Thursday, August 21, 2014

Our Italian holiday - Rome

Rome was our first stop. 

After more than 6 months of preparation, with much excitement and anxiety, my wife and I landed in Rome Campinion Airport on 26/7/2014 at about 11:00 local time.

It was a free & easy self-planned holiday which will bring us to Rome, Assisi, Florence, Padua, Venice and Milan in Italy.

I have consulted many people on my itinerary including hotel and train tickets bookings.

I wished that our German friend Gerd would be our captain to free me from all the head-scratching preparations. He is a meticulous planner. Indeed he offered to plan for us using Berlin as base. However,  due to time constraint, we were not able to add Berlin as our destination on this European trip. (See old posting Good times in Germany)

Raymond Hooi, a seasoned back-pack traveler, helped me tremendously by giving many useful tips and information based on his own experiences.

For Rome accommodation, Fr. Julian Leow (now Archbishop-elect) so kindly recommended a religious Convent which offered simple but comfortable room with good rate. Besides giving me a lot of useful tips, he also lent me many books and magazines on Rome, Vatican and other places of pilgrimage.

Fr. Simon Ee, CDD priest who is studying in Venice was also my Samaritan, furnishing me with important information on Venice and other Italian cities.

This was our first time to Rome. We had heard so much about pick-pockets, robberies and scams happening to tourists in Rome and other cities.

Language barrier also a great concern to us.

However, to our surprise, Italians are friendly and helpful people. Even with little understanding of English, when asked, they would response to your questions courteously and assist you in whatever they can. No one would wave you off or shake his head to turn you away.

The first place we visited was The Vatican -  the spiritual heart of the Catholic Church.

The 3 major places must visit in Vatican are St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel. We have also pre-booked to see the Necropolis, the underground archelogical excavation site under the Basilica St. Peter, where St. Peter's tomb was found.

Vatican Museum has a collection second only to the Louvre. It has 53 galleries stretching almost 10 kms route. In 2013, about 5.5 millions people visited the Museum.

We decided to join a guided tour with professional guide in order to know and appreciate the history and great treasure of the Catholic church. The tour covered Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica. 

The best to describe St. Peter's Basilica is : GRAND, HUGH, BEAUTIFUL and HISTORICAL.

We also visited 3 other major Basilica outside the Vatican -  Basilica St. Paul, Basilica St. John Lateran and Basilica Mary Major.

I found Basilica Mary Major is the most conducive and solemn for personal prayer and reflection.

We have visited many other churches and tourist attractions in Rome. Regretfully, the Trevi Fountain was closed for renovation, and the Spanish Steps was cordoned off at the road level for some function.

From Rome, we traveled to Assisi by train.

(See Rome 1 pictures in Facebook)

(See Rome 2 pictures in Facebook)

(See Rome 3 pictures in Facebook)

Story and pictures continues ... by part.  

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