Photography

Florence

We left Rome on the Friday morning, after buying train tickets from the most unhelpful, unfriendly person. I really think she is in the wrong job to be serving customers. A smile is all it takes! Undeterred, we had a while to wait, so we had coffee and watched people hurrying through the station from where we sat, upstairs in the cafe.

The train ride was lovely, travelling through the Italian countryside into the rolling green pastures and hills of Tuscany, which we never saw much of, as we all dozed off, all this sightseeing is tiring! Before long we arrived in Florence, the capital city of the Tuscan region and brimming with Renaissance art, grand buildings and monuments, and some wonderful streets that are just fantastic to explore.

We’d booked a hotel at Hotel Anna’s and, after a short walk to the hotel, we arrived to find that there was no reception and a flight of stairs leading up to the 4th floor and the hotel. I started to climb the stairs with my mum following, already in despair because of the pain in her hip. Luckily, a man from another hotel in the same building had spotted us, and seeing my mum was struggling, called us back and told us there was a room available on the ground floor. We couldn’t thank him enough and we checked in to our triple room, which was full of character, large and airy with antique furniture, a huge bathroom with sunken bath, and the walls painted a bright blue.

Things to do in Rome
Brightly-coloured kitchen at Hotel Azzi
Things to do in Rome
Views of the historic centre from Hotel Azzi’s rooftop terrace

We dumped our bags, and went out to explore our new surroundings. Florence is a city with narrow streets, many of which are limited traffic zones, so it’s a great place for walking around safely. The city is also said to be one of the most beautiful in the world and it’s not hard to understand why.

There are so many side streets that you can explore and the historic part of the city isn’t big enough to get lost. We walked along Via Faenza and at the end, around the corner, was the most amazing sight I think I might have ever seen.

Things to do in Rome
Santa Maria del Fiore (The Duomo)

Santa Maria del Fiore or the Duomo. A striking domed cathedral whose marble pastel-coloured panels glimmer in the sunshine. The cathedral can be seen from miles away. You’ve also got the Campanile and the Baptistry to admire and they are just as stunning.

Things to do in Rome
The Duomo with the Baptistry and Campanile on either side

The facade of the cathedral is ornately decorated with carvings and mosaics and high above, in between the spectacular rose windows, are twelve statues of the Apostles.

Not only that, almost reaching the skies, is the largest dome in the world which, if you’re brave enough to go up there, boasts views that will take your breath away. Views aside, the cathedral alone will make you gasp in astonishment! I guarantee it 🙂

Things to do in Rome
Santa Maria del Fiore (The Duomo)

We sat in the shadows the Duomo and ate lunch and, afterwards, we continued on our exploration to Piazza della Signoria, a huge square dominated by the Romanesque-style Palazzo Vecchio and the Loggia dei Lanzi with its arches under which statues depicting scenes from mythology are displayed.

Things to do in Rome
Piazza della Signoria
Things to do in Rome
Palazzo Vecchio
Things to do in Rome
Loggia dei Lanzi

You’ll also see the statues of David by Michelangelo and Hercules and Cacus by Baccio Bandinelli.

Things to do in Rome
David by Michelangelo
Things to do in Rome
Hercules and Cacus by Baccio Bandinelli

If you walk passed Palazzo Vecchio, you’ll see the entrance to the Uffizi Gallery, in the corner. We didn’t venture into the gallery, the courtyard was doing a fine job of being an outdoor gallery in its own right. A rectangular-shaped space with columns and arches and other architecturally pleasing elements, as well as statues of famous painters, architects and other historical figures.  Florence was turning out to be no less amazing than Rome and we’d only been there for two hours.

Things to do in Rome
Uffizi Gallery courtyard
Things to do in Rome
Galileo Galilei and Pier Antonio Micheli

We found ourselves at the River Arno and gazing out over the water to Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge). This Medieval stone bridge doesn’t have statues, it has a variety of jewellers, art and souvenir shops on either side, once a common sight on the bridges of Italy.

We left the river and walked slowly back towards the city, stopped for coffee (wine!) and went back to the hotel for a rest before going out for dinner at Cornelius Trattoria Pizzeria, a cute restaurant that we’d spotted earlier in the day, with fabulous Impressionist-style paintings on the walls. I don’t think we had a bad meal all throughout our trip and this place didn’t disappoint either. We left there and had our obligatory “one-for-the-road” drink before heading back to the hotel for the night.

Things to do in Rome
Lungarno degli Archibusieri

The following morning, after breakfast, we went for a last wander around the market to buy souvenirs and ate lunch on the street, always a winner in my book, there’s something about al fresco dining, I just love it.

Things to do in Rome
Mercato di San Lorenzo
Things to do in Rome
Al fresco dining

We were only in Florence for one night, so our time was limited, but what we did see was fantastic, it was much more relaxed and it made a pleasant change from the tumult of Rome.

Next up: We’re back in Rome and exploring the city some more 🙂

 

 

The Roman Forum

From the Colosseum, the Roman Forum is seconds away, so I walked towards the entrance only to be met by a really long queue. The ticket for the Colosseum includes the Roman Forum, but by this time it was late morning and the crowds had started to arrive. I noticed a pathway to my left where a lot of people were walking, so thinking that there might be another entrance, I followed. But, it only led to a dead-end, with no second entrance! So, I back-tracked and joined the end of the line and, thankfully, It didn’t take that long to get in.

Things to do in Rome
Arch of Titus

The Roman Forum is chock-a-block with ancient ruins of important buildings that were once the part of everyday life in Rome. Most of the city’s important events would be held there and, it seems, that every important person had their own statue or monument dedicated to them.

It’s a huge piece of land which includes not only the forum itself, but the Palantine Hill too, where you can see the remains of the imperial palace. I never made it as far as that, I ran out of time, but I did venture up the hill, I just didn’t cover it all.

Things to do in Rome
The Palantine Hill

The area is just beautiful, you have the mysterious ruins, which could tell a thousand tales, and the green grassy areas dotted with bright yellow flowers, umbrella pines, cypress and olive trees, and the blooming pinks and purples of shrubs give the forum an added air of calm and tranquility.

Things to do in Rome
The Roman Forum
Things to do in Rome
Purple Wisteria

There were so many people, as always in these kind of places, but what was nice about the forum was that it was large enough to be able to find a quiet spot for uninterrupted views.

I spent over an hour just wandering around amidst the ruins. From the Palantine Hill, you get splendid views looking out over Rome.

Things to do in Rome
Someone stopped by to check me out!
Things to do in Rome
St Peter’s Basilica in the distance

Back down in the forum, I walked along Via Sacra, once used for triumphal processions, in the shadows of statues and temples, it really is like a step back in time.

Things to do in Rome
Via Sacra
Things to do in Rome
Via Sacra

It started to rain, but that didn’t worry me, I just carried on taking loads of photographs, until my camera decided to pack up, I had forgotten to recharge the battery! I still managed to capture quite a few shots though and as I made my way out of the forum towards the Vittorio Emanuele II monument to meet mum and dad, I thought how lucky I was to be able to experience a fascinating piece of history.

Things to do in Rome
Basilica of Maxentius
Things to do in Rome
Statues of the Vestal Virgins
Things to do in Rome
Temple of Antoninus and Faustina
Things to do in Rome
Temple of Vesta
Things to do in Rome
Temple of Castor and Pollux

As I approached the monument, I was greeted by my parents, who had been waiting on the steps in the rain. We went in search of food and shared a lovely pizza and bottle of wine. We started the week with just a glass or two, but two days in and we were ordering bottles! Living so far away, I miss out on being sociable with my folks, so it was just wonderful to share this time with them.

Tip: Book online and arrive early to avoid the queues. The ticket for the Colosseum is valid for 2 days and includes the Roman Forum. This is the website I used to buy tickets.

We’re off to Florence next 🙂

 

St Peter’s Basilica

Our guide left us outside St Peter’s Basilica and before going inside, we stopped to gaze over St Peter’s Square, designed by Gian Lorenz Bernini. Striking in its own right, the square is surrounded by Tuscan colonnades with 140 statues of various saints on top. The structure was built in two arcs on either side of the square alluding to embrace all into the arms of Mother Church.

Covering an area of 5.7 acres, St Peter’s Basilica is the largest church in the world and, architecturally speaking, the most renowned piece of Renaissance work of its time. It’s said to be the resting place of St Peter and there are many popes buried in the vaults below.

Things to do in Rome
St Peter’s Basilica
Things to do in Rome
St Peter’s Basilica

The pope oversees ceremonies which sees between 15,000-80,000 people visit the basilica and, in fact, there had been an Easter celebration before we arrived because the square was still filled with empty seats.

Things to do in Rome
Imagine the square filled up with hundreds of devotees!

The facade has huge Corinthian columns and statues of the apostles, but look further skywards and you’ll see 13 statues on top of the building representing Jesus and 11 of his apostles, and John the Baptist.

Once through the huge doors, you’ll find yourself in the narthex or portico, beautifully decorated with a carved ceiling and columns on either side. At either end there are statues of Charlemagne by Agostino Cornacchini and Constantine the Great by Bernini. You’ll see three large doors, with decorated panels, the Door of the Dead, so named because it was used as the exit for funeral processions, the Filarete Door, a Renaissance bronze door, and the Holy Door which is sealed with cement and only opened during holy years.

Things to do in Rome
Grand entrance
Things to do in Rome
Charlemagne
Things to do in Rome
The Narthex
Things to do in Rome
The Holy Door by Vico Consorti
Things to do in Rome
The Filarete Door by Antonio Averulino a.k.a. Filarete
Things to do in Rome
The Door of the Dead by Giacomo Manzù

If that’s not enough, inside the basilica is absolutely jaw-dropping! Not only is it enormous with high ceilings, which will make you feel about two feet tall, but every square inch of it is ornately decorated with art and statues, literally, everywhere. The colourful stuccoed walls and ceilings are just out of this world!

In the nave, there are two cherubs holding a water basin, which from a distance appear to be of normal size, but once you get along side them, you realise they are two metres high.

Things to do in Rome
Cherubs with water basin

As you walk down the aisle, on either side there are chapels made of marble, stucco, gilt, sculptures and mosaics.

Things to do in Rome
One of the chapels along the aisle

And at the end of the aisle is Bernini’s baldachin, said to be the largest piece of bronze in the world, with its unusual twisted columns, sheltering the altar. Above, is the inside of Michelangelo’s dome, just as stunning inside as it is outside.

Like the Vatican museums, it’s almost too much for you to take everything in.

It really was a spectacular place to visit and our day wasn’t over yet. Back outside, we walked slowly over the square, with nothing to do but admire the colonnades and statues. We continued down Via della Conciliazione and, with the view of the basilica and Michelangelo’s dazzling dome in the distance, we stopped for a well-deserved rest over a cup of coffee.

Things to do in Rome
View of St Peter’s Basilica from Via della Conciliazione

By this time, we were getting a little peckish, so we continued our walk and found ourselves outside Castel Sant Angelo. With river views of the Tiber and two bridges spanning it, we stopped again in amazement. These weren’t your normal, run of the mill, bridges, oh no, not in Rome! These were the Ponte Sant Angelo, made of marble with five arches and lined with statues of angels.

Things to do in Rome
Castel Sant’Angelo
Things to do in Rome
Ponte Sant’Angelo

The Ponte Vittorio Emanuele II has three arches and winged statues at either end. Such a treat when you see them. It’s one marvelous sight after another here.

Things to do in Rome
Ponte Vittorio Emanuele II

We walked over the bridge, in the shadows of the magnificent sculptures, and followed our map through the city until we found one of Rome’s many picturesque squares- Piazza Navona.

 

 

First Day in Rome – The Vatican City

Well, what an absolute blast my first day in Rome turned out to be, my parents and I visited The Vatican City, an independent state within Rome which hardly needs any introduction.

Things to do in Rome
The Vatican City

After a quick metro ride, we arrived around 9.30 a.m only to be accosted by a ticket tout asking if we wanted to buy entrance tickets. We smugly replied that we didn’t because we already had some and flashed them in front of his face. He looked them over and told us that we could go through all the museums and end up in the Sistine Chapel, but if we wanted to go into St Peter’s Basilica we’d have to retrace our steps and join the queue for the basilica outside. We didn’t really want to do that, especially as my lovely mum was struggling to walk as it was, it would have been torture for her to walk all the way back and stand in the long queue.

As it turned out, we didn’t have to do any of that because we ended up right outside the basilica anyway, but we didn’t know that at the time. Reluctantly, we gave in to the ticket man’s suggestion of upgrading our tickets. An additional €21 each on top of the €17 I’d already paid. This was turning out to be an expensive day out so far, but we were at the Vatican and it’s not something you see every day.

When we met our guide, Eugene, he gave us a brief introduction about what the tour would entail and then we made our way to the entrance. He guided us through the museums and gave us a running commentary as we went. Some of the statues and paintings were worthy of finding out a little more about them and it would have been nice to linger and know who the statue depicted or who the painter was, but there was no time to really take it all in. Having said that, it was good to have a guide if only to learn a little about what we saw.

Let’s begin the tour…

The first place we went was the Cortila della Pinacoteca, a beautiful courtyard with views of the basilica’s silver-blue dome dominating the skyline.

Things to do in Rome
Cortile della Pinacoteca
Things to do in Rome
Cortile della Pinacoteca

Then onto the Cortile della Pigna named after the 4 metre-high pine cone, moved here in 1608. There’s also a large bust of Caesar Augustus, and Arnaldo Pomodoro’s “Sphere within a Sphere.”

Next, the Chiaramonti Museum, named after Pope Pius VII Chiaramonti (1800-1823) is a collection of over 1,000 ancient sculptures including Heracles with his son Telephos.

Things to do in Rome
Heracles with his son Telephos

During the 19th century, Napoleon ordered the Papal States to hand over this collection to France. Later, a sculptor called Antonio Canova, with some help, managed to bring them all back. The museum has been arranged to show the 3 sister arts, sculpture, architecture and painting, in an aesthetically pleasing way.

Next, was the Braccio Nuovo or New Wing which is considered to be one of the most important examples of neo-classical architecture in Rome. The hall is lined with statues of emperors and Roman copies of Greek statues, as well as busts depicting famous people from classical times. It is an impressive collection and even the floor is stunning, made from marble slabs with original Roman mosaics.

I loved all of the statues, but my favourite was “The Nile” which was dedicated to the Egyptian goddesses, Isis and Serapis. Egypt is represented by the Sphinx, on the left, and surrounding the man there are 16 children which depict the cubits of water the Nile rises from flooding every year.

Things to do in Rome
The Nile

The Pio Clementino Museums contain several large halls of Greek and Roman sculptures, including the Hall of Busts and the Round Hall which was built based on the same design as the Pantheon.

In the Round Hall, there are niches all around with huge statues and a red porphyry basin in the middle, which would have been a magnificent centre-piece in one of Rome’s public squares long ago.

Outside, the Octagonal Court was the very first place that the collections of classical statues were placed and some of the statues including the Laocoōn and the Belvedere Apollo have been standing in their original positions since the 16th century.

Things to do in Rome
The Laocoōn
Things to do in Rome
The Belvedere Apollo

The Hall of the Muses has statues of the muses, Apollo, Athena and Hermes to name but a few, as well as the Belvedere Torso, a marble sculpture which has delighted artisans for centuries. It’s thought to represent Ajax, a Greek hero who is in the throes of suicide.

Things to do in Rome
The Belvedere Torso

Look up and marvel at the frescoed ceiling, by Tommaso Conca, a superbly detailed creation of Apollo and the Muses.

Things to do in Rome
Apollo and the Muses fresco by Tommaso Conca

Honestly, whether you look up or down or to each side, it’s almost too much for your eyes and mind to comprehend everything.

Moving on through the Gallery of Tapestries, a long corridor with huge wall-coverings with stories from the life of Jesus.

As we passed The Resurrection of Christ, our guide told us to walk slowly along and not to take our eyes off Jesus’ eyes. They appear to be watching only you and it looks like he is turning his head to follow you! Alas, it is but a clever trick by the artist! 🙂

Another piece of artistic genius is how the ceilings were painted. As we walked along, we thought that they were sculptures, but in actual fact, they were paintings created to look like that, a brilliant use of shadowing and colours.

Things to do in Rome
Artistic brilliance!

In the next hall was the Gallery of Geographical Maps, a series of colourfully painted maps of Italy.

Things to do in Rome
The Gallery of Geographical Maps
Things to do in Rome
The Gallery of Geographical Maps

The frescoes themselves are beautiful, but don’t forget to look up at the exquisite ceiling with paintings and carvings amidst a sea of golds, greens and reds. It’ll take your breath away a little bit!

The room just prior to the Sistine Chapel was the Room of the Immaculate Conception, covered floor to ceiling with impressive frescoes depicting religious scenes of the dogma of immaculate conception made by Pope Pius IX in 1854.

Things to do in Rome
The Room of the Immaculate Conception

And one more room, the dome of which is just incredible. Imagine the painstaking work done by the artist to create such a spectacular piece of work.

Things to do in Rome
Apartment of San Pio V

At last, we reached the Sistine Chapel which nowadays is used for the papal conclave, the process by which a new pope is selected. It’s famous for its frescoes on the walls and ceilings which were painted by a number of talented 15th century artists, one of the most famous being Michelangelo who was responsible for The Last Judgement on the altar wall, and the ceiling, on which he painted episodes from the book of Genesis.

And in the words of one man, “Without having seen the Sistine Chapel one can form no appreciable idea of what one man is capable of achieving.” — Johann Wolfgang Goethe, 23 August 1787. No truer words have ever been spoken! 🙂

The chapel is stunningly beautiful, but unfortunately no photographs are allowed, but I sneakily took one of the ceiling. I apologise for the blurriness, but I had to be quick!

Things to do in Rome
Michelangelo’s ceiling frescoes in the Sistine Chapel

Our guide told us that the security guards would not take kindly to anyone taking photographs, so I was a bit nervous to do it. The security guards dominated the chapel, making sure everyone kept moving, so, again there was no time to enjoy the fabulously detailed and brilliant art work by these painters. You’re not even supposed to speak, but try keeping a lot of people silent at any one time. The chattering would become louder and louder, only to be met with a resounding “ssssSSSHHHHH” from the guards, which shut everyone up for a few seconds.

A screen, or transenna, made from marble, divides the chapel in two and in the middle was a wooden door through which we were shepherded. Here we managed to find a seat and just sit and gaze all around. This was the first part of the tour where we could really take a breath and take in everything we were seeing.

We walked through many halls and saw hundreds of exhibits that day, but there was a lot more that we didn’t see. It really was an astonishing place to visit and a fabulous first day in Rome.

The guide left us outside St Peter’s Basilica, and that’s where we’ll visit next!

Tip: Book tickets beforehand because the queues are crazy long and it will take a long time to get in.

To book tickets and for more information about the Vatican museums visit their website

Map of the Vatican Museums

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Of My Obsessions

I haven’t been out with my camera much recently, I haven’t felt that motivated, but, thankfully, I am over that lack of motivation and the last two weeks, I have been clicking merrily away, but more of what I’ve been getting up to will follow shortly. In the meantime, I was just sifting through my photos when I came across some photographs of my favourite building in Bangkok; MahaNakhon Tower. I love all kinds of architecture and over a period of 2 years I took loads of photos of the different stages of its construction.

These were taken in October 2015, it’s almost finished, but not quite. I love the pixelated effect.

This was 2016. If you’re ever in Silom or Sathorn, you can’t help but notice Bangkok’s tallest building looming up towards the sky.

MahaNakhon was completed late 2016, but, even now, I just can’t help myself taking photos of it, or pointing it out to whoever I’m with if I’m in the area. I love the bold structure against the blue of the sky and I love the way the clouds are reflected in the windows of the tower.

As a photographer, I love looking for interesting shapes, angles, and colours. It’s amazing what you can see when you train your eye to find things.

And there is just plain crazy!

Architecture in Bangkok

And to add to my little obsession, MahaNakhon are in the process of building an observatory which should be completed sometime this year. They say, “Unique architecture. Unrivalled experience. Offering dramatic 360 degree panoramic views across the city, the visitor observatory will open daily, providing soaring double height indoor spaces and a rooftop viewing platform from the highest point in Bangkok. Stand on the sky, with MahaNakhon’s skytray, a cantilevered glass balcony extending outside the building, enabling each guest to walk on air.”

And there’s gonna be a roof top bar!  Drink anyone?

What are your obsessions?

For more photography of this unique building, check out my previous posts! 🙂

A Rising Story

A Rising Story- Part 2

A Rising Story- Part 3

A Rising Story-Risen

Photo Walks Around the City; November and December 2017

On the last round up of what’s happening on the streets of Bangkok, I took relatively few photographs. But here they are. We’ve already said goodbye to 2017 and welcomed 2018 in with open arms!

Happy New Year to you!!

I hope 2018 brings joy and good fortune with everything we do!

Much love 🙂

House of Lucie

The House of Lucie is an art gallery that I have wanted to visit for a while and last year I went to see “Unseen Lithuania” by Marius Jovaisa, a world famous photographer known for his aerial photography.

The House of Lucie aims to honor master photographers like Steve McCurry, Sebastiao Salgado, David Bailey and Lord Snowdon. It also aims to discover and cultivate emerging talent and to promote the appreciation of photography worldwide.

Here are some of my favourite photographs by these masters photographers

And some familiar faces from across the world

Art Galleries in Bangkok
Audrey Hepburn by Douglas Kirkland

 

Art Galleries in Bangkok
Cassius Clay by Marvin E Newman

 

Art Galleries in Bangkok
Micheal Jackson by Gene Trindl

 

Art Galleries in Bangkok
Bob Dylan by David Bailey

 

Art Galleries in Bangkok
Bob Marley by David Burnett

 

Art Galleries in Bangkok
Muhammad Ali by Howard Bingham

 

Art Galleries in Bangkok
Ornette Coleman by William Claxton

 

Art Galleries in Bangkok
Salvador Dali by Arnold Newman

 

Art Galleries in Bangkok
Pablo Picasso by Arnold Newman

 

Art Galleries in Bangkok
Grace Jones by Jean-Paul Goude

 

Art Galleries in Bangkok
David Bowie by Antonin Kratochvil

I loved looking at these photographs. I recognised most of the celebs but not others. Now, most of these people are no longer with us, so it’s lovely that these photographs remain to serve as a kind of memorial.

For more art galleries in Bangkok, check out one of my previous posts.

 

Photo Walks Around The City; October 2017

In October, I was in Phra Nakhon area, one of my favourite places to hang out.

I took a bike to the intersection where Lan Luang Road meets Ratchadamnoen Klang Road where King Prajadhipok Museum and Wat Saket are located.

I stood for what seemed like ages for a gap in the traffic.

Up the steps of Phanfa Bridge

Mahakan Fort, one of the two remaining forts that protected the city, the other being Phra Sumen Fort

Wat Ratchanatdaram (Loha Prasat or Iron Castle)

Architecture on Phra Sumen Road

Wat Bowonniwet Vihara where King Bhumibol resided when he was a monk

And my walk ended at Thanon Tinao. It doesn’t look busy at this time. Give it a few hours and it’s heaving

Photo Walks in Bangkok

Still plenty more to see in this city I call home. I hope you enjoyed my walkabout as much as I did walking about! 🙂

Visit morrisophotography for more photographs 🙂

Photo Walks Around the City; September 2017

My wanderings took me all over the place in September.

From my vantage point at the House of Lucie in Ekkamai. I was there for an art exhibition

Photos walks in Bangkok

The steps to the BTS station have some words to get you through the week

Photos walks in Bangkok

A stroll along Saen Saep Canal

Turning into Kasem San 2 Alley with flowers and trees making it feel like you’re not really in a big city

Photos walks in Bangkok

Back in the throng of things and Bangkok’s newest skywalk. It crosses over the busy Pathumwan intersection. It cost 300 million baht to construct

Phaya Thai Road with my favourite building, Mahanakhon, at the end of the road on the left.

Photos walks in Bangkok

One of Bangkok’s many canals, taken from Phanfa Bridge

Photos walks in Bangkok

Phra Sumen Fort on Phra Athit Road, taken at the blue hour