Sunday, 29 May 2016

Italy: Florence Part 4

السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته and good day!

Continued from part 3.It's been a while since I last updated this blog about the Italy trip. I've been swamped to my neck with labwork. Well, what can you do? That's the life of a PhD candidate.

This'll be the last part for Florence. So for our last day in Florence, we decided to go to the furthest part which are near the river. This time, because our accommodation has changed and we already need to take a bus to go to the city, it'll be easier for us to go straight to the Piazza de Santa Croce directly from our accommodation.

Near our accommodation, there's a big supermarket where we bought some food and drinks before moving on to our journey. 

We only need to take one bus to go to Santa Croce. One bus ticket costs €1.20 if you buy from a shop and not the bus driver. we bought a 4 journey ticket which costs us €4.20 each which is a huge save. 

Everytime you take the bus, you need to validate your ticket on the bus, at a machine usually located near the driver or the middle of the bus. If not, you'll risk having to pay a fine of €40 or more. So it's better to always validate your ticket. Sometimes when it was peak hour and the bus is all packed, we didn't get a chance to validate, so we saved some journey where we can use the same ticket. But that was lucky and depending on situation. So rather than taking that risk, it's better to always validate your tickets.

Moving on, from the bus stop, we need to walk a bit to go to the Santa Croce. We saw this gorgeous terrace with the purple flower outside. Made me feel I'm in the movie called 'Under the Tuscan Sun'. Florence is part of Tuscany after all. 

Even their recycling bins are so unique.

Tadaa....the view from Santa Croce. The Santa Croce is the huge cathedral that we saw from on top of Duomo before. 

The Santa Croce..

We didn't went inside because we had enough of cathedrals and churches already. 

My bestie's labmate who is from Florence told us to go to Uffizi.

So off we go..

This street is called Gepetto, so naturally, there'll be Pinocchio here..haha..

To those who didn't watch Disney movies, Gepetto is Pinocchio's father (the carpenter that made him).

Uffizi is a museum, or you might call it as a gallery. It's a brown building, kind of looked like a castle. Not as interesting as the plaza in front of it.

The plaza itself is quite famous, where there's a lot of statues made by famous artist including Michelangelo. I didn't take any pictures because, well...they are all naked. 

This is inside of the gallery...more stairs...To go here, you can either buy a ticket at the booth or online. I would advice you to buy them online because the line is quite long. Not for buying the tickets but for entering. Even if you've bought them online, you still need to go to the ticket counter for them to give you the actual ticket (which i don't see the point of this), but it'll take less time. 

Let me just say this up front, this gallery is very famous, but frankly, I wasn't interested. maybe because most of the displays are more to Christian history (more like stories because they're not true). Paintings, sculptures from artists interpreting the bible from their own point of view.

The only thing that made me interested was these two displays. See the pictures?

These are the portraits of rulers during the Ottoman Empire. There's Sultan Mahmud I and II, Sultan Muhammad III and many more. Part of Italy was once ruled by the Ottoman Empire after they defeated the Byzantine. 

We were more excited about the view outside because it is located next to the river.

After Uffizi, we went to the riverside to cross it through the Ponte Vecchio (Vecchio bridge). It was built during the Roman Empire, but after it was destroyed by flood, they rebuild it again. 

The bridge host many shops since the day it was built (like the old London bridge before it collapsed). Before, there were carpenters and butchers' shop, nowadays, there's jewellers, art dealers and souvenir shops instead. 

Locals say, the bridge will light up at night due to the shiny and dazzle from the gold that were sold here. I'll show you later in this post.

Next to it is Ponte Santa Trinita.

After a long walk, we went for a gelato hunt. my bestie's labmate suggested this place which was said to be the best gelato in Italy!

See the line? 

There were so many choices of flavours. the price was reasonable too! and the!!!

After the glorious refreshment, we prayed at a nearby park, and off to the next destination.

On the way to Forte de Belvedere is the Palazzo Pitti. Of course we didn't enter because we were running out of time.

The place was on top of a hill

We pushed through eventhough we felt like fainting.

We looked at the time, and we decided to cancel going to the fort and went to Piazzale Michelangelo instead. You'll see why we were in such a hurry.

Going to Piazzale Michelangelo was an uphill journey too. This time, it's even steeper than before.

When we finally reached the top..viola!!!

We sat at the huge steps where you can see the whole of Florence.

There's many people here, but everyone behaved so well. No one were pushing or blocking other people from enjoying the view. 

The best part was the entertainment. huhu...The atmosphere was so great for a sunset view.

Now lets look at the bridge...Can you see the glow? Those are the glow from the gold shops!

This picture gives a better view. Cool right?!

Normal light will not give such a strong hue. 

Back to the sunset. 

Such a gorgeous view..totally worth the climb.

We sat here until it was dark to bask in the view

Chubbiness still remains

This is the main attraction here. It's a statue of David. Then again, he's naked. I had to take a picture from his sides in order not to see his weenie. blurghh...

So that's it from Florence. I'll continue for Pisa after this. 

Until next time...

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Italy: Florence Part 3

السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته and good day!

Continued from Part 2

After we stretched our legs going up the dome and the bell tower, (total steps taken was 877!! pffttt) we went to the synagogue since we missed it on the first day.


You can see the synagogue from afar.

I've always wanted to see the inside of a synagogue since I've never been into one. I've been to a lot of cathedrals, churches, basilica, but never a synagogue. I almost got the opportunity to go when I was in Cordoba (I haven't written a post about it yet...huhu..), but it was closed then too. 

*We weren't allowed to take any cameras or phones inside the synagogue, so these pictures are from google.

To enter the synagogue, you have to pay for the tickets which costs 16 each. It was a bit expensive if you ask me. You'll see in a minute. When we arrive, it was already almost 4pm, so there weren't a lot of people here. Plus, this place close at 5pm.

At the entrance, there's the ticket booth, lockers where you need to put all your bags in (nothing is allowed in, including cameras, phones, food and drink) and a glass door, kind of look like a revolving door, but smaller. So after you've secured your bags and belongings in the locker, you need to push the green button to open the glass door, you enter the 'chamber'. it'll scan you, then the other glass door will open. Sort of like if you didn't pass the metal gates at the airport where you need to be scanned extra inside the x-ray chamber (probably like this at certain airports only). 

The security was super tight here. There's even an army, fully loaded and armed standing outside the gates and the entrance for people that wanted to go for prayer. 

As we enter, the courtyard was very quiet. There was a small garden in front. So we went inside, at the door, there's a basket of kippah for the men to wear. This is what a kippah is to those who don't know. I have an officemate who wear this everyday. 

Photo by google.

We decided to go to the museums upstairs first to see what's there before entering the prayer hall. The museum comprises of two floors.

It's a good thing there's a lift here. We had enough of stairs for one day.

We went to the top floor first, there's a whole lot of things about jewish history, and history about the italian jew.

I guess we were pretty tired from all the climbing, so we just walked past the displays and didn't really read much. There's a few Torahs on display as well.

In the synagogue, prayer halls are separated between male and female. Female prayer hall is located on the first floor while men prayer hall is at the main hall, located at the ground floor. Almost like mosques and musollas where male and female have separate rooms for prayer. 

We suddenly realised that the prayer hall will be closed earlier than the museum, so we decided to skip the first floor after seeing the female prayer hall and went down to the ground floor to see the main prayer hall.

The arrangement is almost similar to a church, except instead of facing forward, their main focus in at the centre where the podium will be placed and where the priest (or known as Rabbi in Hebrew) will stand and give his sermon and readings from the Torah. It forms sort of like a circular shape, if in Islam, we call it as halaqah. 

We sat on the chair for a bit to rest our legs. The chairs have a small pull out table, most probably for them to put their book of prayers and stuff. 

There's also a souvenir shop located beside the prayer hall, and that was it.

I told you there's nothing much, and I think the amount to pay for the entrance is way to much for this. 

We went back to our accommodation after that. 

Until next time....