A Travellerspoint blog

Porec and Rovinj.

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Porec is a nice town on the west coast of the Istrian peninsula; in Croatia. I have visited it some times.

I went to Porec from Trieste (IT) by coach.

The bus station in Porec is situated around 500 meters from the old town' s center. Let' s say it is ten minutes by foot. Here you can find a cafe, a bakery, a tobacconist kiosk and the toilettes.

You can go from Porec to various destinations in Croatia, Slovenia and other places; by bus.

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The main street in Porec; Dekumanska ulica was also the main road during Roman times. It runs from east to west through the center of the old town.

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It is a car free street with lots of shops and several cafes.

At the beginning of Dekumanska ulica you see a pentagonal tower. It dates back to the 1447. It is used as a venue for art exibitions.On this street you shouldn' t miss a Gothic palace built in the XV century and the museum inside Sincic Palace (XVIII century). Unfortunately it was closed last time I visited Porec.

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The Euphrasian basilica is the main sight in Porec.

The basilica is the third church that was built on this site between the 4th and the 6th century. The first church was dedicated to Saint Maurus and dated back to the second half of the 4th century.

The present church was built by bishop Euphrasius in the 6th century.

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Inside you can admire several mosaics around the apse. They depict Christ with the Apostles. The Virgin and Jesus child; twelve female saints. Saints Maurus, saint Euphrasius and other saints.

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The church is part of a complex that includes a courtyard, the baptistery, the bell tower, and the bishop palace. This palace was built in the 6th century and houses a collections of religious artefacts.

Under the palace various mosaics and Roman remains are stored.

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The complex also includes what remains of the previous churches; a large floor mosaic of the first one and various stone walls.

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Landscape from the bell tower.

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The so - called Romanesque house is a simple stone building. It was built in the 13th century and restored various times through the centuries. Until the end of XXII it was part of a palace destroyed during the war.

I have read it should house a museum and an exposition hall, I suppose this could be on the first floor. Unfortunately I found it always closed.

On the basement floor there is a souvenir shop is my memory serves me well.

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The tourist train runs through a wood. While travelling you can see part of Porec from afar, lot of vegetation, some beaches and hotels.

It stops at three places; Brolo, Plava Laguna and Zelena Laguna. The journey takes around 35 minutes (one way).

This train departs from the edge of the wood Naftaplin; near the Marina. I think it operates from april until september. You can buy your ticket from the driver.

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Hotel Porec is a good budget hotel. I have been there some times. It is situated some meters from the bus station.

I was always given a nice room with bathroom en suite.

The hotel has a two common areas where you can sit to relax after a long walk or after a day trip.

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The breakfast was buffet style and there was a good choice of food. Bread, cheese, ham, eggs, fruits and other things. You could get coffee and cappuccino from a machine. These were quite good.

The dinner isn' t buffet style when there aren' t many guests at the hotel. Anyway I liked much the food I had.

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Pizzeria -restaurant Nono is my favourite restaurant in Porec. It serves a good choice of pizzas, pasta, gnocchi (dumplings) and second courses, as fish or meat dishes.

Here they serve two sizes of pizzas. The small and the medium one. The small pizza is quite large; the medium one is extremely large.

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Rovinj is a picturesque town some kilometers far from Porec. Its old core is located on a peninsula that was once an island. It is a popular tourist resort with plenty of accomodations, restaurants, cafes and shops.

There are daily buses from Porec to Rovinj and vice versa. Unfortunately on sundays less buses operate than the other days.

Rovinj is overlooked by the cathedral of Saint Euphemia; built in 1736 and located on the highest point of the town.

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Rovinj' s main street. Carera ulica.

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The basilica of Saint Euphemia is a Baroque church built in 1736 over the remains of older churches.

Saint Euphemia is Rovinj' s patron saint. Its relics are preserved in a sarcophagus behind the church' s main altar (on the right).

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Eufemia was a young girl who lived in Chalcedon, in Asia Minor, and was devoted to Christianity. She didn' t want to give it up, so she was captured, tortured and thrown to lions who killed her but didn ' t eat her. Her body was kept in a sarcophagus in Constantinople until 800 A. D. 

The legend say that this sarcophagus with the saint' s remains floated on the seas all the way until Rovinj, where a small boy with the help of two cows managed to get the sarcophagus up the hill.

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After the visit to the church you can go up the bell tower to enjoy the landscape over the town. The bell tower resembles Saint Mark's in Venice.

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Another thing to do in Rovinj besides a visit to Saint Euphemia church and to a couple of museums (which I didn' t visit...) is taking a stroll along the narrow cobbled streets of the old town.

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The streets in the old core are lined with lots of tall houses. Some are restored and other are dilapidated. In the old core there is a good choice of shops, restaurants and cafes.

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Strolling in the old core you will almost surely get to the Grisia ulica. This is the street that runs from the Balbi arch to Saint Euphemia church. It is a long street lined with lots of shops and art galleries.

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In this picture you see my mother on Grisia street.

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The local outdoor market is not far from Tito trg; Rovinj's main square. It is in operation every day; even on sundays, in the morning.

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Here you can find fruit, vegetables, typical spirits and honey. There is a spot where they sell souvenirs as well. I have read somewhere on the web that fish and meat are sold at some shops bordering the market.

So if you have to prepare your meal or if you like to buy some fruit or something else; this is a place to visit.

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If you are not very hungry or it is too hot to have lunch; you could have a good ice cream. I did it twice in Rovinj. Both times I went to bar Sport. It is a cafe where you can have some good scoops of ice cream.

At bar Sport they have various ice cream flavours to choose from.

Posted by Maurizioagos 04:05 Archived in Croatia Tagged rovinj porec istria. Comments (0)

The Algarve.

The Algarve is the southern most region of Portugal.

I visited this region twice. The first time I booked a room in Faro. The second time I visited the Algarve it was for a meeting of a (ex) travel web site; Virtual Tourist.

The base chosen for this meeting was Albufeira. The meeting included a trip to Cabo San Vicente, Sagres (to see the fortress) and Silves.

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Faro is the capital of the Algarve and the largest city in this region. It has a nice old core and some pleasant areas.

Vila Adentro is the old core of Faro. This large area is enclosed by walls. Here you can visit the cathedral, the monastery of Nossa S. ra da Assuncao, the Palacio Episcopal and many streets bordered by white buildings.

Inside Vila Adentro there are also some cafes and a shop where you can buy books, postcards and souvenirs.

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The cathedral was built in the 13th century on the site of a mosque. It was largely damaged during the 1755 earthquake.

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The Museu Municipal is housed inside the Monasterio de Nossa S. ra da Assuncao. This dates from the 16th century.

Here you can see various archaelogical finds as a large Roman mosaic showing Oceanus, god of the sea. This museum also houses a collection of ancient paintings dated from the XVI to the XIX centuries.

The monastery has a nice two storey cloister with a shrub maze at the center.

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Unfortunately I didn' t find a restaurant where I had a very good lunch or dinner in Faro. Adega Nortenha was one of the best places to have dinner.

The restaurant is a very simple place and the food was good. At Adega Nortenha they serve various kinds of fish and meat dishes.

There is only a dining room here, but it can accomodate several people.

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Gardy is a cafe-restaurant located in the modern area of Faro. It was founded in 1953.

At Gardy' s they have a large selections of pastries, cakes and ice creams. Here you can also have a menu of the day, several kinds of sandwiches and other things. I usualy wento to Gardy' s to have a ice cream.

This confectionery has two dining rooms if my memory serves me well. There is an ouside area there as well.

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The only downside of this cafe is that they close it quite early in the evening.

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Alte is a nice village in inland Algarve. It is some 35 kilometers far from Faro. It has lots of cafes and restaurants.

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You can go to Alte by bus from Faro, but first you have to go to Loulè. Then you have to take another bus. Unfortunately in the summer there are few buses operating in the afternoon. So I' d recommend to vist Alte in the morning.

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Estoi is a white village some 11 kilometers far from Faro. It is well known for its palace and for the Roman ruins of Milreu. These ruins are made of various buildings, but there aren' t many mosaics.

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Estoi has a nice main square with a church and a couple of cafes.

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Tavira is a nice town divided in two areas by the river Gilao. This is crossed by three bridges. One of these is of Roman origin and was reconstructed in the 17th century. The town has lots of churches, cafes and shops.

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I didn' t stay much in Tavira; perhaps three hours. Anyway I enjoyed its 13th castle. Its walls are well preserved and there is a nice garden inside. The castle has also some towers. I climbed to the top of most of these to enjoy the landscape over the town and some private gardens.

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Albufeira is a cliffside town that once was a fishing village. Today it is a holidays resort with lots of beaches. It is situated 39 km far from Faro.

Its name comes from the Arabic "Al buhera" which means; castle on the sea.

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I liked very much the old center in Albufeira with whitewashed houses and narrow streets. This town has a large main square with cafes, restaurants and a pedestrian street full of shops; rua 5 de Outubro. Here you also find the tourist office.

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There are lots of restaurants in Albufeira.

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Cantinho dos Estudiantes is a cafe - restaurant where I usually had breakfast and dinner. It was a convenient place for me because my room was nearby.

The menu here included pancakes, crepes, salads, hamburgers; American, English and French breakfasts.

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I booked a room for five nights at Vila Emilia; in Albufeira. It was a simple twin room with bathroom en suite. It had a small fridge and a television. There was no wi fi.

Vila Emilia is practically a group of buildings used as rooms. The rooms at Vila Emilia are cleaned every day, except on sundays and festivities.

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Outside the rooms there is a nice courtyard with several chairs and tables.

Note. You have to check in at Vila Branca hotel...https://vilabranca.com.pt/; then somebody will take you to your room. Vila Branca is some 150 meters far from Vila Emilia.

Vila Emilia is a bit uphill from the old town, but it is only fifteen minutes from there; by foot. There is a small supermarket and a cafe (Cantinho dos Estudiantes) nearby.

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Fumos and Mitos is quite a large shop where you can find various things to buy. It is situated in the modern area of Albufeira.

Here they sell cigars, cigarettes and alcooholic drinks. At Fumos and Mitos there is a good choice of Porto wine bottles and other kinds of wines.

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Other items you can buy at Fumos and Mitos are; postcards, stamps and books; I saw several very nice photo books over the Algarve here. Here they have candies and ice creams as well.

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One of the reasons why people go to Albufeira; as in other places in the Algarve is to spend some time on the beaches. There are around 25 beaches in Albufeira and nearby.

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Praia do Peneco (reachable through a tunnel) and Praia des Pescadores are the beaches closer to the city center. Other beaches are; Praia da Oura; at three kilometers from Albufeira. Praia Da Gala; at six kilometers from Albufeira old center and Praia de Santa Eulalia, which is around four kilometers from Albufeira.

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The bus station in Albufeira is situated around a couple of kilometers from the old core.

Inside there are some shops where you can find magazines, newspapers and souvenirs. There is a cafe and other facilities as the toilettes and an ATM machines.

You can take a taxi or a bus (the "Giro" buses) to go the the center of Albufeira.

The Giro buses go from the bus station to several places in Albufeira and its neighbours. For instance you can take a bus to Santa Eulalia, Oura, Ferreira and also to the Albufeira train station. Most of the Giro buses operate every 30 minutes. Tickets are sold by the driver.

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Caldas de Monchique is a little spa town located in a narrow gorge some kilometers far from Portimao. It is known since the Roman times for its sulphurus waters. They are said to be good for rheumatism, respiratory and digestive problems.

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Here there is a nice park which is part of a wood where there are paths, several stone chairs, tables and running water.

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Caldas de Monchique has some cafes, restaurants and three or four hotels.

It is here that the famous mineral water gets bottled.

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Silves is a beautiful town situated on a hill.

It was settled by Phoenicians; then it became a Roman city (Sibilis). From the 8th century it was names Xelb; it was a Moorish city.

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Silves is overlooked by a very large castle. It was built between the 8th and the 13th centuries by the Arabs; probably on the site of a late Roman or Visigothic fortifications from the 4th - 5th centuries.

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The castle once had walls that encircled the town. It has eleven towers. Inside there is a small museum, a cafe and a beautiful garden.

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Silves has a cathedral; built in the 13th century on the site of a mosque. It was destroyed by the earthquake of 1755 and later reconstructed. I didn' t visit it, probably because it was closed around lunch time.

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Cape Saint Vincent; the most south westernly point in Europe. It takes its name from saint Vincent; a priest martyred by the Romans. Centuries ago it was thought as the end of the world. Here it is where Henry the Navigator is believed to have set up his school of navigation in the fifteen century.

I enjoyed much the high cliffs and the ocean when I visited Cape Saint Vincent.

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At Cape Saint Vincent you can see a lighthouse built in1846. It is said it is one of the most powerful in Europe.

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After your visit to this place you can head to the Fortaleza de Sagres. This fortress was originally built in the 15th century and rebuilt in 1793. It was restored in the mid 20th century. It is a very large fortress.

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There is a nice church inside; the church of Nossa Senhora da Graca that dates from 1579. It replaced the original church of Dom Henrique of 1459.

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I had a long stroll into the fortress not realizing my companions (Virtual Tourist members) were waiting for me on the bus. I was in the Algarve for a VT meeting that time I visited the fortress, Cabo San Vincente and Silves.

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Cataplana is both the name of a dish and a pan.

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It is shaped like two clam shells hinged at one end. Traditionally it was made of copper. It is thought it was introduced in the country by the Moors.

You can buy a cataplana in the Algarve. They are quite expensive.

Cataplana as food is a slow cooked stew of fish, seafood, chorizo (a kind of salami) and vegetables. Here the food is put inside raw and is let simmer after having clamped the saucepan.

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In the Algarve you will surely notice the ornamental chimneys on the roof of the houses. It is said that the builders use to ask the customers how many days they wanted their chimneys building last. So that they could calculate the cost of the chimney they were about to make that was based on the time that this would take to build.

These chimneys have cylindrical, prismatic, rectangular or square shapes. Some houses have four or five of them. Usually only one is functional.

Posted by Maurizioagos 09:20 Archived in Portugal Tagged the virtual algarve faro sagres alte albufeira tavira estoi silves tourist.com Comments (0)

Some day trips from Lisbon.

You can do several day trip from Lisbon; even without a car. For instance you could head to Cascàis, to Sintra and to many other towns and villages.

I' d also recommend a visit to the palace of Queluz. I re visited it some years ago.

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The national palace of Queluz was begun in 1747 on order by king Pedro III and completed in 1787. It was originally a hunting lodge.

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Inside this palace you can visit the Throne Room, the Music Room; the Ambassadors Room and many other smaller rooms. There is even a chapel.

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Once you visited the palace you can spend some time to explore its gardens.

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One wing of the palace is used as a residence for foreign head of state visiting Portugal.

The palace is seat of many concerts and exibitions.

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Cascais is a small town on the Atlantic coast, located some 30 km west of Lisbon. Once it was a fishing village. Today it is a famous tourist resort.

One of the attractions of Cascais is the Palace of Castro Guimarães. It was built in 1902. It is opened to visitors.

The Igreja Matriz (the main church) has some paintings by Josefa de Obidos. Unfortunately I couldn' t see them, because the church was closed when I visited Cascais..

If you happen to find the church and the palace closed you could rest on one of the beaches of the town, have a good lunch at a restaurant and do some shopping. There are lots of shops in Cascais!

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The Palace of the Counts of Castro Guimarães. It is opened to visitors.

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A fountain near the palace.

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The palace is surround by a large park. The Parque Marechal Carmona.

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A beautiful boy who lived at the park.

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Dom Pedro I is my favourite restaurant in Cascais. It is a small reastaurant situated just some meters from the town hall. It is well hidden in a narrow street, but you will easily find it.

At Dom Pedro I you can sample various typical Portuguese dishes. They also have a menu at a fixed price which includes soup, a main dish, a dessert, a drink and a coffee.

It has only a small dining room and a small outdoor area where you can have your meal if the weather is fine.

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Casa da Guia is a beautiful shopping center on the road that connects Cascais to the Guincho beach. It is a restored 19th century house. There are around 20 shops inside. Here you can buy furniture, clothes, some souvenirs, flowers and other things.

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In its gardens you can find some kiosks, restaurants and cafes. Casa da Guia is also a place to rest having a meal or a drink.

I went there by foot from the center of Cascais and it was a long walk. So; I' d recommend to take a taxi or a bus to get there.

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Sintra is a hilltop village made by three areas. Estefania; the modern area; with the train and the bus stations. Sintra-Vila; with the Royal Palace. Sao Pedro; located at some kilometers from Sintra-Vila.

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Sintra National Palace. This palace served as a summer residence for the Portuguese kings since the early 14th century. Probably it has Moorish origin. What you see today mostly consists of the buildings ordered by king Joao I (around 1415) and by king Manuel I (1497 and 1530).

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Inside you can see various rooms and a chapel. Some rooms opened to visitors are; Sala dos Cisnes (= swans). It has the ceiling divided into panels decorated with swans. Sala das Pegas (= magpies) and Sala dos Brasoes, with a domed ceiling decorated with 72 coats of arms of the king and noble families.

You can spot the palace from afar because it has two huge white chimneys.

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Artnis is quite a large shop where you can find a good choice of home textils and various other items.

Here you can find table cloths, napkins, dish cloths, bath towels, aprons, soaps and other things. At Arnis they also sell clothes and accessories for small children.

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This is a fine shop to look for some presents to take home.

I' ve read that Artnis is "Sintra" written in reverse order. I don' t know if the proprietors of this shop thought about it when they choose a name for it.

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Quinta da Regaleira is a estate built between 1904 and 1910. It was designed by an Italian architect; Luigi Manini for a wealthy Brazilian merchant; Antonio Augusto Carvalho Monteiro.

The palace has five floors. Here you can visit the kitchen, and several rooms. You can visit the palace with a guided tour or by yourself.

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Here you can visit a palace, built in neo-Manueline style, a chapel built in 1904 and a very beautiful garden with several fountains, grottoes, turrets and two artificial lakes.

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There is a nice sculptures museum in Sintra; The museum Anjos Teixeira. It is housed inside a former watermill built at the beginning of the XX century.

If you are interested in sculpture you should visit this museum. Here you can see a large collection of sculptures made by two local artists named Anjos Teixeira (Pedro Augusto dos Anjos Teixeira; the father and Arturo Gaspar dos Anjos Teixeira; the son). Besides the sculptures here you can see lots of drawings and plaster studies.

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Palacio da Pena is a palace situated quite far from the center of Sintra.

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This palace is a mixture of Arab minarets, towers and domes. It was built between 1840 and 1850.

Prince of Baviera D. Fernando of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, husband of D. Maria II ordered it to be build on the site of the ruins of the monastery of Our Lady of Pena.

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Inside the palace you can see a large ball room, the kitchen and several rooms.

The palace has been painted yellow and pink in the 90' s. These were its original colours.

It is quite expensive to visit the palace, but there are some discounts if you buy a special ticket that entitles you to visit this palace and also the national palace, and maybe some other attractions in Sintra.

A note; don' t leave Sintra without having tried some queijadas! The queijada is one of the two typical pastries of Sintra (the other is travesseiro).

The queijadas are made of a thin pastry case filled with a mixture of cheese, flour, sugar, egg yolk and cinnamon. Queijadas are sold at some other shops and cafes in Sintra.

Its recipe dates back to the 13th or 14th century. It seems that in the middle ages they were used to pay part of the fixed rent of landed properties in the Sintra area.

Some notes about the buses in Sintra.

Bus n. 434 takes a circular route from Sintra to various attractions in the area; including the National Palace, the Moorish Castle and the Pena Palace.

Bus 435 stops near the Museo do Brinquedo and the National Palace (Sintra Vila) then goes to Quinta da Regaleira; to the Palace of Seteais and to Montserrate.

These buses depart from a bus stop near the train station. Tickets can be bought from the driver.

Note; if you have to go only to Sintra Vila, where the National Palace is; take n. 435 bus. You will only pay some cents. Tickets for bus n. 434 costs lots more. I suppose around 5 or 6 euros per person.

Posted by Maurizioagos 01:18 Archived in Portugal Tagged sintra cascais queluz. Comments (6)

Lisbon.

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

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

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

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

In the middle of this square a tall column with a statue of king Pedro IV is located. This square is surrounded by the Dona Maria II National Theatre, by various cafes, shops and some restaurants.

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Rua das Portas De Santo Antao is a pedestrian street near Rossio where you find a good choice of restaurants, some guesthouses, several shops and a small bar where you can have a glass of ginjinha.

Ginjinha is a drink made by infusing sour cherries in alcohol; adding sugar and other ingredients. Ginjinha is a typical drink in Lisbon, Alcobaca and Obidos. I am sorry but I haven' t any picture of this street.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Wiev from the top of the Santa Justa lift.

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Another wiev from the top of the lift.

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

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Here's a list of some miradouros.

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

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

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

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

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Leitaria Academica is one of my favourite restaurants in Lisbon.

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

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

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

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

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Saint Vicente de Fora monastery.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This museum occupies a part of the western wing of the Jerònimos monastery.

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

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A cabin of the royal yacht Amàlia.

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Another cabin of the same yacht.

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

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

These pastries are served warm and sprinkled with cinnamon and/or sugar (if you like). Their original receipt is kept secret. Only three persons know it.

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

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The coaches museum (Museu Nacional dos Coches) is also located in Belém. It is housed in a two storeys building that was an old horse riding arena used for training horses and for horse riding exibitions.

Here you can see a large collection of horse drawn carriages, chaises and sedan chairs dated from the 17th to the 19th centuries. These belonged to the Portuguese royal family and nobility.

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

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The tower of Belém. It was built between 1515 and 1520. This is the only monument built mostly in Manueline style in Lisbon (some of its decorations date from the renovation of the 1840).

It served as a lookout point over the Tagus river and to defend the port of Lisbon. It was used as a fortress, as a prison, as a lighthouse and also as a telegraph office and a custom post.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Riva del Garda.

sunny

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

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

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There are lots of colorful houses in this town.

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

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Contrada Marocco 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.

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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.

...

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.

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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)

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