Saturday, October 27, 2012

Trip to Italy

I'd like to share with you some of the amazing things that I discovered during my trip to Italy.                             
Of the many historical sites visited four really stood out : The Trevi Fountain (Fontana di Trevi), St. John Lateran Basilica,(Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano), The Basilica of Our Lady in Trastevere (Santa Maria in Trastevere), and The Nuraghe in Sardinia.

 Trevi Fountain

It was built in 1735, stands 26 m high and is 20 m wide.  It's  the most  famous fountain in Rome.
It is difficult to get a shot of the fountain without a stranger in the picture, on account of the crowds of people coming from all over the world, taking pictures of the fountain at every hour of the day and night. According to the traditional  legend the throwing of one coin into the fountain will guarantee a return trip to the Eternal City. A newer story says that throwing   two coins will lead to a new romance, while three coins will ensure either a marriage or a divorce. Don't forget to toss a coin with your right hand and cross it over the left shoulder, with your back to the fountain, then  make your wish and throw it into the fountain.
Apparently tourists throw in approximately  120 000 Euros a year. The money is mostly donated to a charity that gives food to poor people.  Since there have been attempts to steal the money from the fountain the police now guard it 24 hours a day.

The fountain is built at the junction of 3 roads hence the name Trevi (Trivium or tre vie). It was here that Fellini filmed some scenes for the film La Dolce Vita starring Marcello Mastroianni and Anita Ekberg. The fountain was turned off and draped in black when M. Mastroianni died in 1996.  The fountain was also used for some scene in the 1953 film Roman Holiday starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck. Part of the film is replicated at the Italian Pavillion at Epcot in Walt Disney World, Florida, USA.The Trevi Fountain is at the end of the Aqua Virgo (Acqua Vergine) an acqueduct constructed in 19 B.C. It brings water to Rome  from the Salone Springs 22 Km away. Three Coins in The Fountain is a 1954 American romantic comedy film, a story of 3 American women working in Rome and dreaming of finding romance in the Eternal City. In 1955 this film was given two Academy Awards for Best Song and Best Cinematography.

St. John  Lateran  Basilica
This is the cathedral church of the Diocese of Rome. It was built in 318 A.D. by Constantine I. This church war rebuilt at least 3 times on account of 2 destructive fires and an earthquake. It's one of the most important of the 4 main Basilicas and it ranks 4th of 524 attractions in Rome.
San Giovanni in Laterano is the largest church in Rome, since St Peter's is in the state of Vatican. It is  30 m by 54 m.  The interior of the church is richly decorated with 7 silver altars and more than hundred chandeliers. What a sight to see here! On both sides of  the center aisle are larger than life marble statues of the 12 apostles. Just outside the church there is an octagonal baptistry  which was for many generations the only one in Rome.  This basilica is a must see for anyone going to Rome.  Remember that here you don't have to queue up.

 Basilica of Our Lady in Trastevere

 La Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere is one of the oldest churches dedicated to the Virgin Mary in Rome. It is the 5th most important church in Rome. Construction started in 221 A.D. and completed in 352. I was  fascinated by the paintings that adorn the entire ceiling and walls. Mass is usually said in the chapels found on both sides of the church.
The mosaic designs that adorn the floor are absolutely impressive.  Interior decorations are  stunning.  The church is in a quiet neighborhood called Trastevere, name that derives from the Latin 'Trans Tiber" i.e. across (beyond )the Tiber, a river that crosses Rome. Here you can go for a walk along the river and admire the architecture of the buildings on both sides of the river. Today Trastevere is also known for its night life and for its narrow streets full of pubs, restaurants and clubs
I strongly recommend visiting this church.

 Nauraghe Civilization (Sardinia)


 This was my first visit to Sardinia (it.Sardegna) which impressed me not only for the beauty of its beaches and the colours of the water, but most of all for the discovery of the Nuragic Civilization.  I say discovery because I was aware of the influence of the Greek and Roman civilizations but I had never read or heard of Nuragic Culture which reached Sardinia almost 2000 years before the Roman. The nuraghe edifice that you see is an ancient conical stone edifice that  dates back to  18-15 BC.  Today it has come to be the symbol of Sardinia and its distinctive culture, the Nuragic. This word is related to the Sardinian nurra  (heap of stones).  In fact the round wall is being held by the weight of its stones  which may each amount to several tons.  Nuraghes can reach up to 20 m in height. An interior stone spiral stair, through the thick walls, leads to the upper floors and to the terrace above. As reported by some prehistoric scholars, the architecture produced by the Nuragic civilization was more advanced than any civilization in the western Mediterranean during this period (epoch).  The most imposing and best preserved Nuraghe is the Nuraghe Sant'Antine near the village of Torralba   in the province of Sassari.  Experts don't seem to agree on the use of the nuraghes, whether they were ordinary dwellings, military strongholds,  religious temples or a combination of them all.                                                               

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