Day 3 ~ 29th March 2016 ~ Apna Luck Pehnke Chalo
Before you start, have a sneak peak of Day 1 & 2 here ->
Last night we had a looooong discussion among us, whether to go to Ostia beach or to Pompei, then we had a vote, and I lost it 1 to 3. Little we knew at that time, you must have heard of divine intervention, but would never thought of it the other way.
All of us woke up pretty late and lazy, and started for Pompei @ 10.30. Bus took us to Roma Termini station, the largest one of the country, and possibly the best train station I’ve seen so far. It took us a few minutes to find the ticket counter, paid a premium price for the train to Naples, only to discover that no fast return train was available, travelling for 170 minutes in a public train with a super-active kid like mine, where our seats are not guaranteed, is a dreadful thought. So I was thinking of cancelling the ticket and visit Ostia instead, but Avishek da luckily found an intercity train that was faster and with reserved seats.
They say Frecciarossa is Italy’s pride, truly it is. Though the train was 15 minutes late (that’s nothing new to Bengalis, being late is something we do out of mere reflex), it took us to Naples in just 1 hour, travelling at a speed of 300 km/hr!
Back in UK, Sukriti da had preached us about three golden rules of being in Naples Station.
- Do not talk to strangers.
- Keep your kid clutched to your chest.
- Be watchful. Getting robbed is easier than counting stars in a clear sky.
And we followed those by heart! I was even afraid of stepping outside the station for buying some food. Brave heart Avishek da performed that dreadful task. Tanmoy bought our tickets to Pompei, somehow managed to get a timetable and announced himself as the ‘Who-Knows-All’ of the train line. We all followed him as the sheep follow the Shepherd. But the Shepherd landed us in a wrong train. Thanks to that immensely beautiful lady with blonde hair and pink lips and husky voice who suggested us to get off at the next station and to take a train to Pompei.
The train took us to Pompei in 40 minutes. As the Excavation site does not have a toilet, all of us suddenly started sensing full bladder and rushed to one, That took around 10 minutes. Then bought few bottles of water and reached the ticket counter, only to find that the counter has closed! Just 4 minutes ago! Just 4 minutes! 4 minutes are like 4 milliseconds to us Bengalis, but that old hag would not understand, refused to give us any ticket.
All of us were out of words, Jayee took a futile attempt in convincing the guard to let us get in. With stooping shoulders we returned to the station, booked ticket to Sorrento, which has one of the best beaches in Amalfi coast. Spent few hours there and returned to our hotel, wagging our tails.
P.S – The only good thing that happened today is the dinner, warm rice and chicken curry, Bangaliana zindabaad! Signing off tonight, tomorrow I have a date with the Pope!
Day 4 ~ 30th March ~ Paint My Heart
Today we’ve learnt from yesterday’s mistake and took off at 9 (This is a sly attempt to make you read my last two entries ;-)). Took a bus to Napolitano metro station and reached Ottaviano, the metro stoppage for Vatican City. Betu is getting more clever nowadays, whenever she gets bored sitting on her pram, she starts crying, with dry eyes and mostly looking at strangers. Does she manage to get any compassion out of those people around her? She increases the pitch by a few more decibels. Then after achieving her goal she promptly switches back to her own self, as if nothing has happened!
Just before entering the museum, we bumped into a travel agent who then offered us guided Vatican tour that would include entry to the dome of St. Peters Basilica, all for 15 Euros each. The Bengali in me quickly took over and grabbed that deal. Ticket to the dome is 6 Euros each, so for only 9 more Euros we can have a guide as well! That’s damn cheap in contrast to the Vatican’s own guides who would take 30 Euros each.
The guide was OK, Italian with weird English accent. But that didn’t bother me. Vatican itself is magnificent place, with impeccable pieces of arts scattered everywhere, from Byzantine era till the Renaissance. You think of a good piece of craft, and it is there. I wonder may be even the toilet seats in Vatican are adorning oil paintings. Once upon a time the Roman empire engulfed almost half of the world, so you will find a piece of beauty from almost every corner of the world. That’s why a model of Sphinx guards the stairways, or you see a fresco of an African lady in a land full of Caucasians. This is the place where you would realize what a magnificent creature human beings are.
But nothing can beat that moment when you would breath in an air full of Michelangelo. Yes I am talking about the Sistine chapel. That guy painted 366 frescoes on the walls and ceiling of Sistine Chapel taking 4 years, and each one of them is a masterpiece. The most famous of them being the Adam and God (remember the Nokia ad? with two fingers touching together). Though it was prohibited, I could not help myself and took a few snap, doing something what you are not supposed to do has its own charm.
Our beloved guide deserted us at the Sistine chapel gate, and only then we discovered that we are not getting any entry to the dome of the Basilica, feeling cheated we went back to the travel office and after a long argument managed to get the refund.
St. Peters Basilica is enormous, a Mecca for all Christianity. One huge complex (think of our Netaji indoor stadium, it is that big) with the shape of a crab with the body of the crab being the basilica itself. Designed by Michelangelo, decorated by Bernini, Raphael, Bramante, it is an epitome of 16Th century art form, the most famous one being the Pieta by Michelangelo. The dome itself is something to admire for hours. We approached the elevator, but even after that we had to climb 200 steps! Most of them were narrow even for one person, but the view from the top was truly worthy. You can look at the entire city horizon and can appreciate the amazing symmetry Bernini achieved at that time.
Our next stop was Gallaria Borghese. It has a timed entry. Ours were from 5pm, but we got out of the basilica at 4.30! Rushed to take a tram, that took us to the other side of the park where the museum is. Ran like mad cows for 15 minutes and finally got our tickets. This gallery is the world’s best museum of private collection.
Scupione Borghese got married to Napoleon’s sister Pauline, and received a huge fortune (hmm, dowry!) from Napoleon as his art collection (the ones he looted around the world). The Borghese family acted as patron for young Bernini and Caravaggio (as did the Medicis for Da Vinci). The result is a true spectacle, again a constant shower of heavenly art forms on your eyes.
Finished the day in a true Italian style. Went to a posh Italian restaurant, had Ravioli with Ricotta cheese and spinach (type of stuffed pasta), Pasta with aubergine in tomato sauce, Lasagna and prosciutto (salt cured ham) with Mozzarella cheese. Stop drooling now, or you will ruin your mobile or laptop screen.
P.S – I had a thought today. What is that we have lost since the renaissance? Why can’t we remember a single art form of last 200 years? Is it because we are too much into a materialistic world today, drifting further away from spiritualism! I may be wrong, enlighten me if you can.
BTW, tomorrow we are reaching the heart of renaissance, Florence. Yeh thi khabrein aj tak, intezar kijiye kal tak.
Author: Anirban Ghosh
Image Courtesy: Anirban Ghosh
Image Design & Copyrights: Anari Minds