A Travellerspoint blog

Italy

Florence.

Back to Florence after some years.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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In this picture you can spot Palazzo Vecchio from afar.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Iseo. The village and the lake.

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Iseo is a nice town situated on the south western shore of lake Iseo. This lake is not far from both Brescia and Bergamo.

I visited Iseo as a day trip from Brescia. It takes around 30 minutes by train to get there.

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There is a castle in Iseo; the Oldofredi castle. It was originally built in the XI century. In 1611 it was restored by the Oldofredi family who owned it.

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Today the castle houses the public library, a museum of war with things used by the troops who fighted in the two world wars, and some rooms used for exibitions.

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As you can see from these pictures there are some frescoes or part of frescoes inside the castle. In 1586 the castle was transformed into a monastery for Franciscan friars. Most probably these frescoes belonged to it.

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One of the things to do in Iseo, after a vist to the castle, is to get lost in its old core. This area is not large. You will not get lost for long!

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The old core in Iseo is a bit uphill. There are several narrow streets and nice spots there.

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Even in the "modern area" in Iseo you can find some narrow steets as the one you see in this picture.

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Piazza Garibaldi is the main square in this town. It is almost surrounded by porticoed palaces with shops and cafes. Here you can see a statue of Giuseppe Garibaldi; a very famous Italian citizen.

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After a long stroll I had a lunch at Osteria Il Volto; a typical restaurant on the main street (via Mirolte). Here they have a good choice of dishes every day. I had filled pasta (ravioli) with ham and cream; a mixed salad and a small glass of wine. The food was good and the price was around 10 euros. Some years ago this restaurant was Michelin starred.

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There is a long promenade on the lake in Iseo. I had a stroll there after lunch. Lots of fowls live on the lake.

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There is a small park overlooking the lake in case one needs a rest.

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There are three islands on this lake. One of these is Montisola, or Monte Isola. There are some village there; the other islands are privately owned. I cannot tell you anything about this Montisola. I only visited Iseo.

You can get to Montisola by ferry from Iseo, or, I suppose from some other villages.

I hope to go back to the lake Iseo area quite soon.

Posted by Maurizioagos 08:59 Archived in Italy Tagged lake iseo castle. Comments (7)

Brescia. Something else.

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Piazza della Loggia takes its name from one of the palaces that border it; the Palazzo della Loggia. It was built between 1492 and 1570. Today it houses the town hall. Opposite this palace you can see a long building with arcades and a clock tower. It was built in 1595.

There are some other buildings at piazza della Loggia, as the Monte di Pietà; the old and the new one.

Piazza della Loggia was the site of a terrorist attack in 1974. It was a bombing. This happened during an anti fascist protest.
Eight people died and 102 were injured.

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Here you see the astronomical clock. One of the nicest things on the square; in my opinion.

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I visited some churches during my stay in Brescia. This town has lots of these.

I was particularly attracted by the shrine of saint Mary of the Graces. This shrine was built between 1875 and 1907 on the area of a previous church dated to the XIII century.

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Inside this church you can see several beautiful paintings as this annunciation to the Virgin.

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Just outside the shrine there is a small cloister with a plethora of ex votos on its walls.

I visited the proper church of Saint Mary of the Graces as well. I didn' t take any pics inside because the church was not lit enough. I remember it is extremely decorated.

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The church of Santa Maria della Carità is one of the few churches that are opened at lunchtime. Most of these are closed between 12 and 3 p. m. circa. I think this church was opened due to the help of some volunteers.

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This church was built in the XVI century. It was reconstructed in 1640 and modified at the beginning of the ' 700. It is richly decorated inside. Some walls or part of these are made of wood resembling decorated marble.

Santa Maria church houses a room where a Madonna' s house (a room) was replicated like the house you can see in Loreto (IT). A similar house was built here because not everyone could visit Loreto and the Madonna' s house.

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Another church I visited was Saint Francis' one. It dates to the XII century. It was enlarged between 1300 and 1400.

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I like very much this fresco with several friars. Unfortunately the church was poorly lit when I visit it, so this picture turned out quite dark.

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This is the Mostassù delle Cossere. A face without a nose.

Here is a legend about it. The emperor Arrigo VII in 1311 chase the Ghibellini (a political faction). Then he lay siege the town and swore to destroy its walls and cut off the noses to the citizens. A priest convinced him to avoid these bad things. So the emperor settled for cutting the noses of the stautes in Brescia.

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There are various picturesque narrow streets in Brescia...

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Brescia was a very important Roman town. Its name then was Brixia.

Besides the Romans founds we see on display in the Saint Giulia museum there are several Romans ruins in this town.

Piazza del Foro was where the Roman forum was situated. Here you can see the Capitolium. It was built by the emperor Vespasian in 74 a. D. It is partly restored. There is also what remains of the basilica (law court) nearby.

The forum; in Roman times was the center of the religious and political life.

In this picture you see the Capitolium. I didn' t go inside, but I will probably do next time I visit Brescia. I have read there are some areas decorated and well preserved into this temple.

Near piazza del Foro and on the same side of the Capltolium there is a quite large Roman theater. Its was constructed from the I to the III centuries a. D.

Well, I think Brescia has more to offer than the attractions I showed you. This town deserves more than a day trip or a two days stay.

I like Brescia!

Posted by Maurizioagos 11:19 Archived in Italy Tagged churches brescia capitolium Comments (2)

Brescia. The castle, the old cathedral, a museum and more.

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Brescia is a town located at the foot of the Alps and between two lakes; lake Garda and lake Iseo. It is not far from Milan and from Bergamo.

This town isn' t as popular as other places in Italy, but here you can find several interesting things to see; a large museum, a castle and lots of churches.

Brescia has a good bus system and a convenient metro.

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Brescia has two cathedrals. The Duomo Nuovo (the new cathedral) and the Duomo Vecchio (the old one).

The new cathedral was built between 1604 and 1825 on the site of another church.

The old cathedral is a circular Romanesque building constructed at the end of the XI century over the ruins of a previous basilica. It was enlarged through the centuries.

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The old cathedral has several frescoes of various eras.

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The castle is a large fortress situated on the top of the Cidneo hill. It was built in the 1200 on a previous site. It was enlarged in the 1400 and finished in 1500.

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It is worth to climb to the castle, just to enjoy some great landscapes over Brescia.

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After the visit to the castle I decided to visit Santa Giulia museum. There is not a restaurant inside, so I had something to eat at the Caffè Vecchia Piazza; a small cafe at piazza Tebaldo Brusato n. 33. It is not far from the museum.

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Santa Giulia museum is a complex made of three churches, three cloisters and an archaeological area.

The churches here are; Santa Maria in Solario church; a XII chapel; Saint Giulia and Saint Salvatore churches. The museum has items from the prehistoric era to 1800. Santa Giulia museum was declared UNESCO site some years ago.

The Desiderius' cross is one of the highlight of the museum. It is decorated with jewels, cameos and painted glass. It dates to the IX century.

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This is a reliquary made of ivory; it is called lipsanoteca. It is decorated with scenes of the Old and the New Testament. You can find both the Desiderius' cross and the lipsanoteca on the upper floor of Santa Maria in Solario church.

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There are lots of Roman artefacts inside this museum.

In this picture you see a gilded bronze head of a Roman emperor.

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You can se what remains of a couple of Roman houses at the basement of the museum.

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My favourite part of this museum is the Coro delle Monache (the nun' s choir). This is a colourful room where the nuns used to pray. Its walls are almost entirely covered with frescoes.

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The nun' s choir was built in the second half of the 1400. Its frescoes date to the 1500.

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I could have stayed for a very long time inside the nun' s choir!

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Saint Salvatore basilica dates to the VII century. Here, the frescoes are not in good conditions, except these you can see in this picture.

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Here you see a close up of these frescoes.

Well,,,to be continued...

Posted by Maurizioagos 08:16 Archived in Italy Tagged museum brescia castle. Comments (2)

Feltre. Something about the town and a confectionery.

A "off the beaten path" town in Northern Italy.

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Feltre is a town in Veneto region. It is 20 kilometers southwest from Belluno. It is not far from my village. It takes only one hour to get there.

I have visited Feltre several times.

The town old core was practically rebuilt by the Venetians in 1510; after having been mostly destroyed by Maximilian troops.

This old center is located on a hill. Here the main square; piazza Maggiore is situated.

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Piazza Maggiore is surrounded by some buildings as saint Roque church; built in the '500 and by the town hall.

The town hall is made of two palaces. One of these houses a wooden theatre created in 1500 and restored in 1802. This was named Teatro de la Sena. You can visit it, but it has odd opening hours.

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At piazza Maggiore you can see two columns and two statues of famous Feltre' s citizens.

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You can see lots of frescoed palaces in the old core. Some of these are really well preserved.

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Once you have explored the town center you could head to the lower town in order to visit the duomo (cathedral) and the archaeological area. The duomo was built in the XVI century and reconstructed after a fire in 1585. There is a crypt under this church. The archaeological area is located near the cathedral.

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You can see some frescoed palaces even in the modern area of Feltre.

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If you visit Feltre, don' t miss Garbujo. This confectionery has been opened since the end of 1800 by Luigi Garbuio in Seren del Grappa (a village). Later this confectionery was moved to Feltre by his son Carlo.

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Garbuio has lots of kind of pastries and cakes. You can even find some typical sweets here. This confectionery is a shop as well. In fact here they sell various items, as tea pots, mugs, chocolates, wines and other alcoholic drinks.

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It' s Christmas time at Garbuio' s.

Posted by Maurizioagos 09:31 Archived in Italy Tagged feltre urbis picta. garbuio. Comments (0)

A couple of places I visited in Vicenza some days ago.

A visit to a pilgrimage site and to a beautiful mansion.

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Some days ago I did a day trip to Vicenza with a group. This is a very active group of retired people. I joined it mostly in order to be allowed to participate to their trips.

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We visited two interesting places in Vicenza. The Basilica on Monte Berico and the Villa Valmarana ai Nani.

The Monte Berico basilica has been a pilgrimage site since a long time. It originated following a couple of apparition of the Madonna on this spot.

According to the legend; the Virgin appeared on Monte Berico to a woman to announce that Vicenza would have been spared from the plague if a church dedicated to her would have been built there.

Then a church was built in 1428. It was enlarged by Palladio in 1578, but this addition was destroyed in 1688. Between 1688 and 1703 it was enlarged again. This is the church we see today. The original church is still there. It was incorporated inside the "new" building.

This church is richly decorated inside. There are several paintings by famous painters. You surely won' t miss an ancient statue of the Virgin; built in stone. It was sculpted around 1428. It is on the main altar.

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Opposite the church's eastern facade you see a very large square; piazzale della Vittoria. You can enjoy a beautiful landscape over Vicenza from there.

After our visit to che church we had a long stroll to a mansion. Villa Valmarana ai Nani (dwarves).

According to a legend the mansion was named "ai nani" beacause the owners daughter was a midget, so they decided to hire some dwarves in order not to feel her different form the other people.

One day the girl met a prince and she realized to be different from the other people. Then the girl threw herself from the house and died. The dwarves were then transformed into statues.

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The first buliding of this mansion was completed in 1670. In 1720, the property (the mansion, the foresteria (a building to house guests), the barn and the garden) was sold to the Valmarana brothers.

Both the mansion and the foresteria were decorated with frescoes in 1757 by two famous Italian painters; Giambattista and Giandomenico Tiepolo; father and son.

Most of the frescoes are well preserved as you can see from my pictures. I have read they were taken off the walls to avoid the wars damages.

Our visit begun into the mansion also called "Palazzina". Inside it was decorated with frescoes by Giambattista Tiepolo (the father). They depict scenes from the Iliad, the Aeneid, the Orlando Furioso, the Jerusalem Delivered and from the Ifigenia' s Sacrifice.

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The foresteria was decorated with frescoes by Giandomenico Tiepolo (the son) except those you see in the Olimpus Room. Here the frescoes have themes as the country life, the holidays, Chinese things and so on.

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I think this picture was taken into the Holidays Room.

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Part of the Chinese Room.

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Here you see another bit of the Chinese Room.

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There is a room with some beautiful troemp l'oeil frescoes inside the foresteria. I like very much this kind of painting.

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In this picture you see can part of the group after the visit and the warves.

Posted by Maurizioagos 09:42 Archived in Italy Tagged italy vicenza tiepolo. Comments (5)

Lazise.

A nice lake side town.

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Some weeks ago I did a day trip to Lazise from Desenzano sul Garda.

Lazise is a nice town situated on the eastern shore of lake Garda. It is only some 24 km west from Verona. Its name comes from the Latin word "laceses", which means city on the lake.

This town is almost entirely encircled by tall walls and has three gates.

One of the first places I saw in this town was the old harbour. Here you can see the old customs house and saint Nicholas curch, This small church is thought it was built in the XII century. It has some frescoes dating of the same century inside. I spotted a couple of them. The old customs house should be used as a meetings and events place.

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Fresco inside the church.

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Another fresco inside the church.

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My mother sitting outside Saint Nicholas church.

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Some houses around the harbour.

The main square in Lazise is piazza Vittorio Emanuele II. It is located just beside the old harbour.  There are some cafes, restaurants and shops at this square. I had my lunch at this square.

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Part of piazza Vittorio Emanuele II.

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This was my lunch. I had pasta (noodles) with sardines.

One of the things to do in this small town is to explore the narrow lanes (calli) and get lost. I did it and I discovered that Lazise has lots of shops, cafes and restaurants.

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There is a castle in Lazise. I have read it was originally built in the IX century; probably on Roman ruins. I think it is closed to visitors except when some exibition is held there.

There is a short promenade facing the lake in this town. It is a nice walkway where you can have a stroll after lunch.

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A swan posing on the promenade.

Lazise is also a place for kids. In fact there are several amusement parks in its vicinity; including the popular Gardaland and Caneva Acquapark. Even Parco Natura Viva is not far from Lazise. This large park is a beautiful zoo with a safari area which you could visit with your car.

This town could be chosen as a base to explore several villages and town near the lake Garda. Here there is a good choice of shops, accomodations, cafes and restaurants; even if it is not a large town.

Posted by Maurizioagos 10:23 Archived in Italy Tagged lake lazise. garda. Comments (6)

Spello and Gubbio.

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On this post you can read some other notes about my holiday in Umbria. I hope you have read my previous entries about Perugia, Assisi and lake Trasimeno.

I will let you see some pics about two day trips I took.

I visited Spello and Gubbio.

Spello is a hill top village some 10 km far from Assisi. I went there by train from that town.

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Spello is famous for the Infiorata. This event is held every year; usually at the beginning of june. During the infiorata days, people create large tapestries made of flowers and part of these.

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Il Melograno is a very beautiful small shop. It is crammed with nice things. Here you can find home decorations, useful items, potteries and toys. This is the right place to look for some souvenirs to take home. It is a pity I only took this pic of this shop.

Il Melograno (see; www.ilmelogranospello.com) is situated in via Garibaldi at number 16. I think via Garibaldi is Spello main street.

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One of Spello main sight is surely the Baglioni Chapel. It is part of santa Maria Maggiore church. This chapel was painted in 1501 by Pinturicchio (the painter Bernardino di Betto (1454 - 1513). It is practically a cycle of frescoes about the stories of Mary and Jesus' childhood.

It is not allowed to take pics inside the chapel, but I did it while the chapel' s attendant was busy chatting with some ladies. I took some pics with no flash and what you see here are the best (decent) pics I was able to take.

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Gubbio.

Gubbio is a hill top top located some 40 km north - east of Perugia. It is a quite large town.

I went to Gubbio from Perugia by coach. The journey took around one hour.

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You can get a fool licence if you visit Gubbio. To do this you have to go to largo del Bargello (the small square you see in this picture); then turn around the fountain for three times in the presence of a Gubbio' s citizen. Then he/she will have to request the licence for you. You will have to pay some euros for it.

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Piazza Grande is Gubbio main square. Here you can see a beautiful and tall palace. This is the Palazzo dei Consoli. It was built between 1321 and 1322. Inside this palace an art museum is housed.

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Here is another pictures of Palazzo dei Consoli.

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Bar Caffè Ducale or Don Matteo' s bar is a good place to have a budget lunch. This cafe, which is part of a luxury hotel was used ( and probably it will be used again) as a location for the Italian television movie serie; Don Matteo.

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I didn' t visit any museums or church when I was in Gubbio, but I exlored this town quite well.

Posted by Maurizioagos 23:51 Archived in Italy Tagged italy umbria il spello gubbio melograno Comments (4)

The lake Trasimeno.

....

sunny

Lake Trasimeno is a very large lake situated around half an hour by train from Perugia. It is bordered by several villages.

There are three islands on this lake. Isola Maggiore, Isola Minore and Isola Polvese.

I did two day trips to this lake when I was in Perugia. The first time I went to Passignano sul Trasimeno. Once there I went to the harbour and took a ferry to Isola Maggiore. The second time I went to lake Trasimeno area I visited Tuoro sul Trasimeno.

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Isola Maggiore is the only inhabited island on this lake. Nowadays the people living there are very few.They shouldn' t be more than 18! There is only a village on Isola Maggiore. Here you can visit some churches, a museum, or maybe two.

Sain Francis spent 40 days at Lent in 1211 on this island.

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In this picture and in the previous one you see part of the main street of the village; via Guglielmi.

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Saint Michael the Archangel church is one of the highlights of this island. This church was probably bulit in the XIII century. It is located on the top of a hill overlooking the village.

This church houses several ancient frescoes. I don' t know why I took only this picture inside this church! Really. Stupid me!

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Here you see part of Passignano sul Trasimeno.

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Passignano sul Trasimeno is made of a "modern area" quite near the lake and by a medeval core situated on a hill.

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There is a fortress in Passignano. Unfortunately it was closed when I visited this village. This fortress has a museum dedicated to boats inside.

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Here you see Passignano from afar.

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I didn' t like much Tuoro sul Trasimeno. This village is popular because Hannibal defetead the Romans in its area...some years ago.

The center of this village is located very far from the lake, so I had to walk a lot to get there.

In Tuoro there is a museum about the battle. I didn' t visit it, so I am not able to write anything about it.

In this picture you can see a landscape from Tuoro sul Trasimeno.

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The only thing I liked in Tuoro sul Trasimeno was a series of beautiful and tall statues. Its name is Parco Campo del Sole (i. e. sun' s field). This area was created at the end of the 80' s

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As you can see the statures at Campo del Sole are shaped as totems. I think I have read that this serie of statues should represent the battle of Trasimeno.

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Posted by Maurizioagos 10:05 Archived in Italy Tagged lake sul trasimeno passignano tuoro Comments (2)

Perugia.

...

sunny

Perugia is a city located in central Italy and precisely in the Umbria region. Its old core is situated on a hill. It is a city of art and a university town. Its university was founded in 1308. There is also a university for foreigners in Perugia.

I spent several days in Perugia last june. I think I choose it as base because it is easy to do lots of day trips from here by public transportation.

Perugia is the location for Umbria Jazz and Eurochocolate. The first is a series of jazz concerts. These are held on various places outdoors or in some theaters. Eurochocolate is an event related to chocolate.

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Piazza IV novembre is Perugia main square. Here you can see part of the cathedral and part of Palazzo dei Priori.

This square was the seat where the town cuncilors used to meet. It was built between the XIII and the XV centuries. Today, part of this huge building is used as town hall.

On the third floor of this palace the Galleria Nazionale dell' Umbria is housed. It is a very rich art collection with paintings, statues and lots of other art works.

Inside Palazzo dei Priori there are also two rooms that belonged to two Medieval guilds.

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Between the Palazzo dei Priori and the cathedral you see a very large fountain. This is the fontana Maggiore. It is carved with panels depicting the astrological signs, the months of the year; Aesop' s fables and mythical monsters.

This fountain was created between 1277 and 1278.

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There are several view points in Perugia where you can enjoy great landscapes!

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As you can see from this picture many steets in this city are quite steep. Be prepared to suffer a bit if you like to explore Perugia' s old core properly!

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Here you can see via dell' acquedotto (acqueduct street). It was made over an ancient acqueduct.

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I explored Perugia a lot and I also visited some churches and a couple of museums. One of the most important museum in this city is undoubtly the Galleria Nazionale dell' Umbria. Here you can see lots of ancient art works.

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Saint Severus' chapel is a small gem. This chapel is part of saint Severus' church. Inside it was frescoed by two painters; Pietro Vannucci AKA Perugino and Raphael. Raphael painted its part between 1505 and 1508 and Perugino completed it in the 1521.

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I seldom go outside in the evening when I am on holiday. I usually walk a lot and so I am very tired at the end of the day.

One evening, after a nap I decided to go for a stroll (I had to buy something as well). I enjoyed Perugia at night a lot.

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Posted by Maurizioagos 11:01 Archived in Italy Tagged perugi umbria. Comments (4)

Assisi.

Saint Francis' birthplace.

sunny

I visited Assisi last june.

It is a large ancient town on a hill.

Assisi has several churches to visit, some museums and a maze of narrow cobbled streets. Its highlights are Saint Francis' and Saint Claire' s basilicas. Both of these churches house the saints remains.

Assisi is just less than half and hour by train from Perugia.

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This is Assisi main square.

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There are no shortage of cafes and restaurants in Assisi!

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Here you can see part of sanin Francis' parents house. I dsicovered this building by chance. There is only a small chapel to see inside.

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Here you see some items that are part of the small museum you can visit inside saint Claire' s basilica.There are some things belonged to saint Francis and saint Claire.

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Here' s another pic of the small museum.

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Saint Claire' s basilica was built between 1257 and 1265. Beside the small museum here you can see the saint' s remains (in the crypt...)

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This is one of Assisi' s highlight; saint Francis' basilica. It is made of two churches. The upper church and the lower one.

The lower church is the oldest part of this complex. It was completed in the early 13th century and decorated with 13th and 14th centuries frescoes. The upper church was completed in the 1253.

Saint Francis' basilica also houses the saint' s remains. These are kept in the crypt.

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Here you can see part of the lower church.

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La Porziuncola is a small chapel where saint Francis used to pray. He restored it himself. This chapel is situated inside at Santa Maria degli Angeli into the church. Santa Maria degli Angeli is a village some kilometers far from Assisi.

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This is another pic of the Porziuncola chapel.

Posted by Maurizioagos 09:18 Archived in Italy Tagged saint assisi. francis. Comments (7)

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