Holiday snapshots:: Up Mount Etna

Friends joined us day 2 of our holiday and we took a little side-trip to visit Mount Etna.

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Still an active volcano, Mount Etna lies along the east coast of Sicily and is one of the most active volcanoes in the world.

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Unfortunately when we took the cable car up there, it was too cloudy so we couldn’t really get a good shot of the mountain.

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See what I mean?

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Photos that we took near the crater were much better. 🙂

Getting into the vacay mode..

I should be all excited about an upcoming holiday to Italy: a wedding, my birthday celebration, catching up with some old friends. But with a new portfolio that I had just taken over, I couldn’t help but feel that the timing is a little wrong to be relaxing and chilling while the rest of the colleagues are hard at work helping to cover my duties.

A usually organised me would have by now planned out my holiday wardrobe for the 14-day break that we are taking.  But this time round, the frazzled me has taken control and spun me out of control.  With less than a week to our holiday, I tried to the best of my abilities to get into the holiday planning mood.  But unfortunately, the naggy and sinking feeling of how to get through my pile of work has somewhat zapped me of my enthusiasm.  I feel bad actually for the Man has keeping his cool and doing most of the planning.  If I may add, he is seriously good at all this planning (ie: where to go, what to do, where to stay) while I am better with planning the food picks.

And on the last weekend before we go on our holiday, what do I do?  I try to get into the mood by ‘beautifying’ my nails.  Doing my nails somewhat puts me in a happy holiday mood and hopefully the rest will just fall into place.

Frivolous, I know.. but that’s just me.  Hehe!

So, tell me.  Do you have any pre-holiday rituals?  🙂

Elaborate costumes at the Carnival of Venice

The Carnival of Venice (Carnevale di Venezia) is an annual festival, held in Venice, Italy.  The Carnival starts 58 days before Easter and ends on Shrove Tuesday (Fat Tuesday or Martedì Grasso), the day before Ash Wednesday.

The seemingly serene and quaint Venice seem to come alive with the endless buzzing activity during this time as people decked out in traditional Venetian costumes and covered with beautifully decorated masks roamed along the streets of Venice.  Despite the cold spell hitting most of Europe during this period, festivities for the Carnival continued with all the merry-making.

It was my first visit to Venice but the Man who had been to Venice many years back said what a world of difference Venice is during the Carnival.

Just look at the sea of people captured in this shot.  It’s said that about 3,000,000 people visit Venice each day for the Carnival.  3 million?!  Whoa!!  Didn’t really help that we were in Venice on the last weekend of the Carnival so there were naturally more curious people (like us) wanting to soak in the Carnival atmosphere.

It also felt like the paparazzi turned up in full force.  If you happen to be in costume and walking around the streets, it’s your moment to be a star for people will be merrily snapping your shots.  Also, don’t be alarmed if you have strangers coming up to you and wanting to take a photo with you.  Just put on your best smile behind that painted face.  🙂

As for me, I definitely played the role of the paparazzi during the Carnival pretty well stopping at every possible chance I could to take photos of these amazing costumes.  So, are you ready to feast your eyes on these gorgeous and elaborate costumes?

Lady in gold definitely did a wonderful job of posing for the cameras.  Love her graceful hand gestures.

The duo that came as Angel and Demon.  Do you see someone trying to sneak in the picture? ;p

I classify the above lot of costumes as somewhat the darker costumes.  A little scary but definitely the lot that commanded a sense of presence as they weaved in and out of the mad crowds on the streets.

Don’t be fooled by the demure or macho exterior of the outfit for sometimes what lies beneath may just be a man instead of a woman and vice versa.  We saw many feminine costumes being donned by men.  I think they are just game enough to be putting on a frock for this big festival.

And I really loved these whimsical lot of costumes, thought they were fun and a cheery lot!

Well, I hope you enjoyed the visual treat of costumes that I took during the Carnevale di Venezia.  Being in Venice during the Carnevale di Venezia definitely was memorable and a fitting way to end my love affair with all things Italian before we pack our bags and head back to Singapore.

In search of the Truth

With only 1.5 days in Rome and this being our first trip in Rome, we felt a little strapped for time and we tried to squeeze all the sights into one full day.  I guess the fastest and easiest way to do it was to get on the ‘Hop-on-Hop-off’ tour buses that dropped us off most of the city’s major sights.

After stopping past a souvenir shop and seeing a replica of the ‘Mouth of Truth’, we went in search of the real thing.

The La Bocca della Verità – “the Mouth of Truth” is an image, carved from Pavonazzetto marble, of a man-like face, located in the portico of the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin in Rome, Italy.  This sculpture was supposed to be part of a 1st century ancient Roman fountain, or perhaps a manhole cover, portraying probably Oceanus – one of the pagan Gods.

Legend has it that the most famous characteristic of the Mouth, however, is its role as a lie detector.  It was believed that if one told a lie with one’s hand when placed in the mouth of the sculpture, it would be bitten off.  We went in search of this famed piece in the Santa Maria Church which is also home to the supposed relic of Saint Valentine.

We arrived at the church to a long queue of students also waiting to put their hands into the Mouth of Truth.  In order to prevent over-crowding at the Mouth of Truth,  we’re only allowed one photo per person.  Instead of a solo pic, I decided to take mine with my fave gal.  Do note that there is a small admission fee of Eur 0.50 in order for you to have your hand placed into the La Bocca della Verità.

On a Roman Holiday

It was a short trip to Rome with my fave girls – E and the little Style Princess.  So on our list, we wanted to visit the Colosseum and the Vatican City.  I booked our tours way in advance on Viator and was really excited to be doing the half-day tour at the Colosseum.   But it was not meant to be for I received an email from the operator informing me that the tour will be cancelled as the Colosseum is closed because of the poor weather.  Damn!

Nevertheless, we still made a trip to the grounds of the Colosseum for the customary photo-taking.  I couldn’t miss viewing this magnificent amphitheater, the largest ever built in the Roman Empire even it’s from the outside.

Sigh!  I would have love to go inside the Colosseum and revel in this historic site where the grand amphitheater was used for gladiatorial contests and public spectacles such as animal hunts, executions and re-enactments of famous battles, etc. The Colosseum is undeniably one of the most recognised icons of Rome and is also depicted on the Italian version of the five-cent euro coin.  What’s also interstesting is that the Colosseum still has connections with the Roman Catholic Church as each Good Friday, the Pope will lead a torch-lit “Way of the Cross” procession that starts in the area around the Colosseum.

Oh well, if I ever do come back to Rome again, I would definitely make it a point to visit the Colosseum.  Until then, memories of this short visit to the historical site with the Style Princess will do for now.

Thankful

After the rain on Saturday, we are really thankful for the clear blue skies that greeted us when we woke up on Sunday.

So we spent the entire day lazing on the deck chairs and snorkelling when the heat was too hot to bear.

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