|People mountain people sea at the Trevi Fountain in Rome. My iPhone.|
- Day 1 - To Rome
- Day 2 - Historical Roma
- Day 3 - Of Medieval village & Italian wine
- Day 4 - The tour of Tuscany
- Day 5 - The Magic of Cinque Terre
- Day 6 - The Magnficent colours of Ligurian Italy
- Day 7 - Back to the Home of Gladiators
One day earlier several of us flew into Rome. It was summer. Days before, our advance party Mr Yik had already warned us that it was going to be hot with intermittent rain. Midday temperature in Summer could easily peak at over 30 degrees, but with little humidity I found myself no longer sweating buckets as I would have back at home. A constant layer of sheen on the surface of my skin was all the resemblance I had for perspiration.
Night time was a nice comfortable 20 degrees. And the air smelled nice and cool, like Ang Moh air like that.
|Our first dinner in Rome in Restaurant Trevi. [Photo: Eddy handphone]|
Celebration of old friendships and new acquaintances
Serene and I were very happy to be able to embark on this trip with many of my old friends. We started way back, when Singapore Trekker first organised its photography trip to Bromo and Borobodur in 2009. Over the years, our friendships blossomed, and Kai Sing, Alex, Lai Peng, David, Eddy, Serene and myself all did a sudden lateral migration from photography to cycling and then to some other bizzare physical acivities. Over time, some of our old friends had drifted elsewhere, and no amount of cajoling could bring them back to photography nor cycling. Having always been ones for friendship, we longed to reconnect with all my lost old friends. Still, personally both Serene and I were really thankful that we had Kai Sing, Joanne, Alex and Lai Peng as our travelling buddies; and Eddy and Michelle as our photography inspirations; and last but not least David as my photography big brother and my triathlon buddy. Of course those of my triathlon and English Premier League-crazy friends had always been close by.
Despite our new hobbies, the call of photography was constant, and photography never left us. Although it had been a long time since we did a photography trip together, I was so glad that we all finally were able to be here on this day, together with Joanne and Michelle, and our good old friend Mr Yik and Dorothy, and Jonathan.
Adrian was the one with whom we all went through tough and painful times with on some of the more siong trips, and with whom we enjoyed plenty of good times together. We'd always loved to disturb him and make him sweat during his tour with us. But we knew each other for so long, secretly I believed that he enjoyed our company.
Of course, no Singapore Trekker trip would be complete without having new friends. And on this lovely trip, we had the honour of Jeffrey Julianti, Albert and Joe with us. The circle was complete and we were ready to go.
What was this photography trip to Italy all about?
Honestly, unlike David who had photography flowing in his veins and who actually still actually shoot professionally for commercial properties, and Eddy, Kai Sing, Alex and Lai Peng who had been most excited about their latest Sony cameras, Serene and I remained stagnant with our old rangefinders.
"Dar, don't worry. This trip to Italy I want you and I to relax all the way. We will just bring one rangefinder and two lenses each. If we can shoot, we will use the camera. If we cannot, then we will use our iPhones. If really still no lingam (inspiration), then just use our eyes to see," I reassured Serene. This was a great departure from the days of old, when Serene used to carry a full Think Tank belt and shoulder harness system with tripods strapped, back packs mounted, and three cameras, one long lens, one ultra wide, one Infrared and a whole host of extras on her.
"We will enjoy the history of Italy, the sights, and the food, and also the extension down South with the Kaans and the Ngs. Shopping is always a bonus."
Of course, what I didn't realise was, the boys and girls actually had another hidden agenda - to capture Mr Mime on this trip to Europe. *Faint* LOL!!
So, on this day...
A warm summer Roman afternoon welcomed us into her embrace.
|Flumicino airport welcomed us|
Emirates flew us to Dubai for a 4 hour transit and landed us in Flumicino Airport around 4pm Italy time. Our eagerness in purchasing a TIM prepaid SIM card in the airport came to nothing as seven of us were herded quickly by our hired driver to the parked Mercedes van. It was really a joke as the Italian driver was holding up a signboard "J. JIM" perhaps awaiting a certain famous Singapore singer 'J. J. Lim'. It took an observant Lai Peng to confirm with the Italian man that 'J. Jim' was none other than our Joanne, whose good thinking in booking the transport for €70 to our hotel, saved us quite some trouble in lugging our heavy luggage up and down flights of steps in the train and metro. This Italian man was in a hurry. That was all I could say of him. But alright lah. He did his job.
Hotel San Giusto
|At the entrance of Hotel San Giusto|
|The lobby where we would spend a couple of days and nights on this trip.|
Alex would keep saying on this trip that Joanne and Serene were lucky because they were the ones who had the Strongman and the Ironman to carry their luggage. Well, I guess Kai Sing and I did put in a bit more training specially for this trip, knowing that we need to keep up with the Singapore Trekker's ethos.
|I will forever remember this corridor leading to the breakfast hall, and on the right, a half|
flight of steps to the small lift.
Later that night, Kai Sing & Joanne, and David had more chances to feel the warmth emitting from the hotel as their aircon decided to take a siesta and these people had to change rooms just before midnight.
Trevi Fountain... and our first witnessing of a pick-pocketing
|Trevi Fountain. [Photo: Alex Kaan]|
It was evening already. Adrian Whatsapped us: "... I'm at the Coliseum, will be going to Trevi Fountain tonight if you wanna join me. Meet me 6pm at Spagna metro..."
We looked at each other. "Aren't we going to Trevi Fountain tomorrow?" I asked the boys, only to find that I was wrong. We were not. If we were to see the Trevi Fountain, this evening would be the only time.And so we left San Giusto and its musty carpets and took a metro from Bologna station to Baberini station, passing armed Italian soldiers patrolling the turntiles at the stations, and making our way through the main roads and the smaller streets. I was impressed by the way Alex led the group. He walked as though he was born and raised here, without hesitation, true blue AlexK style.
|Even the Police cars in Rome were tiny little Electric cars.|
|"Wow.. look at the Ang Moh Al fresco cafe! So stylo!" I exclaimed, just before reaching Piazza di Trevi. And Serene posed for me.|
The Trevi Fountain was one of the world famous fountains. What was the most significant information I felt about the fountain was that in the history of Rome, 19BC, a virgin girl led the Roman soldiers to a source of spring water 13km away and the then emperor Augustus commissioned an Aqueduct to be built leading all the way to the Trevi Fountain and it served as a continuous water source of this city. Thus the name of the aqueduct Acqua Virgo.
|AlexK the famous portrait master straight away at work.|
|Lai Peng, Joanne and Serene grabbing the spot for a shot.|
CLICK on the photo above to see how Lai Peng threw her coin in to the fountain... I wonder
if she got her wish...
"Huh? You both used only 50 cents coin?" joked Lai Peng. "I used $1 coin leh." Yah hor... maybe we should have had used the $1 coin instead. I was sure it would have a higher chance of bringing better luck.
|Serene and I trying our luck with our 50 cents Singapore coins.|
|And Alex Kaan's shot of us shooting ourselves. Hahaha..|
The little young pick pocket...
On this afternoon, the Trevi Fountain was inundated with visitors from all over the world. We could hardly get near the edge of the fountain to throw our coins, not to mention capture a proper photo of the structures. In the midst of the crowd there was suddenly a commotion. A group of old English ladies caught a young gypsy girl who pick pocketed one of their wallets. They held her tight and created quite a scene. But a thorough search brought up nothing. It was too late. She had already passed the wallet to her accomplish. They had no choice but to let her go. Well, that was our first experience with the pick pockets of Rome on this trip.
But that left quite an impression on us.
|Adrian leading the way...|
Despite the crowd, we spotted Adrian at the far end of the fountain and he slowly made his way to join us. It was good to see him, a reassuring towering figure of a man.
"Ok. let's go for dinner shall we?" Adrian suggested. "I'll bring you to one of the restaurants nearby the Trevi Fountain. It is supposed to be one of the more atas restaurants. But food there is only so-so lah.."
|The Piazza di Trevi|
My first attempt at 'Pick-pocketing'...
A horse-driven carriage came into sight. There were a few horses and carriages waiting on the street here waiting to pick up tourists. These were good opportunity for photos. Lai Peng and Alex were right in front blocking my view. Shucks.. I had to get this shot. I poked my hand in between the space between the couple so that my iPhone could capture an unobstructed shot. Immediately they both jumped upon feeling my forearm.
It was the very first time I saw this kind of reaction from them.. But in retrospect I understood the impact the witnessing of the pick-pocket incidence earlier had on every body.
"Wah lau you ah! I was almost going to turn back and whack you already leh!" said Alex.That was really funny, thinking back. It never crossed my mind. But now I finally learned - when in Rome, never push your hand-clad phone any how through any space, or you might just risk getting a bruised eye. Hahahaha!!
|The horse and carriage that almost got me a blue-black eye.|
|The heavenly Lobster Risotto|
|It was so heavy... perhaps the lobster was the one that weighed it down.|
And the taste? I didn't know how the others rated the food. But this was one of the nicest Lobster risotto and Lobster Linguine Serene and myself had ever had! Both of us totally enjoyed it.
|I was quite sure David digged his lobster linguine. [Photo: Adrian Loh Thien-Hock]|
|Cheers to friendship!|
A eventful day culminating in this most suitable final curtain was the ideal way to induce sleep. What a day it'd been!
Click here to continue to Day 2 ~ Historical Roma