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Enjoying the vista in Italy

By Denebola
Published: September 2007

By David Gabriel

This summer I visited Italy, a nation that prides itself on its rich and fascinating history and culture. We flew into Rome. The first three days of our trip, we lived in an apartment a block from the Piazza Navona, a major square containing several churches, over two dozen restaurants, delicious gelato, and a beautiful fountain with a statue of the Roman gods. The plaza became a center for tourists and locals to interact and featured many performances. A local guitarist performed American rock songs by artists such as Pink Floyd and the Eagles. Another night, a break-dance group performed in the plaza with the beat of Italian and British techno and strobe lights.

Rome has more to offer than its nightlife. As the center of the Catholic faith, Vatican City is also found in Rome. The line for the Sistine Chapel was four blocks long, but the view from St. Peters Basilica was jaw-dropping. We also spent a day in Ostea Antica, a once important naval base in the outskirts of Rome, now a partially dug archaeological site. 

On our last day, we visited the Coliseum and the Roman Forum. Though most of the Ancient structures built by the Romans have long since crumbled, the Coliseum stands higher than most modern structures in Rome. The Roman Forum, a vast pile of fallen structures, pagan temples refurnished with Christian symbols, and monumental buildings, was spectacular. We also visited the Jewish synagogues of Rome, which are guarded by the Caribinieri, the military police of Italy.

Next, we took a speed train to Venice. Venice, a city literally built on water, is tragically sinking. The city is shaped like a fish, with the “Grand Canal” cutting through the “gut of the fish.” The city of Venice was once the city of the greatest navy and trading port in all of Italy, now it is a society based on tourism. The many small canals with miniature bridges link through this very dense city. The lack of roads and streets forbid motorists from entering the city, therefore, the only way to navigate the city is by walking or taking a boat.

After Venice we traveled to the Cinque Terre, a group of five coastal towns, all part of the “UNESCO World Heritage Sites.” These five towns were all built into the surrounding hills and mountains. Unlike Venice, the Cinque Terre do not rely only on tourists, it is also a centre for succulent seafood and its vineyards are based on an irrigation system that runs upon the hillsides.

The next week of our trip, was to the vineyards of Tuscany. We stayed on a villa with my extended family, and each day visited the historical cities throughout Tuscany. My favorite town was San Gimignano, a hilltop medieval city that features fourteen towers, and is famous for its delicious white wine, Vernaccia di San Gimignano. We also visited Florence, the capital of the Tuscany region. The city features the Accademia di Belle Arti Firenze, a museum which holds Michelangelo’s statue of David as well as many of his other pieces. I was struck by the incredible beauty of this piece and the general atmosphere of high culture and ancient history surrounding me. Traveling to Italy was a truly fascinating experience and I hope to return soon.

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