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Saturday, 1 September 2007

CK Goes to Italy – Pompeii (Pompei)

Pompeii is one of the most visited places in Italy by the sea, and I couldn't have missed it. Therefore, on 7th of June, 2006, I decided to visit this astonishing old city buried by a disastrous volcanic eruption of Vesuvio (Mt. Vesuvius) in 79 A.D. which lasted for 3 days!

The common way of getting to Pompeii from Naples is by taking the Circumvesuviana, an LRT-like transportation. I should be boarding the train heading to Sorrento at Napoli Centrale station, but in a hurry, I jumped on a wrong train to Sorro instead. So, I quickly jumped off the train after one stop and returned to Napoli Centrale station to take the right train again. The train arrived at the Pompei Scavi Villa dei Misteri station at around 11:30 a.m.

This is the Basilica, but didn't function as a basilica as we know of today. It was the house of justice.

Well, I need to put myself there as a scale for you to imagine the size of the Basilica's column.

All judgements of rights and wrongs were all done beyond this entrance.

This is the forum of the ancient time, where people socialised. Vesuvio at the background was the culprit that destroyed its glory.

I wonder how many people have come and gone through these arches.

There are new lives on old ruins. There must be hope.

These are the remaining columns of an ancient temple.

And these are the remaining columns and capitals of an old government office.

All the artifacts excavated are displayed in the temporary warehouses, including a fossilised human figure.

The streets of Pompeii are still as busy as they once were.

This is an elaborately decorated fountain in one of the houses.

And this is the mosaic floor of a house with the figure that represent the sign of 'Beware of Dogs' today.

On one of the streets in Pompeii, I bumped into 袁勇 from China, a conference delegate I met at the 2nd fib Congress. Then we met another Japanese lady, 岸由美子, who's resided in Florence for many years following her Italian husband. So, that made us three in a company for exploring Pompeii further.

We first visited a bakery with conical stone grinders. An oven which is still intake can be seen at the back.

Then we admired some walls using rocks of different colours to form patterns.

We walked further west to Villa dei Misteri (the House of Mysteries), one of the best preserved houses after the volcano eruption; to look at some well-preserved wall paintings.

We went our separate ways as I wanted to explore further up hill but the two of them decided to walk through some other streets.

After circling round the old city walls, I finally made my way to the theatre, where some of the Japanese tourists were singing 'Sakura' to entertain us.

I rested on the theatre seat for a while, before I made my way out of Pompeii.

At a café along the way to the Circumvesuviana station of Pompei Scavi Villa dei Misteri, I bumped into 袁勇 and 岸由美子 again while they were sipping up their orange juice. I ordered a cappuccino and sat down with them to chit-chat about Asia, as 岸由美子 hasn't been back to her hometown for more than 10 years. We walked to the Circumvesuviana station together to take the train back to Naples and we had another round of great conversation on the train. I found out that all of us paid different prices for the return train tickets, mine being the most expensive! 岸由美子 even invited us to Florence but I don't know when I'm going to make it there again.

If you would like to read my other posts on Italy, these are the links:

Friday, 31 August 2007

CK Goes to Italy – Naples (Napoli)

My main purpose of going to this stunning city by the sea at the southern region of Italy was to attend the 2nd fib Congress, an engineering conference discussing the matters on structural concrete. I stayed in Naples from 4th to 11th of June, 2006, using it as a base for me to explore the other splendid towns and an island called Capri in the southern region of Italy, apart from the more serious business.

I went to the Museo Archeologico Nazionale on the very first afternoon right after I've settled myself down at the hotel booked through the conference organiser. Why was I in such a hurry? Because this museum is considered as the most important archaeological museum in Europe.

This is part of a mosaic floor in Pompeii showing Alexander the Great in a battle with a Persian troop.

This is the Persian King that Alexander was battling at. I can't remember the name of the Persian King, you can watch the movie to find out, hehe!

The figures of the horses were very precisely laid-out in the mosaics.

There are a lot more artifacts to look at in this museum, but I can't show all to you. Oh,ya! Did I mention that the gal ticket attendance stopped me at the entrance, not because of the ticket matter, but just to tell me that I'm cute! Haha!

After visiting the museum, I've got some serious business to attend to, i.e., attending the 2nd fib Congress at the Mostra d'Oltremare convention centre.

Near the convention centre stands a very unique weather station.

There is also a fountain, Fontana di Esedra, at the Mostra d'Oltremare.

At night, Fontana di Esedra was turned into a show of water, light and music, specifically for the conference delegates to sooth the tiredness from a whole day discussion of engineering matters.

Yet, more show of the water, light and music.

On one evening, I strolled along the waterfront to feel the atmosphere at dusk. I had the chance to look at the beauty of Vesuvio (Mt. Vesuvius) then.

There is an arch along the shore.

Along the waterfront, there's this Castel dell'Ovo built on rocks by the Spanish.

A long driveway leads the way into Castel dell'Ovo.

On another sunny day, I went roaming around Naples and spotted this very interesting castle called Castel Nuovo.

The castle pieces in chess were probably modelled through this.

This is a building near Piazza del Plebiscito which houses a shopping gallery.

The shopping gallery, Galleria Umberto, is covered with glass roof to allow naturally-lit shopping splendor.

Right in front of Piazza del Plebiscito is this splendid church called Chiesa di San Francesco di Paolo.

I took a closer look at the church to appreciate the architecture of a domed structure.

At night, Piazza del Plebiscito will be lit by these neo-classical street lights.

When I walked further down the street from Piazza del Plebiscito, the statue of Neptune of the Fontana di Nettuno is guarding a small square.

The lion on Fontana di Nettuno was spitting at me.

I boarded a very crowded bus to go to Corso Umberto I, and that's when I got pick-pocketed. I was already very cautious that I pressed my wallet in my front pocket against my thigh, but the gypsy lady was still able to pull all the banknotes out without me knowing it! Their skills are really beyond our imagination.

OK, unpleasant experience aside, I continued on my journey along Via Duomo to visit this Cattedrale.

After that, I took another bus to Cavour station to follow the metro train to the Amedeo station just to take Funicolare di Chiaia (funicular train) up the hill.

There is spectacular view of Naples up the viewing point of the hills.

Old and new buildings are sprawling throughout this city by the Mediterranean Sea.

I zoomed in to an old building, before I took the funicular train again downhill.

If you would like to read my other posts on Italy, these are the links:

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

CK Goes to Italy – Venice (Venezia)

Venice has been my dream destination for vacation since ten years ago, for her waterways that wind through the buildings. Not only until year 2006 that I had the chance to visit this captivating city built on water. I stayed in Venice from 29th of May to 3rd of June of that year just to explore her charm.

Waterways are the main transportation routes, as there are no motorways. As for me, I depended on my feet most of the time.

The streets are all very narrow around here, making it quite a challenge to navigate through them.

The signboards are not quite functional, as the streets are narrow and hard to locate landmarks. I depended on my instinct most of the time to walk my way through this labyrinth.

It's always interesting to get a little lost somewhere, as I could see the things on the routes less travelled.

The first two days of my time in Venice were wet days, and I need to get to the city by bus everyday as I was staying at a hotel near the Stazione Venezia Mestre which is 6 km west of the city centre.

Crossing bridges is inevitable in Venice.

The Venetians have most part of their life on water.

Probably it's the vast body of water here that produces these colourful and juicy vegetables.

And the colourful soaps that give off those distinctive fragrances too.

Probably it is those colours that inspired the crystal and glass crafts in Murano.

I could see abundance of arches here for the private boats to maneuver through.

Some of them are closed for public viewing.

Some balconies are elaborately decorated with flowers just to distract the people from peeping into the windows.

I took vaporetto No. 1 from Piazzale Roma on one sunny day to explore the Canal Grande (Grand Canal).

It was really an appealing experience to see those fascinating buildings rolling by.

Again and again.

And it was like there is no end to Venice's beauty.

Seeing a gondola gliding smoothly over the water is not uncommon.

And with the whole role of them parking by the dock is not an unfamiliar scene too.

There are only three main bridges that crosses the Canal Grande. Missing any one of them, you would need to take the traghetto (a type of small boat) to cross the canal. This bridge is called Ponte degli Scalzi.

This prominent bridge with shops along the bridge is Ponte Rialto.

The last one is Ponte dell'Accademia.

I boarded the vaporetto again on another sunny day to explore Venice until Piazza San Marco (St. Mark's Square).

I could see Chiesa di Santa Maria della Salute and the Campanile (bell tower) on board the vaporetto.

After the vaporetto had made a turn, then the Campanile and Palazzo Ducale (Doge's Palace) were in sight.

Can you tell who's taller? Sometimes matter is just over the mind, so why do we have to reckon to mind over matter? I'm happier to follow the flow of matter over mind, whatever will be, will be.

Chiesa di Santa Maria della Salute as viewed from ashore.

And I took a closer and more detailed view of the main dome of Chiesa di Santa Maria della Salute.

Basilica di San Marco stands proudly in front of Piazza San Marco under the storm clouds.

Taking a self-portrait in front of Basilica di San Marco is somehow mandatory.

Basilica di San Marco is "framed" by the arch of a nearby building. I like this shot very much myself. I waited for almost an hour for the ever-flowing crowd to assemble, and to be dismissed, just to get this shot without anybody down below the arch blocking the basilica.

This is how it looks inside Basilica di San Marco.

Another "framed" shot, but this time is the Campanile (bell tower) of the basilica.

The Campanile looks stunning even without the frame.

I took a lift up the Campanile to have a look on Piazza San Marco.

Another prominent building on Piazza San Marco is Palazzo Ducale.

When I was tired, I could always occupy a seat along the long corridor of Palazzo Ducale.

Adjoining Palazzo Ducale to the prison is the Ponte dei Sospiri (Bridge of Sighs).

I was sighing on Ponte dei Sospiri myself, as I realised that I am also a prisoner of sort; of love, of wealth, of fame.

Another top on the list place to visit is the Chiesa di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari situated on Campo dei Frari.

This church houses the treasures by the eminent Venetian painter, Titian, e.g., the enchanting Assunta on the high altar.

I took a look at the La Scale del Bovolo of the Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo.

And I listened to some Italian songs by this artist on the street, before I left Venice with a satisfactory smile.

If you would like to read my other posts on Italy, these are the links:

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