A Travellerspoint blog

March 2019

Malcesine.

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Malcesine is a beautiful lake side resort situated on the eastern shore of Lake Garda. It is some 60 kilometers far from Verona.

It has a beautiful old core made of a maze of narrow cobbled lanes and stone houses.

Malcesine has a good choice of accomodations, restaurants, cafes and shops. It is a very popular summer holiday resort.

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I suppose this should be one of the narrowest street in the world. Vicolo Picalof.

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Here you see another picture of this narrow lane.

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A stone house with a balcony. I like this spot.

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Close up of the balcony.

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A house with a coat of arms on its facade.

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The castle is the main sight in Malcesine. Its name is Castello Scaligero. It was probably built by the Lombards around 500 A. C. on a previous fortress. In 590 it was destroyed by the Franks. They rebuilt it in 806.

It was occupied by the della Scala family from 1277 to 1378. Later, the Visconti family from Milan and the Republic of Venice hold it. Then it was in the hands of the French and the Austrians. During the period of the Austrian rule, which ended in 1866 major renovations work took place inside.

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Today the castle houses a museum of natural history; a room dedicated to the German writer Goethe and his visit to Malcesine in 1786. Some areas of the castle are used for various entertainments and for temporary exibitions.

The castle has a tower. You can climb it to its top and enjoy a beautiful landscape over the town.

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Part of the castle from afar.

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In this picture you see part of the harbour. It is surrounded by a good number of cafes and restaurants. From the harbour you can take a boat to other resort on the lake as Limone or Riva del Garda.

Posted by Maurizioagos 10:55 Archived in Italy Tagged lake italy garda malcesine garda. Comments (2)

Florence; a covered market, Oltrarno and more.

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On march 1 I decided to explore a bit more Florence, so I stayed the whole day in the city.

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Florence has lots of markets. I am not a fan of these, but I like to visit some food markets now and then.

A market one shouldn' t miss is San Lorenzo market. This is made up of two markets. An indoor market known as "mercato centrale" and an outdoor market with lots of stalls selling leather items, clothings and souvenirs.

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At the indoor market you can find almost every kind of food you like. Even various typical Tuscan food. There are also some stalls selling exotic food.

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You can also have a meal inside this market. In fact there are several cafes and eateries there. So, you can have a sandwich, a dessert, a proper meal or a drink.

This market is open from monday to saturday; from 7 .00 a. m. to 2.00 p. m.

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I had read on a guide book that there are some Medieval streets in Florence. Via delle Terme is one of these.

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Here you see part of another Medieval street; borgo Santi Apostoli. Both via delle Terme and borgo Santi Apostli are situated quite near Ponte Vecchio.

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Oltrarno means "beyond the Arno". The Arno is the river that divides Florence in two parts. Oltrarno is where the Pitti palace is located. I visited this palace some years ago. It was built in the second half of 1400. In 1500 it was modified and enlarged. It houses several museums.

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Oltrarno is a nice area to explore and to discover some nice things as this tiny jewellery shop.

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Piazza Santo Spirito is a nice square in the Oltrarno area. It is surrounded by several buildings. There is a good choice of restaurants here.

This square takes its name from the church you see here. it was built on the ruins of a Agostinian convent dated to the 1200; between 1444 and 1488.

A daily marked is held at this square from monday to saturday. From 8 a. m. to 2 p. m.

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I had a lunch at a restaurant in this square. Its name is TamerĂ². This restaurant is a quite odd place.

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TamerĂ² is probably one of the cheapest restaurants in Piazza Santo Spirito. I had a good dish of pici with cacio e pepe (noodles with cheese and pepper).

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Orsanmichele church was originally built as a grain market on the site of an oratory dedicated to saint Michael.

It burnt down in 1304. In 1337 a new and bigger loggia was built there.

At the end of the XV century the market was moved and the building was turned into a church. On its facades there are 14 niches with tall statues of patron saints of various guilds; judges, cloth merchants, bankers and so on.

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In this picture you can see part of Orsanmichele church inside.

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Ponte Vecchio with its shops lit is really a nice thing to see.

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Here' s another picture of the bridge; taken in the evening.

Posted by Maurizioagos 10:29 Archived in Italy Tagged florence market. orsanmichele oltrarno. Comments (0)

A day trip to San Gimignano.

San Gimignano; the Medieval Manhattan.

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San Gimignano is a walled hill town located 56 kilometers southwest of Florence.

Originally it was the seat of a small Etruscan village. The town took its name from saint Gimignanus, who is said to have saved the town from the barbarian hordes.

San Gimignano developed considerably during the Middle Ages and the Reinassance thanks to the Via Francigena. The town was a stopping point for catholic pilgrims on their way to Rome.

Today San Gimignano has 14 Medieval towers. Long ago there were 72 of them.

In San Gimignano there are also some museums, some churches and a plethora of shops, cafes and restaurants.

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The colleggiata or Basilica di Santa Maria Assunta; also called duomo is one of the highlights in San Gimignano. It was built in the year 1000 and consacred in the 1148.

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Its walls are completely coverd by frescoes painted in the 14th. These were never restored, but only cleaned some years ago.

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These frescoes depict stories of the Old and the New Testament. You will be given an audioguide when you buy your entrance ticket to the church.

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Here you see the facade of the duomo. You have to walk under the arch to enter the church.

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This loggia; Loggia del Comune (comune means town hall) was built in 1338. It was a gathering place used by politicians long ago. I think it is a meeting place for locals today. The loggia is located opposite the colleggiata.

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Piazza della Cisterna is a beautiful square situated some meters from Piazza del Duomo where the Colleggiata is situated. This square has a triangular shape. It is surrounded by several palaces. There are also some restaurants and shops here. This square takes its name from the cistern you see in its middle.

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Here you can see some towers. I took this picture at the Rocca di Montestaffoli. It is practically a pleasant park with some remains of a fortress.

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Another thing to do in San Gimignano is to get lost.

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Posted by Maurizioagos 02:13 Archived in Italy Tagged san gimignano towers. tuscany. Comments (8)

A day trip to Siena.

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Siena is a well preserved Medieval town located 30 miles south of Florence. It is set on three hills. So, if you like to explore it quite well, you should climb a bit on some steep streets.

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Piazza del Campo is Siena main square. This large scallop shaped square is divided in nine segments representing the Council of the Nine. This group of people ruled the Medieval Siena from 1292 to 1355.

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In Piazza del Campo, a historical bareback horse race called "Palio" is held twice every year; on 2th july and 16th august.

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The Palazzo Pubblico is one of the main sights in Siena. It was built between 1288 and 1342 circa. It is used as town hall. This palace also houses the civic museum. This museum is made of several rooms.

This palace has a tall tower you can climb. The Torre del Mangia. It was built between 1338 and 1348.

I took this picture inside the Sala della Pace (peace). Three walls of this room are painted with large frescoes with the subject about a good and a bad government of the city of Siena. This frescoes were painted in 1337.

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The largest room inside the Palazzo Pubblico is the Sala del Mappamondo. Here you see a large fresco with the Madonna, saints and some angels.

Unfortunately it is not possible to spot the glitters in this picture. I had never see glitters on a paintings before...I was quite impressed about this thing.

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Here you see another beautiful fresco. I don' t remember the name of the room where it is located.

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The church you see in this picture is Siena cathedral. It was probably built between 1215 and 1263. In my opinion its main sights are the Piccolomini library and the decorated floor.

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The floor of the cathedral is completely covered with inlaid marble mosaics. These were created between the 14th and the 16th century.

They represent scenes from the Old Testament, an episode of the New Testament, the Sybille and other subjects.

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The Piccolomini library is joined to the cathedral. It was commissioned by Francesco Piccolomini Todeschini (pope Pius III) for his uncle Enea Silvio Piccolomini; pope Pius II. The walls of this room are painted with beautiful frescoes.

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There are some ancient books inside the library, but I was attracted by the beautiful frescoes which depict various scenes of pope Pius II' s life.

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Here you see another picture taken into the library.

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I was lucky enough to find the floor uncovered enough. So I could admire this art work and take some pices. Most of the time the floor is much covered.

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This part of mosaic and the previous two depict the wheel of fortune and the She wolf, surrounded by the emblems of the cities allied with Siena.

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....One of the many Sybillas you can find on the floor.

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Siena is also made of backstreets and arches.

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I visited Saint Catherine' s house. Well, It is a place made of a couple of chapels and other rooms built where some rooms of her house were. Here you can see several paintings about the saint' s life and also some of her relics.

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Saint Catherine' s house is really a nice place to spend some time if you visit Siena.

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After the visit to Saint Catherine' s house I had a large slice of pizza at a nice place Chianti and Pizza. It was very good. Chianti and Pizza is located in via delle Terme.

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There are some musical instruments inside Chianti and Pizza. These make a nice wall decorations.

After my lunch I headed to Saint Francis' church. It is a large church, but it didin' impress me much. This church houses the skull of Saint Catherine and a real protrait of the saint painted by a friend of her. Unfortunately This painting is located qutie far so it is not possible to watch it properly.

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Just outside of Saint Francis' church you can admire this beautiful landscape.

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Another beautiful landscape.

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This is the facade of the Palazzo Pubblico. I took this picture late in the evening.

I hope to go back to Siena quite soon! I liked it very much.

Posted by Maurizioagos 12:08 Archived in Italy Tagged siena Comments (2)

Florence.

Back to Florence after some years.

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I went back to Florence after several years. I am glad, because I also wished to re visit Siena, San Gimignano and Lucca from that city. These places are easily reachable by bus from Florence.

I walked a lot (as usual...when I am on holidays) in Florence. I visited some churches, an old palace; Palazzo Vecchio and I did a lot of windows shopping.

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Piazza del Duomo could be a good starting point to visit of Florence. There are three buildings on this square; the cathedral (duomo), its bell tower and the baptistery.

The duomo was built between 1296 and 1436 over the church of Saint Reparata. It is the fourth largest cathedral in the world.

The bell tower was designed by Giotto in 1334. After his death its work was carried on by Andrea Pisano and later it was completed in 1359 by Francesco Talenti.

Opposite the cathedral there is the baptistery. It is said it is of Roman origin. The building you see dates back to the XI century.

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Palazzo Vecchio is located in piazza della Signoria. This palace was built between the 13th and 14th centuried to house the city government.

In the 16th century the duke Cosimo I de Medici hired the architect Vasari for some massive restoration works. The palace was turned into a luxurious residence. Today it is opened as museum and part of it is used as town hall. The palace has a tower you can climb to its top; the Torre di Arnolfo.

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Inside this palace you can visit the apartments of Leo X; son of Lorenzo the Magnificient. The apartments of Cosimo I and Eleanor of Toledo; his wife.

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There are also lots of pieces of furniture inside the palace. In this picture and in the previous one you can see two drawers made with stones (pietre dure). This kind of craft is also typical in Florence nowadays.

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Here you can see part of a chapel; the Priors Chapel.

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In this picture you can spot Palazzo Vecchio from afar.

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Ponte Vecchio is another interesting sight of Florence. This bridge was built in 1345 as a replacement for a previous one swept away by a flood. A very first bridge existed here before XI century.

Originally the bridge was lined with butchers' shops, blacksmiths and tanners. Because of the stench, Ferdinand I decided to forbid them to work on the bridge. He probably invited several jewellers to open their shops there.

Today, both edges of the bridge are lined with jewellery shops.

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Over the bridge you can see part of the Corridoio Vasariano. This is a covered passageway that was built in 1565. It was commissioned by the Medici family so that they could move from Palazzo Vecchio to Palazzo Pitti freely.

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Some shops on the old bridge looks like nice small living room.

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After the visit to the palace and a long walk at the old core of the city I wished to visit a couple of churches, but these were closed. It was around noon. Usually, in Italy the churches are closed from 12 or 12. 30 p. m. until 2 p. m. or later.

The visit to Palazzo Vecchio takes around a couple of hours.

Posted by Maurizioagos 03:51 Archived in Italy Tagged florence. Comments (6)

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