A Travellerspoint blog

May 2019


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.


Rossio is one of the main squares in Lisbon. Its official name is "praca Dom Pedro IV". Long ago it was the site of a cattle market, a public execution place, a bullfight arena and a 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.


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.

Ginjinha 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.


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.


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 goes to the Chiado and the Barrio Alto districts. 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.


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.


Wiev from the top of the Santa Justa lift.


Another wiev from the top of the lift.


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.





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.



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.





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.


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.





A cabin of the royal yacht Amàlia.


Another cabin of the same yacht.


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).


Here you can have some good custard tarts called pasteis de Belém. This sweet is believed was created before the 18th century by the nuns at the monastery of Jerònimos.

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.

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


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.




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.



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, as a prison, as a lighthouse and also as a telegraph office and a custom post.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.




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.



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.


There are lots of colorful houses in this town.



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


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


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


Palazzo del Vescovo; the bishop' s palace.


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 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.

On its ground level there were warehouses for salt and wheat and other stores. It was also used as a prison. During the WWI the tower was an observation post. You can enjoy a beautiful landscape over the main square of the town and other areas from its top.


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.



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


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.


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.


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 and modified through the centuries. Today it houses a couple of museums.


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)


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.


The walls of Lucca were built in four stages.



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.


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


Piazza San Michele.


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 with movable wings. When 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.


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


Piazza Anfiteatro is Lucca main square. It 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.



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


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.


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.


Wiev from the top of the Guinigi tower.


Antoher picture taken from the top of the Guinigi tower.


Another church you could visit is the Basilica di San Frediano. It was built between 560 and 588 and 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.


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.


Close up of the baptismal font.


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.


Palazzo Pfanner is a palace opened to visitors.

It was 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.


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


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.


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.


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 sights of the cathedral is the Civitali' s tempietto. It was built in 1482. This small temple houses the Volto Santo (Holy Face). This is 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.


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


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.



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


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; once at Lucca train station 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.


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.



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.


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.


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.


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.




Piazza Vecchia is the main square in the upper town. It is surrounded by various buildings.


One of the palaces surrounding piazza Vecchia is Palazzo della Ragione. It was the seat of the chief magistrate, or governor who ruled Bergamo from the 16th until the end of the 18th century.

Palazzo della Ragione was built during the second half of the XII century and rebuilt in the 1500' s. It is joined by a bridge to another palace; Palazzo del Podestà . 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.


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.


Piazza Duomo is a situated at the back of piazza Vecchia. It is surrounded by some religious buildings as the cathedral (duomo). It is 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.

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.


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. Its interior was modified between the 16th and the 17th centuries in Baroque style.

The church houses the tomb of the composer Gaetano Donizetti and several Florentine and Flemish tapestries made in the 1500-1600.

Joined to the Basilica is the Cappella Colleoni. This mausoleum was ordered to be built by Bartolomeo Colleoni (a soldier and a leader) 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.

The basilica Santa Maria Maggiore. The main entrance.


Part of a tapestry inside the basilica.


The Baroque confession chair.


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.


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.


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.



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


One of the museum I visited in Bergamo was 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.


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.


La Rocca is a 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.


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


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. ù

It is named al pozzo bianco probably because there was a well made from white marble nearby. Pozzo bianco means "white well" in Italian.


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.


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.


A typical first course in Bergamo is Casoncelli alla bergamasca are a kind of stuffed pasta filled with 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.


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 and good cake sprinkled with castor sugar. You can buy it at various bakeries and confectioneries in Bergamo.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.



Only some rooms, a chapel, the ex stable and part of a tower are opened to visitors at this manor. So if you are going to visit a castle with lots of beautifully decorated rooms could be disappointed. You have to book if you like to visit the castle.



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 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.


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 this square 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.


The Doglione palace


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



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


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.

Inside lower castle; on the first floor there are 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.




On the same floor of the lower castle there is a museum with several costumes used for the chess game re enactment.




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.



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.


This is one of the entrances of the town.


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.


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.


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 from Trieste.

I visited the castles and the island some years ago.


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. This castle is located in Grignano.


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.




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


Duino is a town not far from Trieste. Here you can visit a castle. Well, in reality there are two castles in Duino. The old and the new one. This one is open to visitors.

The new castle was built around 1400. What we see today are some buildings constructed in different years.

This 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.




I took this picture from the castle tower.


Another picture from the castle tower.


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.


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




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.


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





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 coach from the bus station. I took a coach 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)

The castle of Torrechiara.


I visited this castle in 2017.


The castle of Torrechiara is located on a hill in Torrechiara; a hamlet which is part of a village; Langhirano; situated 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 inside this castle. All of these have frescoes well preserved despite of their age.

There is even a kitchen and a chapel into the castle; Saint Nicomedes oratory.

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


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.


Here you see another spot of the Golden Room.


In this picture you see part of the Victory Room.


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.





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


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 kisses every man she meets.

You can go to Langhirano by bus from 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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