Venice City of Dreams
I've been looking at postcards, photos and films of Venice since I can remember but nothing beats the real thing. Seeing the gondola the symbol of the city gliding through the picturistic canals and the famous landmarks like the Piazza San Marco, Basilica di San Marco and the Rialto bridge for the first time was very exciting. I was so impresses and inspired by what I saw that Avani and I agreed that we had to come back at some point again because a week in Venice just wasn't enough.
On arrival to Venice we crossed a bridge on foot since no cars are allowed on the island and walked a short distance to our hotel. Here's a tip for travelers make sure your luggage has wheels and you're wearing comfortable shoes or sneakers since you will spend most of your time on foot. We stayed at the Caprera Hotel which is about a 10 minute walk from the train station Stazione Ferroviaria di Lucia. At the hotel we were greeted with a warm welcome from our host Alberto who speaks English very well. My Italian is horrible but since I speak Portuguese I was able to understand Venetians although most of the language in Venice is not Italian but a local dialect still I was able to follow along. We exchanged buongiorno and then Alberto gave us a map of the island and explained how to get around. He also gave us the name of an inexpensive local bar that he and other Venetians go to called 'Timon" located near the Jewish ghetto which didn't look like a ghetto at all. There was a nice kosher pizzeria and pastry shop but we decided to explore that area another day. So we headed towards Timon and enjoyed some Venetian bite size snacks called cicheti and treated ourselves to a nice glass of regional wine. I noticed the busy Venetians eat quickly selecting cicheti from a display at the bar then eating them standing or seated on stools. After walking all day Avani and I sat by the canal in the early evening to relax and savor this great moment. Venice is a wonderful place to experience beauty, people and even life itself there is no place like it on the planet.
A gondola ride even though touristy is a must if you are visiting for the first time. We found a gondolier named Luca with a great personality who spoke English and French. He took us and a French couple on a ride in the early evening which is a good time to go for a ride since most of the crowd is gone by then. He gave us a great tour of the canal and showed us some of the historic royal palaces and the people who lived there. The gondola we were riding in was itself a work of art. Some of the other gondolas looked kind of ordinary and plain but ours had character. I found out later that Luka's gondola was handed down to him by his grandfather.
Half way through our ride it started to rain but Luca had an umbrella ready for us. Avani kept me and my camera covered while I filmed. To our surprise he started to sing a beautiful song and his soft voice echoed through the acoustics of the canal. The gondola ride was magical and surreal. Truly Venice is the most romantic city in the world.
For filming I just bought along my Canon 7D which had a problem just before I left to Italy. The battery indicator stopped working and so I had no idea how much battery life I had. My guess was the camera circuitry which communicates with the battery started to go bad and the camera was about to drop dead. Anyway I had no time to rent another camera so I had
to risk it and take it with me. Luckily it didn't die on me and I was able to capture some nice footage. My other camera the Sony FS700 is way to big to carry around on my vacation so I left it home. I also took 3 lenses with me the Canon 24m, 100m and the 17-55m along with my Heliopan ND filter. The Zacuto Z-finder was in my travel bag as well. I also took along my Manfrotto monopod 561 and the Rode stereo video mic which I didn't use. Unfortunately the singing voice of the gondolier Luca was recorded with the on-board microphone of the Canon 7D . I didn't expect him to sing and when he started to do so I didn't want to interrupt him and have him wait for me to setup my mic. The sound of his voice would have been so much better had it been recorder with the Rode mic but it still sounds good.
Part 2 Rome film with be uploaded soon
Find a story worth telling.
So after a week in Venice we took the high speed Trenitalia train to Florence spending a few days there and then taking a quick side trip on the weekend to Pisa to see what else but the remarkable leaning tower of Pisa. Florence is definitely another favorite European city of mine. It is the home of the Michelangelo's David which I got to see in person. Only when you see it do you understand why this is the world's most favorite sculpture. The centerpiece of the the city is the Duomo the work of Brunelleschi's engineering masterpiece. If you plan to walk to the top of the Dome get there early before the crowd show up and buy your ticket on-line in advance. In the evening we hung out at the Piazzale Michelangelo which is a large square
that offers a majestic view over the city.
The Eternal City
I really emerged myself in the the back streets of Rome. We also visited lots of ancient sites like the Colosseum, the Forum as well as visiting Vatican City. It rained most of the time we were there which was kind of a bummer but it didn't stop the crowd from showing up at the sites especially the people who bought tickets in advance like me. Around Vatican city you'll see lots of swiss guards with flamboyant medieval uniform standing around. They protect the pope and keep the tourists as orderly as possible. St Peter’s Basilica out dazzles all the churches it's a spectacular monument. If you want to get in the Basilica don't show up with shorts or a belly shirt I saw a lot of people being turned away pointy shoes are ok. When visiting St Peter's Basilica it's important to park your beliefs outside and just gaze in awe at the greatest church of Christendom. When I walked in the Basilica my first reaction was holy cow this place is big I mean really BIG! At the entrance you see pilgrims from all over the world kissing the feet of the Pietà by Michelangelo. The height of the Dome itself is mind blowing.
Next door is the Vatican Museum. You can spend a whole week walking around in this museum and not see everything. To see the museum requires strength and stamina. It is ridiculously crowded but be patient and you'll see the world's greatest art treasures. I got to see the much loved Transfiguration of Christ from Raphael as well as see the Sistine Chapel ceiling painted by Michelangelo.
There are lots of fountains in Rome but nothing with an iconic status like the Trevi Fountain made famous by Federico Fellini film 'La Dolce Vita.' Come in the evening when the light is right and without the hordes. Inside tip for travelers when facing the fountain there's an inexpensive pizzeria directly on the left of the fountain. We went there almost everyday for amazing pizza and gelato. There are many reasons to visit Italy like seeing the monuments the masterpieces and experiencing the cuisine but I found the Italian people more beautiful than the land itself.
It's impossible to film all the main attraction and squeeze it into a five minute video I wouldn't even try. When I wander around a new city I search for things that move me and that I care about. When filming I don't try to record "I was here and saw this" instead I try to film on "I was at this place and saw it like this." A list of things that I enjoy filming includes colors, texture, lines, shapes, interesting faces, expressions and close-ups. Although I film events and hordes of people together I am not drawn to this type of filming I find it too chaotic. I like to take my time and organize the elements within the frame.
Figure out what inspires you and put yourself
in its path.
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