A Travellerspoint blog

July 2019

Rhodes Island.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There is a restaurant nearby.

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

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

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

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

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The acropolis is the main sight in Lindos.

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

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

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

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

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

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Another wiev from the acropolis.

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

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

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

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

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Lindos from afar.

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

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

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

Valencia.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Zoagli, Santa Margherita Ligure and Portofino.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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There are some residents at this park.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ischia.

sunny

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Panza is a village which is part of Forio.

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

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

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

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

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