A Travellerspoint blog

Italy

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 (see www.answers.yahoo.com) about a nice place not too far from Bergamo where I could spend some days. A member of that web site suggested a place named Zoagli.

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. You could help yourself from a machine to get American coffee 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" (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.

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 family of Milan between 1425 and 1435.

Castle Brown 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 09:34 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 on the island. It is around three kilometers long. There is a good choice of restaurants and cafes on this beach.

This beach is situated east of Sant' Angelo. 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 drinks 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 made of 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 ( "porto" 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 built in 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 fortress 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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There are lots of buildings into the fortress. Here you can visit various churches and the ruined cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption with a crypt with the remains of an older chapel with some frescoes. This chapel dates back to the eleventh and twelfth centuries.

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 Ischia 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)

Rome.

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

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

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

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

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

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

From second half of the VI century this amphitheater was used for other purposes than a stadium.

In the XIII century, the Frangipans (a family) built their fortress here. In 1750 pope Benedict XIV transformed it into a place where to commemorate the Christian martyrs. Moreover it was plundered to build other constructions in Rome.

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

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

Sometimes the Colosseum was flooded for mock sea battles.

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

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

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

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There are several ruins you can find in the forum.

The regia was the residence of the kings. The curia; the meeting place of the senate. The rostra was used as a tribune for orators.

There are some temples at the forum, as the temple of Antonio and Faustina It was built in 141 A. D. by Antonius Pius in honor to his late wife Faustina. It was turned into the church of Saint Lorenzo in Miranda in the middle age.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Michelangelo designed the new facades for the two buildings; Palazzo Senatorio and palazzo dei Conservatori and a new palace; Palazzo Nuovo.

In the center of the square is a statue of emperor Marcus Aurelius. It is a replica.

Palazzo Senatorio houses the office of the mayor of Rome. Palazzo dei Conservatori and Palazzo Nuovo are used as museums. There are mostly ancient statues there.

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

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

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

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

It is the resting place of several important Italians.

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

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Piazza di Spagna is known for the Scalinata della Trinità  dei Monti (the Spanish Steps). This long staircase was built between 1721 and 1725. It links the square with the square where the church of Trinità  dei Monti is situated.

At the bottom of the stairs there is a fountain called "la Barcaccia". It was designed by Pietro Bernini and his son, Gian Lorenzo.

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Piazza Navona was built on the site of the Domitian stadium. Here athletic games named "agones", chariot races and other sports were held. Since the 17th century until mid 19th century it was partially flooded for mock naval battles (naumachias).

This square also served as a marketplace from 1477 to 1869.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Trevi fountain. This large fountain was designed by Nicola Salvi from an earlier plan by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, but it was completed by Giuseppe Pannini in 1762.

The central figure of the fountain is Neptune; the god of the sea. He rides a shell shaped chariot drawn by two sea horses. One of these is calm and the other one wild. They simbolize the fluctuating moods of the sea. To the sides of the fountain are statues of abundance and salubrity.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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There are some nice spots in Rome!

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..and also lots fountains!

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There are many statues too.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

L' Insalata Ricca is a chain of restaurants. These are located in several areas of Rome. I had lunch twice at the one in largo dei Chiavari.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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In the fifth century the castle was converted into a fortress and incorporated into the city defensive walls. During the middle ages it was occupied by many noble families.

In 1377 it came under full papal control.

In the XIVth century, pope Nicholas III linked the castle with a covered passageway to the Vatican; the so called passetto di Borgo. So the popes could seek refuge in the castle if the Vatican was besieged. From the late 1400 the papal apartments were built inside the castle. Castel Sant Angelo was also used as a prison and execution place.

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

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

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Saint Peter' s basilica is located on the site where Saint Peter was buried between 64 and 68 A. D.

The current church was built from 1506 to 1626 due to the bad state of the previous one. Several artists worked on this church as Bramante, Raffaello, Michelangelo and Gian Lorenzo Bernini.

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It is a huge church; (218 per 133.30 meters) and full of beautiful works of art. The basilica has 45 altars and 11 chapels.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Don' t miss the church of San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane. It is also called San Carlino; due to its small size (ino in Italian is used as a diminutive for nouns)

They say this little church would stay inside a pillar you see in Saint Peter' s Square. This church takes its name from the four fountains that stand nearby.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Breakfast consisted in fresh pastries and bread. Jam, yoghourt, cereals, cold cuts and orange juice.

Hot beverages as coffee, cappuccino and hot chocolate were served by a girl at our table.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Tivoli you can visit Villa d' Este.

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

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Its interiors are decorated with beautiful frescoes, but this mansion is mostly known for its beautiful gardens. These have five hundred fountains, built in various shapes. Some of these are activated during the day.

There are several notice boards with some historical information about the fountains.

Inside Villa d' Este there is a room where you can watch a video about the villa and the gardens before your visit.

Other facilities here are the toilets, a self service cafe and a museum shop.

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

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

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 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).

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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 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.

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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 and modified through the centuries. Today it 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 hotel Catullo 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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The main sight in Cesenatico is its canal port. It is said it was designed by Leonardo da Vinci in 1502. The port is situated in the center of Cesenatico.

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This 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 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.

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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 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.

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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 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.

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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 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.

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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 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.

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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; 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.

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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 buildings.

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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.

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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 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.

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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.

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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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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.

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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 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.

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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. 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.

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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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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.

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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 and good 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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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.

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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 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.

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The Doglione palace

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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.

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.

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

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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 from Trieste.

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. This castle is located in Grignano.

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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. Here Maximilian and Charlotte lived while the castle was being constructed.

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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.

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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. 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.

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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 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)

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.

This city 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 towns or villages in the Friuli Venezia Giulia region.

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.

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.

Among these you can see the town hall; built in 1875. The government palace (1904-1905); with mosaics and a loggia and Palazzo Stratti that houses a 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 and 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. salt square) 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 situated. 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 saint 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 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).

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 food is really cheap. Drinks served at the table are expensive.

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Another church worth a visit in Trieste is the Greek ortodox church of saint Nicholas. It was built between 1784 and 1787 and completed in 1821.

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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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A piece of prestniz at Sircelli' s. It is a typical Triestine cake.

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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 are even some cinemas here. Amost all this street 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.

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Towards the middle of the V century there was a basilica on the site of this cathedral. It replaced a Roman temple.

This church was probably destroyed in the IX century. Between the IX and the X century two churches were built on its site. In the XIV century these were joined to form the cathedral you see today.

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There are three mosaics and some frescoes inside this church.

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The mosaic on the apse on the left; date to the beginning of the XII century. These depict the Madonna, the angels Gabriel, Michael and apostles.

The mosaic 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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I like this chapel a lot!

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Next to the 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 fortress. It was destroyed in the XIV century.

From 1468 to 1471 Fredrick III of Absburg built another constuction on that site. Other works were made by the Venetians between 1508 and 1509. The castle was completed in 1630.

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.

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 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.

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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 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)

Parma.

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sunny

I have been to Parma twice in some months only (2016 or 2017...I don' t remember). The first ime I visited this city, it didn' t impressed me much. I appreciated it more the second time I visited it.

Parma is not a very beautiful city, but it is nice. It has a good choice of things to see. There are several churches and some museums to visit; a large park and a plethora of shops.

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One of Parma' s main sights is the baptistery. This octagonal tall structure was built in 1196 and finished in 1307.

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Inside it is decorated with frescoes between the XIII and the XIV centuries. There are also frescoes on its dome. These were painted in the third decade of the XIII centuries.

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Beside the baptistery I visited the cathedral of Parma (duomo).

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The cathedral highlight is the dome. It was painted by Antonio Allegri, called Correggio between 1524 and 1530.  It depicts the Virgin Mary with clouds, apostles and angels.I think one should do more than one visit to the cathedral to appreciate this worship place. 

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I also visited the church of saint John the Evangelist. I is part of a monastery. 

Here I visited the cloisters and  the old library.  This  was frescoed  in one year  only; between 1574  and  1575.  A priest told me a lot of things about this library and talked me about the frescoes of this beautiful room.

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Sometimes, on the way to my hotel I had a stroll at a large public park; the Parco Ducale. It was laid out in 1561 by the duke Ottavio Farnese as park for his villa. In 1700 fell under disrepair. After 1749 it was restored. It was later restored even in the 1800 and between the years 2000 and 2001.

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This park has a large lake, various kind of trees and some beautiful statues. There are some buildings inside as well; including the Palazzo del Giardino. I haven' t visited this palace, but I will do it next time I visit Parma.

Art lovers can visit the Palazzo della Pilotta. It is  a huge palace built from 1583 and enlarged through the centuries. It houses more than 700 masterpieces from the Middle Ages to the 1900. Moreover there is a wooden theater inside this  palace; the Farnese theater. 

There are also a couple (or more) of museums inside the palace. I only did a very fast tour inside this palace, so I cannot write much about it.

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I usually had lunch at Magnosfera when I was in the city. This is a self service cafe and restaurant situated just a few steps from the old center of Parma. It has a large dining room and even if this restaurant is very popular, I always found a seat.

At Magnosfera you can find several first and second courses and various vegetables you can combine and make your salad. There are also several fruits and desserts. Here You can have a pizza as well.

Well, I tried to describe some things one shouldn' t miss in Parma. There is much more to see in this town. Moreover, is it possible to do several day trips from this town.

.

Posted by Maurizioagos 10:46 Archived in Italy Tagged emilia romagna. parma; Comments (0)

Bologna.

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sunny

I have visited Bologna a couple of times; as day trips from Ferrara; in 2016 and 2017. There are daily trains from Ferrara to Bologna every day. The journey takes around half an hour.

Bologna is called "la dotta", "la grassa" and "la rossa". "La dotta" (i. e. educated) beacuse of its old university. It was one of the first university settled in the occidental world. "La grassa" (i. e. fat) is a nickname due to the good food you can have in Bologna. "La rossa" (i. e. the red) is an adjective Bologna got for the reddish colour of most of its buildings.

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Bologna has a network of around 38 kilometers of covered walkways. The first porticoes date from the late Middle ages, but probably they already existed in 1041.

The porticoes were made due to the population growth; possibly because of the university students who came to the city. The upper storeys of the buildings were enlarged and consequently the porticoes downstairs were made.

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In Bologna you can even find some very old porticoes made of bricks or wood.

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Piazza Maggiore is Bologna main square. It is surrounded by several palaces.

One of these is Palazzo d' Accursio. It was built by some buildings joined together through the centuries. This is Bologna' s town hall. Another palace on piazza Maggiore is Palazzo del Podestà . It was built around 1200.

Opposite you see a church; the basilica of San Petronio. Next to this church stands the Palazzo dei Banchi. Here bankers and money changers worked.

Piazza Maggiore is connected to another square; piazza del Nettuno.

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Palazzo d' Accursio, or Palazzo Comunale is a 15,000 square meters complex made of three palaces. The oldest dates to the 12th century. It was originally he house of the jurist Accursio. Later it became the seat of the Anziani (elders); the higher magistrates of the city.

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Inside this palace several rooms are opened to visitors.

On the first floor you can see Sala d' Ercole. This room is into the oldest part of the building. Sala del Consiglio Comunale has frescoed painted in 1676. It is used for the town hall meetings. Sala Rossa (the red room). It was the main room for the senate meetings.

On the second floor you can visit the chapel and Sala Farnese. The chapel was built in 1400 and enlarged between 1561 and 1565. It was restored in 1600. There are several frescoes dated to the 1562 inside. On the second floor you can also visit a museum; the Collezioni Comunali d' Arte; here you can see works of art from the 1200 to the 1900.

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Palazzo dell' Archiginnasio; the old university, was built between 1562 e il 1565 to bring together under one place the several university faculties that had been scattered around the city. It was the seat of the university of Bologna until 1803.

It is a two storeys palace; built around a courtyard. On its first floor there are the rooms of the legisti (they were law students) and the rooms of the artisti (they studied other things). On the same floor there are two aule magne; one of these is the so - called Stabat Mater; covered with coats of arms of Italian and foreigner students who attended the university.

Another room you can visit has an anatomical theatre. It is where anatomy lessons where held. Here the students watched the dissection of human corpses. The anatomical theatre was build in 1637 and restored after the second world war. It has its wooden walls decorated with statues of famous physicians and famous anatomists.

Palazzo dell' Archiginnasio also houses the public library.

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The Museo Civico Archeologico (the archaeological museum) is housed inside the ancient Ospedale della Vita e della Morte (hospital of life and death). This palace dates to the XV century.

Here are housed several collections which come from the university, from the collection of the painter Pelagio Palagi and from finds from digs in Bologna and in some Emilia Romagna areas.

On the basement of this museum there is a large Egyptian collection with sarcophagi, and lots of funeral items. There is a lapidarium and a plaster cast gallery.

Once you visited these sections you can to go to the first floor where you can head to the prehistory, the Etruscan, the Celt and the Roman sections. There is even a Greek collection to visit here.

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There are some Roman mosaics inside this museum.

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The Quadrilatero market is practically a maze of narrow streets lined with food shops, restaurants and cafes.

It is located to the east of piazza Maggiore. It is bordered by via Rizzoli, via d' Azeglio, via Farini and via Castiglione.

In the evening this area becomes a place where you can have a drink or a dinner at one of the many restaurants and cafes there.

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Here you can find lots of shops; even very small ones where you can buy fruit, vegetables, meat, fishes; bread, pastries and other local food.

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Tamburini is a good restaurant to have lunch. It is a self service restaurant and a food shop as well.

Here you can buy various kinds of cold cuts, cheeses, cakes and also take away food for lunch or dinner.

At the restaurant you can help yourself of four first courses at least, some second courses, various vegetable dishes and some desserts.

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This restaurant is some meters far from the Quadrilatero market.

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In the Middle Ages there were around 100 towers in Bologna. Today there are around 20 of them. The most famous of these are the two towers; the tower degli Asinelli and la Garisenda.

The tower degli Asinelli was built between 1109 and 1119. It is around 100 meters tall. It was probably built by the Asinelli Family. There are 498 stairs to get to its top. Surely you can enjoy a very beautiful landscape over the city from there. This tower was used as jail sometimes.

The Garisenda tower is 48 meters tall. It was shortened due to a fall of the soil and for the excessive leaning.

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Saint Stephen basilica. According the tradition it was Saint Petronio who create this basilica. He was Bologna' s bishop from 431 to around 450. The aim of this construction was to imitate the Holy sepulcre in Jerusalem. This worship place was first built around 400 A. D. over a Roman temple of goddess Isis.

Originally it was made of seven churches, but after the renovations works made in the late 19th and early 20th centuries the number was reduced to four.

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The first church you will enter is the church of the Crocifisso. It dates to the VIII century. This church was called this way , because a 1300 crucifix is on display inside. Another church you will visit is the church of the Santo Sepolcro. This is the oldest construction of the whole complex. It is a church built in dodecagonal shape.

Another church here is the basilica dei Santi Vitale ed Agricola. It was built in the V century, but it was restored and finished in the XII century.

The last church you can visit here is the cappella della Benda (the chapel of the bandage). Part of this church is used as a museum.

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The complex includes a small museum of religious crafts. It is housed into the chapel of the bandage.

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Corte Isolani is a public passageway which links strada (street) Maggiore and via Santo Stefano. Inside there are various courtyards with several upmarket shops and some eateries.

At both ends of Corte Isolani there are two palaces. Palazzo Isolani which dates from the XV century and Corte Isolani. This was built in the XIII century. It has a third storey carried by a porch made of two brick pillars and oak timbers of nine meters of heights.

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A restaurant inside Corte Isolani.

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I suppose there are some offices at Corte Isolani.

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Nice spot at Corte Isolani.

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The church of saint Dominic was built between 1221 and 1233 to house the relics of saint Dominic. It was enlarged between 1228 and 1240 and restored between 1728 and 1732.

One of its main sights is the Chapel of s. Dominic in the right aisle. It houses the Ark of s. Dominic. This masterpiece was created through several centuries. It is made of a sarcophagus carved by Nicola Pisano in 1267. Its upper part was added from 1469 to 1473 by Niccolò da Bari.

Michelangelo made an angel (you see it on the right) in 1494 and two statues of sain Petronius and saint Proculus.

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Another sights inside the church is situated behind the main altar. These are old wooden choir stalls with Old and New Testament scenes made by friar Damiano from Bergamo and his brother Stefano. They carved them between 1530 and 1549. It is said they used 30 different kinds of wood to made them.

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Gelateria Gianni is a ice cream place recommended by two VT friends on their VT pages about Bologna (see ex ...virtualtourist.com); Ingrid Trekki and Toonsarah.

I founded it by chance. I don' t remember which ice cream flavours I chose the first time I visited Gianni' s. The second time I went there I think I had a scoop of coffee flavour ice cream and another one of yoghurt. I am not sure about it. I liked it very much. The scoops were big.

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There are three branches of this gelateria in Bologna. I went to that one besides the two towers. There aren' t any chairs to enjoy your ice cream inside this ice cream parlour, but you can sit outside on a low stone wall.

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Bologna has a long network of underground canals. These were created from the XII to the XVI centuries as a transportations way and to give power to the watermills and to the city's farms. From the 50' s they were covered.

One you can see in the city center is the canale delle Moline. You can see through a small window in via Piella. It is really a picturesque sight as you can see from my picture.

You can find some other canals in Bologna. Just ask the tourist office for a leaflet about these. The tourist office is located in piazza Maggiore.

Don' t skip a visit to Bologna if you are in the area. Even if you can spend only some hours there.

Posted by Maurizioagos 03:42 Archived in Italy Tagged bologna romagna emilia Comments (2)

Ferrara.

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sunny 22 °C

Ferrara is a city situated 44 kilometers northeast of Bologna. It has a beautiful Medieval old core, Some old mansions open to visitors, a castle and lots of churches.

The last time I visited Ferrara it was in 2017; if my memory serves me well.

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One of the main sight of Ferrara is the Estense castle. Originally this castle was a tower; built in the XIII century.

In 1385 by Niccolò II d' Este ordered the construction of a big fortress in order to defend himself and his family against the citizens' uprisings.

Ferrara' s citizens protested against heavy taxation at that time. After a few centuries the danger of uprisings ceased and from 1450 the castle became a wonderful court residence.

The d' Este family lived in the castle until 1589 when the city was put under the rule of the papacy. This family ruled Ferrara since 1332.

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You can visit the castle on yourself or on a guided tour (this will costs you some euros more).

You can go inside the dungeons; these have low entrances. Then you could visit the chapel of Renee of France; wife of Ercole II. It is decorated with marbles and frescoes. Other rooms to visit are; the Room of Dawn, the Small Room of the Games and the Room of the Games. A proper visit to the castle should take at least two hours.

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Giardino degli aranci (the oranges garden). A small garden (balcony) inside the castle.

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Piazza (i. e. square) Municipale. This picture was taken during a historical re enactment.

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Newly wed on the staircase in piazza Municipale.

The palace which is now used as town hall was the ducal palace. It was built in 1245 and later enlarged. The ducal palce was where the Estense family lived until the XVI century.

The main entrance of the palace is through the so called Volto del Cavallo (the horse' s face); a big arcade. This is flanked by two sculptures. To the right is a statue of Niccolò III on horseback. To the left you see his son Borso; seated on a throne. These are not original statues, but copies.

If you pass through the Volto del Cavallo you get to piazza Municipale. This was once the ducal courtyard. Here you see a yellow staircase built in 1481. Next to it there is a chapel, now used as a theatre.

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Inside the town hall (go up the staircase) you can visit the Duchesses' Room and the Sala dell'Arengo. This is decorated with frescoes painted between 1934 and 1938. The Duchesses' Room is a very small room decorated between 1555 and 1560. It was probably created for Eleanor and Lucrezia d' Este; Ercole II' s daughters.

In this picture you see part of this tiny room.

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Here' s another picture taken into the Duchesses' Room.

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The cathedral was built in the XII century. It was restored and modified between 1712 and 1880. Its facade is divided into three sections. The lower part was built in Romanesque style. The upper part was built some decades later in Gothic style.

The cathedral bell tower was built between 1451 and 1493. It is unfinished even if the last works were done at the end of the XVI century.

One of the things I liked a lot inside the cathedral was a large crib created in the '700 by four artists living in the Naples area. It is made by 58 statues. Here' s some pics of this masterpiece.

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The cathedral' s facade.

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Along the right side of the cathedral there is a long portico with shops. This is the Loggia dei Merciai. It dates to the 15th century.

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Via (i. e. street) San Romano.

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Zazie is a hole in the wall under the arcades of via San Romano. Here you can have a smoochie, a salad, the soup of the day, yoghurts and something else.

There are some chairs and small tables inside this place and some tables and chairs outside.

All the drinks and food are served in disposable glasses.

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I tried some smoochies at Zazie' s. I liked them much.

The first time I went there I had a salad with cous cous. It was good.

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Via delle Volte. This long street takes its name from the arches that join the buildings along it.

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Via delle Volte was a Medieval street where merchants had their warehouses and probably their houses. Long ago it was also a place where prostitutes used to work.

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You can explore Ferrara for hours and discover lots of nice spots...

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palaces, houses, churches...

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Casa Romei is one of the mansions open to visitors. It was built by a merchant; Giovanni Romei in the XV century. It was enlarged for his second marriage.

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There are several rooms to visit inside Casa Romei. On the ground floor you can visit the hall of the sybille and the hall of the prophets. These have beautiful and quite well preserved frescoes.

On the first floor there is the cardinal Ippolito d' Este' s apartment. Here you will visit some rooms. There is even a small chapel.

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Casa Romei is also a museum with sculptures, paintings and frescoes.

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Another palace I visited in Ferrara is the Palazzina of Marfisa d' Este. It was built from 1559 on order by Francesco d' Este; son of Alfonso I and Lucrezia Borgia. From 1578 it was inherited by his daughter Marfisa who lived there until her death.

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Inside this building you can see several rooms with beautiful frescoed roofs; partly restored in the XX century. The furniture you see there date from the XVI to the XVII centuries.

This building has a garden with a loggia that was used as a theatre.

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Palazzo Schifanoia is a palace situated quite far from the center of Ferrara.

The name given to this large palace could be translated as "to spur boredom". Its was used as a building for enjoyment and to receive guests. Its construction begun from 1385. It was enlarged around 1470 on Borso d' Este' s orders.

The palace was also enlarged again in 1493.

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On the first floor (piano nobile) there is a room with frescoes painted from 1469 and 1470. This is the "ciclo dei mesi"; (the cycle of the months). There is another room to visit on the same floor; the Sala delle Virtù; also called Sala degli Stucchi.

Part of this palace is closed to visitors due to the damages caused by the 2012 earthquake.

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In this picture you can see part of Sala degli Stucchi.

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Palazzo dei Diamanti is another sight of the city. The name of this huge palace comes from over 8000 pink and white marble stones cut in the form of pyramids that cover its facade. The diamond was one of the emblem of the d' Este family.

The works on this palace begun in 1493 by Biagio Rossetti. It was modified and completed in the next century. This palace was built for Sigismondo d' Este; duke Ercole I' s brother.

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Most of the ground floor of this building is used for temporary exibitions. On the first floor you can visit the pinacoteca nazionale. It is a large collection of paintings from XIII to the XIX century.

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There is a botanical garden in Ferrara. It is not large, but it is a nice place to spend a couple of hours.

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This garden is located not far from Palazzo dei Diamanti.

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Thie monastery of sant Antonio in Polesine was founded in the Middle Ages by the Agustinians monks. In 1257 Azzo d' Este bought the buildings and the area where this monastery was located from them. In 1258 year his daughter Beatrice and her companions (nuns) went to live there.

There are two churches here. The inner one is used by the nuns. Inside this one you can visit three chapels with lots of old frescoes.

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It is forbidden to take pictures into the monastery, but I was able to take this one.

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The fourth saturday and sunday of every month; except in august; an interesting craft market is held in Ferrara. It is held opposite the castle entrance and at piazza Savonarola; which is just outside the castle.

This market is made of various stalls where you can find something nice to take home or buy for yourself. At the craft market you can find home decorations, garments, jewellery and many other things.

When I visited this market there were not many stalls, but there were lots of beautiful things.

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La coppia (called "ciupeta" in the local dialect) is the typical local bread.

The first written informations about it comes from 1536 when a court cook at the Estense court reported about a kind of twisted bread at a carnival banquet offered by the duke. Perhaps a similar kind of bread still existed in the XIII century.

This bread is made of wheat flour of 0 kind, water, lard, extra virgin oil, yeast, salt and malt. It has a x shape with its end made of a kind of twisted bread sticks.

A typical Ferrarese dish you should try is the cappellacci di zucca. These are large noodles filled with a mixture of pumpkin, Reggian Parmesan or Parma Grana cheese; eggs, grated bread, eggs, salt, and nutmeg.

Ginger and pepper were added to the mixture centuries ago.

They are served with butter and sage or with ragu.

The first written recipe of this dish dates to the 1584. Probably the name cappellacci comes from the resemblance of the huts worn by country men at that times.

I also have a typical Ferrarese cake to recommend. The pampepato. This cake is made with bitter chocolate mixed into the dough and covered with bitter chocolate. Other ingredients of this cake are; hazels, almonds, cinnamon and pepper.

Perhaps Its name comes from pampapato which was intended as "pan del papa"; the Pope's bread.

Pampepato was possibly invented by the nuns of the monastery of the Sacred Heart in 1600. They got inspiration for this creation from an ancient recipe by a cook. The nuns used to send this cake to priests at Christmas time. This is a typical Christmas cake, but you can find it all year round at several bakeries in Ferrara.

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Buy a My Fe; the city card. It allows you to visit several palaces, museums and the castle for a single visit for around 10 euros (2015 price).

You will have discounts at some shops with this card as well.

This card is very useful if you like to visit most of the attractions in this city. It makes you save lots of money. You can buy it at the castle or at some historical houses or museums.

I bought a two days tourist card and it was enough for me to visit all the main attractions in Ferrara. There are cards for more days on sale as well.

Posted by Maurizioagos 11:22 Archived in Italy Tagged ferrara. Comments (6)

Modena.

sunny

Modena is a pleasant town some 40 kilometers far from Bologna.

I have visited it twice; as a day trip from Ferrara. I went to Modena by train.

The center of Modena is not far from the train station.

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The Giardino Ducale is probably the first sights you can visit coming from the train station.

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This beautiful garden was created in the late '500 and modified in the ' 800. In 1739 it was opened to the public. Here you can see a lake, various plants and a playground area. Joined to this garden there is a botanical garden. It was created in 1758 by the duke Francesco III to grow rare plants and also medicinal ones.

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Inside this garden there is a nice building: the Palazzina del giardino Estense. It was built around 1632 and 1634 for the duke Francesco d' Este. Today it is used for art exibitions.

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Piazza Grande is Modena' s main square. It was created in the second half of the XII century. It is bordered by the cathedral, by the the town hall and by the bishop' s palace. It is paved with rounded cobblestones.

Here you won' t miss a big red stone. The Pedra Ringadora. It probably was part of an ancient Roman building. In the Middle Ages it was used as a stage for the speakers, but even as a stone of shame.

It was also used to display dead bodies for the identification.

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La Bonissima is a nice small statue of a woman which dates to the 1268. There are various stories about it.

They say it could represent a generous noble woman who gave food to poor people in a famine period.

Another story is that La Bonissima should represent honesty at commerce. Bonissima comes from " bona esma" i. e. fair mesure. In old times this statue held a scale and was located on pedestal where various units of measure were written.

You can see La Bonissima on the municipal palace (the town hall) between via Castellano and piazza Grande.

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The cathedral of Modena (duomo) was built from 1099 and completed between 1100 and 1300. This church stands on the site where two previous churches had been built since the fifth century.

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It was built by the architect Lanfranco on the site of the grave of Saint Geminiano.

From the end of 1100 to 1300 the works of this church were carried on by the so-called Maestri Campionesi. They were architects who came from Campione; in the Lombardy region.

The bell tower joined to the cathedral is named Ghirlandina. It is 86 meters tall. I think you can climb it to its top.

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Inside the cathedral there is a crypt. Here you can see the sarcophagus of Saint Geminiano and lots of nice carved columns.

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The town hall is made from various palaces joined together and restored between the 16th and the 17th centuries. These palaces were originally built from the XII century.

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Inside the town hall there are some rooms open to visitors.

Here is a short summary; the Camerino dei Confirmati. This room was painted in 1770. Another room is the Sala del Fuoco. It is decorated with frescoes dated to 1546.

The Sala del Consiglio Vecchio has a ceiling painted at the beginning of the 1600.

Another interesting room is the Sala degli Arazzi. Its walls are decorated with 18th century paintings on tapestry like canvases. Another room you can visit is the Sala dei Matrimoni; the wedding hall.

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The Mercato Albinelli is a quite large covered market. It was built in the 20' s of the 1900 in Liberty style.

Here you can find a large selection of fruits and vegetables stalls.

There are also several meat and fish stalls and some bakeries as well. Here you can find several typical Modenese pastries. This market is a good place to buy various typical products of the Emilia Romanga region; as cheeses, cold cuts and ravioli (filled dumplings).

There is even a kind of pharmacy into the market.

You can have a lunch inside this market. There are some eateries inside.

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This market is open usually every morning except on sundays. It is not far from the main square.

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The Palazzo dei Musei is a very large palace which its original destination would be to become a hostel for the poors. Ercole II decided to turn it into a place for arts in 1788. This was meant as a school where young people would be educated to learn various crafts.

This palace houses several museums, as a museum of Medieval and modern art, and an archaeological and ethnological one.

Some of them are closed in the afternoon. One of these that is open until late in the evening is the Galleria Estense. This is an art collection belonged to the Este family. It is made of lots of paintings, some statues and other beautiful masterpieces. I liked very much this museum.

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Palazzo Ducale was built from 1634 on the site of an earlier castle. It was used as the court of the Este family until 1861. Today it is occupied by the military accademy.

You can visit it inside on guided visits some saturdays and sundays. You have to book your visit at the IAT office in piazza Grande, 14. Tel.059 2032660.

Inside you will visit the Salone d' Onore with 1696 frescoes and the 18th century Salottino d' Oro.

I haven' t visited this palace yet, but I am going to do it next time I visit Modena.

Posted by Maurizioagos 23:44 Archived in Italy Tagged italy modena emilia romagna. Comments (0)

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