A Travellerspoint blog

Chioggia.

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Chioggia is a nice town situated some 50 kilometers far from Venice. It is called "Little Venice" because it has some similarities to this town. In fact Chioggia has several calli (narrow streets), bridges and canals.

I spent some days in Chioggia some years ago.

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Corso del Popolo is the main street in Chioggia. It crosses the town from north to south.

On this long street you can see several old palaces. There is a good choice of cafes and shops here as well.

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Every thursday the weekly market takes place along this street.

On the third sunday of june; every year the Palio della Marcillana is held on corso del Popolo. It is a series of events including a costume parade that celebrates the liberation of Chioggia from the Genoese in june 1380.

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Ponte di Vigo is one of the eight bridges that cross canal Vena. It is located near the harbour.

It was built in masonry in 1685. It was embellished with Istrian marbles in 1762. This bridge substituted a previous one made of wood.

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Canal Vena is one of the canals in Chioggia. It runs parallel to corso del Popolo. Along this canal there is a promenade with porticoes and lots of very old palaces. There are several shops and cafes along this canal.

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I had lunch at Al Vecio Foghero some times. At this restaurant they have a good choice of first and second courses with meat, fish or sea food. They also have a good selection of pizzas. Once I asked for one of these. They brought me a large and tasty pizza.

I sat at a outdoor table all the times I went to that restaurant. It was too hot to eat inside. The outdoor tables of restaurant al Vecio Foghero are right on a narrow street (calle).

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There aren' t any beaches in Chioggia, but there are many in Sottomarina. Practically there is a strip of 10 km of fine sandy beach there.

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Sottomarina is part of Chioggia and it is situated on another island. It has everything the tourist likes or needs; hotels, restaurants, shops and cafes.

You can go to Sottomarina from Chioggia by bus; otherwise you can go there by foot. I suppose you have to walk around 1 km to get there. Start from San Giacomo bridge in Chioggia; near the church with the same name and go straight on.

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It is possible to do a day trip to Venice from Chioggia; by boat. I didi it.

You have to take a boat to Pellestrina. Once there, take a bus near the boat pier. This will takes you to another spot in Pellestrina (an island not far from Chioggia) to take a boat to the island of Lido (this belongs to Venice).

The bus goes on the boat. After a short journey you get to Alberoni (part of the island of Lido). Get in the bus (if you went out) and wait until you are at the right stop. This is where you' ll be able to take a boat to Saint Mark' s square.

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I arrived in Saint Mark' s square in order to visit the basilica. There was a long queue, so I decided to skip it. Then I choose to visit some churches. I bought a card named Chorus Pass, that enabled me to visit 16 churches within a year. I visited four churches in a day.

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I headed to several campo (small squares), crossed a lot of bridges, had a "fast food" meal and took some pics.

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Pellestrina is a 11 km long and narrow island. It is less than 2 km square meters long.

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There are three villages on this island; Pellestrina, San Pietro in Volta and Portosecco.

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Here you see lots of colorful houses and several others painted in pastel colors. Pellestrina isn' t a touristy place, but there is a good choice of restaurants, cafes and shops.

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It is a nice island to spend some hours in the morning or in the afternoon.

Daily boats to Pellestrina depart from the harbour in Chioggia. The journey to the island takes around 20 minutes.

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Pasticceria Flora is one of the many cafes on corso del Popolo. I went there several times to have dinner. Well, I visited that cafe for the so-called "happy hour". I usally asked for a non alcoholic fruit drink which came with a plate full of mini sandwiches, small slices of pizza and chips.

Once I finished these nibbles I could go to the counter and help myself with other food as much as I liked.

There were mostly slices of pizza and chips on the counter when I visited this cafe. The slices of pizza were good and also the non alcoholic fruit drink.

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I could easily find a room in Chioggia even if it was high season. I booked a room at hotel Caldin' s. This is a bunch of rooms in a modern building; not a hotel. I had a three bed room, which wouldn' t have been large enough for three people but it was fine for me. My bed was comfortable.

The bathroom was quite small. It had the shower inside without a real base and a curtain that was useless. I had to be very careful not to flood the entire the bathroom floor when I took a shower.

In every room there is a boiling device to prepare coffee or tea. Some bags of tea, one or two packets of instant coffee and some packed cookies.

Posted by Maurizioagos 05:19 Archived in Italy Tagged venice chioggia pellestrina. Comments (2)

Brussels.

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Long ago I spent some days in Brussels in order to attend a meeting in Kortrijk. This town is around an hour by train from Brussels.

On this post you will see some sights of Brussels.

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Grand Place, or Grote Markt (in Flemish) is the main square in Brussels.

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It was first laid out after the construction of the town hall (1402-1455). On august 13th 1695 it was bombed to ruins by the French. In the following four years the city guilds rebuilt it.

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Today it is surrounded by several guild houses from the late 17th century, by the town hall and the Broodhuis (or Maison du Roy). Some guild houses house restaurants or cafes.

The Maison du Roy houses the City Museum. There you can see the collection of costumes of the Manneken Pis.

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Everard' t Serclaes was a local hero who freed the city from the Counts of Flanders in 1354.

You can find a bas-relief depicting this hero dying to the left of the town hall and under the house where he died in 1388.

This sculpture was made in 1902 by a Flemish artist; Julien Dillen. Rubbing the hero' s arm on this bas-relief will ensure one's return to Brussel and to bring good luck.

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The Royal Galleries of Saint Hubert is a large glass roofed arcade built in 1847. It was the first shopping arcade in Europe.

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It consists of two mayor sections called Galerie du Roy (King' s Gallery) and Galerie de la Reine (Queen' s Gallery); and a smaller side gallery called Galerie des Princes (Princes Gallery).

This shopping arcade is lined with more than fifty shops, cafes, some restaurants, a theatre and a cinema. Here you can find some chocolate shops, several boutiques and jewellery stores.

In the past, visitors had to pay to access the galleries.

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The comic strip route is a path composed by more than fifty comic strip murals which decorate the walls of several buildings in the ciy.

These murals represent many cartoons characters. One of the reasons why these were created was to improve some areas in Brussels.

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The Belgian Comic Strip Center is a museum dedicated to the Belgian comics.

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The name of this museum is Centre Belge de la Bande Dessinée. It is housed in a Art Nouveaux building designed by the architect Victor Horta.

Here you can learn about the process of creating a comic strip album. There are several nice three dimensional recreations of strip scenes and other things relevant to the strip art.

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On the ground floor of this palace there is a restaurant, a comics shop and a library.

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The Manneken Pis is a bronze statuette of a naked peeing boy situated atop a fountain. It was built in 1619.

Sometimes you can see this little boy dressed. He has a rich wardrobe you can see in the City Museum in Grand Place.

There are some legends about it.

According to one of them a witch saw a little boy makings his things against her door. She lived where the fountain now stands. The witch was very angry so that she turned him into a statue.

Another legend says that a man had lost his little son. After two days he found him near the place where now you see the fountain. When the father spotted his child, the latter was peeing. As a token of gratitude the father had the fountain with a statue of a peeing boy built.

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Another museum I visited in Brussels was the Royal Museum of Fine Arts. This museum is divided into two sections; the Museum of Ancient Art and the Museum of Modern Art.

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I only visited the Museum of Ancient Art. It houses paintings, drawings and sculptures from the 15th until 18th century. There you can see many paintings by the most famous Flemish old masters, such as Breugel, Rubens and Van Dyck.

At this museum you can also find the Death of Marat by Jacques Louis David; a painting you have surely seen in some school books.

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The musical instruments museum is housed in a Art Nouveaux building designed in 1899. It has more than 1.500 intruments from all areas of the world and from all times. These are on display on four floors.

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Once you bought your ticket you are given a set of infrared headphones. If you stand besides an instrument; on a spot marked with a headphone on the floor you will hear music played by that instrument on the headphones.

This palace has also a concert hall, a library, a shop and a restaurant on the top. This provides a view over some areas of the city.

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Le Petit Sablon is a nice garden. It is surrounded by 48 statues representing the Medieval guilds of Brussels.

In the center of the square you can see a statue of the counts of Egmont and Hoorne who were executed at the Grand Place in 1568 by order of Philip II of Spain.

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It was originally a horse market. In 1890 it was turned into a garden.

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I also a visited a nice museum quite far from the city center; the Museum of the Far East. It consists of a Chinese pavillion and a Japanese tower.

These were commisioned to a French architect by king Leopold II. They are located on the northern corner of the Royal Park in the Laeken area.

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Inside the Chinese pavillion.

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Antother pic taken into the Chinese pavillion.

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I couldn' t see much inside the Japanese Tower, because only the first floor was opened when I went here. Inside there is a collection of Japanese ceramics.

The Chinese pavilion was originally designed as a luxury restaurant. It has various small rooms richly decorated. There are also various Chinese items here, but what impressed me were the decorations of the rooms.

These buildings seems to be oriental. Only some parts of them came from Japan and China.

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The Royal Greenhouses is a large complex of greenhouses built between 1874 and 1895 by king Leopold II to house his collection of plants from the Congo. They consist of 16 connected greenhouses.

These greenhouses are located in the park of the royal palace of Laeken.

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These greenhouse can be visited only for two weeks every year; usually between april and may. This tradition has been carried on for a century. I visted Brussels at the beginning of may, so that I could enjoy those rich collection of flowers and plants.

I have to visit Brussels again, because this city has several other things to see and do. I stayed there for six day if my memory serves me well.

Posted by Maurizioagos 01:23 Archived in Belgium Tagged brussels belgium. Comments (7)

Krk Island.

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Krk is an island in Croatia. It is one of the largest one in that country. It is connected to the mainland via a long concrete bridge since 1980.

I went on holiday on this island twice and precisely in Punat both times.

I travelled by coach to Punat. I went to Rijeka from Trieste (IT) by direct coach. I took another one from Rijeka to Punat. If I remember correctly, the journey from Rijeka to Punat should takes around 1.30 hours. I suppose Punat is one of the latest stops on Krk Island if not the last.

There are many buses from Rijeka to Krk Island every day. They stop at various villages on the island.

It is also possible to go to this island by airplane from various countries. In fact there is an airport there. It is named Rijeka Airport and it is located close to the town of Omisalij.

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Krk Town is located on the south west coast of the island. It has a nice waterfront with several restaurants and cafes.

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Getting lost is a thing to do in Krk Town. This is a way to discover several nice things, as old houses, cafes, restaurants and a small park overlooking the sea.

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One of the main sights of the town is the cathedral that forms a complex with the church of Saint Quirinus.

The church of Saint Quirinus has a bell tower with an angel playing a trumpet on the top. Inside there is an exibition of sacred art. You have to climb some stairs to go inside.

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After your visit, you pass through a door and go downstairs where you get inside the cathedral. This was built in 1188 where there had been a V century basilica. This had been built on the site of a Roman spa.

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Vela Placa; one of the squares in Krk Town has a Medieval tower with a clock built in the XVI century and an ancient well.

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As I have already said, Punat was my base both times I was on the island.

In my opinion the main reason to visit Punat is to take a boat to Kosljun Island. On this islet there is a Franciscan monastery. It was founded in 1447.

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Kosljun Island is a very green area with several paths and chapels. It is a kind of little forest.

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Here you can visit a church which was built on the ruins of a Benedictine church. Moreover there is a museum of ethnography, a collection of paintings and a small archaeological museum.

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At the museum of ethnography.

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Baska is a large village situated on the southern part of the island.

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One of the main reasons to visit Baska is to spend some time on its long beach. It is a beach with peebles and sand named Vela Plaza. Along the waterfront there are lots of restaurants, cafes, ice cream parlours and souvenirs stalls.

There is a small ethnoghraphic museum in Baska. I didn' t find it very interesting. It takes around twenty minutes to visit it. It is quite small. The entry fee is only some kunas.

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Baska.

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Vrbnik is a beautiful village on a hill. It is situated on a 49 meters high rock overlooking the sea; on the north - east coast of the island.

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This is a small village with old stone houses where you can get lost strolling along several narrow cobbled streets.

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Vrbnik has some shops, restaurants and cafes. There are some beaches nearby.

You can go to Vrbnik by bus. Unfortunately only a few of them operate every day either from Krk Town or from Punat.

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I booked my room (twice) at Hotel Omorika in Punat. It is a quite large hotel situated some meters from the sea. It has a garden with a playground area for kids and a big terrace. It is not far from the main bus stop.

Here they served beakfast and dinner buffet style. I have to say I was really satisfied about the food at the hotel.

Posted by Maurizioagos 11:04 Archived in Croatia Tagged krk. baska vrbnik. punat. Comments (6)

Koper.

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Koper is a nice town located in the south western part of Slovenia. It is only twenty kilometers far from Trieste; in Italy.

I have visited Koper some times; as day trip from Portorose. It is easy to go to Koper from Portorose. There are several buses that operate between these two towns every day.

This town has a nice old core; some nice squares and a museums (or maybe some more).

Titov trg is the main square in Koper. It is bordered by several buildings.

Here you can visit the cathedral of the Assumption. It was rebuilt in the XVIII century and is dedicated to Saint Nazarius; Koper' s patron saint.

Beside the church there is a bell tower that was originally separated from the church.

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Near the bell tower we see the Praetorian Palace. This was the residence of the podestà; the ruler of the town who was chosen directly by the doge (the ruler) of Venice. Its current structure dates from the mid 15th century.

This palace was built on the site of two XIII century houses. In the second half of the XIII century these were joined. Today the Praetorian Palace houses the town hall and some rooms opened to visitors. Ask at the tourist office on the ground floor for a guided tour of the palace.

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Opposite this palace there is a loggia. It was built in 1463 and renovated in the 17th century. Today it houses a modern cafe.

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The regional museum is housed inside the Belgramoni - Tacco Palace. It was built around 1600 on the site of a previous building.

Inside you can see an archaeological collection with items found in Istria; wooden statues, paintings, various furniture. There are also various musical instruments and a rich collection of weapons. This palace is also used for cultural and musical event.

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Don't miss the beautiful door knocker of the main door of this palace.

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Behind the palace there is a nice garden which is now used as lapidarium. It is part of the palace.

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Walking in the old core of Koper it seems to be in an old village.

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There are even some Medieval houses in Koper.

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Preseren square was named after the famous poet France Presernov. It is located at the southern end of the old town.

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At Preseren square you can see the Da Ponte fountain It was built in the 1666. It supplied the town with drinkable water for several centuries.

At one end of the square there is the Muda Gate. It is the last remaining gate of the old Koper. It was also the main gate of the town. There were twelve of them. On Preseren square there is also a church; Saint Basso church.

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Carpaccio square takes its name from Vittore Carpaccio (1460-1525); a famous Venetian painter. Here you can see the house where he was born. It is located at number 6. Probably it was his son Benedetto who lived there.

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At this square there is also a well taken from Venice; a column built in the 1571 and erected to commemorate the naval victory against the Turks at Lepanto. There is also a old salt warehouse built in the 17th century on this square. Today it is used as an exposition site.

Koper has a large bus station. Unfortunately it is quite far from the town center. I think it is could be two kilometers far. Thus I' d suggest to take a bus to the town center from there. This station has a vending machine for a hot drink and a convenient cafe located outdoor.

Posted by Maurizioagos 10:27 Archived in Slovenia Tagged koper slovenia. Comments (2)

Piran.

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Piran ia beautiful small town in southwestern Slovenia; on the Adriatic coast.

I have visited it as a day trip from Portorose several times. Portorose is a sea side resort some ten minutes far from Piran, by bus.

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The old core of this town is made of a maze of narrow streets. There you will find cafes, restaurants and shops.

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Tartini square is the main square in Piran. It was named after the violinist and composer Giuseppe Tartini (1692-1770) who was born in this town.

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Long ago this square was a harbour for fishing boats. In 1894 it was filled in because of bad smell, filth and for health and sanitary reasons.

Tartini Square is surrounded by various colorful houses, the New Town Hall, the Court Hall; Tartini' s birthplace and the Venetian House.

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The Venetian house is a red palace built in the middle of the 15th century. It is the oldest preserved house on this square. It was built by a merchant for his mistress. As a response for the gossips about this relationship a stone inscription with the words "lassa pur dir" (= let them say) was put on its facade.

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There are several churches in Piran. There is even a cathedral; t. It is dedicated to Saint George. This church was probably built in the XII century. The present building dates back to the year 1637.

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Inside there is a beautiful organ, some interesting paintings and the Crucifix of Piran made in the 14th century. It is a very moving masterpiece.

Next to the church stands a bell tower built in the 1608. It is said this is a very good viewpoint over the town.

Another building near the cathedral is the baptistery; built in the 1650. Adjacent to the cathedral there is a small museum with some interesting works of art and the crypt.

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Just outside the Cathedral there is a viewpoint where you can see most of Tartini Square and some areas in Piran.

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Saint Francis' church was built originally in the early 14th century; enlarged and renovated over the centuries. The present interior dates from the 17th century and the exterior from the 19th century. This church belongs to a Minorite monastery.

Tartini' s family members are buried under a slab below the floor of this church.

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What I liked much of this church is a painted inner dome.

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Next to the church there is a white cloister that is used for concerts in the summer. In a small room near the cloister there is a collection of paintings and some ancients statues.

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There is a beautiful aquarium in Piran. It is housed inside Villa Piranesi; not far from the harbour.

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You can' t compare it with the aquariums in cities as Valencia or Lisbon. This is a small aquarium with 25 tanks where around 140 sea creatures live.

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Here you won' t find tropical fishes, but local sea animals.

I think the aquarium is a good place to spend one hour or more. It is the right attraction to take your kids.

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On my second visit to Piran I had a stroll to the Punta lighthouse area. It is located on the tip of the Piran peninsula.

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Beyond the lighthouse there is a church formerly consacrated to Saint Clement. In the 17th century it was renamed as Our Lady of Health because of the plague that propagated throughout Istria. This church was first mentioned in the 13th century.

At the lighthouse area there is a good choice of restaurants and a concrete beach.

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The Maritime Museum Sergej Masera is housed in the Gabrielli Palace. It was built in the middle of he 19th century.

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Here you can see exibits on marine archaeology (amphorae...) under a ground floor covered with glass; a collection of ancient model ship replicas; tools for repairing and building ships, navigational instruments, sailors uniforms and many other things.

I am not into "maritime things", but I liked this museum anyway. The statue you see in the second pic was one of the things I liked most here

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The 1st of May square was the administrative center of Piran until the 13th century. Here stood the old town hall.

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On this square you see the deconsacrated church of Saint Donat (1325) which houses an art gallery; some restaurants and a supermarket.

In the middle of the square there is a stone cistern surrounded by four statues. The bigger ones depict law and justice; the others two cherubs.

The cistern was built after the severe draught in 1775. Gutters were connected to the statues from the surrounding roofs in order to collect rain water. Then it was purified through sand.

Posted by Maurizioagos 08:30 Archived in Slovenia Tagged piran portorose slovenia. Comments (11)

Rimini and some day trips.

Rimini is situated in central Italy; in the Emilia Romagna region.

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Being a sea side resort, most of the people go to Rimini in order to spend some hours (or most of their time) on the beaches.

In Rimini there is practically a long strip of beach. It is 15 kilometers long or maybe more.

Many beaches are of private property, but there are free of charge ones. There are dogs friendly beaches as well.

As in most of the Italian seaside resort these beaches are very crowded during the month of august. Thus I' d suggest to spend your days in Rimini in june or at the beginning of september.

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The Malatestian temple is one of the main sights in Rimini.

There was a church since the IX century on its site.Then it was built the church of Saint Francis in the XIII century. It was redesigned in 1450 by order of Sigismondo Malatesta as his and her mistress' burial site.

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Inside it is richly ornated with sculptures. Its main sights are a crucifix by Giotto; created in 1312 and a fresco by Piero della Francesca of 1451 depicting Sigismondo kneeling in front of Saint Sigismond.

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This church was restored after it suffered serious damages in the WWII war.

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Piazza tre Martiri is one of the two main squares in Rimini. It occupies partly the forum or Ariminum; the Roman colony founded in 268 B. C.

Its previous names were; Piazza Grande, Piazza Sant Antonio, Piazza Giulio Cesare and Piazza delle Erbe. It was named "tre Martiri" to commemorate the death of three partisans hanged there in 1944. Martiri means "marthyrs".

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Here you see a nice clock tower, built in 1547 and rebuilt in 1753 and the small chapel dedicated to Saint Anthony. This dates between 1575 and 1578.

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Saint Anthony' s chapel.

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Corso 101 Vulpitta dolciumi is one of my favourite shops in Rimini. Here they sell sweets, wines, alcoholic drinks, tea, coffee and lots of other items. You can find it around the corner of piazza Tre Martiri; in corso d' Augusto.

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This is a small shop but full of things. I could stay into this shop for a lot of time; really.

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La Casa del Chirurgo. The Surgeon' s house.

There are some Roman remains in Rimini. One of these is a large floor mostly decorated with mosaics. This is what is left of the house of a surgeon. It was built during the second half of the second century A. D.

It was a two storey building with several rooms and a garden. There was even a workplace for visits and operations.

Various surgical tools were found here. Now these are in the city museum.

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If you are quite attentive you can spot a couple of skeletons among the mosaics.

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Piazza Cavour is another square in this town.

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There are three palace joined together in Piazza Cavour. On your right; near the street you see Palazzo Garampi; built at the end of the XVII century. It is used as town hall today.

Palazzo dell' Arengo that housed a tribunal, is located in the middle of this group of palaces. It was built in 1204. The third palace is Palazzo del Podestà . This was were the lord of the town lived. It dates between 1330 e il 1334. Today it is the seat of various expositions .

Next to the palaces there is the theater Amintore Galli built between 1843 and 1856.

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In piazza Cavour there is a large fountain; fontana della Pigna (i. e. pine cone). There is also a big statue of Pope Paul V. I am sorry, but I didn' t take a pic of this statue.

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Opposite the three palaces you see an old fish market; built in 1743. Today there is a flowers market inside this building. I suppose it is in operation every morning.

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Here you can see the teather Amintore Galli.

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Città del Sole is another favourite shops of mine in Rimini. Here you can find mostly toys, but also something for adults, as table games and books. This shop is part of a chain which has shops located in various towns in Italy.

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Città del Sole is located at via Tempio Malatestiano. At n. 45.

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Get lost in Rimini! You will discover several nice areas.

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The Tiberius bridge is a beautiful Roman bridge. This five arched Istrian stone bridge was started during the reign of Augustus in 14 A. D. and completed under Tiberius' reign in 21 A. D.

Originally it was built to cross the Marecchia river, but this was later diverted to avoid floods. This bridge has survived floods, war attacks and earthquakes.

It connects corso d' Augusto; the old town' s main street with Saint Giuliano quarter (Borgo San Giuliano). This bridge is open to pedestrians and cars except for heavy vehicles.

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Borgo San Giuliano is one of the oldest areas in Rimini. It was originally inhabited by seafarers and fishermen.

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Today this area is a kind of village, with lots of colorful houses, the main square with a church; several cafes, restaurants and shops.

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I stayed some times at a nice three stars hotel in Rimini. Hotel Clitunno. It is situated in Viserbella; an area part of Rimini.

Last time I booked a room there, I was given a double room with bathroom en suite there. It had also a small balcony.

Breakfast at this hotel is buffet style with various pastries, bread, cold cuts, jam and other food. Hot drinks, as coffee, cappuccino and hot chocolate are served at your table. Lunch and dinner are partly buffet style. Food at hotel Clitunno was really good.

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Hotel Clitunno has a communal room, a cafe and a terrace. This hotel is located near the sea. See; www.hotelclitunno.net

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Cesenatico is a beautiful sea side resort located between Rimini and Ravenna.

I did a day trip from Rimini to this town last time I visited Rimini. The journey from Rimini to Cesenatico lasted around half an hour by train.

I didn' t visit any beaches in Cesenatico the day I was there, I only stayed in the old center and I walked a lot.

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I think the highlight of this town is its canal port. It is said it was designed by Leonardo da Vinci in 1502. It is situated in the center of Cesenatico.

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This canal port is bordered by lots of buildings painted in various colours. Many of these house shops, cafes and restaurants. There are some colourful old boats moored at this port which are part of the museo della marineria (a naval museum).

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Santarcangelo di Romagna is a beautiful village some 10 kilometers far from Rimini. I went there by bus from Rimini.

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It has a fortress (Rocca), built in 1386 (there was a previous one); enlarged and modified after a century.

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Near and below the fortress you can explore the Medieval area of the village with a network of narrow cobbled streets and nice houses. The "modern" area has lots of shops and cafes to rest a bit.

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Santarcangelo has also a couple of museums. A museum of buttons; where you can see a large display of buttons from various ages and an archaeological museum.

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In this picture you see the upper area of Santarcangelo from a park.

Beside Cesenatico and Santarcangelo di Romagna you can visit San Marino as a day trip from Rimini.

San Marino is a country located within Italy. It is the third smallest country in Europe and one of the oldest in the world.

You can go from Rimini to San Marino by coach. You can take one just outside the train station.

According a legend San Marino was founded by Marinus, a Dalmatian stomemason, in 301 A. D. He left his country to avoid the christian persecutions of Diocleatianus.

There are nine municipalities in this country. These are called "castelli".

I will tell you something about its capitol town; San Marino. Yes, it bears the same name of the state.

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Piazza della Libertà is San Marino main square. Here you can see the Palazzo Pubblico. This palace is the seat of the parliament and where important official happenings take place. It was built in 1894.

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This country has several shops that offer tax free goods for foreigners. San Marino even if it is a small town has a good choice of shops of various kinds.

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There are three towers in San Marino. Well; two of them are fortresses, The other is a proper tower.

The first tower is called Torre Rocca or Guaita. It dates around to the XI century.

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This is the witches' path (its Italian name is il Sentiero delle Streghe). It is the path which links the fist the first and the second towers.

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This arch lies under the witches' path.

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The second tower; Torre Cesta or Fratta was built around the 1400. It is situated on the highest point of the Mount Titano. Here you see a view from this tower.

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This tower houses a weaponry museum inside.

The third tower is called Montale and housed a prison. It is not opened to visitors. I didn' t take any picture of this tower.

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The garden you see in this picture is next to the Cava dei Balestrieri (the crossbowmen' s cave). This cave is the site of many events.

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There are some nice statues inside this garden.

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After a long stroll you can rest a bit at this garden; the Giardino dei Liburni.

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This garden is quite simple, but nice.

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I had a good ice cream at cafe Titanium. At this small place they sell a large choice of ice creams flavours.

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This is a close up of the main gate' s door of the town.

Posted by Maurizioagos 04:02 Archived in Italy Tagged sant di angelo rimini sea. romagna.san marino. Comments (1)

Rhodes Island.

sunny

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The island of Rhodes is located in southeastern Greece. It is the largest of the Dodecanese islands. I spend a week there several years ago.

I explored quite well the capitol of Rhodes; Rhodes Town, Lindos and some other places.

Rhodes Town has an interesting Medieval area and also a modern neighboorhood with all the amenities for tourist and locals.

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The Palace of the Grandmasters is one of the highlights of Rhodes Town.

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Originally this palace was built in the late 7th century as a Byzantine citadel. It was converted by the knights Hospitaller into their administrative center and the palace of their Grand Master.

During the Ottoman occupation; from 1522 to 1912 this building was used as prison. In 1865 and explosion in an arsenal almost destroyed the palace. In the early 20th century it was restored by the Italians.

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On the first floor of the palace there were several official rooms, the dining room and the private quarters of the Grand Master.

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The palace had 158 rooms. Today only 24 are open to visitors. Inside you can see a couple of collections of archaeological finds.

I don' t remember much about this palace but I remember there were various nice statues of angels inside.

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The archaeological museum is anothe sight in Rhodes Town. It is housed in the main hospital of the city during the knights' era. This building was constructed in 1440 and enlarged between 1481 and 1489. It was restored during the Italian occupation between 1913 and 1918.

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This museum has lots of findings as vases, figurines, mosaic floors; funerary slabs of the knights. There is even a collection of Roman sculptures and two 6th century kouros. These are statues of idealized young males.

The thing I liked much of all here was the statue of the so-called Aphrodite of Rhodes. It is more than 2000 years old (see pic.).

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The Byzantine tower clock (Roloj) is nice tower built on the ruins of a Byzantine tower that was connected with the Palace of the Grand Master. In 1856 it was destroyed by the explosion of the nearby church of S. John of the Knights.

For the price of some euros you can go up to the top and enjoy the landscape over the town. A complimentary drink is included in the fee.

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The old core of Rhodes Town is surrounded by walls. These wer probably built on Byzantine fortifications in many stages; from 1330 to 1522. The walls are around 4 km long and have an average thickness of 12 metres. They have several towers and eleven gates.

Each order of knights was responsible for the defense of a section of the walls.

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Ipoton Street, or the street of the knights is about 600 meters long. Here, on both sides you can see the inns belonged to them. These were used as gathering places and temporary residences for visiting dignitaries. Today the inns are used as government offices.

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Sokratus street runs downhill from Suliman pasha' s mosque to Hippokates square. It is the main street in the old town. It is packed with shops and cafes.

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The mosque of Suliman pasha was originally built in 1542. Then it was rebuilt in 1808. Unfortunately when I visited Rhodes town it was closed.

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At Ippokratus square you can find various shops and restaurants. The building with a staircase you see in this picture is the Kastelania. It was built in 1597 and was used as a shopping mall. Today it houses the town library.

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The Mandraki harbour was the port of ancient Rhodos. Its entrance could be closed with chains. Here you see two statues of a male and a female deer on columns; three windmills not more in use and a 15th century fort.

At the harbour you can see lots of fishing boats and boats which leave for day trip cruises to Symi Island, to Marmaris; in Turkey and to other places.

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If you feel like shopping or if you are looking for a restaurant you can head to the new market; or Nea Agorà . This market is situated opposite the Mandraki. There is a good choice of restaurants, cafes and shops inside.

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The Kallithea spa has been popular since the ancient times for its therapeutic properties. They could treat arthritis, diabetes, malaria, allergies and other diseases. It is situated some miles from Rhodes Town.

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In 1928 the first building were constructed above the thermal springs. At the end of the 20th century they fell in abandonment and neglect. It was restored and reopened by the Italians in 2007.

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The Kalithea spa is a very nice place to spend some hours under the sun. There is a beach here.

At Kallithea spa there is a cafe where you can have some food and the toilets.

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The beach at Anthony Quinnì s Bay is one of the few beaches I visited when I was in Rhodes Island. This is a beautiful and small peeble beach. I have read it is not suitable to young children and elderly pepole, due to the presence of sharp rocks inside and out of the water.

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It is situated on the east coast of Rhodes; around four km south of Faliraki and 15 kms from Rhodes Town.

After filming the Guns of Navarone; Anthony Quinn bought this bay to create an international center for artists and film makers. This purchase was later annulled by the government.

There is a restaurant nearby.

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Lindos is probably one of the most popular villages on the island.

It is a car free town. Streets are too narrow for cars there. The only area where you can find cars and bikes is the town square. This is the only square in Lindos. Here you can find the tourist office, some cafes, restaurants and the taxi stop.

The only transportation option in town (except for taxis) are the donkeys. This is one of the ways to go to the Acropolis.

There are various buses going from Rhodes Town to Lindos and vice versa every day. They stop just uphil the town. I think the journey between Rhodes Town and Lindos should take around one hour

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The acropolis is the main sight in Lindos.

I wasn' t impressed by this fortress. Probably because I know very little about ancient history.

The acropolis was built on a rock overlooking Lindos. It is surrounded by well preserved walls built by the knights (and later restored).

Inside the walls you can see several remains of ancient temples. They were restored by the Italians during their occupation of the island. When I visited this site it was still under construction. It is said the restoration done by the Italians wasn' t properly done.

There are two ways to reach the acropolis. One is by climbing lots of stairs. Another is going there by donkey.

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I liked much the landscape from the acropolis. You can see most of the village from there.

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Another wiev from the acropolis.

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The church of Panagia is Lindos' main church. It was built in the 14th century. In 1489 it was restored. It is surrounded by a wall.

Inside its walls are decorated with frescoes painted in the 19th century. These depict biblical scenes. There are also frescoes on its vaulted roof. These were painted in 1779. Its floor is covered with a mosaic of small white and black peebles. This kind of decoration is called hohlaki.

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Lindos has a big choice of shops and restaurants. Some of these have a roof terrace.

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Lindos has two beautiful beaches linked by a path. They aren' t far from the town center but you have to climb down lots of stairs to get to them.

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Lindos from afar.

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The Rodini Park was probably the first landscaped park in the world. Here you can see several peacocks walking free, turtles and some other animals. It is a good place to enjoy the nature. You can go to this park by bus from Rhodes Town.

This island has a good bus network. It is not necessary to let a bike or a car to visit some places in my opinion.

Posted by Maurizioagos 11:40 Archived in Greece Tagged island rhodes lindos dodecanese. Comments (5)

Valencia.

overcast

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I visited Valencia several years ago. I explored the city center quite well and I also went to one of its beaches

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Valencia is a large city located on the south - eastern coast of Spain.

It is well known for the paella, for the fallas (a feast) and for horchata; a not alcoholic drink made with a kind of potato.

In this post I will show you some things you can see and do in this city.

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The Turia River that flew through the city used to flood regularly. It was diverted south of the city after a terrible flooding happened in 1957. Later it was decided to transform its bed into a park; the Turia gardens.

These are practically a large and long (about 9 km) park that borders the old city. It has playground areas for kids, cycle paths, and several sports areas.

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Nineteen bridges cross these gardens. Some of them are new and other are the old bridges of the river. One of my favourite is the Puente de las Flores. This is decorated with lots of flowers at the borders and has two walkways for pedestrians and some benches.

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The cathedral was built mainly between the XIII and the XV centuries, but its construction went on for many centuries. It was built on the site of a mosque. This was previously a Visigoth cathedral and at the very beginning a Roman temple.

One of the highlight of the cathedral is the Holy Grail. This is said to be the chalice used during the last supper by Jesus Christ.

The cathedral is joined by a bridge with another church; the iglesia de los Desamparados. It is a circular church.

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El Miguelete or Micalet is the octagonal bell tower of the cathedral. It was built between the 14th and the 15th centuries in Gothic style.

They say you can enjoy a beautiful landscape over the city when you get to its top.

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La Taberna de la Reina is a good place to have some tapas in the city center. You can find it at plaza de la Reina.

Here they have a large array of tapas into a closed transparent box. The tapas they had when I was there are called "pinchos". They are made with a small slice of bread with a topping. You can choose a fried or not fried topping. This restaurant has a also a menu with a good choice of meat and fish dishes.

You have to help yourself your pinchos. You must keep the skewers that keep the bread and topping together. The waiter will count them to do your bill.

I tried several tapas and I liked them all. My favourite were with salmon topping. I liked those with tortilla de patatas (potatoes and eggs gateau) as well.

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Cafe Bertal is a chain of cafe-restaurants. There are six of these in Valencia. I visited Cafe Bertal at plaza de la Reina. It has a large dining room and a terrace on the square.

This cafe was created in the city in 1985 as ice cream parlour and orchateria. Today they serve sandwiches, pasta (noodles) and pizza, ice cream, coffee, pastries and some other food.

Their pizza was not large, but filling and soft. The pizza I liked most there wast pizza Marinara. This is a pizza with seafood.

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La Lonja de la Seda was the silk exchange. It was built between 1482 and 1533. It is made of three rooms almost empty and a beautiful small walled garden.

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Here you can see the Sala de la Contrataciòn. It is the main hall of this building. This was the place where the merchants would meet, deal and sign. Then you can visit the Tribunal del Mar (a law court).

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The area I liked most at this place was the walled garden.

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The central market (mercat central or mercado central) is one of the oldest food markets in Europe.

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It was built in modernist style between 1910 and 1928. It is a very large structure made of glass and iron. In fact, it covers an area of over eighty thousand square metres. Here there are around 1500 stalls.

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Here you can buy fruits and vegetables; meat and fish. Bread and sweets. There are also some stalls offering snails, eggs and dried fruits.

If you need something to drink or eat you can find some cafes inside the market.

This market is opened from monday to saturday; from 7.30 a. m. to 2.30 p. m.

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Plaza Redonda is a small square built in 1840. and restored in 2012.

Plaza Redonda literally means "round square". It is made of a good number of three curved storey joined together. This way the whole place is round.

It is traditionally known as "el clot" (the hole). Originally it housed a fish and meat market.

At plaza Redonda you can find several shops where you can buy a souvenir; or even a small pet. There are also some cafes and some stalls inside as well. On sundays this square becomes an open air market.

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It is really worth to visit the Palacio del Marqués de Dos Aguas . It dates from the 15th century and was rebuilt in 1740. Probably it is well known for its huge alabaster main door.

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Here you can visit a ceramic museum with a collection of pieces from prehistoric times to modern works. On the first floor you can see a large ball room, a dining room and lots of other rooms.

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One of the highlights of this museum is a reconstructed typical Valencian kitchen made entirely of decorated tiles.

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Another museum I visited in Valencia was the Museo de Bellas Artes. It is housed inside the Colegio de San Pio V. This palace was built between 1683 and 1744 for the formation of priests. Through the years it was used as military academy, military storehouse and a military hospital.

Here you can see a very large collection of paintings. There are masterpieces of Primitive Valencians (painters from the end of 14th century until the beginning of 16th century). There are also paintings made in more recent years. This museum has sculptures and archaeological finds as well.

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You can find a tourist bus in lots of cities. These are buses that stop near the main sights. So you can get off, see the sigh, explore the area and take another similar bus. It is a good way to get to know the place if you can' t spend much time there.

The Valencia tourist bus runs along two routes; A) The historical Valencia. B) The maritime Valencia. Each route lasts around 90 minutes each. The bus stops near the main sights ( see; Museo de Bellas Artes, Bioparc...) You can change a route into another when you like.

These buses have a multilingual audio system. You will be given a pair of earphones to listen to some explanations about what you are passing by.

You can buy discounted tickets for some attractions in Valencia from the bus driver, as the Bioparc, the Oceanografic, the Hemisferic, P. Felipe Science Museum.

The tickets for the bus turistic are sold from the bus driver, at some hotels; from the tourist offices and also on line.

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I booked a twin room half board at hotel Olympia Events and Spa. We had a nice and modern room with bathroom (with tube) en suite. The beds were comfortable.

The breakfast and dinner were buffet and there was a large choice of food. At breakfast you could have three kinds of coffee and hot water for tea from a machine. There were cold cuts as ham, salami and cheese. Eggs, vegetables and several cakes. At dinner we could choose two kinds of fish and meat dishes. There were also pasta (noodles), rice dishes and soup. We were spoiled by a good selection of desserts after dinner! The food was really good here.

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The hotel has all the amenities you like; a gym, a large swimming pool; a spa. You can ask at the hotel reception for various services; as massages, dancing courses and so on.

Olympia Events and Spa hotel is a very large four stars hotel located din Alboraya. This is a village easily reachable from Valencia by metro. There is a metro station not far from the hotel.

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Horchateria Daniel is said to be one of the best places to have an horchata. This is a white drink made from chufa; a kind of potato. It is served liquid or grounded and iced (granizada).

At Daniel' s you can have every beverages you can have in a ordinary cafe; ice creams and very good pastries. They had ten kinds of these or maybe more. I had at least eight kinds of pastries there. I liked almost every one and I haven' t a favourite one.

This cafe has two large rooms and two terraces. One outside and another on the roof.

There are many other things to see and do in Valencia; so I hope to re visit it quite soon.

Posted by Maurizioagos 09:22 Archived in Spain Tagged valencia. Comments (3)

Zoagli, Santa Margherita Ligure and Portofino.

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Several years ago I spent some days in Bergamo in order to attend the annual Euro VT meeting (see ex Virtual Tourist web site). I had some more days to spend somewhere after the meeting' s days,

I asked on Yahoo answers (www.answers.yahoo.com) about a nice place not too far from Bergamo. A member of that web site suggested a place named Zoagli. I had never heard about it. I checked on the web about Zoagli and soon I decided it was the right place for me to spend some days.

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Zoagli is a nice sea side town located around 38 kilometers from Genova. It has a couple of beaches if my memory serves me well.

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It' easy to travel to Zoagli by train. There is a small train station there.

I took a direct train from Genova Porta Principe train station; which is one of the train stations in this city. I was in Zoagli in one hour more or less.

I think there were several trains going from Genova to Zoagli every day. Zoagli is not an isolated place.

I booked a room at a simple hotel near the train station; Hotel Zoagli. Here they only serve breakfast.

I had a single room with bathroom with tube en suite. Fortunately it was on the back of the building so the trains running at night didn' t disturb much my sleeps.

Buffet breakfast consisted in cold cuts, cheese, eggs. Packed pastries. Bread, jam, honey, fruits. Yoghourts and cereals. There was a machine to get coffee (americano) and hot water to make tea. Milk, hot or cold was in a thermos.

This hotel has a communal room with television, a terrace and a cafe for customers.

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Other than spending some time at the beaches in Zoagli you can have a stroll along its "passeggiate". These are promenades. Zoagli has two of these. They are made of stones.

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The oldest is the Passeggiata Canevaro. It was built in the 1930' s; mostly with the money from the inhabitants of Zoagli. At night it is lit. The other; the Passeggiata dei Naviganti was built in 2003.

Be careful of the sea waves when you are walking on these promenades. Sometimes these can be really strong!

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When I was in Zoagli I used to go at gelateria Simonetti' s to have two ice cream scoops around 5 or 6 p. m. This cafe was quite old and not nice, but the home made ice cream here was really good.

They had a good choice of ice creams flavours. The only one I didn' t like much was the coffee flavour. I liked much the banana one.

Once you bought your ice cream you can enjoy it at the main square. It is right under cafe Simonetti.

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I think the restaurants in Zoagli were quite expensive. The only budget place to have lunch or dinner here was Acqua e Farina. It is not far from the main square.

This is a small take away place where you can have slices of pizza and some other savoury snacks. Unfortunately there is only a table with some chairs if you like to eat something inside this place.

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There is a odd mansion situated some 700 meters from the center of Zoagli. It is Sem Benelli' s castle; well, it is a villa more than a castle.

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This villa was built in 1914. Sem Benelli its owner was a Tuscan writer. He was born in 1877 and died in 1949.

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Sem Benelli had to sell his mansion due to financial problems. I think this building houses several flats. I am not sure if part of it is opened to visitors.

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I did two day trips from Zoagli. I visited Santa Margherita Ligure and Portofino.

Santa Margherita Ligure is a large sea side town. You can go there by train from Zoagli. It only takes around ten minuts.

Santa Margherita Ligure has some peeble beaches, a large church; the basilica of Santa Margherita di Antiochia and a villa open to visitors. Villa Durazzo - Centurione.

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Villa Durazzo - Centurione was built in 1678 as a summer mansion. It is a complex which includes the main villa and two dependances.

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I spent lot of time exploring the park outside this buildings.

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There are some residents at this park.

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If you are in Santa Margherita with kids, don' t miss this park; il Parco del Flauto Magico.

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The creations inside the park are based on the Mozart' s opera the magic flute.

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My favourite restaurant in Santa Margherita Ligure was pasticceria Oneto. It is a coffehouse where you can have salads, sandwiches, piatti freddi (cold cuts or cheeses) and aperitives (drinks usually taken before a meal) with lots of nibbles, as chips, olives and small pieces of pizza.

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Portofino is a little village by the sea. It is visited by lots of famous and rich people. The main sights of this village is a castle; Castello Brown; a couple of churches and the so-called la Piazzetta; a square surrounded by colorful and tall buildings.

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You can go to Portofino from Santa Margherita Ligure by direct bus. You can take it outside the train station, or at piazza Vittorio Veneto which is in the town center. I think the journey to Portofino took around 15 minutes.

As I read on the web you should take bus number 82 runs that runs every 15 minutes. It stops at piazza Martiri della Libertà  in Portofino. From this square you have to walk for some minutes and you are in the town center. Portofino is a small town.

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The main square; la Piazzetta is a pedestrianized small square with various colourful buildings overlooking the harbour. There are some tromp l' oeil decorated houses surrounding this square.

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La Piazzetta is one of the few places included in the "locali storici d' Ialia" list (i. e. historical business places of Italy). This list includes many old shops, restaurants and cafes in Italy.

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Castle Brown is more a mansion than a castle. It was built on Roman foundations. Around 1000 it was donated to the Benedictine monks of Saint Fruttuoso and was subsequently handed over to the consuls of Rapallo and in the 15th century to the Genovese. It was owned by the Visconti of Milan between 1425 and 1435. It was restored at the beginning of the 1500 and enlarged between 1622 and 1624.

Montague Yeats Brown; an English consul in Genoa bought the property in 1867. His descendants held the property until 1949, then sold it to an English couple.

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Castle Brown has lots of rooms to visit. Inside this mansion can see many black and white pictures of actors, politicians and several famous people who visited Portofino in the 1950-60' s.

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The church overlooking Portofino is dedicated to Saint George. It was originally built in 1154. It was rebuilt in 1691. It was restored and enlarged in 1760.

During the WWII it was destroyed completely. It was rebuilt in 1950. This church contains the reputed to be the relics of Saint George.

It is a simple church inside. The only thing that attracted me of that church was its portal. I suppose it is very old.

Outside the church there is a lookout point from where you can enjoy a very good landscape over Portofino

Posted by Maurizioagos 08:34 Archived in Italy Tagged santa portofino margherita ligure zoagli liguria. Comments (4)

Ischia.

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Ischia is the biggest island in the Gulf of Naples. It is of vulcanic origins. This island is famous for its thermal parks and springs.

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There are two nice beaches you shouldn' t miss on this island, if you like to lie in the sun. San Montano Bay and the Maronti Beach.

San Montano Bay is situated in Lacco Ameno. One side of this beach has free of charge entrance and the other is owned by The Negombo Thermal Gardens. There is an outdoor cafe on this beach.

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The Maronti Beach is the largest one of the island. It is around 3 km long. It is situated east of Sant' Angelo. There are various restaurants and cafes on this beach. You can go there by direct bus from Ischia Porto. Otherwise you can take a water taxi from Sant' Angelo.

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Forio is a large town situated along the western coast of the island.

The main sights in Forio are il Torrione which is an ancient tower and the church of Soccorso.

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Forio has a long main street lined with shops, some cafes and restaurants.

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Torcanera is a shop located on a side street in Forio and precisely at via Erasmo di Lustro at n. 5.

Here you can find various kinds of typical items produced locally. For instance you can buy limoncello (a alcoolic drink made of lemons), wines and other alchoolic drinks. At Torcanera they also sell cookies made with limoncello, herbal teas and beauty products as soaps, creams et al.

I think this shops is the right place to find some typical souvenirs from this island or something for yourself.

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The church of Soccorso is located on a rock on the sea. It was built in the XVI century and enlarged until the XVIII century.

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If you are in Forio, don' t miss La Mortella Gardens and the Poseidon Gardens. This is a spa complex with around 20 pools with thermal waters at various temperatures.

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La Mortella Gardens is a very large green area with more than 3000 species of exotic and rare plants. It was built By William Walton (an English composer) and his wife Susana on the site of a hillside quarry.

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This park is divided in two areas; a lower garden (the valley) and un upper garden (the hill). The lower area was designed starting from 1956 by Russel Page; an architect. The upper one by Susana Walton from 1983. There is a lift to go to the upper garden.

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There are some nice spots here; as some oriental creations; a Thailandese pagoda and a oriental path; a lake with two fake alligators; a big aviary with lots of little birds and some conservatories.

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Don' t skip the small theatre on the upper garden. Here you can watch a video about the history of the gardens and see several memorabilia owned by William Walton.

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Among the facilities into these gardens there is a cafe where you can have a light meal, a shop and the toilets.

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Ischia is the main town on the island. It is divided in two areas; Ischia Porto and Ischia Ponte.

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Ischia Porto is the area where you find lots of shops, restaurants and the harbour (hence the name; porto. It means harbour). Ischia Ponte is the old core of this town.

You should go to Ischia Ponte in order to visit the Aragonese Castle. This is one of the highlights of this island.

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The Aragonese Castle is a fortress which stands on a small rocky island connected to the island by a bridge.

It was originally an old fort dated back to the 44 B. C. Over the centuries this fortress was was occupied by the Parthenopeans (the ancient Neapolitans), by the Romans, by the Visigoths and by other people. The building you see today dates back to the 1500.

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The castle reached its golden age at the end of the XVI century when it hosted 1892 families; a nunnery, the bishop, various religious orders; the prince and his garrison. There were 13 churches at that time into the fortress.

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Today inside the fortress there is the ruined cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption with a crypt with the remains of an older chapel, dating back to the eleventh and twelfth centuries; decorated with frescoes, some other churches and various buildings.

There is a cafe-restaurant, a restaurant and even a hotel inside the castle.

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Sant' Angelo is a nice village located on the southern coast of Ischia.

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San' t Angelo was built partly on a hill; so if you like to explore it properly you should climb several steps.

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This village has some beaches, various shops and a good choice of restaurants and cafes.

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There is a good pasticceria (confectionery) in Sant Angelo. Its name is Dolce E' La Vita. I only had some ice creams there. I liked them very much.

You can go to Sant Angelo by bus. Once there you have to walk for some minutes in order to go to the center of this village.

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There are several water springs on this island. One of these is the Olmitello spring. It is located some meters far from the Maronti beach.

The healing qualities of this water are known since the ancient times.

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The more important studies about them were made by the professor Giulio Gasolino in 1588. He wrote about the healing properties of this water which is said it should be good for the stomach, eyes, arthritis and for other diseases.

I went to this island by hydrofoil. This boat was operated by Alilauro company. I took it at molo ( = harbour) Beverello in Naples. The journey to Ischia took around 45 minutes. The hydrofoil arrived at Ischia Porto. Then I took a bus from there to Panza; where I had booked a room.

Panza is a village which is part of Forio.

Molo Beverello is easily reachable from the train station in Naples by bus or by taxi (ask the driver the price to get there beforehand!)

Hydrofoils can carry only passengers. You can go to this island also by ferries. These carry also cars.

On the island there are three harbours; Ischia (also called Ischia Porto), Casamicciola Terme and Forio. It is very important to know exactly what village you are going to on Ischia. Not every boats stops at the same harbour.

Posted by Maurizioagos 08:34 Archived in Italy Tagged sant ischia castello aragonese forio. angelo. Comments (6)

Salzburg.

Salzburg is a city in central Austria near the German border. It is the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791). This city is linked with the Sound of Music; a movie shot in various locations in Salzburg and its sourrondings.

I visited Salzburg around two years ago. I visited the main sights in the city, but I am sure there are many other things to see there.

In this post I will write about some things not to miss in the city.

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The Getreidegasse is a long pedestrian street in the old town. It is bordered by lots of shops, cafes and restaurants. At number 9 on this street Mozart was born in 1756. He lived here until he was seventeen.

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The iron wrought signs hanging on the walls of the buildings is a peculiarity on this street. The reason for these signs is that long ago people wasn' t able to read, so they could see from them what they were selling at the shops there.

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There is a Mc Cafe at the Getreidegasse. It is part of Mc Donald' s. It is a coffee shop where you can have a cup of coffee or cappuccino or a cake at a moderate price.

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Here you can also have a good choice of cakes to chose from. At Mc Cafe they also have a kind of package offer. The times I was there it was a large cup of cappuccino and a piece of cake with cream with a topping of strawberries or peaches.

I liked the strawberries cake with cream (i. e. Erdbeer Butter Milk Schnitte). also had a taste of a chocolate cake (my mother chose it) . It was not a piece of Sacher cake, but it was really good.

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There are several arcades on the Getreidegasse. Walking through them you will discover some beautiful courtyards with cafes and shops.

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A nice courtyard.

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Another courtyard.

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Christmas in Salzburg is a shop where you can find a lots of Christmas and Easter decorations all year. There are decorations for other events and festivities as well; as Halloween for instance.

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Here they sell mostly hand painted emptied eggs. These are really nicely decorated and they are sold at various prices. I think the cheapest ones should cost around four or five euros.

This shop is quite large. It is made of two rooms if my memory serves me well. It is forbidden to take pictures inside this shop. I don' t know why.

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The Alter Markt is a large square not far from Getreidegasse. Here you see a big fountain; the Saint Florian' s fountain.

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Several old buildings surround this square. One of them is the smallest house in Salzburg (see picture). It was built between 1830 and 1860. On the same side of this house there is the popular Cafè Tomaselli. On the other side of the square a tall pale green palace houses a old pharmacy. It was founded in 1591.

There are some beautiful shops at Alter Markt as well.

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Kapitelplatz (chapter square) is a large square situated near the cathedral and below the castle.

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One of its main features is a huge sculpture of a golden ball with a man on the top called Sphaera. Near this sculpture there is a large chess board where you can play. On this square there is a fountain built in 1732 on the site of an old horse pond.

Usually there are some stalls at Kapitelplats. At one of these you can buy pretzels of various flavours.

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The cathedral. Saint Rupert founded the church in 774 on the ruins of a Roman construction. In 767 the bishop Virgil built another church on this site. He might have used the foundations by saint Rupert to construct it. In 842 the church burned down after being struck by a lightning.

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They started to rebuild the cathedral after three years. Between 1000 and 1147 the church was extended and modified . In 1167 it was on fire again. It was rebuilt 10 years later. 400 years later another fire destroyed large sections of the cathedral.

In the seventeenth century it was completely rebuilt in the Baroque style. The dome was damaged during World War II but was restored in 1959.

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The only museum I visited in Salzburg was the toy museum. is housed in a old alms house; the Buergerspital; built between 1556 and 1570.

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Here you can see a good number of old toys; dolls, miniature trains and cars; table games, puppets and more.

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There is even a couple of rooms, maybe more, where kids can play with toys they find there. Adults can have a cup of tea for free in a room while their kids are playing.

Sometimes events are organized at this museum. I visited it around Halloween and a kind of Halloween party was going on.

Every tuesday and wednesday a puppet show is held at this museum.

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Saint Peter' s abbey and the cemetery. Saint Rupert (again!) founded this church and its monastery around 700. The church and the buildings were destroyed by a fire in 1127. The church was rebuilt from 1130 to 1143. It was modified through the years. The church you see today was built from about 1130 onwards. The interior was refurbished in the Rococo style between 1760 and 1782.

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Near the church you see the Peterfriedhof. This is the oldest cemetery in Salzburg. Its origins probably date back to around 700 It was possibly built on the site of an earlier burial place.

Into the Festunberg; the mountain that overlooks the cemetery there are some catacombs. I didn' t visited any.

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Some famous people who lived in the city are buried at the Peterfriedhof. Here you can find the graves of Santino Solari; Michael Haydn; composer and younger brother of Joseph Haydn. Anna Maria Mozart was also buried here. She was the elder sister of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

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The Mirabell gardens were laid out from 1687. They were altered in 1730 and changed again in the 19th century. These are made of various areas with several attractions as the Zwerglgarten (i. e.dwarfs garden). It is made of a series of stone dwarfs statues. They are 17, but long ago they may have been 28. They were modelled on real life persons. Besides these statues the gardens house an orangery and various statues.

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The Mirabell Palace was originallly named Altenau. It was built for prince archbishop Wolf Dietrich von Ratenau and for his mistress Salomè Alt in 1606.

The palace was renamed Mirabel by von Raitenau' s successor Markus Sittikus von Hohenems. Prince archbishop Franz Anton von Harrach had the palace remodelled extensively from 1721 to 1727. In 1818 the palace was heavily damaged by a fire.

Today Mirabell Palace houses the office of Salzburg' s mayor and the municipal offices.

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One of the main sights of Salzburg is the Hohensalzburg fortress.

It is possible there was a Roman fortress on the site of this citadel. Yes, Hohensalzburg fortress is a kind of little village on a hill. The first buildings on its site were built by prince archbishop Eberhard in 1077. The fortress was enlarged between 1495 and 1519.

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This fortress houses some museums. One of them is a museum of marionettes. I liked it very much and I spent a lot of time inside. There is also a museum with a collection of weapons and a museum with various things. Another highlight of this fortress are the state apartments dated to 1500. Inside this citadel there is also a small church and a couple of chapels.

Inside the fortress area there are a couple of restaurants and a souvenirs shop.

The fortress also serves as a venue for evening concerts.

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Inside the state apartments.

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Elaborated door into the state apartments

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View from the fortress.

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It was a pity the day I visited the fortress was not fine, but the views from there are stunning even if it is not sunny.

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I spent five nights at hotel Haunspergerhof. It is a nice three stars hotel situated in Haunspergstraße at n. 30. It takes around fifteen minutes from the train station to get there.

The twin room they gave me was simply furnished and large enough for two people. It had the bathroom with tube en suite; a television, but it didn' t have a fridge.

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The breakfast was buffet style. It consisted of various kinds of bread, jam, butter and a kind of pastry. There were also ham, cheeses and eggs. Moreover there was yoghurts and some fruit. Hot beverages, as coffee and hot milk and hot water for tea were in thermos flasks.

This hotel has a communal room which is part of the reception area. Wi fi was free of charge there.

Il Padrino is the closest restaurant to hotel Hanspergerhof, so it was convenient for me to have dinner there. This restaurant has two dining rooms and an outside area.

At Il Padrino they have a menu with many of Italian dishes. They serve pasta dishes and various kinds of pizza. I had some kind of pizzas here and I liked them much.

It is advisable to book your seat at this restaurants. It seems lots of local people likes this place very much.

I hope to return to Salzburg quite soon.

Posted by Maurizioagos 00:49 Archived in Austria Comments (2)

Rome.

Rome is the capital of Italy and the largest city in this country.

There are lots of sights to enjoy in this city. Here you can see ancient ruins, churches (there should be around 900 of them!), palaces, museums et al.

I have visited Rome many times, but I still haven' t seen some things.

I will show you some things to see in Rome in this post.

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One of the landmark in Rome is the Colosseum. It was originally known as Flavian Amphiteatre. The Colosseum was built on the site of an artificial lake belonged to Nero Domus Area' s gardens.

Its building was begun under emperor Vespasian in 72 A. D. It was inaugurated by Titus in 80 A. D. and completed by his brother Domitian in 82 A. D.

From second half of the VI century the Colosseum was used for other purposes than a stadium. For example it was occupied by the Frangipans; a family who built their fortress here in the XIII century. In 1750 pope Benedict XIV transformed it into a place where to commemorate the Christian martyrs. Moreover it was plundered to build other constructions in Rome.

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This stadium is 188 per 150 meters large and has 80 arches used as entrances. So that people could enter or exit in a few minutes. It could hold up to 80.000 spectators.

Various games were held inside the Colosseum. For instance; fights between gladiators and fights between men and exotic animals. Most of the gladiators were slaves or prisoners of war. Even dramas and executions were held inside this stadium.

Sometimes the Colosseum was flooded for mock sea battles.

Entry to the Colosseum was free for all Roman citizens, but they were seated according to rank.

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The Roman forum was the political, economical and religious center of Rome during the republic. Originally this site was a marsh. It was also used as cemetery. The Romans drained the area and built several temples and other buildings there.

The forum was later abandoned and filled in by a thick layer of earth, becoming a pasture known as Campus Vaccinus. Some temples were turned into churches.

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There are several ruins you can find in the forum.

The regia. This was the residence of the kings. The curia; the meeting place of the senate. The rostra that was used as a tribune for orators. There are some temples, as the temple of Antonio and Faustina It was built in 141 A. D. by Antonius Pius in honor to his late wife Faustina. It was turned into the church of Saint Lorenzo in Miranda in the middle age.

There are two triumphal arches at the forum; the arch of Titus and the arch of Septimus Severus.

Once you visited the Forum you can walk up to the Palatine. This is a hill overlooking the Roman forum.

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The Palatine was where Rome began as a village; supposedly founded by Romulus in the 8th century B. C. It was a residential district for the wealthy and aristocratic people in Roman time; as well as a number of emperors.

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On this hill you can spend some time at the Orti Farnesiani. These gardens were built over the ruins of Tiberio' s palace in the XVI century by the cardinal Alessandro Farnese; pope Paolo III' s nephew. Their construction was finished in the XVII century.

On the Palatine you can visit some buildings; as Livia' s house (there are frescoes inside), but you must book a guided tour.

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I recommend to take a good book with you or rent an audioguide to visit these sites; in order to know what you will see.

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The Capitoline hill. In ancient Roman times there were various temples on this hill. There was the tabularium (the public Roman archive) and the mint of the Republican age as well.

Piazza del Campidoglio (Capitol square) is situated on the top of this hill. Michelangelo was commissioned to create this square in 1536, but much of the work on this square was done in the 17th century.

Michelangelo designed the new facades for the two buildings; Palazzo Senatorio and palazzo dei Conservatori. He designed a new palace; Palazzo Nuovo. In the center of the square is a statue of emperor Marcus Aurelius. It is a replica. Palazzo Senatorio houses the office of the mayor of Rome. Palazzo dei Conservatori and Palazzo Nuovo are used as museums. There are mostly ancient statues there.

You have to climb a long stairway to go up to piazza del Campidoglio; the Cordonata. This was designed by Michelangelo as well. At its top there are two big statues of Castor and Pollux.

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The Pantheon is a well preserved Roman temple turned into a church. Originally it was built by Augustus' son in law Marcus Vespasianus Agrippa in 27 B. C. Between 118 and 125 A. D. it was completely rebuilt by Hadrian. It was dedicated to all the gods.

After other restorations it fell in a state of neglect until 608, when it was given by emperor Phocas to pope Boniface VIII who transformed it into the church of Saint Mary and Marthyrs.

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The Pantheon is 43 meters both in diameter and in height. The only source of light inside this building is a hole on its dome.

It is the resting place of several important Italians.

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Piazza di Spagna. This square takes its name from the Spanish embassy of the Holy See (of the Vatican) that was located here.

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Piazza di Spagna is known for the Scalinata della Trinità  dei Monti (Spanish Steps). This long staircase was built between 1721 and 1725. It links the square with the square where the church of Trinità  dei Monti is situated. At the bottom of the stairs there is a fountain called "la Barcaccia". It was designed by Pietro Bernini and his son, Gian Lorenzo.

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Piazza Navona was built on the site of the Domitian stadium. Here athletic games named "agones", chariot races and other sports were held. Since the 17th century until mid 19th century it was partially flooded for mock naval battles (naumachias). This square also served as a marketplace from 1477 to 1869.

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There are three beautiful fountains here. One of these is the fountain of the Four Rivers. It was designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini and was built by some of his pupils in 1651.

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The huge statues part of this fountain represent the four rivers known at that time. The Gange, the Danube, the Nile and the Rio de la Plata. The other fountains are; the Fountain of the Moor and the Fountain of the Neptune.

In piazza Navona there are two churches; the church of Saint Agnese in Agone and the church of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart. This square is surrounded by several restaurants, cafes and shops. A Christmas market is held every year here.

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There are several viewpoints in Rome. You have to know this city was built on seven hills. One of the viewpoints is situated on the Pincian Hill. This hill overlooks piazza del Popolo. To get there you have to climb the flight of stairs you see and you will arrive up to this hill; at piazzale Napoleone. From this large square you will enjoy a very beautiful view of the city.

The Pincian hill is not one of the seven hills. It is part of Villa Borghese (a park). This site was a favourite site by the ancient Romans who built villas and gardens here. The name Pincius comes from one of the families that settled here; the Pincii.

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This hill was laid out between 1809 and 1814 by the architect Giuseppe Valadier.

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The Trevi fountain. This large fountain was designed by Nicola Salvi from an earlier plan by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, but it was completed by Giuseppe Pannini in 1762. The central figure of this monument is Neptune; god of the sea. He rides a shell shaped chariot drawn by two sea horses. One of them is calm and the other one wild. They simbolize the fluctuating moods of the sea. To the sides are statues of abundance and salubrity.

This fountain is situated at the end of an aqueduct built in 19 B. C. and it lies where three roads intersect. Hence the name; Trevi (tre vie means "three roads" in Italian)

A legend says that if you throw a coin into this fountain, over your left shoulder you' ll come back to Rome.

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Saint Ignatius church. This church was built between 1626 and 1685. It is dedicated to Saint Ignatius of Loyola; the founder of the Jesuite order.

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This was the second church on this spot. Its main highlight is the troemp l' oeil frescoes painted in 1685 by Andrea Pozzo. One of these is on the ceiling of the nave. It depicts the entry of Ignatius into paradise. The other is a fake dome on canvases which was meant to be a temporary work. This was painted due to the lack of funds. To appreciate the troemp l' oeil effect of these works there are two yellow spots on the floor where you have to stand on.

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Campo de Fiori is a nice square with some cafes, restaurants and shops. Every morning, until 1. 30 p.m. a food market is held here. There are also clothes on sale here.

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According to a legend, the name of this square derives from Flora; a woman loved by Pompeo, or maybe because there was a field of flowers in XV century in this area. Campo de' Fiori (in Romanesque dialect) means literally field of flowers.

The big statue you see in the center of the square represents Giordano Bruno. He was a philosopher burnt at stake for heresy in the 1600.

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There are some nice spots in Rome!

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..and also lots fountains!

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There are many statues too.

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Trastevere is a district in Rome on the west bank of the Tiber. Its name derives from the Latin word "trans Tiberim" that means beyond the Tiber.

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Here there are some churches to visit. Be sure not to miss Santa Maria in Trastevere church and its ancient mosaics. You could also visit Santa Cecilia and San Crisogono churches.

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Another thing to do in Trastevere is to get lost and enjoy this beautiful neighborhood.

There are lots of restaurants, cafes and various shops in Trastevere.

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Santa Maria in Trastevere is one of the curches you can visit in this area.

It is said it was Saint Callistus who founded a church where this church is located; in 22 A. D. The church was rebuilt in the IV century. It was enlarged in the IX century. Then it was rebuilt in the XII century and modified between 1550

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Inside you can see various beautiful mosaics. The ones on the apse were made in the XII century. Below them are mosaics scenes depicting the life of the Virgin. These date back to 1291.

The facade of the church is decorated with 12th - 13th century mosaics.

There is an old pharmacy in the Trastevere area; the Farmacia della Scala. It was opened to the public (for the popes; their families and for wealthy people) in 1700.

This pharmacy is not far from Santa Maria in Trastevere church. It is housed into the same building of the Farmacia della Scala (the new pharmacy).

It is quite difficult to visit this old pharmacy. First you have to convince the priest who lives there to let you in ... If you' ll succeed, you will be offered a guided tour of the place.

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I discovered L' Insalata Ricca restaurant by change. I was looking for my favourite restaurant; Tosca. Unfortunately they closed it down. It was located next door to L' Insalata Ricca.

This restaurant has three dining rooms where around 150 people can be seated. It has several outside chairs and tables to use if the weather is fine.

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Here several kind of salads are served; in large bowls. If you don' t fancy a salad for lunch or dinner you can have pasta, other kinds of first courses and several meat dishes.

L' Insalata Ricca is a chain of restaurants. These are located in several areas of Rome. I went to the one in largo dei Chiavari.

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Habana Cafe is a restaurant, but also a place where you can listen to live music at night.

I discovered this restaurant after having checked the prices of the restaurants near the Pantheon. I thought the prices in that area were quite high.

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At Habana Cafe there are three kinds of menu at fixed price. For instance; you can have an appetizer ( salad, or cold cuts for instance), a first course and a drink for 10 euros only. If you order "a la carte" you won' t spend much.

There is a dining room inside this restaurant and a outdoor area where to stay if the weather is fine.

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There is a castle in Rome; Castel Sant' Angelo.

It was built around 123 d. C. as a tomb for emperor Adrian and his successors. It was completed by Antoninus Pius in 139.

The name Castel Sant Angelo comes from the legend of Saint Gregorio Magno who had a vision of an angel appearing on the fortress, and announcing the end of the plague.

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In the fifth century the castle was converted into a fortress and incorporated into the city defensive walls. During the middle ages it was occupied by many noble families. In 1377 it came under full papal control. In the XIVth century, pope Nicholas III linked the castle with a covered passageway to the Vatican; the so called passetto di Borgo. So the popes could seek refuge in the castle if the Vatican was besieged. From the late 1400 the papal apartments were built inside the castle. Castel Sant Angelo was also used as a prison and execution place.

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The castle is made of five levels. On the forth you can visit some papal rooms. There are some nice covered passages around the castle where you can enjoy some beautiful views over the city and rest a bit.

There are some facilities inside the castle; as a cafe restaurants, the toilets and a lift for disabled people.

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Saint Peter' s basilica is located on the site where Saint Peter was buried between 64 and 68 A. D. The current church was built from 1506 to 1626 due to the bad state of the previous one. Several artists worked on this church between these centuries; as Bramante, Raffaello, Michelangelo and Gian Lorenzo Bernini. It is a huge church; (218 per 133.30 meters) and full of beautiful works of art. The basilica has 45 altars and 11 chapels.

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One of its highlights is Michelangelo' s Pietà . It is located in the first chapel on the right. He sculpted it when he was 25. Another main sight is Bernini' s canopy. It is situated over the papal altar.

Once you visited the church you can climb to the top of the dome (cupola). It was designed by Michelangelo in 1547 but it was finished by his pupil; Giacomo della Porta, after Michelangelo' s death. From the top of the dome you can see a great landscape of Rome.

Before entering the basilica you see a very large square. It was designed by Bernini and built between 1656 and 1667. It is a elliptical esplanade bordered by four rows of columns topped with 96 statues of saints.

This church is located in Città  del Vaticano. It is a small country inside Rome.

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At the crossroad between via XX Settembre and via delle Quattro Fontane you can see four large fountains. These were commissioned by pope Sisto V between 1588 and 1593.

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Two of these are carved with two bearded men and should represent the rivers Arno and the Tiber. The other two fountains perhaps represent faith and force. Here you see two statues of the goddesses Diana and Juno.

These fountains were restored several times. I think the last time of their restoration was in 2015.

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Don' t miss the church of San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane.

They say this little church would stay inside a pillar you see in Saint Peter' s Square. It is also called San Carlino; due to its small size (ino in Italian is used as a diminutive for nouns). This church takes its name from the four fountains that stand nearby.

This church was Francesco Borromini' s last work. His nephew completed it in 1667, due to Borromini' s death. It was incorporated in the convent of the Spanish Trinitarians who commissioned the work.

Unfortunately I visited this church late in the evening, so it was quite dark inside and I couldn' t take some decent pics.

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Another church you should visit is the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore.

According to a legend; in august 352 A. D. a rich man and pope Liberius had a similar dream about the Virgin who told them to build a church where they would have found snow in Rome. The next day Pope Liberius spotted snow on the top of the Esquiline hill. Soon he made a church built there.

A re enactment of the snow fall is held every year on august 5 inside the Paolina chapel with a fall of flowers petals.

This church was rebuilt between 432 and 440. It was modified and enlarged in the XIII century.

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Inside you can see a series of mosaics lining the nave and covering the triumphal arch before the altar that date back to the 5th century. There are mosaics in the apse that date to the XIII century as well. The ceiling dates from the 16th century. It is said to be gilded in gold that was bought from America by Columbus. Inside the church there is Bernini' s tomb.

Another thing not to miss in this church is the cappella Sistina. This stunning chapel was commissioned by pope Sisto V in 1587 as his burial place.

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Hotel Domus Praetoria is a hotel i like much. It occupies part of an old palace. I think it is made of 16 rooms.

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Last time I booked a room at Domus Praetoria I had a twin room with bathroom en suite. It had a tiny balcony. My bed was comfortable and the furniture simple.

My room was on the backside of the hotel; so it was quiet. A daily market just ouside of the entrance of the hotel is scheduled except on sunday. It starts very early in the morning.

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Breakfast consisted in fresh pastries and bread. Jam, yoghourt, cereals and orange juice. Hot beverages as coffee, cappuccino and hot chocolate were served by a girl at our table.

The reception at Domus Praetoria is open 24 hours on 24. The personnel at this hotel was very kind and helpful. Wi fi was complimentary.

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Termini station is the main train station in Rome. It was built on two levels. The station has lots of facilities, as luggage storage, a police station, a tourist office, a post office, ATMs and a disability office.

At Termini train station you can take a train to lots of destinations in Italy and abroad as well.

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There are various restaurants (one of my favourites as well; Gusto), cafes and shops inside this station.

Just outside the Termini train station there is the major bus terminus.

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Gusto is a self service restaurant inside Termini train station. Here you can find a good choice of first courses; as pasta, rice and soups; some second courses and vegetables. Appetizers as cold cuts are available as well. There is a good selection of desserts too.

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At Gusto there is a menu of the day offer. You can have a first and a second course with some vegetables for 10.90 euros (2014 price).

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You can do several day trips from Rome. For instance you can go to Orvieto (in the Umbria region) and to Tivoli.

In Tivoli you can visit Villa d' Este.

This villa was commissioned by Ippolito d' Este; son of Lucrezia Borgia in the late 1500. It is listed as UNESCO world heritage site.

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Its interiors are decorated with beautiful frescoes, but this mansion is mostly known for the gardens. These have five hundred fountains, built in various shapes. Some of these are activated during the day. Check the time at the entrance. There are several notice boards with some historical information about the fountains.

Inside Villa d' Este there is a room where you can watch a video about the villa and the gardens before your visit. Other facilities here are the toilets, a self service cafe and a museum shop.

You can go to Tivoli by direct bus from the bus station Ponte Mammolo. Take the metro and get off at Ponte Mammolo metro station.

Posted by Maurizioagos 10:31 Archived in Italy Tagged villa rome tivoli este. d' Comments (10)

Vodnjan and Pula.

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Vodnjan is a large village worth a visit. It is around ten kilometers far from from Pula. The journey from Porec to Vodnjan by bus should takes about 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Vodnjan is famous for the mummies. In fact its main church; Saint Blaise church houses some mummified corpses and part of bodies of saints.

These saints failed to decompose throught the centuries for unknown reasons. This church also has a quite large museum with lots of saints' relics and various religious artifacts.

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This village has a beautiful main square with a reddish city hall built in 1911 and a maze of very old cobbled streets.

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Unfortunately the day I visited Vodnjan the weather was not fine. I enjoyed this village anyway.

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Pula is the largest town in Istria. It is located at the southern tip of the peninsula. It is well known for its Roman monuments.

Here you can see a huge amphitheater constructed between 27 B. C. and 68 A. D. Picture courtesy of Margaret van Nierop from NL.

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There are some Roman arches in Pula. This is the arch of the Sergii. It dates to the 1th century A. C. It is located at the beginning of a street named Sergievaca.

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This beautiful Roman mosaic is hidden into a modern building, but it is not far from the Sergievaca.

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This is Pula' s town hall.

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A mermaid on the town hall?

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This the temple of Augustus. It was built between 2 B. C. and 14 A. C.

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This church is the chapel of Saint Mary Formosa. It was part of a Benedictine monastery together with another chapel.

Pula is a good place for shopaholics. It has great choice of shops.

You can do a day trip from Porec to Pula. The journey from Porec to Pula by bus should last around 1.30 hours.

Posted by Maurizioagos 09:34 Archived in Croatia Tagged pula vodnjan porec. Comments (2)

Porec and Rovinj.

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Porec is a town on the west coast of the Istrian peninsula; in Croatia.

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The main street in Porec; Dekumanska ulica was also the main road during Roman times. It runs from east to west through the center of the old town.

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It is a car free street with lots of shops and several cafes.

At the beginning of this street you see a pentagonal tower. It dates back to the 1447. It is used as a venue for art exibitions.On Dekumanska ulica you shouldn' t miss a Gothic palace built in the XV century and the museum inside Sincic Palace (XVIII century). Unfortunately it was closed last time I visited Porec.

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The Euphrasian basilica is the main sight in Porec.

The basilica is the third church that was built on this site between the 4th and the 6th century. The first church was dedicated to Saint Maurus and dated back to the second half of the 4th century. The present church was built by bishop Euphrasius in the 6th century.

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Inside you can admire several mosaics around the apse. They depict Christ with the Apostles. The Virgin and Jesus child; twelve female saints. Saints Maurus, saint Euphrasius and other saints.

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The church is part of a complex that includes a courtyard, the baptistery, the bell tower, and the bishop palace. This palace was built in the 6th century and houses a collections of religious artefacts. Under the palace various mosaics and Roman remains are stored.

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The complex also includes what remains of the previous churches; a large floor mosaic of the first one and various stone walls.

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Landscape from the bell tower.

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The so - called Romanesque house is a simple stone building. It was built in the 13th century and restored various times through the centuries. Until the end of XXII it was part of a palace destroyed during the war.

I have read it should house a museum and an exposition hall, I suppose this could be on the first floor. Unfortunately I found it always closed.

On the basement floor there is a souvenir shop is my memory serves me well.

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The tourist train runs through a wood. While travelling you can see part of Porec from afar, lot of vegetation, some beaches and hotels.

It stops at three places; Brolo, Plava Laguna and Zelena Laguna. The journey takes around 35 minutes (one way).

This train departs from the edge of the wood Naftaplin; near the Marina. I think it operates from april until september. You can buy your ticket from the driver.

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Hotel Porec is a good budget hotel. I have been there some times. It is situated some meters from the bus station.

I was always given a nice room with bathroom en suite.

The hotel has a two common areas where you can sit to relax after a long walk or after a day trip.

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The breakfast was buffet style and there was a good choice of food. Bread, cheese, ham, eggs, fruits and other things. You could get coffee and cappuccino from a machine. These were quite good.

The dinner isn' t buffet style when there aren' t many guests at the hotel. Anyway I liked much the food I had.

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Pizzeria -restaurant Nono is my favourite restaurant in Porec. It serves a good choice of pizzas, pasta, gnocchi (dumplings) and second courses, as fish or meat dishes.

Here they serve two sizes of pizzas. The small and the medium one. The small pizza is quite large; the medium one is extremely large.

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Rovinj is a picturesque town some kilometers far from Porec. Its old core is located on a peninsula that was once an island. It is a popular tourist resort with plenty of accomodations, restaurants, cafes and shops.

There are daily buses from Porec to Rovinj and vice versa. Unfortunately on sundays less buses operate than the other days.

Rovinj is overlooked by the cathedral of Saint Euphemia; built in 1736 and located on the highest point of the town.

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Rovinj' s main street. Carera ulica.

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The basilica of Saint Euphemia is a Baroque church built in 1736 over the remains of older churches.

Saint Euphemia is Rovinj' s patron saint. Its relics are preserved in a sarcophagus behind the church' s main altar (on the right).

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Eufemia was a young girl who lived in Chalcedon, in Asia Minor, and was devoted to Christianity. She didn' t want to give it up, so she was captured, tortured and thrown to lions who killed her but didn ' t eat her. Her body was kept in a sarcophagus in Constantinople until 800 A. D. The legend say that this sarcophagus with the saint' s remains floated on the seas all the way until Rovinj, where a small boy with the help of two cows managed to get the sarcophagus up the hill.

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After the visit to the church you can go up the bell tower to enjoy the landscape over the town. The bell tower resembles Saint Mark's in Venice.

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Another thing to do in Rovinj besides a visit to Saint Euphemia church and to a couple of museums (which I didn' t visit...) is taking a stroll along the narrow cobbled streets of the old town.

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The streets in the old core are lined with lots of tall houses. Some are restored and other are dilapidated. In the old core there is a good choice of shops, restaurants and cafes.

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Strolling in the old core you will almost surely get to the Grisia ulica. This is the street that runs from the Balbi arch to Saint Euphemia church. It is a long street lined with lots of shops and art galleries.

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In this picture you see my mother on Grisia street.

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The local outdoor market is not far from Tito trg; Rovinj's main square. It is in operation every day; even on sundays, in the morning.

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Here you can find fruit, vegetables, typical spirits and honey. There is a spot where they sell souvenirs as well. I have read somewhere on the web that fish and meat are sold at some shops bordering the market.

So if you have to prepare your meal or if you like to buy some fruit or something else; this is a place to visit.

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If you are not very hungry or it is too hot to have lunch; you could have a good ice cream. I did it twice in Rovinj. Both times I went to bar Sport. It is a cafe where you can have some good scoops of ice cream.

At bar Sport they have various ice cream flavours to choose from.

Posted by Maurizioagos 04:05 Archived in Croatia Tagged rovinj porec istria. Comments (0)

The Algarve.

The Algarve is the southern most region of Portugal.

I visited this region twice. The first time I booked a room in Faro. The second time I visited the Algarve it was for a meeting of a (ex) travel web site; Virtual Tourist. The base chosen was Albufeira. The meeting included a trip to Cabo San Vicente, Sagres (to see the fortress) and Silves.

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Faro is the capital of the Algarve and the largest city in this region. It has a nice old core and some pleasant areas.

Vila Adentro is the old core of Faro. This large area is enclosed by walls. Here you can visit the cathedral, the monastery of Nossa S. ra da Assuncao, the Palacio Episcopal and many streets bordered by white buildings.

Inside Vila Adentro there are also some cafes and a shop where you can buy books, postcards and souvenirs.

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The cathedral was built in the 13th century on the site of a mosque. It was largely damaged during the 1755 earthquake.

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The Museu Municipal is housed inside the Monasterio de Nossa S. ra da Assuncao. This dates from the 16th century.

Here you can see various archaelogical finds. For instance here you can find a large Roman mosaic showing Oceanus, god of the sea. This museum also houses a collection of ancient paintings dated from the XVI to the XIX centuries. These were taken from several churches in the Algarve.

The monastery has a nice two storey cloister with a shrub maze at the center.

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Unfortunately I didn' t find a restaurant where I had a very good lunch or dinner in Faro. Adega Nortenha was one of the best places to have dinner.

The restaurant is a very simple place and the food was good. At Adega Nortenha they serve various kinds of fish and meat dishes.

There is only a dining room here, but it can accomodate several people.

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Gardy is a cafe-restaurant located in the modern area of Faro. It was founded in 1953.

At Gardy' s they have a large selections of pastries, cakes and ice creams. Here you can also have a menu of the day, several kinds of sandwiches and other things. I usualy wento to Gardy' s to have a ice cream.

This confectionery has two dining rooms if my memory serves me well. There is an ouside area there as well.

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The only downside of this cafe is that they close it quite early in the evening.

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Alte is a nice village in inland Algarve. It is some 35 kilometers far from Faro. It has lots of cafes and restaurants.

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You can go to Alte by bus from Faro, but first you have to go to Loulè. Then you have to take another bus. Unfortunately in the summer there are few buses operating in the afternoon. So I' d recommend to vist Alte in the morning.

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Estoi is a white village some 11 kilometers far from Faro. It is well known for its palace and for the Roman ruins of Milreu. Unfortunately when I visited Estoi the palace was closed for restoration (it will be turned into a parador). It was not permitted even to visit the gardens. The ruins of Milreu have various ruins of buildings, but there aren' t many mosaics.

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Estoi has a nice main square with a church and a couple of cafes.

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Tavira is a nice town divided in two areas by the river Gilao. This is crossed by three bridges. One of these is of Roman origin and was reconstructed in the 17th century. The town has lots of churches, cafes and shops.

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I didn' t stay much in Tavira; perhaps three hours. Anyway I enjoyed its 13th castle. Its walls are well preserved and there is a nice garden inside. The castle has also some towers. I climbed to the top of most of these to enjoy the landscape over the town and some private gardens.

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Albufeira is a cliffside town that once was a fishing village. Today it is a holidays resort with lots of beaches. It is situated 39 km far from Faro.

Its name comes from the Arabic "Al buhera" which means; castle on the sea.

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I liked very much the old center in Albufeira with whitewashed houses and narrow streets. This town has a large main square with cafes, restaurants and a pedestrian street full of shops; rua 5 de Outubro. Here you also find the tourist office.

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There are lots of restaurants in Albufeira.

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Cantinho dos Estudiantes is a cafe - restaurant where I usually had breakfast and dinner. It was a convenient place for me because my room was nearby.

The menu here included pancakes, crepes, salads, hamburgers; American, English and French breakfasts.

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I booked a room for five nights at Vila Emilia; in Albufeira. It was a simple twin room with bathroom en suite. It had a small fridge and a television. There was no wi fi.

Vila Emilia is practically a group of buildings used as rooms. The rooms at Vila Emilia are cleaned every day, except on sundays and festivities.

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Outside the rooms there is a nice courtyard with several chairs and tables.

Note. You have to check in at Vila Branca hotel...https://vilabranca.com.pt/; then somebody will take you to your room. Vila Branca is some 150 meters far from Vila Emilia.

Vila Emilia is a bit uphill from the old town, but it is only fifteen minutes from there; by foot. There is a small supermarket and a cafe (Cantinho dos Estudiantes) nearby.

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Fumos and Mitos is quite a large shop where you can find various things to buy. It is situated in the modern area of Albufeira.

Here they sell cigars, cigarettes and alcooholic drinks. At Fumos and Mitos there is a good choice of Porto wine bottles and other kinds of wines.

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Other items you can buy at Fumos and Mitos are; postcards, stamps and books; I saw several very nice photo books over the Algarve here. Here they have candies and ice creams as well.

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One of the reasons why people go to Albufeira; as in other places in the Algarve is to spend some time on the beaches. There are around 25 beaches in Albufeira and nearby.

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Praia do Peneco (reachable through a tunnel) and Praia des Pescadores are the beaches closer to the city center. Other beaches are; Praia da Oura; at three kilometers from Albufeira. Praia Da Gala; at six kilometers from Albufeira old center and Praia de Santa Eulalia, which is around four kilometers from Albufeira.

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The bus station in Albufeira is situated around a couple of kilometers from the old core.

Inside there are some shops where you can find magazines, newspapers and souvenirs. There is a cafe and other facilities as the toilettes and an ATM machines.

You can take a taxi or a bus (the "Giro" buses) to go the the center of Albufeira.

The Giro buses go from the bus station to several places in Albufeira and its neighbours. For instance you can take a bus to Santa Eulalia, Oura, Ferreira and also to the Albufeira train station. Most of these buses operate every 30 minutes. Tickets are sold by the driver.

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Caldas de Monchique is a little spa town located in a narrow gorge some kilometers far from Portimao. It is known since the Roman times for its sulphurus waters. They are said to be good for rheumatism, respiratory and digestive problems.

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Here there is a nice park which is part of a wood where there are paths, several stone chairs, tables and running water.

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Caldas de Monchique has some cafes, restaurants and three or four hotels.

It is here that the famous mineral water gets bottled.

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Silves is a beautiful town situated on a hill.

It was settled by Phoenicians; then it became a Roman city (Sibilis). From the 8th century it was names Xelb; it was a Moorish city.

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Silves is overlooked by a very large castle. It was built between the 8th and the 13th centuries by the Arabs; probably on the site of a late Roman or Visigothic fortifications from the 4th - 5th centuries.

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The castle once had walls that encircled the town. It has eleven towers. Inside there is a small museum, a cafe and a beautiful garden.

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Silves has a cathedral; built in the 13th century on the site of a mosque. It was destroyed by the earthquake of 1755 and later reconstructed. I didn' t visit it, probably because it was closed around lunch time.

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Cape Saint Vincent is the most south westernly point in Europe. It takes its name from Saint Vincent; a priest martyred by the Romans. Centuries ago it was thought as the end of the world. Here it is where Henry the Navigator is believed to have set up his school of navigation in the fifteen century.

I enjoyed much the high cliffs and the ocean when I visited Cape Saint Vincent.

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At Cape Saint Vincent you can see a lighthouse built in1846. It is said it is one of the most powerful in Europe.

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After your visit to this place you can head to the Fortaleza de Sagres. This fortress was originally built in the 15th century and rebuilt in 1793. It was restored in the mid 20th century. It is a very large fortress.

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There is a nice church inside; the church of Nossa Senhora da Graca that dates from 1579. It replaced the original church of Dom Henrique of 1459.

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I had a long stroll into the fortress not realizing my companions (Virtual Tourist members) were waiting for me on the bus. I was in the Algarve for a VT meeting that time I visited the fortress, Cabo San Vincente and Silves.

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Cataplana is both the name of a dish and a pan.

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It is shaped like two clam shells hinged at one end. Traditionally it was made of copper. It is thought it was introduced in the country by the Moors.

You can buy a cataplana in the Algarve. They are quite expensive.

Cataplana as food is a slow cooked stew of fish, seafood, chorizo (a kind of salami) and vegetables. Here the food is put inside raw and is let simmer after having clamped the saucepan.

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In the Algarve you will surely notice the ornamental chimneys on the roof of the houses. There are not many information about these, but it is said that the builders use to ask the customers how many days they wanted their chimneys building last. So that they could calculate the cost of the chimney they were about to make that was based on the time that this would take to build.

These chimneys have cylindrical, prismatic, rectangular or square shapes. Some houses have four or five of them. Usually only one is functional.

Posted by Maurizioagos 09:20 Archived in Portugal Tagged the virtual algarve faro sagres alte albufeira tavira estoi silves tourist.com Comments (0)

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