A Travellerspoint blog

May 2019

Lisbon.

Lisbon is a large city situated on seven hills; like Rome. It is the capital of Portugal.

It is not possible to write about all the things to see in this city in a single post. In fact, there are lots of things to see in Lisbon.

I have visited this city several times, but I have still to see some things here.

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Rossio is one of the main squares in Lisbon. Its official name is "praca Dom Pedro IV". Long ago it was used as cattle market, public execution place, bullfight arena and carnival ground. In the middle of this square a tall column with a statue of king Pedro IV is located. This square is surrounded by the Dona Maria II National Theatre, by various cafes, shops and some restaurants.

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Rua das Portas De Santo Antao is a pedestrian street near Rossio where you find a good choice of restaurants, some guesthouses, several shops and a small bar where you can have a glass of ginjinha. This is a drink made by infusing sour cherries in alcohol; adding sugar and other ingredients. Ginjinha is a typical drink in Lisbon, Alcobaca and Obidos. I am sorry but I haven' t any picture of this street.

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Confeitaria Nacional is a cafe and a confectionery, but it is also a restaurant. It was founded in the XIX century.

The cafe is on the ground floor. The restaurant is on the first floor.

The restaurant is divided in two areas; one of these is a self service. The other area is a restaurant. There is no need to say that you will spend less if you order your food at the self service area.

At Confeitaria Nacional they usually serve two menus of the day.

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Tram n. 28 is a yellow vintage tram. It departs from praca Martin Moniz to the Graca and Alfama districts. Then it heads to the cathedral and the church of Saint Anthony. It carries on to the Baixa (the lower area of the city) and to the districts of Chiado and the Barrio Alto. Its last stop is at Campo Ourique station.

The tram stops near lots of main sights. Its entire route lasts around 45 minutes. You can make use of it as a budget hop-on hop-off bus.

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The Santa Justa lift (elevador in Portuguese) was designed by an apprentice of Gustave Eiffel and was opened in 1902.

This lift connects Baixa (the lower city) to the Bairro Alto (the upper city) by a passageway. It has two cabins (one to gou up and another to go down) which can house 24 people each.

At the top of this lift there is a platform with a cafe. From here you can enjoy a beautiful landscape over the Rossio, the Tagurs river, the castle and some other areas of the city.

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Wiev from the top of the Santa Justa lift.

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Another wiev from the top of the lift.

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The miradouros are vantage points. These are mostly gardens that are usually located at the highest points of the city. From these you can enjoy beautiful views over the city. There is a cafe at some of them.

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Here's a list of some miradouros.

Miradouro das Portas do Sol. From here you can have a good view over the Alfama' s rooftops.

Miradouro de Sao Pedro de Alcantara. You will have a great view of the castle for this lookout point.

Miradouro de Santa Luzia. From here you can have views over the Alfama' s rooftops, over the Tagus river and the dome of the National Pantheon.

Miradouro de Santa Catarina. From here you can have a good view over the 28 de Abril bridge.

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Leitaria Academica is one of my favourite restaurants in Lisbon.

On a window of this restaurant you can read a small list with the names of the food available that day. Almost every dish includes some vegetables.

Everytime I visited this restaurant the food I had was good and the personnel (I think they are a family) really kind.

Leitaria Academica is a small restaurant, but there are some tables outside; on the Largo do Carmo. This is a nice and large square near the entrance of the Carmo monastery. See the previous two pictures.

I liked very much their bacalau (cod fish) with nata and lasagna with salmon.

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Saint Vicente de Fora monastery.

This church (and its monastery) was located outside the city walls. De Fora means "0n the outside". It was dedicated to Saint Vincent of Saragossa; the patron saint of Lisbon.

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The construction of the present church started in 1582 and was completed in 1629. It was built on the site of a previous church that had been built around 1147. The monastery was finished in the XVIII century.

There is a very rich collections of azulejos inside the monastery.

Into the monk's old refectory is housed the pantheon of the king and queens of the Braganca dinasty. They ruled from 1670 to 1910.

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Alfama is one of Lisbon' s oldest area. It was founded by the Arabs. They named it Al hama could mean springs or bath. It survived the 1755 earthquake. This district stretches between Saint George castle and the banks of the Tagus river.

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Have a stroll here and you' ll see some small squares; a maze of narrow streets, various staircases, whitewashed houses, restaurants, cafes and shops. It feels like being in a village inside the city when you are at Alfama.

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Belém is a district of Lisbon. It is located six kilometers from the city center. It was the starting point for many discovery voyages. For instance it was from here that Vasco da Gama embarked on his voyage from Portugal to India in 1497.

One of ithe main sights in Belém is the Jeronimos monastery (1502-1551); a huge white building with a magnificient carved portal and a large two-storeys cloister.

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The construction of this monastery was commissioned by king Manuel I to commemorate Vasco da Gama' s voyage; to give thanks to the Virgin Mary for its success and to create a royal pantheon for the Aviz-Beja dinasty.

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The monastery was built on the site of a hermitage founded by Henry the Navigator around 1450. They begun to build it in 1502 and it took nearly the entire 16th century to complete it. Its predominant architectural style is Manueline. It was built in stages and designed by three architects. Diogo Boitac designed the lower floor in Manueline style.

The church of the monastery is also the resting place of Vasco Da Gama, Manuel I, his wife Maria and Luis De Camoes.

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The naval museum (Museu de Marinha) is a large museum with lots of exibits. These include paintings, lots of scale models of ships from the Age of Discoveries onwards; navigations instruments, maps and other things related to the sea travels. This museum occupies a part of the western wing of the Jerònimos monastery.

What I liked most at this museum were the royal barges. These are large boats used by the Portuguese kings and queens. I also liked very much the cabins of the royal yacht Amàlia; dating from 1900.

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A cabin of the royal yacht Amàlia.

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Another cabin of the same yacht.

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After the visit to the monastery you could have a break at the Antiga Confetaria de Belém. This is a very large cafe-confectionery with several rooms. Some of these are decorated with azulejos (blue tiles).

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Here you can have some good custard tarts called pasteis de Belém.

These pastries are served warm and sprinkled with cinnamon and/or sugar (if you like). Their original receipt is kept secret. Only three persons know it. This sweet is believed was created before the 18th century by the nuns at the monastery of Jerònimos.

Antiga Confeitaria de Belém was the first place to sell these tarts since 1837.

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The coaches museum (Museu Nacional dos Coches) is also located in Belém. It is housed in a two storeys building that was an old horse riding arena used for training horses and for horse riding exibitions. Here you can see a large collection of horse drawn carriages, chaises and sedan chairs dated from the 17th to the 19th centuries. These belonged to the Portuguese royal family and nobility.

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Once you visited the ground floor (it is made of two rooms) you can climb a staircase to the first floor where you can see several portraits of the Braganca dinasty and various other things.

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After quite a long walk you arrive to the tower of Belém. It was built between 1515 and 1520. This is the only monument built mostly in Manueline style in Lisbon (some of its decorations date from the renovation of the 1840). It served as a lookout point over the Tagus river and to defend the port of Lisbon. It was used as a fortress, a prison, a lighthouse and also as a telegraph office and a custom post.

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Mercado da Ribeira is a large covered market that has been opened since 1892.

On its ground floor there are lots of stalls with fresh produce as fruits and vegetables, meat, fish and other food. There was a good choice of food last time I visited it.

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On the ground floor there is also a food court with 35 kiosks where you can sample various food specialities. It occupies a half of this market. Here you can have lunch, a ice cream (see Santini ice creams) or a pastry.

As it is situated opposite Cais do Sodrè train station, a vist to this market is a good place to spend some time if you have to wait for your train.

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Coringa is another favourite restaurant of mine. It was very convenient for me because it was just some meters far from my hotel. Address; Av. Fontes Pereira de Melo nº 3B. Metro; Parque.

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This restaurant is modern furnished. It has a dining room and some tables outside.

The menu of the day there consists in a meat or fish dish with vegetables. It doesn' t include a drink and a dessert or coffee. It is a budget choice anyway. Their menu a la carte has a good choice of fish and meat dishes.

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The Oceanario is more than an aquarium. In fact this structure was set to recreate the five ocean habitats. Here you' ll see various kinds of fishes and other sea creatures.

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I liked very much watching at some large groups of fishes swimming; the mantas that seemed to fly and two otters swimming on their back. There are also some penguins there.

The Oceanario is located within the modern area of Parque das Nações that was developed for the World Expo held in Lisbon in 1998.

Lisbon has lot more to offer beside the attractions and the places I wrote about in this post!

Posted by Maurizioagos 11:12 Archived in Portugal Tagged lisbon portugal. Comments (0)

Riva del Garda.

sunny

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Riva del Garda is a nice town situated at the northern tip of the lake Garda. It is around one hour by car from my village.

In the spring and summer it is a very touristic town.

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There are lots of colorful houses in this town.

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Via Piave is one of the nicest streets in this town.

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Contrada Marocco. This neighbourhood has nothing to do with Morocco. It is an area in Riva del Garda that takes its name from landslides; practically these are big stones where several houses where built here. Marocche is the meaning of big stones in the local dialect.

Here you can see various old houses, a square with a washing trough and an ancient palace; Palazzo del Vescovo (the bishop' s palace).

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I suppose this is one of the oldest areas in Riva del Garda.

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Palazzo del Vescovo; the bishop' s palace.

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Piazza III novembre is the main square in Riva del Garda.

Here you can see the town hall built in the XV century joined to the Palazzo Pretorio (XIV century). Opposite this palace there is a very ancient tower; the Apponale tower. It was built towards 1200 and raised in 1552. At its base there were warehouses for salt and wheat and other stores. It was also used as a prison. During the WWI it was an observation post. You can enjoy a beautiful landscape over the main square of the town and other areas from its top.

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Piazza III Novembre is partly surrounded by XIV century porticoes. There are some shops and a good restaurant - pizzeria (see restaurant hotel Centrale) under these.

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Here you see the small square joined to piazza III Novembre.

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Sometimes when I visit Riva del Garda I have lunch at the restaurant of hotel Centrale. This is a large three star hotel located at the main square of Riva del Garda.

I don' know how many dinner rooms there are at this hotel. One of these is under the old arcades. It is closed by glass, so that people could eat there even in the winter.

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There are various dishes on the menu at this restaurants. There are even several fish dishes and a good choice of pizzas. Pizzas at restaurant Centrale are very large.

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You can do several boat trips to various villages or towns from Riva del Garda. There are ferries, hydrofoils and motorised catamarans that opearate all year.

For instance you can go to Limone and Malcesine.

Limone lies on the north-western shore of the lake. Its name comes from the latin word "limen", which means border. It is a small town with cobbled streets, some churches, various shops, cafes and restaurants.

Malcesine is located almost opposite Limone. Its main sight is the castle which was probably built in the first millenium a. C. by the Longobards. It was destroyed in 590 by the Franks and then rebuilt by them in 806. From 1277 to 1387 it belonged to the Della Scala family. Up to the 1403 it was in the hands of the Visconti family . From the 1405 to 1797 it was part of the Serenissima (see Venice) with the exception of 10 years starting from 1506. The French owned it during Napoleon' s times and The Austrians from 1798 to 1866. The castle houses a couple of museums.

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There is a fortress in Riva del Garda. La Rocca. It was built in 1124 and altered through the centuries. Today it houses a museums with paintings,pictures and archaeological finds.

Posted by Maurizioagos 09:30 Archived in Italy Tagged lake del garda riva trentino alto garda. adige. Comments (2)

Rimini and some day trips.

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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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Vulpitta 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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Vulpitta 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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Città del Sole is one of my favourite shops 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. Tiberius 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.

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. 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.

It has a fortress (Rocca), built in 1386 (there was a previous one); enlarged and modified after a century. Near and below the fortress you can stroll though 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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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.

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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Here you see another picture taken inside the first tower.

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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.

It houses a weaponry museum inside.

This picture was taken from the second tower.

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Another picture taken from the second tower.

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.

The three towers are linked by a stone path called "sentiero delle streghe" (i. e. witches path).

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The area you see in this picture is the Cava dei Balestrieri (the crossbowmen' s cave). It is the site of many events.

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There are some nice statues inside this cave.

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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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There are several daily buses from Rimini to San Marino. You can take one just outside the train station.

Posted by Maurizioagos 11:29 Archived in Italy Tagged sant di angelo rimini sea. romagna.san marino. Comments (0)

Lucca.

Lucca is a beautiful town located 85 km. west of Florence. It was the birthplace of Giacomo Puccini; the famous music composer.

Its old core is surrounded by defence walls. These are 12 meters tall.

Lucca has lots of churches and a couple of palaces to visit. You can visit it as a day trip from Florence. There are daily buses and trains from there.

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The walls of Lucca were built in four stages.

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At the beginning they were constructed in Roman times. Later the walls were rebuilt between XI and XII centuries. The third phase of the building began in the XVI century and finished in 1544. The present construction dates from 1544 to 1650.

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The top of the walls is paved and lined with trees. You can walk or cycle on them.

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Piazza San Michele.

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San Michele in Foro is a church built between the 11th and the 14th century. It is located where the Roman forum was.

Its richly sculpted facade is bigger than the rest of the chuch, because money ran out before it was completed.

At the top of the church you can see a statue of archangel Michael. It has movable wings. So that if the wind is strong they can be retracted. A legend say that if you catch a green glimmer from this statue, in a peculiar condition of light you will have good luck.

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Via Fillungo is Lucca main street. It is a long street lined with lots of shops.

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Piazza Anfiteatro; Lucca main square can' t really be defined a square, because it is elliptical. In fact it was built on the foundations of a Roman amphitheater built in the second half of the first century A. D. Later it was used as a quarry to supply the town with materials for churches and palaces. Several buildings were constructed inside this oval area in the Middle Ages. In the 19th century all these buildings were removed and the square was created.

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In this square there are various shops, some restaurants and cafes. It is also a venue for various events.

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In the Middle Ages there were 130 towers in Lucca. Today only two of these are left. You can climb to their tops of these towers and enjoy the landscape over the town.

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One of these is named torre Guinigi. It was built around 1390 and is 45 meters tall. There are some oak trees on its top. The other is a bell tower called torre delle Ore. It was built around the XIII century. In this picture you can see the Guinigi tower.

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Wiev from the top of the Guinigi tower.

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Antoher picture taken from the top of the Guinigi tower.

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Another church you could visit is the Basilica di San Frediano. It was built between 560 and 588. It was rebuilt in the first half of the XII century. In the XIII century it was heightened and a golden mosaic was added on its facade. This mosaic represents the Christ redeemer. The church you see today was built between 1112 and 1147. This church houses the mummified body of Saint Zita. One of the saints who lived in Lucca.

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One of the main sights you can admire inside the curch is a baptismal font built in the XII century. It is sculpted with stories of Moses, the apostles and the months.

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Close up of the baptismal font.

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Caffè del Mercato; also called Il Barino is my favourite restaurant in Lucca. It is a cafe restaurant just beside San Michele in Foro church. At Il Barino food is good and also cheap.

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Palazzo Pfanner is a palace built in the second half of the XVII century for the Moriconi family. They were noble silk merchants. In 1680 the property was taken over by the Contarini; another family of noble merchants. In the second half of the ninethenth century the palace was bought by an Austrian brewer; Felix Pfanner who was asked to come to Lucca in 1846 by duke Carlo Lodovico di Borbone who wished a skilled brewer to make beer in town.

Inside this palace you can see the old kitchen, some nice rooms and a collection of surgical instruments belonged to Pietro Pfanner; son of Felix.

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Palazzo Pfanner has a beautiful garden with statues representing the four seasons and some divinities. You can spot this garden from the town walls.

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Piazza Napoleone is a square quite near piazza San Michele. It is also called piazza Grande. It was named after Napoleon, whose sister Elisa Baciocchi Bonaparte ruled Lucca from 1805 until 1815.

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Many buildings, the salt storeroom and a church were demolished to build this square in 1806.

Palazzo Ducale (the ducal palace), several shops and cafes and some restaurants surround this large square. Palazzo Ducale is used as offices. There is a museum inside.

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The duomo of San Martino (the cathedral) was founded in the VI century. It was rebuilt around 1060 and renewed between the XII and the XIII centuries. The interior was rebuilt in the 14th and 15th centuries.

One of the highlights of this church is Civitali' s tempietto; built in 1482. It houses the Volto Santo (Holy Face). A large wooden crucifix said to have been carved by Nicodemus; the biblical figure who helped Joseph of Arimathea remove Christ' s body from the cross. I have read somewhere that this sculpture couldn' t be the original one, but could have been carved between XI and XIII centuries.

Another thing not to miss inside this church is the sarcophagus of Ilaria del Carretto. It was made between 1407 and 1408. Ilaria was one of Paolo Guinigi' s wifes. The lord of Lucca. She died very young. I think she was 26.

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Lucca has a small and beautiful botanical garden. It was created in the 1820 as a research and education center.

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Near its entrance there is the so-called montagnola with flowers and plants from the mountains near Lucca and Pisa. There are some greenhouses; a collection of medicinal species of plants; a library and a museums with old herbariums.

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There is a lake full of water lilies at the garden.

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Mercato del Carmine is a covered market which was a church years ago. Here you can find only some stalls where you can buy fruit and vegetables. When I visited this market there was a good choice of produce to buy at these stalls.

Around the market there is a cafe, a sweet shop and some shops that sells meat of various kind. These shops have an entrance inside and outside the market. The cafe has some chairs and tables inside the market.

There are the toilets into the market.

A note about transportation. It is better to go to Lucca by bus. The train station is quite far from the town center.

Some years ago I went to Lucca by train. Once I arrived at the train station I had to go through the walls; climb up and down some stairs (with my heavy luggage), walk inside a tunnel (under the ramparts) and then carry on walking for some miles to my accomodation that was in the town center.

If you are going to Lucca by train, you should ask somebody where you can find the nearest gate to avoid climbing the ramparts. Then look for a navetta (electric minibus) to the city center. Otherwise you could take a taxi to your accomodation.

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If you will spend some days in Lucca you can do a day trip to Viareggio. This is a beautiful seaside resort some 25 km from Lucca. It has around 10 kilometers of sandy beach and is famous for its carnival.

This town has many Art Nouveau buildings. The tourist office in Viareggio has a useful map with the locations of these.

When I visted Viareggio I did a long stroll on the seafront promenade. It is more than 3 km long! This long street is lined with shops, cafes and restaurants.

The origin of the Carnival in Viareggio dates from 1873 when a group of young borgeouses who used to go to the Caffe del Casinò thought about a parade of carriages and masked people.

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A restaurant in Viareggio.

Posted by Maurizioagos 10:52 Archived in Italy Tagged lucca tuscany viareggio. Comments (6)

Bergamo; some sights, typical food and a trip to a castle.

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Bergamo is a city situated around 40 kilometers northeast of Milan. It is divided into two parts; the upper town (Città Alta) and the lower town (Città Bassa).

The upper town is the old core of Bergamo; the lower town is the modern part of this city.

On this post I will tell you something about the upper town.

You can easily go to Bergamo from various countries by air. In fact there is an airport nearby. It is located near a village named Orio al Serio.

This airport has only a terminal. It is used mostly by various low cost air companies as Ryanair, Wind Jet and Wizz Air. Inside there are several shops, a pharmacy, two banks and a tourist office.

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It is possible to go the the upper town from the lower town in Bergamo by bus or by funicular. The funicular has two cars. Each has a capacity of 50 people (seated and standing). Its first run was in 1887. This funicular was restored in 1921, in 1963-64 and in 1988. It runs from 7 a. m. to 12 p. m. every day. It departs from the station in viale Vittorio Emanuele. It takes around half an hour to go to the funicular station from the train station by foot, but you can go there by bus as well.

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The upper town is surrounded by around six kilometers of walls. These already existed at Roman times. They were rebuilt during the Middle Ages. From 1561 to 1588 these were reconstructed by the Venetians. They demolished 250 buildings to build them; including some churches and convents. The walls were built in order to face enemies attacks, but never underwent any siege.

Take a walk around these old walls to enjoy great views over the countryside and the lower city.

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Piazza Vecchia is the main square in the upper town. It is surrounded by various old buildings. One of these is Palazzo della Ragione that was built during the second half of the XII century and rebuilt in the 1500' s. It is connected by a bridge and a staircase to the Palazzo del Podestà . This was the seat of the chief magistrate, or governor who ruled Bergamo from the 16th until the end of the 18th century. It was built between XII and XIII centuries. On the north east side of the square stands the Palazzo Nuovo, or Biblioteca Angelo Mai; the civic library. Its construction began at the beginning XVII century and was finished in 1958.

There are some restaurants and cafes in this square.

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Torre Civica (the civic tower) is also called the "Campanone" because it has a very large bell inside. Large bell could be translated as "campanone". This sounds 180 times at 10 p. m. every evening to signal the old curfew when the gates of Bergamo were about to close. This tower was probably built between the XI and the XII centuries.

I don' t think it is worth to climb around 250 stairs to get to the top of this tower to enjoy the landscape. There are other places in Bergamo from where you can see a nice one.

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Piazza Duomo is a small square at the back of piazza Vecchia. It is surrounded by some religious buildings as the cathedral (duomo), dedicated to saint Alessandro. It was built on a pre existing church probably constructed in the VI century. It was rebuilt in 1449; at the end of 1600 and in the 1800.

Near the cathedral there is the basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore. It was built in 1137 as a vow to the Virgin after the plague in 1135 on the site of a church dating around VIII century. The interior was modified between the 16th and the 17th centuries in Baroque style. It contains the tomb of the composer Gaetano Donizetti, a Baroque confession chair built at the beginning of 1700 and several Florentine and Flemish tapestries made in the 1500-1600.

Joined to the Basilica is the Cappella Colleoni. Bartolomeo Colleoni was a soldier and leader who fought for Venice to maintain the Venetian stronghold on the city. This mausoleum was ordered to be built for himself and his daughter Medea between 1472 and 1476. The sacristy of the basilica of santa Maria Maggiore was demolished to build this chapel.

Opposite the cathedral you can see the baptistery. It is an octagonal building dating from 1340. Originally it was located inside the basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore.

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The basilica Santa Maria Maggiore. The main entrance.

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Part of a tapestry inside the basilica.

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The Baroque confession chair.

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The bishop hall (Aula della Curia) is a 12th century judgement hall.

Not many people know about this place. I was on a guided tour of the Città Alta and our guide took us there. It is located to the left of the Colleoni chapel. You have to climb a flight of stairs to get there.

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This large hall has five rows of 13th century frescoes depicting biblical scenes and other works. There are scenes as the last supper, Jesus washing the feet of an apostle. Kiss of Judas and so on.

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The Tempietto di Santa Croce. This small church dates to the first half of the XI century. I have read it is decorated with frescoes inside.

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You can spot some beautiful door knockers in the Città Alta.

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If you have some time to spend you could visit the Museo Donizettiano. This nice museum is dedicated to Gaetano Donizetti. He was a very famous music composer. Gaetano was born on november 29th 1797 and died in 1848. He composed about seventy operas in thirty years.

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This museum occupies two rooms in a fourteenth - sixteenth century palace; the Palazzo della Misericordia Maggiore. Here you can see many things belonged to this composer; his piano, several portraits and various documents There are also the bed he died in and a chair he used to sit in when he was severely ill.

I am not a opera lover or an expert on this matter, but I enjoyed this museum.

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La Rocca. This fortress was built between 1331 and 1336. It is located on a hill, which was believed to have been the Roman capitol. Its original building was constructed by the Celts from the IV century A. D. The medieval building was begun in 1331 by John of Louxembourg and completed by Azzone Visconti (lord of Milan from 1329 to 1339) in 1336. Through the centuries this building has undergone various enlargements. Inside the fortress there is the nineteenth-century section of the historical museum of the city.

A memorial park dedicated to the first world war fallen surrounds the fortress. There you can see lots of monuments , a small tank and some cannons.

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La Rocca is a good place to enjoy the views over the upper, the lower city and other areas.

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One of the churches I liked much in Bergamo was the curch of San Michele al pozzo bianco. It was originally built in the VIII century; rebuilt around the XII and the XIII centuries and restored in the 1400' s. It is named al pozzo bianco probably because there was a well made from white marble nearby. Pozzo bianco means "white well" in Italian.

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Inside you can see several frescoes painted in the 1400 and 1500. There is also a cycle of frescoes made by Lorenzo Lotto; in the chapel of the Madonna. This church has a crypt with frescoes as well.

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There are some typical sweets and food in Bergamo which are worth a try.

Polenta e osei is a typical cake of Bergamo. It is the sweet version of polenta (mashed corn) with small birds. This cake is sold in various confectionery shopes and bakeries in Bergamo.

This good dessert is made with sponge cake, chocolate and hazelnuts creams, butter and some rum. It is covered with a layer of yellow marzipan and sprinkled with yellow cristallized sugar. The small birds that you see on top of this cake are made with marzipan covered with chocolate.

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Casoncelli alla bergamasca are a kind of ravioli (stuffed pasta) filled with with a mixture of bread crumbs, egg, cheese, ground beef, salami or sausage, spinach, raisins, amaretto biscuits, pear and garlic. These are served with melted butter flavoured with sage leaves and sprinkled with grated Grana Padano cheese and chopped cooked bacon. This first course is believed to have originated in the countryside outside Bergamo where they were created as a way of using up left overs.

You can find casoncelli, also called "casunsei" in many restaurants in Bergamo.

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The Donizetti cake is a ring shaped cake created by Alessandro Balzer (see Balzer confectionery in upper Bergamo) in 1948 to commemorate hundred years from the death of the musical composer Donizetti. It is a simple cake sprinkled with castor sugar. You can buy it at various bakeries and confectioneries in Bergamo.

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It is difficult for me not to go inside the Tresoldi bakery when I visit Bergamo. This small bakery is a good place to buy good pastries and also pizza by the slice. My favourite treats there are small pastries with fruit.

Tresoldi bakery is located in via Colleoni; the upper town main street.

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Sweet Irene is one of my favourite cafe restaurant in Bergamo. It is located in the lower area of Bergamo. It is made of two rooms. One of these is downstairs. It is a kind of cellar.

Here you can have food as quiches and sandwiches, but you can choose your meal from the menu of the day as well.

At this cafe they have a good selection of pastries and cakes.

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Vox is a good place to visit at the so-called happy hour. This is a period of time, usually from 5.30 p. m. to 9 p. m. when you can have a drink (alcoholic or non alcoholic) accompanied with various nibbles (chips, olives and more). At happy hour time you can help yourself with the food you see on the plates on the counter. Vox is also a restaurant. It is located in the Lower Town.

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Here you see a beautiful statue dedicated to Donizetti. You can find it in the lower area of Bergamo.

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I had a pleasant visit to the castle in Grumello del Monte with a group of VT members (I was a member of Virtual Tourist...www.virtualtourist.com).

Grumello del Monte is some 18 km east of Bergamo. I went there by train.

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Probably this castle was originally built around the X century. It also was owned by Bartolomeo Colleoni in 1400. It was turned into a mansion in the XVIII century.

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There is not much to see inside the castle. Only some rooms, a chapel, the ex stable and part of a tower are opened to visitors. So who likes to visit a castle with lots of beautifully decorated rooms could be disappointed. You have to book if you like to visit the castle.

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A presentation of several kinds of wines was included in the tour. We could sample various kinds of wines accompanied with cold cuts and cheeses. I think this was the best part of the visit. The owners of the castle run a winery. There is a shop at the castle. Here you can buy wines and some souvenirs.

If you will stay more than three or four days in Bergamo you can do several day trips for here. For instance you could go to the Como and Iseo lakes, to Milan and to several other places.

Posted by Maurizioagos 11:47 Archived in Italy Tagged italy del bergamo grumello lombardy. monte. Comments (6)

Marostica.

sunny

Marostica is a town located some kilometers from Bassano del Grappa. It is situated in the Veneto region.

Its old core is quite small, but there is an interesting sight to visit; a castle. Well, there are two castles in reality in Marostica.

This town is well known for a (human) chess game.

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Piazza Castello is the main square in Marostica, It was created in the 14th century. This square is where a chess game is played with human pieces. This is due in the second week end of september; in the even years.

On piazza Castello you see the marble chessboard realized in 1954 for the first human chess game and the Doglione palace. It was originally a medieval fortress which hosted the armoury and the chancellery and the Monte di Pietà during the Venetian rule. It was restored in the 19th century. Today it is the seat of a local bank. Opposite this palace there is the lower castle.

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The Doglione.

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There is a small chessboard on the ground floor of the Doglione.

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Piazza Castello is flanked by two rows of porticoes. You can find various shops, some cafes and restaurants under these.

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There are two castles in Marostica. These were built in 1312.

Castello Inferiore; the lower castle is located in the main square. The upper castle; Castello Superiore, is situated on the top of a hill. It was built on a Roman construction. Inside there is a restaurant. This castle overlooks the town.

The lower castle houses a museum with several costumes used for the chess game re enactment. It is on the first floor. On this floor there are also some rooms to visit; as Sala del Consiglio; built between 1662 and 1663 and Sala del Camino ("camino" means fireplace). Outside the first floor there are two loggias with frescoes painted between XV and XVIII centuries. Inside the castle there is also a prison.

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You can end your visit of the castle walking along the ramparts to enjoy a beautiful landscape over the main square of Marostica and the surrounding hills.

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There are several churches in the old center of Marostica. I suppose these are more than four. In this picture you can spot one of them.

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This is one of the entrances of the town.

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Caffè Centrale is a cafe restaurant where I usually have lunch when I visit Marostica. It is one of the cafes -restaurants under the porticoes at the main square.

The first time I visited Marostica the menu at this cafe caught my attention due to some peculiar dishes there. That time I had gnocchi (dumplings) with gorgonzola cheese and nuts. I like them very much. The second time I went at Caffe Centrale I had rice with asparagus. It was good.

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Marostica is a nice place to spend some hours, or even a couple of days if there is a festival or a concert in the main square.

Posted by Maurizioagos 11:48 Archived in Italy Tagged del grappa bassano marostica chess. Comments (5)

Two castles and an island not far from Trieste.

sunny

If you are going to spend more than a couple of days in Trieste, you could visit two beautiful castles and an island. There is no need to rent a car, because the castles and the island are easily reachable by public trasportation.

I visited the castles and the island some years ago.

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Miramare castle was built between 1856 and 1860 by orders of Maximilian of the House of Habsburg (1832-1867). He was Franz Joseph' s (emperor of Austria) youngest brother. From 1931 to 1937 the castle was inhabited by duke Amedeo d' Aosta. This castle is located in Grignano. You can go there by bus from Trieste.

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Inside you can visit more than 20 rooms. All these have original furniture. You can see the private apartments where Maximilian and his wife Charlotte lived for a short period; the guests rooms and the throne room.

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The castle is surrounded by a huge park with ponds, statues and some buildings as the stables and the so called Castelletto. Maximilian and Charlotte lived there while the castle was being constructed.

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Duino is a town not far from Trieste. There are daily coaches departing from the bus station in Trieste to go there.

In Duino you can visit a castle. Well, in reality there are two castles there. The old and the new one. This one is open to visitors.

The new castle was built around 1400. What we see today is a set of buildings constructed in different years and set around a courtyard. The castle belonged to various people and was also used as a prison. At the end of the 19th century it became property of the prince Alexander of Thurn und Taxis. Over the years this castle hosted many famous artists as Strauss, Liszt, Twain and Rainer Maria Rilke.

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I took this picture from the castle tower.

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Another picture from the castle tower.

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The "old" castle was built in the XI century. It is now in ruins. You can see it from a balcony and from the tower of the new castle.

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Grado is an island situated 52 km from Trieste. It is linked to the mainland by two bridges.

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One of the highlights in Grado is the basilica of saint Euphemia. It has a beautiful mosaic pavement which covers almost the entire floor surface. This church dates from the end of the VI century. It was built on the site of a previous basilica built between the IV and V centuries. Beside this church there is a baptistery which dates to the fifth century. In this picture you see part of the basilica of saint Euphemia.

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Some meters from the church you can visit the basilica of saint Maria delle Grazie. It was built at the end of the VI century. This church was built over another one of the V century. It is smaller than the basilica of S. Euphemia and houses a beautiful colourful Madonna.

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Once you visited the churches and the baptistery you could have a stroll in the town center. The old core of Grado is made mostly of stone houses. It has narrow streets (calli), small squares (campielli) as in Venice. You can wander in the center of Grado for at least a couple of hours or maybe more.

There are even some Roman ruins in this town.

I went to Grado from Trieste by bus. I took a coach from the bus station in Trieste to Monfalcone. Once in Monfalcone I crossed the road and I took a bus to Grado. The bus station in Grado is in piazza Carpaccio; which is just a couple of streets from the harbour.

Posted by Maurizioagos 09:20 Archived in Italy Tagged trieste gargnano duino. Comments (2)

Memories of Trieste.

sunny

Trieste is a city in northeastern Italy. It is situated between the Adriatic Sea and Slovenia. It is also located near Croatia.

It has a large mains square facing the sea, several churches catholical and of other religions and some museums.

Trieste is worth a stop of a couple of days or more if you are going to Slovenia or to Croatia. You could even choose it as a base to do explore some places in the Friuli Venezia Giulia regions. It is a very large city, but well served by public transportation (buses).

It is possible and easy to go to various destinations in eastern Europe from Trieste, by coach. There are coaches to several places in Croatia, Slovenia, Romania and to other countries departing from the bus station in Trieste. There are even some buses to Vienna. The bus station is situated at piazza della Libertà . It is just some meters from the railway station. This station is not a nice place, but there is a convenient cafe and some shops inside.

I visited Trieste lots of time and also some weeks ago.

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Piazza dell' Unità d' Italia is the main square in Trieste. It is surrounded by several palaces built mostly in the 19th century. Here you can see the Town Hall; built in 1875. The Government Palace (1904-1905); with mosaics and a loggia. Palazzo Stratti with the historical cafe named Caffe degli Specchi.

This square is very large and opens to the sea.

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Opposite the Town Hall there is a huge fountain; the Fountain of the Four Continents. It was built between 1751-1754. Here are represented four continents, because the fifth; Australia wasn' t discovered at that time yet.

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When I visit Trieste I like to explore the old town. I mean the area around piazza Cavana which is very near piazza dell' Unità  d' Italia. This is an area with a maze of streets and very old buildings. You can also find some Roman remains there. There are also various shops and cafes in this neighborhood.

Piazza Cavana; the square you see in this picture, was previously named piazza del Sale (i. e. ) until 1829, because of a salt storeroom which was situated at the end of this square.

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There is even a Roman arch in the old town; the Arco di Riccardo. It was built in the I century B. C.

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Here you see another Roman find.

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There are several palaces built in Liberty style in this city.

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Here you see part of another palace built in Liberty style.

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Borgo Teresiano is a neighbourhood characterized by grid like streets. It was built on the place where the salt pans were. This area was built on order by the Austrian emperor Charles VI and completed by her daughter Maria Teresa in the 1800' s.

Here you can see the Canal Grande; built between 1750 and 1756. It is bordered by several palaces; by the church of St. Antonio Nuovo, several cafes, restaurants and shops.

In this picture you see a statue of the Irish writer James Joyce. He lived for some time in Trieste.

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I spotted this stone face on the bridge you see in the previous picture.

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This is Palazzo Gopcevich. It houses the Civico Museo Teatrale Carlo Shmidl. It is a museum related to the theatre.

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The Serbian ortodox church. This church was built on the site of a previous church that was used both by the Greek and the Serbian communities in the '700. It was opened in 1868.

It is surmounted by five light blue domes; one large and four smaller.

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Inside the church you can see the iconostasis; that is a group of icons partly covered in gold and silver. This was built in Russia at the beginning of the ' 800. A silver chandelier that was a present by Paolo Petrovich; (future tsar Paul I) when he visited Trieste in 1772 is another highlight of this church. Many other beautiful work of art will surely catch your attention inside this church.

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Here you see another cupola inside the church.

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Bar pasticceria Urbanis is a budget restaurant where I usually have lunch when I am in Trieste. It is also a meeting place where people go to have an aperitivo (a drink taken before meals). At Urbanis they serve a good choice of first and second courses. They also have sandwiches and desserts. Here food is really cheap. Drinks served at the table are expensive.

Urbanis is an historic cafe, but it is modern furnished.

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At Urbanis ' they have a menu. but they also serve a menu of the day. Here you see a dish of pasta (noodles) with shrimps I had some years ago.

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The Greek ortodox church of Saint Nicholas. It was consecrated to Saint Nicholas; patron saint of sailors, ship owners and all those involved in the maritime trade. It was built between 1784 and 1787 and completed in 1821.

This church has a single nave and its light comes from some small windows and chandeliers. For this reason it is not easy to take picutes inside.

Into this church you can see the iconostasis with several icons and several paintings.

The nave is overlooked by two balconies. The lower one was once set for women; the upper one was reserved for the choir.

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There is a good number of museums in Trieste. I' d recommend to visit Museo Revoltella. This is a modern art museum. The original palace which houses this museum was built between 1854 and 1858. It was owned by the baron Pasquale Revoltella (1795 - 1869) who was an entrepeneur and a financier.

In the 60' s of the last century two other palaces where added to this one to form a modern art museum with around 350 paintings and sculptures. Here many masterpieces by Italian and foreigner artists are on display.

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On the ground floor of this palace there is the library. The first floor houses the baron Revoltella' s private aparments. The second floor was used for parties and banquets. Here you can see the dining room, the ball room and some other rooms.

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Sircelli is a cafe confectionery I usually visit around 5 p. m. when I visit Trieste. It was opened in 1933 as a bakery. Some years ago it was enlarged and completely refurbished. Unfortunately this cafe is quite small, so sometimes it is not easy to find a seat here.

Here you can find a large selection of pastries, cakes, some savoury food as pizza by the slice and various kinds of bread filled with cold cuts.

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I like their apple pie and the pastry with pear and chocolate.

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There is a nice long promenade not far from Sircelli' s. Viale XX Settembre. This tree lined street links via Carducci with Il Giulia Shopping Center. It is bordered by lots of cafes, eateries and shops. There is even a cinema here.

Amost all this streed is car free.

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Here' s another picture taken on viale XX Settembre.

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One of the main sights in Trieste is saint Justus cathedral. It is located on a hill overlooking Trieste.

Towards the middle of the fifth century there was a basilica on the site of this church. It was built in place of a Roman temple dedicated to Jovis, Juno and Minerva. This church was probably destroyed in the IX century. Between the IX and the X century two churches were built on the site of this basilica. In the XIV century these were joined to form the cathedral you see today.

There are several mosaics and frescoes inside this church.

Here' s a short description of some mosaics you can see inside the church. The mosaics on the apse on the left; date to the beginning of the XII century. They depict the Madonna, the angels Gabriel, Michael and apostles. The mosaics on the apse on the right date around the XIII century. Here you see Christ with saints Justus and saint Servolo. On the central apse there is a mosaic made in 1932.

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Next to saint Justus cathedral you can see the castle. What we see today is a large construction built between 1468 and1636. It is thought there was an early bronze age hillfort (around 2000 BC) at the place of this castle. In the Middle Age the Venetian built another building. It was destroyed in the XIV century. Between 1468-1471 Fredrick III of Absburg built another constuction on that site. Other works were made by the Venetians from 1508 to 1509. The castle was completed in 1630 with the buildings of the bastions and the walls.

The museum inside the castle is made up of a furnished room and the Casa del Capitano. This is the oldest building in the castle. It houses a collection of weaponry, some furniture and other things. Temporary exibitions are held at the castle. Inside the castle courtyard various concerts and shows are held.

Once you visited the museum you can stroll on the ramparts on the castle to enjoy a beautiful landscape over the city.

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There is also a chapel inside the castle.

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Mikeze and Jakeze. These are the original mechanical staues which striked the hours on the top of the town hall in piazza dell' Unità d' Italia. They are stored into the castle.

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Buffet Rudy is a a restaurant where you can have Italian, local and Bavarian dishes.

Every time I visit Trieste I usually have dinner Here. The food is very good and the portions are big. My favourite dishes at Rudy' s are pasta (noodles) with vegetables and gnocchi (dumplings) with four cheeses.

The only downside of this restaurant is that is quite a noisy place. The reason is because it has only a dining room and part of it is a bar; a popular bar I can say.

Posted by Maurizioagos 03:50 Archived in Italy Tagged trieste italy. Comments (2)

The castle of Torrechiara.

sunny

I visited this castle in 2017.

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The castle of Torrechiara is located on a hill in Torrechiara; a hamlet which is part of Langhirano; a village some 18 kilometers from Parma.

It was built between 1448 and 1460 on a older fortress by count Pier Maria de Rossi II ; a military leader. The castle had a defensive purpose, but it was built as a mansion for the count' s lover Bianca Pellegrini.

There are lots of rooms to visit into this castle. All of these have frescoes well preserved despite of their age. Their names are; Room of Jupiter, Room of the Landscapes, Room of Dawn, Room of Coat of Arms et al. There is even a kitchen and a chapel inside this castle; Saint Nicomedes oratory.

Some scenes of the 1985 movie Ladyhawke were shot at this castle.

There is a restaurant at the castle area.

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The Golden Room is the main sight into this castle. Its name derives from the golden leaves that decorated the tiles on the walls long ago. It was used as bed room and studio for Pier Maria de Rossi.

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Here you see another spot of the Golden Room.

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In this picture you see part of the Victory Room.

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This picture was taken into the Sunset Room. This was one of my favourite ones. In this room you see hunting scenes and various birds flying.

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This picture was probably taken into the Room of the Angels.

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There are some legends about this castle. They say you can see Pier Maria' s ghost wandering at full moon nights saying "nunc et semper" (now and forever). These words are probably related to his his relationship with Bianca. Another legend says a ghost of a woman walks at night and kiss every man she meets.

You can go to Langhirano by bus form Parma. Once you are in the village you have to walk up a very long road. The visit to this castle is worth the effort.

Posted by Maurizioagos 10:27 Archived in Italy Tagged italy castle parma langhirano Comments (2)

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