Italy, Travel, Western Europe

Siena

Hi, it’s me Marimonda! Today, I’d like to share my visit to Siena, the capital of the province of Siena.

Brief History

It is said that Siena was founded two sons of Remus who was a twin brother of Romulus (founder of Rome). When they ran away from Rome, they brought the statue of the she-wolf which became the symbol of the town since then (wikipedia). The town wasn’t center of the development in the beginning, but later it became the center of the trade and the path of pilgrims in the middle ages. After the The center of the Siena is Unesco World Heritage Site. After losing at the war against Florence, the development of Siena was declined. Ironically, that helped Siena preserve its characteristics in medieval times. Now Siena is one of the most visited city in Italy.

Siena Cathedral

One of the most important places in Siena would be its cathedral. The cathedral itself is an impressive feature, the bronze middle door. Siena is a small city but the cathedral seems very big compared to the size of the city. That’s because the Sienese wanted to build the biggest cathedral in the world. This big dream couldn’t come true due to the Black Death which caused the death of the two-thirds of populations and properties. Still, this Romanesque Gothic style cathedral has been loved and possess a lot of important art pieces.

Piazza del Campo

Piazza del Campo is a plaza in front of the city hall. Located in the center of the city, it was also the center of the city in the past. This site is famous for its unique seashell shape divided into nine sections to commemorate nine governors in the middle ages. Piazza del Campo is a historical medieval plaza and it’s one of the biggest plazas in Europe. It was a marketplace where people could gather together and a place to celebrate political and civic holidays and events. At the end of the plaza, you can see Fonte Gaia (The Fountain of the World). This space is also known for twice-a-year horse-race, Palio di Siena, which is one of the famous traditions in Siena. There is also Mangia Tower where you can see the view of the town.

Local Products

Like other Italian cities, Siena is known for its extra-virgin olive oil and truffles products. It’s a good place to shop compared other small cities I’ve been to because it’s not super crowded with tourists, but you can find many stores with wide arranges of products. There are some leather shops, too.

I only had one afternoon in Siena due to my busy schedule. I really liked the city and I want to come back someday. I participated in the group walking city tour. It took about one hour and finished inside the cathedral. If you’re in short of time, it’s good to join those programs to see the city’s highlight.

Hope you enjoyed the visit to Siena with Marimonda 🙂 See you soon!

Practical Info

Siena Cathedral website prices and times are vary. (adult, individual €8)

Mangia Tower €10 (adult, individual)

Italy, Travel

The Uffizi Gallery

Hi, it’s me Marimonda!

Today, I’d like to introduce you a must visit place in Florence, the Uffizi Gallery.

Brief History

The Gallery was belong to the House of Medici as a family art collection, but it became a museum in 1865. With their wealth, the House of Medici supported many artists and collected their art pieces, especially those in the time of Italian Renaissance.

Those followings are Marimonda’s choice among millions of pieces. From Michelangelo to Leonardo da Vinci, you may see all the paintings that you’ve seen in the book. Vivid colors and sophisticated descriptions of each characters in the paintings will take you to the Renaissance Era. I envy Florentines having those opportunities to live in the past, present and the future.

The Gallery

The Gallery is very big. It took me about three hours to look around the museum briefly. Most of the gallery tours also last 2-3 hours. Most of the tours are conducted in the similar time slot (for morning around 9:00 a.m. / for afternoon around 1:00 p.m.), thus if you visit the museum by yourself, I think it would be better to avoid that time. Otherwise, it will be difficult to focus on the paintings due to lots of noise and the crowds. I didn’t know that, and I wanted to maximize my day (visiting here in the morning and looking around the town in the afternoon). I went there at 9:00 a.m. and moved with the tourist groups in the beginning. It was a bit difficult to enjoy the paintings in peace with the explanations in all the languages you can imagine. I slowed down my pace for about 20 mins, and the rooms were much less crowded.

Ticketing

It’s good to reserve the tickets online in advance. Otherwise you may have to wait for long time in a queue to get the tickets. A single ticket for the Uffizi costs € 20 and for reserve the entrance time is € 4. You can buy a combined ticket of the Uffizi(€ 20) + Pitti Palace(€ 16) + Boboli Gardens(€ 10) for € 38 with discount. To reserve the entrance with a time slot, there’s extra fee. The combo ticket valids for consecutive 3 days. I went there end of June (about 3 weeks ago), I bought the combination ticket with the Uffizi time slot. I didn’t have any waiting issues with other two places when I went there.

Practical Info.

Address : Piazzale degli Uffizi, 6, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy

Hours : 8:15 a.m. – 6:50 p.m. (Tue.-Sun.) Closed on Mondays.

website

Paris, Shopping

Puces de Vanves

Hi, it’s me Marimonda!

I hope you enjoyed French national holiday (also my previous post on it). Today, I’d like to introduce you Puces de Vanves, a flea market in Paris.

Flea markets are popular in Paris, they attract not only local people but also tourist. There are three big flea markets may worth to visit while you’re in Paris : Les Puces de Clignancourt, Les Puces de Vanves, and Les Puces de Montreuil. They are located on the border between Paris and banlieue.

Les Puces de Clignancourt, also known as St. Ouen flea market, is one of the largest and the famous flea markets in France. It’s located in the northern border of Paris (above 18th arrondissement). The market opens from Saturday to Monday from 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. (weekend) and from 11:00 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Monday). Address : 53 Rue Jules Vallès, 93400 Saint-Ouen.

Les Puces de Montreuil is on the Avenue de la Porte de Montreuil(20th arrondissement). The market runs for the whole day from 7:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. from Saturday to Monday. It’s located on the north east Paris on the border with Montreuil.

Les Puces de Vanves is located in the southern part of Paris next to 14th arrondissement. THe market opens on the weekend from 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Nearby, there’s another flea market specialized in old and used books (Marché du Livre Ancien et d’Occasion). This market also opens only on the weekend from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Amongst those flea markets I’ve been to the last one couple of times because it’s the closest one from my place(simple reason). It’s absolutely an interesting place to visit and look around antiques. Some stands look like a mini-museum with all old coins, badges, or old posters. I like seeing dishes with gorgeous decorations. Some of the are expensive, and probably they’re from Limoges in southwest France and it’s well known for its decorated porcelain. There’re many resellers in the market to buy some good objects with reasonable price to sell them with higher price.

I guess other flea markets will have similar atmosphere. Though, it’s good that there’s another flea market specialized in books nearby, and there’s a grandpa who plays the piano in public. There’s nothing to eat in the market except the kebab truck. It costs about 5 euros. The market opens at 7 a.m. but not many stands are ready at that time. It’s good to arrive at the market around 11:00 a.m. to fully enjoy the time since around 12:30 p.m. some sellers start to pack up their stuffs. Since most of the goods are so fragile, it took the owners 30 mins to one hour to complete the packing.

When you buy things, don’t forget to try to negotiate the price. Even though the sellers put the price on their items, you can always try to get some discount. It may work or may not, but you won’t lose anything to ask.

Enjoy your travel with Marimonda! See you soon 🙂

Practical Info.

Address : 14 Avenue Georges Lafenestre, 75014 Paris

Hours : 7 :00 a.m. – 2 : 00 p.m. (Open on Saturday and Sunday only)

Travel

Colosseum

Hi, it’s me Marimonda!

Today I’d like to share my visit to Colosseum in Rome, Italy.

Colosseum is a symbol of Rome, and Roman empire. It shows how powerful Roman empire was. I’ve seen inside of Colosseum via a movie called <Ben-Hur>, a story of a Jewish slave who became a charioteer. But it was the first time that I visit inside. I was super excited.

Leaving behind my excitement, many combinations for the tickets gave me a headache. I stayed for three days in Rome, but I decided to dedicate one whole day to Vatican. Thus, I have only two days in Rome. I had to figure out which combo works the best for me.

Many combinations for the ticket are available (i.g. colosseum only/ colosseum + roman forum / colosseum skip the line…etc), you may spend some time to look for the best combination for you. In the end, I reserved a ticket with a guided tour for colosseum(you can’t change the time and date after purchasing the ticket) and free tour for Roman Forum and Palatine for €19(fee for the skipping the line is included). The ticket is valid for two consecutive days, thus you activate your ticket on the day of visiting Colosseum and you can visit Roman forum either the same day or on the following day.

I would say it was worth to pay extra €2 to skip the line. It was about 33 degree (now it would be higher), and the waiting line seemed quite long. Plus, even if you bought the skip the line ticket, there might be a line for the skip the line ticket (irony, isn’t it?) in high season. It’s written on the ticket clearly, the entrance can be delayed even if you bought the skip the line ticket in high season.

The tour lasts about 45 mins. I met my guide inside the Colosseum at the meeting point, the tour began at 9:45 a.m. We walked inside the Colosseum together and the guide explained us the history and parts of the Colosseum. The guided tour ends inside the Colosseum, thus you can stay there as long as you want.

Colosseum looked magnificent outside and inside, however there were lots of restorations are going on. I was wowed outside, but with so many construction sites inside it was somewhat disappointing. However, it’s definitely worth to visit, and I would go again if I come back to Rome to see the difference now and then.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask. I’d love to share my travel experiences with you.

Enjoy your trip with Marimonda! See you soon 🙂

Practical Info.

Address : Piazza del Colosseo, 1, 00184 Roma RM, Italy

Hours : 8:30 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Tickets : Many combinations are available. Basic ticket costs €12, reservation fee : €2