Travel

Rome & Florence

So it’s been a couple of months since my last update. At that time I was up to my eyeballs in Java ME and mobile phones but thanks to some proof-reading from Andrew and some late nights from me I got my MSc project in on time. I also got my exam results which, if my calculations are correct, mean that if I get a good mark for my project I should be on target for a distinction on my MSc.

We’ve actually done quite a bit in the last two months. This year we decided to go to the Last Night of the Proms and to get tickets we had to book for six other concerts in the series. The concerts were great; we saw Evgeny Kissin, Maxim Vengerov, we even saw the Queen on a night when the Albert Hall felt like a tropical rainforest, only smellier. I love the Albert Hall but it doesn’t do hot weather and when the temperature soared the inside of the hall took on its own atmosphere. Literally. There was a clearly visible miasma obscuring the ceiling.

We also went to Glyndebourne to see Fidelio. Glyndebourne is always fun and this year we ordered the picnic which was fantastic if a little over-priced at £45 a head. But there’s nothing like sitting on a rug in evening dress sipping champagne and watching the sheep in the field next door. The performance was very good and we were sitting a few seats away from Ralph Fiennes

We’ve also been on two trips. One to the Lake District which was wonderfully relaxing. We stayed in a beautiful cottage called Southerdale and went for vigourous walks in the beautiful countryside. There are photos in the gallery.

Our second trip was a Grand Tour of Rome and Florence where we saw great works of art, ancient Roman architecture, drank coffee in beautiful piazzas and ate gelati every day. The weather was absolutely fantastic and there are photos of that trip in the gallery too. For the benefit of mum and dad who are visiting there soon, here is my “Things to see and do in Rome and Florence”:

  • Rome
    • Piazza Navona
    • St Peter’s – go at lunch time to beat the queues
    • Vatican Museum – expect to queue for an hour, but the Sistine Chapel is worth it
    • The Pantheon is amazing
    • Approach Piazza del Campidoglio from Piazza d’Aracoeli
    • Walk to the right of the building behind the equestrian statue in the Campidoglio for a great first view of the Roman Forum
    • Enter the Forum on the other side of this building and buy a ticket for the Palatine Hill and the Colosseum at the ticket office in the Forum (thanks Mark & Marnie)
  • Florence
    • In Chiesa di Santa Croce, the Secondo Chiostro is a lovely quiet cloister that is bypassed by most of the tourists
    • The Bargello is a great museum, well worth seeing, with not many tourists
    • Climb the Duomo and the Campanile. The Duomo is a bit higher and gives you a closer view of the inside of the dome but the Campanile lets you take photos of Florence with the dome itself in the frame…
    • Pizzaria Piccadilly on Via Por S. Maria (the Ponte Vecchio street) has cheap pizza slices and you can sit in
    • Borgo Antico is a fantastic, authentic trattoria in the lovely Piazza Santo Spirito on the other side of the river
    • You should take a quick look inside the interesting church of Orsanmichele
    • You can miss the Palazzo Vecchio if you have limited time
    • You should call to reserve tickets to the Uffizi at least two days in advance then you can pick them up and not join the Line That Never Moves like the other suckers
    • The frescoes in Capella Brancacci are lovely if you have the time
    • Gelati at Festival del Gelato on Via del Corso just off Via dei Calzauoli. Kathryn recommends the chocolate profiterole flavour
    • Lots of nice sweet things at Scudieri on Piazza del Duomo
    • You can visit Pisa in less than a day
    • Look in the jewellery shop windows on Ponte Vecchio
    • Rub Il Porcellino’s nose at the Mercato Nuovo – go after dinner to escape the crowds of tourists doing the same
    • Caffe Perseo on Piazza della Signoria is lovely place for breakfast in the morning sun

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