I finally managed to sit myself down to start the story of my Mediterranean masquerade. My travels (with my family of course…) lasted roughly two and a half weeks travelling through Italy and Greece. Now many would already know of the turmoil devastating the European Union because of Greece, and that it has span the last few years and has made its presence felt now more than any other time. Fortunately (or unfortunately – due to higher exchange rates), my family and I were there before all the chaos. However, even with all the underlying problems Europe has never failed to entice and charm me, and if asked, I would go back there at the drop of a hat. What made this trip unusual was that apart from the Vatican City Museum and the Sistine Chapel, I did not visit any other art or history museum. That is not to say we missed the Roman Coliseum, The Pantheon and The Greek Acropolis among many other sites. So as you might have gathered, this post is not so much about the art, but rather the food and human culture that I, like my parents have fallen in love with. But, where to begin…
Street Art and Culture – Venice, Florence & Rome
Starting my journey in Florence, I was immediately surrounded by grand architecture and amazing street art that is nowhere similar to those dotting the Big Apple or any fast-paced cosmopolitan city. The amazing thing is that what you may have heard in fantastical and romantic stories of Florence, Venice, Rome, and many other cities through Italy are in actual fact true. Each street corner, alleyway and avenue, you would hear the melodies of accordionists, guitarists and flutists permeate the air and find their way into your soul. Accompanying these musicians in their harmonious melodies are their visual counterparts. They line the streets selling panoramic landscapes of hand-drawn, hand-painted watercolors that capture the essence of Florence. For a small price, you can even get your portrait drawn, in black and white or colors, caricature or realistic, you just have to find the guy who specializes in the style you desire. Now some may assume that, like many other technically skilled artists who seek to capture the same subject matter, their works would be almost identical, would be surprise to find that they are mistaken. Somehow, though subject may be the same, these artists have managed to diversify through varied techniques and personal preference in color schemes and tonal values, each giving an their touch on the city and country they call their own.
This could be said for the other two places I visited – Venice and Rome. Naturally these three places each distinguished themselves from any other part of Italy and the rest of the world. During my trip there, I managed to catch glimpses of the Venice Biennale. However, the point of the trip was not to catch the various exhibitions scatter around the city, but rather soak in the atmosphere that we hear so often in books, magazines, reviews, etc. Once again, this culturally saturated town never failed to amaze. Staying near a local wet market near the waters edge, you could just walk right up to part of the Grand Canal and experience the rhythm of everyday life in this unique city. During the trip, countless people spent their day just basking like lizards in the summer sun, watching the boats go by. As the sun sets and the warm glow of tungsten light cast long shadows on the streets of the city, tourist attractions such as Saint Mark’s Basilica and Piazza San Marco takes on a different rhythm. Like moths to a flame, people would be drawn to the cafes that surround the square with bands playing their personal renditions of famous, distinctively recognizable scores, classical or otherwise. Each time one band stops, the crowd moves to another, and then another, right through the night. Simultaneously, if you were to turn around, intermittent camera flashes mixed with lit up helicopter toys filling the air like scattered fireflies.
For once, strangely enough, being in the crowds are worth it, because you know that no one will see even if your body is tempted to dance to the music.
To be continued…
– Soggiorno Oblivium (Florence)
– Vini da Pinto (Venice)
– Trattoria – Bar PONTINI (Venice) – A MUST GO
– Agricola Toscana (Florence)
– a casa ca.fe (Florence) – To start the day
– Nerbone (Florence – Mercato Centrale)
– Grom (Everywhere)