Europe 2.0 – Day 18 14 June

Today we caught a 9:30am ferry (Bura Line) from Split to Trogir – I suggested this because I wanted to try something besides bus so that we can fully appreciate being in the midst of the great blue sea. The ferry left shortly after we arrived and there was a queue to board so we barely managed to get a seat on the deck, which has tables. (I was eating fruits and drinking my half full/empty bottle of coke while enjoying the scenery.) I love how the winds create waves, which give rise to beautiful patterns in the sea. The day was sunny was usual but today there were more clouds so as the boat moved ahead, there were moments of shades and then very glaring brightness.

An hour later we arrived. Trogir was much, much smaller than I expected. (Should have done proper research beforehand besides the only knowledge that ‘it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site’, to which Ben informed me that Dubrovnik and Split are also under the UNESCO, and so are many places around the world lol). Nonetheless, the old town in Trogir didn’t disappoint – it is the best for me so far. I feel the Dubrovnik’s is too centred around its Stradun and crowded with people, whereas Split’s is not well preserved and more famous for its beautiful promenade. Trogir has a less touristy, more authentic old town and also a fantastic riverfront.

Walking through Trogir feels like walking around Venice but minus the canals and characteristic architecture. The similarity lies in the small alleys and relative peacefulness. Most structures are built out of large, white stones(?)/bricks and the ground as well (except they’re well polished after being walked on for many years). The main centre is based on a square consisting of the St Lawrence Cathedral and the town Loggia+clock tower. Besides this and the riverfront, which has many restaurants, other parts are pretty quaint and are dotted by a few souvenir shops maybe every few 100m.

We first visited the cathedral, which boasts a famous portal that is made by a famous Italian sculptor when Trogir was under the Republic of Venice. The bell tower was super scary to climb up;  unlike the one in Split, which was scary because its windows are huge and one mistake might just send you toppling to the ground floor, Trogir’s has very steep steps nearing its top. And the gaps are so huge that I was worried about toppling through them.

Later we had lunch by the river front – we shared a marinated chicken set that comes with soup and dessert, as well as a green risotto. Like all meals that we had in Croatia, they were super tasty and we were filled afterwards.

With energy to spare, we walked to the Kamerlengo Castle but it was not well preserved/super impressive and required an entrance fee so we gave it a miss. I suggested that we go to Okrug beach (more for me because I was ready to swim) but it would be 5km by foot or 4sgd by boat for one way – too inconvenient/expensive.

So we had a leisurely stroll around Trogir, where I discovered its pristine, rustic charm. I bought lavender gifts for the 3rd consecutive day haha and we headed back to Split by bus (instead of ferry). The return trip was about 3sgd cheaper and 10min faster. We were asleep for most of the journey.

As it was a public bus, it parked at an unfamiliar terminal so we walked back to the hostel and I came out again to visit Bacvice Beach (AGAIN) because I’m just so sentimental and caught up about the value of ‘last time’ (for most people, they’d treasure their firsts more, I guess). I found a shorter route to get there this time (heh) but unfortunately I was kinda self-conscious about my one-piece to fully enjoy myself. There were more people (many local teenagers playing ball) plus the waves were more choppy, so I didn’t stay for long. We bathed and went out for dinner nearby, which we both felt was a hidden gem because it doesn’t have any outdoors seats and is barely noticeable save for a menu outside the shop. Plus the prices were so reasonable and the variety was great – they had pasta, pizza, risotto, meat, fish, soup…everything. It wasn’t crowded and we even ordered beer to share while making plans for tomorrow. YAY 😀

 

Europe 2.0 – Day 9 5 June

Today we had another day off (to Volterra) ! HAHAHA! And it’s because Marilena had to go look after her granddaughters and tbh there’s nothing much to be gone around the house.

For breakfast, we tried the Cedro jam that we made a few days back and it tasted delicious. I love how sweet it is and then leaves a nice sour and bitter citrus flavour. The consistency is very good as well and everyone loved it! Andrew also tried the instant white coffee that we brought and he liked it heh! =D

Shortly after 9, Bruno drove us to the Capannoli city centre, where we bought our bus tickets and located the bus stop. He was very kind to wait for the bus with us and since we had about 20 minutes of waiting time, we tried to make conversation haha! I asked him how he met Marilena and moved over to their present house. 

The bus was 10 minutes late but ateaat it finally came! I was secretly relieved that we didn’t have to make anymore awkward conversations as I really didn’t have anymore Convo topics! T^T

The journey was scenic, just like most of our trips in Tuscany. The views make me determined to return here again someday and gave me a damn good reason to prefer Europe over Asia. The road was super winding and we went up and up until we could get a bird’s eye view of the farms on the hill. The neat arrangement of the plantations and golden/green hues of the landscapes are very memorable. ^^

Upon reaching Volterra, we first visited one of the most well preserved section of the city walls, called porta al arco. It’s a simple gate that greeted us for the start of our exploration. 

We then walked up to Piazza del priori, where the palace of the commune of volterra sits. Along the way we went into many specialty shops, most of them selling artsy stuff like papercraft that is made traditionally, acrylic paintings and art prints featuring the scenery of Tuscany. Volterra itself is built on a hill and many of the roads are upward sloping and narrow. The architecture is medieval – the paths were cobble stone and the buildings were mostly made of bricks. The residents didn’t paint their houses and shops so the colour scheme of the whole town is grey and brick red in colour. 

The neighbourhood was very cosy and homely. It felt like a community that people actually lived and worked in because there are locals walking about, clothes hanging outside of windows and beautiful potted flowers growing outside the houses. There were many western tourists as well (we’re probably the only Asians) but the whole place wasn’t too crowded. And the weather had just gotten cloudy by late afternoon so the temperatures were copper than usual. 

After the piazza, we walked to the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta. The Cathedral used to have a missionary in the medieval times and the brotherhood maintained its anonymity by donning gowns which covered their faces and body in black,which actually made them look like grim reapers instead imo. The Cathedral also displayed the equipments that they used for transporting sick people in the olden days. Near the church, a medical service was on standby and I was pleased by how people continued the work of the brotherhood. 

After visiting the baptisery of the Cathedral, we went to the acropolis to admire its ruins and see the underwater cistern from the first century AD. Along the way we saw the medici fortress, which is now a prison. 

Next up was the Entruscan Museum, which held a large collection of funeral urns. They’re similar to what we saw in Camposanto, except that in here, the urns here are more consistent in design, shape and size. We couldn’t really understand what the sculpting on the urns meant but some were themselves, works of art. But haha I was more interested in the English guides the gift shop; they have a good summary of Tuscan food, Siena and San Gimignano. 

Then it was off for lunch! We didn’t have to walked for long to find a popular trattoria in front of the museum of torture. Yue shan had carbonara pizza (with bacon, eggs and pepper) and I had delicious ravioli in truffle cream sauce, as well as Caffè espresso (very not nice). 

Feeling satisfied, we walked around for gelato and we Roman Theatre, which is better preserved than the acropolis as we could still see the ruins of the pillars that supported the majestic structure. YS was very delighted as it is her first time seeing any archaeological remains of the roman empire. Walking via the panoramic view point, we walked to the picture museum, which also houses the alabaster museum. It wasn’t very spectacular and there was almost nobody else save for us. However I feel that I could begin to appreciate paintings because we started to Google the meanings of the image thanks to the availability of mobile data. I’m guessing that there are many paintings of the same scene but being drawn by different artists, there are many works now for us compare and evaluate the skills of the artists.

Quickly, we found our bus stop and Bruno picked us up from the station at 7pm! 🙂 Today’s dinner (the last dinner at our sweet little bnb!) was a salad based on millet seeds, which i didn’t like because it was so bitter… We also had dhal that is cooked with capers so I used it to mix with the salad and hope the bitterness goes away =P Over dinner, I reminded Bruno about his children’s book as I was interested to talk to him about it. I had been trying to find the time to translate the story but I only managed to do so for the first sentence of the author’s description, which says ‘Bruno, 35 years old, lives in Campagna and loves animals more than humans (but even humans are animals).’ Later we spent the next 20-30minutes helping me to understand Italian pronunciation and grammar (at least I tried) while the rest were talking about A and H’s travels and the movie ‘Godfather’ hahaha.

Overall today was a great day because Volterra was a perfect place to visit, especially for half a day. So thankful to our hosts for always being so kind and considerate towards us :>