The beauty of Rome is one that can be viewed internally, as well as externally. The more you understand about Continue reading
Rome: the capital city where its country’s history vibrates through every crack in the pavements, and every Continue reading
As an American transfer student studying full time in Rome, I’ve had the opportunity to travel all over Europe by myself and with others. With Rome as my home base, there has been a very fun and, at times, challenging transition process. This is the beginning of a series discussing this transition and what other Americans visiting Rome should expect.
A hush spread over the piazza as the cinema screen lit up. The crowd held its breath as the opening credits appeared on the screen, and the silence was total as the spine-chilling notes of the film’s theme rang out, reverberating on the medieval palaces and cathedral surrounding the audience. The last of the sunlight faded, and the stars came out as I and another thousand people began to lose ourselves in a cinematic classic: Francis Ford Coppola’s ‘The Godfather’.
Sitting there in the darkness, back pressed uncomfortably against a pillar and knees pulled up to my chin, I was in ecstasy. All eyes were drawn to the stylishly violent story playing out on the screen, lost in this tale of family and loyalty and pride. Three hours later, after the applause had died out, I walked home in a daze — first with fellow members of the audience thronging the narrow alleys, and eventually by myself, wandering through the porticoed streets and squares.
I had come to Bologna with little in mind, to a city which I had originally planned to be the final stop on an ambitious journey from the heel of Italy’s boot all the way up to the thigh. However, due to other commitments this was not to be, and grand plans for sightseeing all along the Adriatic coast had dissolved into just an extended city break. I had almost no knowledge of the city’s history, and was only really aware of its fortuitous location on some major railway routes to other cities.
I didn’t know what to expect of Bologna. But what I found, I liked immensely.
The large medieval city is focused on Piazza Maggiore, surrounded by Bologna’s cathedral, city hall, and other important buildings as well as shops and restaurants. Just a few steps away you can find two of the last of Bologna’s medieval tower houses, built by wealthy patrician families. At one point, there were around a hundred of these tall, slim brick towers crowding the Bologna skyline, and ranging from 60-90 metres in height. Most are gone now, but at this busy intersection the Asinelli and Garisenda towers lean at a crazy angle, looming over the traffic and pedestrians below. Continue reading
Bari. La Perla d’Apulia. Well… the biggest city in the south of Italy after Naples that’s got a bit of a beach and an alright Old Town. It may not be the biggest tourist destination of the region, but its main selling point is the port. The Porto di Bari is the doorway to the Balkan Peninsula and the means by which travellers and holiday-makers alike, sated with the delights of Italy and Western Europe, travel towards the Middle East. In fact, it was in Bari that a group of 11th century sailors deposited the bones of Saint Nicholas (affectionately known to you and I as Father Christmas, or Santa Claus), after seizing them from the Byzantines in what is now Demre, Turkey.
Multiple ferry lines serve the Port of Bari and you can travel from Bari to Croatia, Montenegro, Albania and Greece. We had a bit of a nightmare figuring out where we were meant to go once we actually got to the port and would have appreciated some advice beforehand, so for those of you packing up your bags and choosing a more novel way of travelling than flying this summer, here is my Bari Port How-To Guide.
1. Book your tickets online. You can do this via Direct Ferries www.directferries.com. Prices are actually very reasonable. For a two-berth cabin without a window (but with a washbasin) on the ferry that serves Dubrovnik, we paid under £300 return between us. I would recommend a cabin, as at peak times these ferries get VERY busy and it’s a long night if you’ve nowhere to doss down. It is of course cheaper to go without and choose ‘deck space’ (which can be anything from a reclining chair if you’re one of the first on board, to a bit of floor in the corner of the restaurant), so it’s up to you. You have to decide how hardy a traveller you are and what you’re planning to do on arrival. Personally, I wanted to get the most out of my day, so was happy to spend a bit extra for a semi-decent sleep.