A Travellerspoint blog

Modena.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There is even a kind of pharmacy into the market.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Valeggio sul Mincio.

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Valeggio sul Mincio is a large village situated some 30 kilometers from Verona; in the Veneto region.

There are two beautiful sights in Valeggio. A large park; the Sigurtà Gardens and Borghetto sul Mincio; a beautiful hamlet.

Valeggio has also a castle, or what remains of a castle. It was built between the X and the XIV centuries. I visited it long ago. There is nothing to see inside it. Perhaps you can climb to the top of its tower. The castle is located on a hill.

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The Sigurtà Gardens is a very lare park. Originally it was a walled orchard and part of the estate of Villa Maffei; a 1617 mansion.

Carlo Sigurtà ; a pharmaceutical tycoon bought this orchard in 1941 and began to create this park. He had the right to get water from the river Mincio. Later on the works on this park were carried on by his nephew Enzo Sigurtà .

The park extends over 125 acres. There are lots trees, flowers, several small lakes, a hedge maze and some buildings here.

The facilities at Parco Sigurtà  include five kiosk where you can buy food and beverages, the lavatories and a souvenirs shop.

Inside this park you can rent a bicycle, a golf cart or take the tourist train which rides along a seven kilometers route.

Sigurtà  Park is open every day including weekends and public holidays; from march to the fist days of november.

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There are even a few farm animals housed in a area called "fattoria didattica".

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There is a chapel into the park.

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Borghetto sul Mincio is a hamlet and is part of Valeggio Sul Mincio. It is divided in two areas by the Mincio river. It was built in 1400 by corn and rice workers.

In Borghetto there is a church; some old watermills and a good choice of cafes and restaurants. I have read there are around ten houses there.

Borghetto sul Mincio is the birthplace of Ivana Spagna; a popular Italian pop singer.

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This hamlet is about 3 kilometers far from the center of Valeggio Sul Mincio.

Don' t miss this beautiful small place if you visit Valeggio sul Mincio!

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A good place to have dinner, or lunch in Valeggio sul Mincio is the cafe confectionery Martini Flavio. Here they serve a good selection of pastries, ice creams and savoury food as well.

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Here, on the menu there is a good choiche of sandwiches and piadine. Piadina is a kind of flat bread filled with various food as ham, cheese, or, and vegetables. The filling for a piadina could be anything you like.

Posted by Maurizioagos 04:44 Archived in Italy Tagged flowers sul italy. plants. valeggio mincio borghetto Comments (3)

My second holiday in Santorini.

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Santorini or Thera is an island in the southern Aegean sea. It is part of the Cycladic Islands.

A couple of years ago, circa I went back to Santorini after many years.

The first time I visited Santorini I booked my room in Fira. This village is the capital of the island. It is a very touristy place. There are some museums and a couple of churches worth a visit there.

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On my first holiday on the island one of the things I liked to do (usually in the evenings) was a long stroll from Fira to Imerovigli. I did the same stroll also on this holiday.

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I took these three picture during one of these strolls on my last holiday in Santorini.

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The Saint John the Baptist Cathedral in Fira was built in 1823. It was restored and rebuilt in 1970 after the earthquake of 1956. It is really a beautiful church.

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Here you see another picture taken into the catholic cathedral.

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Another church worth da visit, or maybe more is the Ortodox Metropolitan Cathedral. It was built in 1827. It was damaged during the 1956 eartquake. It was then renovated.

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Another picture taken inside this church.

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There are some museums in Fira. One of these is the Museum of Prehistoric Thira. I had visited it on my first viit to Santorini and I re visited it on this holiday.

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This museum houses a large collection of ancient finds as vases, weapons, jewels and fossil plants. These were discovered in Akrotiri, Potamos and other places on the island.

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The highlight of the museum are the fragments of wall frescoes found in Akrotiri. They decpict various subjects as women, azure monkeys and naked fishermen.

As you can see these frescoes are well preserved despite of their old age.

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The Argyros Mansion is a beautiful mansion worth a visit. It is located in Messaria. This villa belonged to Emmanuel Argyros; a trader of local wine. It was built in 1888. In 1956 it was partly destroyed by the earthquake. After more than 30 years it was restored and turned into a museum.

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Inside this mansion you can see furniture and items from the 19th century.

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During the guided tour (you are not allowed to visit the villa on you own) you will be showed the living room; a small music room. The dining room; the owner' s office and three bedrooms.

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Oia, also called Ia, is one of the most popular destinations in Santorini.This is the most famous place to enjoy the sunset (a "must do thing" on the island).

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Oia is situated on the northernmost area of the island. It is 11 kilometers far form Fira.

There are practically two streets in this village. One of these is long and marble paved,

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There are lots of rock hewn houses and also captain' s buildings in Oia. These are now used as cafes, restaurants and shops.

Oia has several churches and a naval museum.

Part of Oia was rebuilt in a few years after the 1956 earthquake.

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There is a popular bookshop in Oia. Its name is Atlantis Books, It was first opened in 2004. It was moved from 2005 in the building where it stands today.

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This bookshop is quite small, but full of various kinds of book. Here you can find a good choice of English language books about Greek culture and history. At Atlantis Books they also sell rare first editions books and books in foreign languages.

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Pyrgos is another village worth a visit in Santorini. It is situated around 7. 5 kilometers south east of Fira. It was built amphitheatrically on a hill, at the foot of Profitis Elias mountain.

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One of the main sights in Pyrgos is the Kasteli. It is a fortress built arouns 1580 by the Venetians to defend the inhabitants from the invaders. There is a cafe restaurants inside the fortress.

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There are lots of typical cave houses in Pyrgos as well.

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Megalochori is a nice village where you will not find many tourists. There are not lots of shops and eateries there, but there are some hotels in case you' like to look for you accomodation in a quiet village.

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Here you see part of the main square in Megalochori.

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There is a lot of typical cave houses, a maze of streets and stairs in Megalochori, as in other villages on the island.

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A nice spot in Megalochori.

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Most of the beaches in Santorini are made of black sand and peebles. I have been to two of these on this holiday. I went at the beaches in Kamari and Perissa. I booked a room in Perissa.

On this picture you see part of the beach in Kamari.

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Here is another picture taken at the beach in Kamari. This village is 10 kilometers from Fira; at the southe east coast. Here you' ll find a black sand and shingle beach. It is five kilometers long. There is a good choice of shops, cafes and restaurants nearby.

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Perissa is a village about 13 kilometers from Fira; on the south east coast. It has a 7 kilometers long black beach. Being a tourist resort; as Kamari, there are lots of shops, cafes and eateries here as well.

This picture was taken at the beach in Perissa in the evening.

There are other villages to visit and things to do in Santorini. I hope to go there again quite soon.

Posted by Maurizioagos 09:34 Archived in Greece Tagged greece island santorini europe. Comments (6)

Malcesine.

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Malcesine is a beautiful lake side resort situated on the eastern shore of Lake Garda. It is some 60 kilometers far from Verona.

It has a beautiful old core made of a maze of narrow cobbled lanes and stone houses.

Malcesine has a good choice of accomodations, restaurants, cafes and shops. It is a very popular summer holiday resort.

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I suppose this should be one of the narrowest street in the world. Vicolo Picalof.

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Here you see another picture of this narrow lane.

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A stone house with a balcony. I like this spot.

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Close up of the balcony.

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A house with a coat of arms on its facade.

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The castle is the main sight in Malcesine. Its name is Castello Scaligero. It was probably built by the Lombards around 500 A. C. on a previous fortress. In 590 it was destroyed by the Franks. They rebuilt it in 806.

It was occupied by the della Scala family from 1277 to 1378. Later, the Visconti family from Milan and the Republic of Venice hold it. Then it was in the hands of the French and the Austrians. During the period of the Austrian rule, which ended in 1866 major renovations work took place inside.

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Today the castle houses a museum of natural history; a room dedicated to the German writer Goethe and his visit to Malcesine in 1786. Some areas of the castle are used for various entertainments and for temporary exibitions.

The castle has a tower. You can climb it to its top and enjoy a beautiful landscape over the town.

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Part of the castle from afar.

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In this picture you see part of the harbour. It is surrounded by a good number of cafes and restaurants. From the harbour you can take a boat to other resort on the lake as Limone or Riva del Garda.

Posted by Maurizioagos 10:55 Archived in Italy Tagged lake italy garda malcesine garda. Comments (2)

Florence; a covered market, Oltrarno and more.

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On march 1 I decided to explore a bit more Florence, so I stayed the whole day in the city.

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Florence has lots of markets. I am not a fan of these, but I like to visit some food markets now and then.

A market one shouldn' t miss is San Lorenzo market. This is made up of two markets. An indoor market known as "mercato centrale" and an outdoor market with lots of stalls selling leather items, clothings and souvenirs.

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At the indoor market you can find almost every kind of food you like. Even various typical Tuscan food. There are also some stalls selling exotic food.

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You can also have a meal inside this market. In fact there are several cafes and eateries there. So, you can have a sandwich, a dessert, a proper meal or a drink.

This market is open from monday to saturday; from 7 .00 a. m. to 2.00 p. m.

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I had read on a guide book that there are some Medieval streets in Florence. Via delle Terme is one of these.

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Here you see part of another Medieval street; borgo Santi Apostoli. Both via delle Terme and borgo Santi Apostli are situated quite near Ponte Vecchio.

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Oltrarno means "beyond the Arno". The Arno is the river that divides Florence in two parts. Oltrarno is where the Pitti palace is located. I visited this palace some years ago. It was built in the second half of 1400. In 1500 it was modified and enlarged. It houses several museums.

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Oltrarno is a nice area to explore and to discover some nice things as this tiny jewellery shop.

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Piazza Santo Spirito is a nice square in the Oltrarno area. It is surrounded by several buildings. There is a good choice of restaurants here.

This square takes its name from the church you see here. it was built on the ruins of a Agostinian convent dated to the 1200; between 1444 and 1488.

A daily marked is held at this square from monday to saturday. From 8 a. m. to 2 p. m.

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I had a lunch at a restaurant in this square. Its name is Tamerò. This restaurant is a quite odd place.

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Tamerò is probably one of the cheapest restaurants in Piazza Santo Spirito. I had a good dish of pici with cacio e pepe (noodles with cheese and pepper).

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Orsanmichele church was originally built as a grain market on the site of an oratory dedicated to saint Michael.

It burnt down in 1304. In 1337 a new and bigger loggia was built there.

At the end of the XV century the market was moved and the building was turned into a church. On its facades there are 14 niches with tall statues of patron saints of various guilds; judges, cloth merchants, bankers and so on.

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In this picture you can see part of Orsanmichele church inside.

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Ponte Vecchio with its shops lit is really a nice thing to see.

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Here' s another picture of the bridge; taken in the evening.

Posted by Maurizioagos 10:29 Archived in Italy Tagged florence market. orsanmichele oltrarno. Comments (0)

A day trip to San Gimignano.

San Gimignano; the Medieval Manhattan.

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San Gimignano is a walled hill town located 56 kilometers southwest of Florence.

Originally it was the seat of a small Etruscan village. The town took its name from saint Gimignanus, who is said to have saved the town from the barbarian hordes.

San Gimignano developed considerably during the Middle Ages and the Reinassance thanks to the Via Francigena. The town was a stopping point for catholic pilgrims on their way to Rome.

Today San Gimignano has 14 Medieval towers. Long ago there were 72 of them.

In San Gimignano there are also some museums, some churches and a plethora of shops, cafes and restaurants.

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The colleggiata or Basilica di Santa Maria Assunta; also called duomo is one of the highlights in San Gimignano. It was built in the year 1000 and consacred in the 1148.

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Its walls are completely coverd by frescoes painted in the 14th. These were never restored, but only cleaned some years ago.

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These frescoes depict stories of the Old and the New Testament. You will be given an audioguide when you buy your entrance ticket to the church.

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Here you see the facade of the duomo. You have to walk under the arch to enter the church.

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This loggia; Loggia del Comune (comune means town hall) was built in 1338. It was a gathering place used by politicians long ago. I think it is a meeting place for locals today. The loggia is located opposite the colleggiata.

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Piazza della Cisterna is a beautiful square situated some meters from Piazza del Duomo where the Colleggiata is situated. This square has a triangular shape. It is surrounded by several palaces. There are also some restaurants and shops here. This square takes its name from the cistern you see in its middle.

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Here you can see some towers. I took this picture at the Rocca di Montestaffoli. It is practically a pleasant park with some remains of a fortress.

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Another thing to do in San Gimignano is to get lost.

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Posted by Maurizioagos 02:13 Archived in Italy Tagged san gimignano towers. tuscany. Comments (8)

A day trip to Siena.

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Siena is a well preserved Medieval town located 30 miles south of Florence. It is set on three hills. So, if you like to explore it quite well, you should climb a bit on some steep streets.

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Piazza del Campo is Siena main square. This large scallop shaped square is divided in nine segments representing the Council of the Nine. This group of people ruled the Medieval Siena from 1292 to 1355.

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In Piazza del Campo, a historical bareback horse race called "Palio" is held twice every year; on 2th july and 16th august.

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The Palazzo Pubblico is one of the main sights in Siena. It was built between 1288 and 1342 circa. It is used as town hall. This palace also houses the civic museum. This museum is made of several rooms.

This palace has a tall tower you can climb. The Torre del Mangia. It was built between 1338 and 1348.

I took this picture inside the Sala della Pace (peace). Three walls of this room are painted with large frescoes with the subject about a good and a bad government of the city of Siena. This frescoes were painted in 1337.

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The largest room inside the Palazzo Pubblico is the Sala del Mappamondo. Here you see a large fresco with the Madonna, saints and some angels.

Unfortunately it is not possible to spot the glitters in this picture. I had never see glitters on a paintings before...I was quite impressed about this thing.

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Here you see another beautiful fresco. I don' t remember the name of the room where it is located.

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The church you see in this picture is Siena cathedral. It was probably built between 1215 and 1263. In my opinion its main sights are the Piccolomini library and the decorated floor.

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The floor of the cathedral is completely covered with inlaid marble mosaics. These were created between the 14th and the 16th century.

They represent scenes from the Old Testament, an episode of the New Testament, the Sybille and other subjects.

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The Piccolomini library is joined to the cathedral. It was commissioned by Francesco Piccolomini Todeschini (pope Pius III) for his uncle Enea Silvio Piccolomini; pope Pius II. The walls of this room are painted with beautiful frescoes.

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There are some ancient books inside the library, but I was attracted by the beautiful frescoes which depict various scenes of pope Pius II' s life.

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Here you see another picture taken into the library.

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I was lucky enough to find the floor uncovered enough. So I could admire this art work and take some pices. Most of the time the floor is much covered.

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This part of mosaic and the previous two depict the wheel of fortune and the She wolf, surrounded by the emblems of the cities allied with Siena.

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....One of the many Sybillas you can find on the floor.

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Siena is also made of backstreets and arches.

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I visited Saint Catherine' s house. Well, It is a place made of a couple of chapels and other rooms built where some rooms of her house were. Here you can see several paintings about the saint' s life and also some of her relics.

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Saint Catherine' s house is really a nice place to spend some time if you visit Siena.

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After the visit to Saint Catherine' s house I had a large slice of pizza at a nice place Chianti and Pizza. It was very good. Chianti and Pizza is located in via delle Terme.

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There are some musical instruments inside Chianti and Pizza. These make a nice wall decorations.

After my lunch I headed to Saint Francis' church. It is a large church, but it didin' impress me much. This church houses the skull of Saint Catherine and a real protrait of the saint painted by a friend of her. Unfortunately This painting is located qutie far so it is not possible to watch it properly.

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Just outside of Saint Francis' church you can admire this beautiful landscape.

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Another beautiful landscape.

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This is the facade of the Palazzo Pubblico. I took this picture late in the evening.

I hope to go back to Siena quite soon! I liked it very much.

Posted by Maurizioagos 12:08 Archived in Italy Tagged siena Comments (2)

Florence.

Back to Florence after some years.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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In this picture you can spot Palazzo Vecchio from afar.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Iseo. The village and the lake.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brescia. Something else.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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There are various picturesque narrow streets in Brescia...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I like Brescia!

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

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

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

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

Brescia has a good bus system and a convenient metro.

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

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

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

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The old cathedral has several frescoes of various eras.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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There are lots of Roman artefacts inside this museum.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Here you see a close up of these frescoes.

Well,,,to be continued...

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

Feltre. Something about the town and a confectionery.

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

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

I have visited Feltre several times.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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It' s Christmas time at Garbuio' s.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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I think this picture was taken into the Holidays Room.

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Part of the Chinese Room.

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Here you see another bit of the Chinese Room.

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

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

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

Lazise.

A nice lake side town.

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

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

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

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

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Fresco inside the church.

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Another fresco inside the church.

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My mother sitting outside Saint Nicholas church.

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Some houses around the harbour.

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

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Part of piazza Vittorio Emanuele II.

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

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

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

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

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A swan posing on the promenade.

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

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

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

Spello and Gubbio.

sunny

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

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

I visited Spello and Gubbio.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Gubbio.

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

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

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

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

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Here is another pictures of Palazzo dei Consoli.

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

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

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

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