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Showing posts from July, 2013

Florence

Mercato di San Lorenzo
Thank goodness for long days of summer. We made the most of our 24-hour visit to Firenze. After a nice lunch at Trattoria Dante (which is big on ambiance), we took the bus to San Lorenzo where we browsed the outdoor stalls for decent bargains to take home as presents for family and friends. My cousin was particularly interested in finding a good leather jacket. We arrived at the market just before their fold-up time of 7 p.m. and the bargaining was intense. In the end, I bought four lacy scarves, left the leather bags alone and walked happily away. My cousin found the jacket he wanted the following day. Shopping done, we strolled to the Duomo and Baptistery of San Giovanni for art history lessons. My favorite Florentine story is about the competition for the crafting of the bronze doors of the Baptistery. Both Ghiberti and Brunelleschi submitted their quatrefoil panels of the Sacrifice of Isaac. Ghiberti won and was awarded the commission to sculpt the reliefs …

Lake Lugano

View of Lugano, Cassarate, Castagnola and Monte Bré
Lugano is definitely one of my favorite places in the world. On my first visit to this lakeside beauty many moons ago, I walked everyday along the lake from Paradiso where I was staying to Piazza della Riforma to have lunch at one of the cafés or restaurants in the city center. On the way back to my hotel, I'd stop by the Church of Santa Maria degli Angioli on Piazza Luini to marvel at the 16th century fresco of the Crucifixion by Bernardino Luini, a follower of Leonardo da Vinci. 
The Passion and Crucifixion of Jesus Christ
In the same nondescript Church of Santa Maria is a painting of the Last Supper which is also attributed to Luini. Whether you're facing the altar or the main door of the Church, you are blessed with a visual treat, one man made, the other, by a divine hand. The Church door opens to Lake Lugano.

If I were staying in Lugano for a few days, I would have stocked my hotel refrigerator with food from this d…

Padua

Basilica of St. Anthony
Prayer to St. Anthony of Padua Blessed be God in His angels and in His saints. O Holy St. Anthony, gentlest of Saints, your love for God and charity for His creatures made you worthy, when on earth, to possess miraculous powers. Miracles waited on your word, which you were ever ready to speak for those in trouble or anxiety. Encouraged by this thought, I implore you to obtain for me (your request). The answer to my prayer may require a miracle. Even so, you are the saint of miracles. Amen.
My purpose in visiting Padua was to pray at the tomb of St. Anthony in the Basilica dell'Santo, which fortunately was across the street from our hotel. I've been planning to make this pilgrimage for a long time and while I've visited neighboring Venice a few times, I never did make it to Padua until recently. We attended mass at the Basilica on the day we arrived along with pilgrims from Rovigo, Italy who were that day's sponsor of the Eucharistic celebration. We …

Venice - A Feast for the Eyes

One too many gondolas on a narrow canal spells traffic. This is the scene during the busy summer months. Trying to find a quiet corner can be challenging. 
"But come back in November or December, February or March, when the fog, la nebbia, settles upon the city like a marvelous monster, and you will have little trouble believing that things can appear and disappear in this labyrinthine city, or that time here could easily slip in its sprockets and take you, willingly or unwillingly, back." Erica Jong, A City of Love and Death: Venice


Love is in the air. We congratulated the bride and groom of this wedding party whom we saw cruising the Venetian canals. On our way to Dorsoduro, we discovered these love locks on the Ponte dell'Accademia. Yes, love may be eternal but the lock is only good till it rusts. Good luck with that! Speaking of love, every year during the Festa della Sensa (Feast of the Ascension), Venice renews its wedding vows with the sea. These are the words the…

Como

The town of Como is not just the gateway to the villages along Lake Como, it is a destination in itself. Surrounded by mountains and fronting the shores of Lake Como, it has a lot to offer its visitors. How about starting with a nice, cool prosecco at the Piazza Duomo as you watch the play of light against the walls of the Cathedral?

The construction of the Cattedrale de Santa Maria Assunta or the Duomo di Como was began in 1396 and it was completed in 1770, nearly 4 centuries later. The front façade features a rose window flanked by statues of the illustrious Pliny the Elder and Pliny the Younger, both natives of Como.

As I was walking around town, I was struck by this architectural overhang, typical of medieval houses. Surprises abound in Como.

Another gem from the 12th century is this tower, Porta Torre, one of three remaining towers which once formed part of a wall that surrounded Como. Notice the four rows of arched windows which correspond to four internal storeys in this Roman…

Villa Melzi

Villa Melzi was the residence of Francesco Melzi d'Eril who was the Duke of Lodi and Vice President of the Italian Republic under Napoleon. This simple and elegant neoclassical villa was designed and decorated for the most part by Giacondo Albertolli. The villa's English garden stretches along the shores of Lake Como from the Bellagio entrance to the Loppia neighborhood on the south end. Plane trees lead to the villa and across the path, rhododendrons and azaleas dot the hillside. The garden was designed by Luigi Canonica and together with the botanist, Luigi Villoresi, they created a garden of aesthetic proportion, with the lake as its natural boundary. 

Plane trees and a well manicured lawn lead to the villa from the Bellagio entrance. 

This Moorish style temple holds the busts of the Austrian Emperor, Ferdinand I and Marianne of Savoia and the Duke Lodovico Melzi and his consort, Josephine Melzi. The Duke and Josephine were the last of the Melzis to own the villa. The Gall…