I love my meat!!! We wandered around the Jewish district for a bit and then wandered back to the Bastille monument. I bid farewell to the Aussie blokes and headed back to the hostel. After spending what seemed like forever booking a hostel in Rome for the night I figured I had enough time to get to the Eiffel Tower, go to the top and head back etc. WRONG!!! I headed to the Eiffel Tower and finally arrived an hour later. Looked at the queue, looked at the time and jogged back to the train station. I eventually arrived back at the hostel an hour later, hurridly checked out and ran back to the train station. With less then two hours to catch my flight, I got off at the right train station, headed out of the wrong exit, crossed several busy intersections and arrived puffing at the bus stop to see the bus I wanted heading up the road. I bought a ticke¬łt, stowed my gear in the next bus and grabbed a seat. The estimated time to get to the airport was one and a half hours and I had ohh lets say one and three quarter hours before my plane left. I began to sweat a little as we waited and waited and waited. Finally the bus was full and we were on our way. From the estimated time of arrival to my departure time was 10 minutes. I prayed about it, and basically left it at that as there was nothing further i could do. We then got stuck in peak hour traffic and then were stopped by the police. We finally arrived 10 minutes ahead of schedule. I grabbed my gear and jogged into the airport, talke my way to the front of the queue, flew through customs. As i was hurridly re threading my belt into my pants and re-attaching all the rest of my gear i turned around to look at the electronic flight board to see that my flight was running 30 minutes late.

Posted by classique 23:14 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

October 16th

Rome

semi-overcast 21 °C

With all my bags packed I wished the guys a good week, jumped into Ugo's car and we headed off to Sinalunga. We arrived at the train station early. I purchased my ticket and headed to the cafe for a cafe latte. As I got to the halfway point of my cafe latte Ugo told me that the train that had just turned up was headed to Chuisi, so I dumped the cup on the counter and jumped on board. No sooner had I said goodbye the train pulled out of the station. I arrived at Chuisi at 9:30am. I checked the departures board and went to platform 4 to await the 9:35am train to Rome. After waiting for 20 minutes I went inside the terminal and realised that that train must have been cancelled. So I ordered another cafe late and worked on updating my blog for the next 2 hours until the next train was due. Finally it arrived and I was on my way again. Two and a half hours later I arrived into Rome's Termini train station. For the next two hours I endeavoured to find how to get to my hostel. After some lunch, and some cash conversion I purchased a metro day pass and headed off to my hostel. As the train stopped from suburb to suburb I watched as all the nice looking people got off one by one. I finally arrived at the station which was at least 20 minutes from the centre of Rome. I hopped onto a bus for the final leg of the journey to the hostel. With big factories in major disrepair and lots of unmown yards etc. it really felt like the slums of Rome. I finally arrived at the hostel, checked in and headed to my room. I pulled out the sheet of paper which I had had to sign when the money got changed and looked over it. After spending some time working it out I realised that they had not charged me 20 Euros and 5 Euros but 20% and five Euros. The total cost to change five hundred Canadian dollars had cost me seventy Euros. Needless to say I was floored, especially considering how tight the budget for Rome and Paris were to begin with. I locked up my gear and headed to the bus stop. Half an hour later I got off the train at Colloseo station and walked out of the station to see my first sight of the Colosseum. It was already five in the afternoon and even though the Colosseum closed at six I decided to head in for a look around. There were no queues so twelve Euros later I was heading up the steps inside the Colosseum. The inside was as good as I had hoped.
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With a bit of imagination one could see where the emperor had sat, where nobility had sat and where the common people had sat. I climbed the staircases to the highest open spot in the Colosseum and admired the strength and beauty of the ruins. Finally the stewards came and advised the hoards that it was closing time so I headed down to the next level and wandered around for some time whilst talking to a Canadian guy that I had met. We headed out of the Colosseum and wandered aimlessly down the road checking out the sights as we went. We found the Pantheon but it had already closed. After some time we found a restaurant and sat down for a bite to eat. I had pasta carbonara to try and keep it affordable. After dinner I bid him farewell and headed back to the hostel as I was worried that I might miss the last metro train back.
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I felt slightly less confident on this train ride as it was after 11pm and the people seemed a tad seedier. I arrived at the station, walked out and found two police officers and two military guys keeping a look out around the station.
Eventually back at the hostel I changed and headed to bed. The common room/dining room was above my 12 bed room and the seemed to be a constant chorus of scraping chairs. Finally the scraping finished and a few minutes later nine more people teamed into the room. Ahhh. sleep, i think, finally set in. And it was short and sweet as not long later two of the guys started snoring. I found it quite humorous as when the the first guy stopped snoring the second guy would take his place and some times one would snore out and the next would snore out and so on etc. I was really hoping at least one more guy would start snoring so I could hop out of bed and try to conduct a snoring symphony with a huge crescendo! Needless to say sleep was not a thing for me that night.

Posted by classique 02:45 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

October 11th

Ducatti & Ferrari

semi-overcast 17 °C

James, John & I jumped into the 4wd at 6am and headed into Sinalunga to catch the 6:40am train to Arezzo. We arrived in the nick of time, bought our tickets, stamped them and jumped on board. I had allowed about 25 Euro give or take a little for train tickets today. The first ticket cost 3.30 Euro. We arrived into Arezzo about 40 minutes later and bought our tickets for Bologna which cost an astounding 17.50 Euro's. It was a funny train trip this one. Each carriage had 8 or so compartments/cabins which in turn had 6 seats. By the time we had checked all the compartments all of the seats were taken. We ended up sitting on fold down chairs in the narrow walk way which for one reason or another people continued to walk up and down like yo yo's meaning we had to get up, sit down, get up, sit down etc. until the next stop which took about 40 minutes. A few of the seats emptied in the cabins so we sat down. About 15 minutes later a couple poked their heads through the door and it turned out that i was sitting in one of their reserved seats, so out to the isle i went again. At the next stop i found a seat in another compartment for about 15 minutes or so until another couple came in with reserved tickets at which time i just gave up and sat in the isle. By this time James and John had been ousted from their cabin as well and joined me in the aisle. (I know... I feel like a disciple when I read it too!) Finally we arrived into Bologna at 9:40am. We checked the time table and saw that the next train headed our way was in about 40 minutes or so. We headed to the toilets which cost .80 Euro cents. I think they charged 30 cents more because these toilets had seats in them. I ordered a Cafe Latte and got a receipt which I handed to the guy at the service counter and got a warm cup of milk (latte) . It turns out I ordered a latte not a caffe latte. Even though I don't like warm milk I drank it because I had paid for it. We headed to platform 6 and waited, and waited and waited. Finally I checked the board to find that we were waiting at the wrong platform and that we were meant to be at platform 6 ovest instead of platform 6. We checked the departure time table and found another train leaving in 5 minutes so we sprinted over to the the other platform. We arrived at our next stop just before 11am and ran to the bus stop to see the bus leave just as we were getting to it. I checked the bus time table board and ran in the direction the arrow pointed. After 10 minutes running we stopped and asked a guy where the Ducatti Factory was only to find out it was in the opposite direction. We ran all the way back to the bus stop and checked the schedule. As we had to meet at the Ducatti factory gates and 11:15am for a pre booked tour we couldn`t be late. The next bus was due at 11:05am. At 11:06am I started pacing and it finally arrived at 11:09am. We took the bus to the third stop, jumped off, and ran all the way to the Ducatti factory. Phew!!! We arrived puffing and sweating at 11:14am.
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We were taken through with a group of others to pay our tour fee. Once completed we headed through to the factory floor for a very quick and barely audible tour of the factory. Needless to say John and I were lagging quite a bit in most areas. We were taken through the manufacturing and assembly line from where the engines are built piece by piece and then assembled onto the frame, right through to the point of testing in a sound proof bay... which with all the noise of the Ducatti wasn`t all that sound proof! The bikes are then shipped naked to their destination where the shipping company apparently puts the fairing on. As usual no photos were allowed. After the factory tour we were led through to the museum and shown a lot of bikes right from the beginning of Ducatti through to present day super bikes and the gorgeous 916`s (not so present day) and 1198`s.
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Once the tour concluded we decided to head to Modena and then Maranello to see the Ferrari museum with an Australian couple who we met on the tour. We walked down to the bus stop and while waiting James and I headed across the road to purchase some lunch. Just as our lunch was heating up the bus arrived so we attempted to speak Italian to get our lunch. John held the bus by asking the bus driver silly questions until we got there! We headed to the Bologna train station, jumped the next train to Modena and arrived about 50 minutes later. We then caught a bus and arrived at Maranello at about 3:30pm to the sweet sound of a GT car testing on the Maranelo test track. We headed to the Ferrari factory with offers along the way to test drive a Ferrari for 100 Euros for 10 minutes. By the time we got to the Ferrari museum it was down to 60 Euros. This was really tough for me as this was something I desperately wanted to do. I thought about it whilst we went through the Ferrari museum. They had everything from there very first formula 1 cars right through to last years F1 car, the latest GT car and the latest models of consumer cars.
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Their were Bose sound rooms to listen to the sweet sound of the Ferrari at different rpms, computers to set up your own Ferrari for racing and... well loads of other stuff too! We had a cafe latte, yes this time I actually got one, and then headed down to the Maranello test track. We climbed the fence and watched the latest Ferrari F1 car going through its paces on the test track which was EPIC!!! We climbed the fense and hang onto the fense so we could get an unobstructed view. By the end of it my muscles were killing me.
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This was an unexpected supprise and probably the highlight of the day! Eventually we headed back to the bus station and in turn to the train station and bid farewell to our Australian friends. We found a supermarket, bought a panini each, a bottle of water and a bag of cookies. We headed back to the train station and caught our train. We arrived into our second last stop, Arezzo, at 10:30pm. Whilst checking the train time table we found that there were no more trains to Sinalunga till the morning. We eventually bartered a taxi driver down to 55 Euros and after getting lost once arrived into Sinalunga just before midnight. I think the days transportation cost came out at about 60 Euros each!

Posted by classique 02:22 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

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