Thursday, December 29, 2016

Loreto, Assisi

Had some good breakfast at the hotel in Loreto,  
along with these awesome chocolatey biscutey things I picked up in Paris. We walked to the church of Loretto where a few priests friends of our parish priest were waiting for us, and they explained the legend surrounding the church of the Black Madonna in Loreto. 
Legend has it that this is the house of the Holy Family where Jesus grew up.
Apparently there was some pillaging going on in Nazareth, during the reign of some ancient figure, and to avoid damage to the house of the Holy Family, angels carried the structure across the skies and placed it in Loretto in Italy, as depicted on this stone plaque. (I know... I don't know what to make of it either. But it all depends on you, what you believe, you make it your reality.)
So after walking around, we went to the underground chapel and a mass was celebrated there. 
The statue of the black Madonna (the church caught fire ages ago, and she turned black, so they call her the black madonna)
Pretty intricate gates in the church...
Ornate ceilings...
The light was creating all kinds of effects in this beautiful church...
So after visiting Loreto, we got on our bus and travelled towards Assisi. 
This is the church of St. Francis in Assisi, where the tomb of St. Francis is literally chained and clamped down here, in this chapel, to prevent the saint's body from being stolen, apparently it has happened many before...
The church constructed by St. Francis of Assisi
The upper church above the main church
The facade of the church built by St. Francis of Assisi
The Hills of Assisi
Beautiful streets of Assisi
A cafe...
Pots like this sprout out all over the place...
Pretty...
Walking in Assisi was like stepping into a postcard, this little hilltop region is picture perfect. Every nook and corner and cranny is aesthetically planned and decorated. It was the most beautiful place we visited on this trip, apart from Switzerland, of course.
Another pretty flowering plant...
Church of St. Clare...
More flowering plants...
Check out this door, the entrance and the flowering window above it...
Some cool dragon entrance decor...
Winding steps of Assisi
Looking down from Assisi
Got into the bus, drove for a while and stopped here for lunch...
Of Spaghetti
Chicken legs and
a tarty kind of sweet...
Then started on our drive to Rome...
Reached a quaint hotel on the way for dinner...
Pretty decor...
Shabby chic lamps and books..
A glass bottle filled with corks...
Our Indian broom stuck in a corner as decor...
Some more cute decor..
Some pasta for dinner
Vegetables and olives
Reached Hotel Roma Sud on the outskirts of Rome
Our room in Rome
Me and mom went to a shop nearby to buy drinking water and then I spotted this cold coffee cream churning away in a corner, so ordered one... awesome stuff. Then went back to our rooms and slept soundlessly for a few hours till Michael Bubble woke us up with his 'Home' song... 

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Padua and Venice 2015

So the last travel post was about Turin, after which we drove all the way to Padua and after roaming around at night, eating ice cream 
we came back to Tulip Inn, our hotel in Padua. After the complimentary breakfast, we set out to visit
San Antonio's shrine, the shrine where the tomb of St. Antony is located.
We celebrated mass in an adjoining chapel there, 
We weren't allowed to take pictures in the main shrine, but I surreptitiously managed to take this one. After walking around and praying in this huge church, we then went to the shrine shop. Among all the places we visited, the stuff I've seen at the Padua shrine shop, is really good. One of the best places to shop for souvenirs, everything is so pretty and well made. I had visited Padua in 2013 with Antonio and Nameeta, and Antonio picked up a really cool looking black ring with the Our Father inscribed on it in Latin...
He rarely wears it, so I started wearing it...
Picked up this cream and chapstick at the Padua shrine shop too, and I still have them... I use them sparingly, the cream smells so good. I don't know whether it is because the smell reminds me of those days... in the bus and being alive... looking at the beautiful and bountiful landscapes passing by, eagerly waiting to see which place we would explore next... the smell of this cream takes me back to that... the happiness, the excitement... the smell of adventure. 
The cobbled streets of Padua...
Leaving the shrine for the half hour ride to 
Venice, a gloomy overcast Venice. As soon as we reached, we got swindled into buying umbrellas and raincoats; from 3 euros, they started selling them for 5 Euros in a matter of seconds. Walked a bit in the rain and then...
We took the ferry to St. Mark's square, and I just walked around... Again they were doing a lot of unnecessary drama before entering the church, not allowing us to carry our backpacks. I remember in 2013, my sister waited outside while I went inside St. Mark's church. This time I waited it out while the rest of the group went in. 
I just walked around clicking pictures 
and taking in the scenes of a decrepit Venice. 
I don't know why people rave about this place, it is decaying eerily.
Windows seem devoid of curtains, flowers or life... Yet at the surface the city is bustling and everybody seems unaware 
that a spell of uneasiness permeates the air... Or, is it just me, I don't know...
Smiling breads, to lighten up the mood...
Shopped for magnets, and other souvenirs, then one last glimpse of Venice before we started on our trip to Loretto.
Stopped on the way at an Indian restaurant for lunch and 
drove some more...
Till we reached our destination for the night, Hotel San Gabriele in Loretto. 
And at a stone's throw away from the hotel is the Church of the Black Madonna
A small chapel in the hotel
A statue of black Mother Mary with child.
Refreshed in our rooms and then gathered for dinner
Some pasta 
with pork, potatoes and wine. 
As usual our group of night explorers set out to see Loretto by night...
It was really love at first sight, the whole atmosphere of Loretto at nighttime...
It was captivating...
There were hardly any folks around... it was just our group walking around, drunk by this quaint little place. As usual we bought ice cream and frozen cold coffee, walked and talked in bliss... 
View of the dome from our rooms...
Fell, into a deep deep deep sleep here.. wine is always a good idea after a long day on the road.