Rome, the Eternal City


A Youth Backpacker in Europe

Part II Chapter VII

Rome, the Eternal City


IMG_7309If Rome, or Roma in its native language, which is also the phonetic translation of he city in Mandarin language, was not built within a day, then visiting Rome is surely not a one-day affair.

People call this the “Eternal city” because of its uninterrupted history as an important centre of power for more than two millennia. I call this the eternal city because of the energy that sprawls across the city and creeps in slowly in the soul of every visitor. From my experience, the city had never fallen asleep and that was what madIMG_7313e it go ad infinitum, or eternal.

Limited by historic importance, Rome is connected by only two underground lines. It seems unattainable, especially during peak hours when the smell of perspiration in the non-air-conditioned and jam packed undergrounds becomes almost unbearable or powerful enough for a massacre order.

However, the good news is with all the major historical Roman Empire structures, for examples, the Colosseo, Palatino and Foro Romano, erected in close proximity  with each other, foot accessibility is IMG_7336highly viable.

In fact, exploring the city by foot should be recommended as there is no other way better than walking to really immerse oneself in the immense energy constantly released by the city. However, with the famous chaotic traffic, the city is surely not a safe place for accident prone travellers.

Although the aforementioned tourist attractions are just a stone throw away from each other, to visit all of  them in a day would be a painful experience. Stayed in Rome for four days, I literally visited the same IMG_7478area of Rome for the first three days just to allow myself to digest the dazzling array of impressive, splendid, magnificent and gigantic structures. I reckon the only battle was sore foot.

However, these are not all. Whether or not I was visiting the Colosseo on that particular day, my ideal beginning of the day was always to stop at Colosseo station, spent time admiring the ancient oval structure whilst accompanied by the fresh start of Rome traffic,  before continued with my remaining agendas.

From the IMG_7516iconic Colosseo, it was extremely pleasant to stroll through the archeologically vital Foro Romano, and then to pass by the giant white Piazza Venezia, and then to arrive at the arguably most visited fountain of the world – Fontana di Trevi, before finally reaching Piazza di Spagna for a taste of high end fashion, or an indulgence of Italian ice-cream.

My Milanese hosts told me to really get see the living  culture of Rome, I have to visit to Trastevere. However, it was unfortunately that I wasn’t able to allocate time for it. That of course I spent half a day visited Lido di Ostia for a taste of equally bitterly cold Tyrhennian SeaIMG_7537 in September and also another day with my host in Rome.

However, with Italian pizza so cheaply available at every corner, with a spoilt choice of Italian ice-cream, with a friendly host in Rome, I do not find myself refraining from visiting the city again.

To answer why Rome is always such a buzz to people around to world, you really have to go there to understand the reasons.




IMG_7444 IMG_7467

Venice, the Sinking City

A Youth Backpacker in Europe

Part II Chapter VI

Venice, the Sinking City


Venice is very beautiful.

That’s the arguably the first utterance of people related to Venice. Undoubtedly, it is unique; an entirely auto-free archipelago surrounded by numerous meandering canals and is connected by more than 400 bridges. Not to mention also is the world renowned gondolas that promise to burn your pocket mercilessly.

Venice is said to be virtually the same as it was six  hundred years ago and many believe the romantic charm remains even in this fast paced century.

Canal1When I was in Milan, one of my hosts shared his love story with me. He and his girlfriend weren’t lovers back then. But during his now girlfriend stay in Venice, he went to Venice and proposed a relationship with  her, which was fruitful of course, under the famous Realto Bridge followed by strolling a night out in the late summer breeze.

Indeed, the atmosphere of Venice was certainly conducive for the invention of many romantic epics that would be dwelt upon with great relish for at least a period of a life time. But perhaps avoiding the summer vacation period would be Canal2a requisite condition.

Travelled alone to Venice in mid September, I was as usual never short of company from the swamps of international tourists. It was especially true when I was at the Realto Bridge, impressing myself with the breathtaking and mesmerising view of the Grand Canal. I endeavoured to paint a very romantic love story with prevailing couple kissing passionately at the proximity of the bridge.

Sadly, the constant camera shutter beeping and the proverbial “say cheese” chant inevitably pulled my legs down to the ground for the entire time. Fortunately, I didn’t get hit by camera as I had Realtoexperienced in Musée de Louvre.

Celebrating my sheer luck in successful avoidance of camera accident, I noticed that in Venice, despite the fact that horrendous Italian English is as cliché as Venice is very beautiful, every Italian was surprisingly fluent in English. If intoxicated in an incomprehensible foreign language is your kind of romantic illustration, I am afraid it will render a pathetic outlook here. Not to forget is also the potential grimace of pain on your face whilst squeezing in your path on the jam-packed Realto Bridge.

Enough about Realto Bridge, what about Saint Mark’s Square and Saint Mark’s Basilica, and also the Venetian masks? GondolasWell, three words to describe these three objects: massive, splendid and plentiful respectively. 

Did I buy a Venetian mask? All I can say is instead of investing time and money in choosing the perfectly matched mask, I indulged in cone after cone of Italian ice-cream and satisfied with the purchase of a Venetian mask pin. What I looked forward to was not the worry of damaging the expensive mask in my luggage, but the immense energetic waving in front of me.

Join me next time in the grand entry to the ancient powerhouse, Rome, a.k.a. the SanMarcoSquareeternal city.


















Milano, the Glittering City

A Youth Backpacker in Europe
Part II Chapter V
Milano, the Glittering City

I was profoundly excited to have finally reached Italy, the arguably most frequented European country. Origin of Renaissance, Italian ice-cream, paradise of world leading fashion brands including my favourite Dolce and Gabbana, and the world renowned horniness of Italian men, the inundation of street kissing scenes and the constant bombardment of “Ciao bello!”, Italy surely never lacked of charming characteristics.

In Milano, the heaven for fashion lovers was however surprisingly less attractive. It was shocked to learn from my Milanese hosts that Milan is actually the most expensive city in Italy, even more so than the capital Rome, and the city is famous for businesses rather than tourism.

After three days in Milano, I couldn’t agree more with my hosts. The only attractions in the city were Piazza Duomo and Castello Sforzesco. Exacerbated by the gloomy weather and heavy downpour during my first day of visit, Milan was surely nothing more than a hectic business centre that was drenched in heavy wet blanket.

However, when the weather was delectable, it was definitely joyous to wander on the multiple-lane boulevard with a waffle con ice-cream capped with especially liquirizia flavour, and to immerse myself in the energetic and fast-paced atmosphere of the city.

I wasn’t stayed in the city centre. Instead, I spent my 4 days with my host in Inzago, a suburban area of Milano. It took me an hour of bus and underground rides each time before I reached the city centre. It is worth mentioning the difference between these two places despite the fact that they are just some tens of kilometres away.

The major distinction between Inzago and Milano was the disparity between the rich and poor. Certainly, the rich are those living in Milano city centre and the poor are the suburbanites.

It was very interesting to pass by the dazzlingly glamorous street cafés with people dressed up in flawlessly pressed suits or glimmering trendy dresses, as if they were gold coated statues posing with their extravagantly served Italian cuisines and sipping in their soul grasping cappuccino or espresso. You can tell from the scene that even the cameriere were attired in supreme quality uniform.

Contrary to the sparkling portrait of Milanese, people living in Inzago were severely plainly touched. However, the friendliness, the warming hugs, and the passionate culture sharing that got me accustomed to Italian culture sooner than I had anticipated, which were scarcely available in Milano centre was abundant here.

My hosts weren’t filthy rich people. In fact, they watched their spending cautiously. But during my stay in their house, the munificent of Italian hospitality was never inadequate. It was in their house that I truly experienced that an adventure in the local culture depends not on solvency. It could be simple garden picked fresh ingredients for pesto mixed with homemade penne pasta, accompanied by an afternoon of lazy conversation on a swinging chair with two gigantic and human language literate dogs.

English was of course a major obstacle. But the eagerness of Italian to make you understand of their conversations was what I truly appreciated.

It was indeed a good chapter of introduction to my Italian voyage and I was thankful to my Milanese hosts. They had given me the best hosting experience and they had surely proved friendly Italian hospitality plausible.

Continuing my journey, I came to Venice, the sinking city. Were there really artists clothed in Venetian masks in Piazza St. Marco? Join me next time in Sambal Delivery Post to find out.