Italy bound#Shutterbug Sangeeta Sharma • September 1, 2016
I spent 2 weeks this summer travelling across Italy. I did not manage to cover much. But, it still feels like I did way too much. Italy does that to you. You don’t realize how much it holds till you get there. Every city held more stories than you had the time to explore. More meals than you could indulge in. More colours than you could identify.
I always thought that Rome would be a city that I would fit perfectly in. I had read its history for years. I knew a little about the political scenario. I have plenty of friends I have spent countless hours with who hail from there. The thing that surprised me the most that I was not prepared for was the decay. The city shows serious signs of crumbling under while the ruins stand tall. It contradicts itself that way. It’s a gorgeous city. Even so in the summer when everybody comes out every evening to the piatzzas just to enjoys a few hours of warmth. Every corner is filled with laughter and music. And alcohol. Lots of alcohol.
Since we were already in Rome, we decided to pop over to Naples for a slice of pizza. It was like walking into Chandni Chowk. This little city, with all its tiny lanes and constant chaos, makes you feel like you are home. Apart from the absolutely decadent pizzas (whole pizzas that you are expected to eat alone. No one shares their pies), the one thing that stuck with me is the on-going art project that has turned 13 metro stations into works of art. Every stop is designed by a different artist and should definitely not be missed. Also when its 37 degrees outside, the metro station’s air-conditioned interiors are a welcome relief.
Next on the agenda was driving from Rome to Florence via Siena through the Tuscan countryside. This is what I was secretly looking forward the most to, having read one too many sappy novels and watched more than my share of rom-com in my early 20s. I have to admit, with much pride, that it was the colours that I ended up falling in love with. The colours that made me put my camera down because no matter how hard I tried, I could not capture what I was seeing.
Then came Florence. Glorious, glorious Florence. If there is one place you need to go to, it’s this. Between the best Bloody Mary I have ever had, The Medici’s and all that they had built, realizing that I’m walking the streets that DaVinci did and the incredible Goose and Porcini pasta, this was my favourite stop. We drove into Florence at night and went straight for dinner before hitting our rooms. The drive led us to a huge square that houses the Duomo. In the moonlight, the sight can knock your socks off. You can bring a bottle of wine and sit on the street staring at it for hours.
My final stop was Venice. I still can’t figure if I loved it or hated it. It was hot, crowded, overpriced and smelly during the day. But when the sunset (about 9:30 pm), the city wrapped itself up in lights, silence and secret corners. I was told that the best way to experience the city was to sleep through the day and explore through the night. Best advice ever. Sit by the water with a bottle of wine as the lights bring the city to life (if you are lucky, it will rain a little) and take in the joy that is this country.
A few tips I followed that did and a few I wish I did:
- Try and skip the summer months. It’s hotter than you imagine and more crowded than you bargained for.
- Pick your favourite museum/church in every city and explore it well. They are so overwhelming that trying to do all of them will leave you having done none. The Vatican in Rome (I got lucky enough to catch a Banksy show too, so do your research beforehand), The Archaeological Museum in Naples, The Uffizi in Florence and the Penny Guggenheim in Venice. Saw them. Loved them.
- Take your time. Italy should not be rushed.
- Be ready to walk. Italy’s public transport isn’t as efficient as Paris’ or even Mumbai’s.
- Eat. Drink. Indulge. Don’t feel guilty