A Travellerspoint blog

April 2019

Genoa - Love at First Sight.

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Sunrise from our hotel room, New Year's Day 2014. - Genoa

Sunrise from our hotel room, New Year's Day 2014. - Genoa

Bringing in the New Year - 2014.

We travelled around Lombardy on a seven­ day Lombardy pass which was great value and there were so many places to see within Lombardy; we missed out loads of them. So when my husband insisted we also went to Genoa, I thought this is crazy. It is in Liguria, so not covered by our pass, why bother? Well, I was certainly glad we did bother as I loved Genoa more than anywhere else I've ever been in Italy, possibly just more than anywhere else I've ever been. I told my husband, "I want to live here. Let's look for a house. "

Colourful Genoa street. - Genoa

Colourful Genoa street. - Genoa

Why did I love Genoa so much? It was a mixture of things. The main streets of the old town were lined with crumbling palaces filled with grand staircases, ornate archways, magnificent chandeliers and imposing statues. Leading off these streets were narrow winding lanes that made you feel that someone would leap out and cut your throat if you set foot on them. OK, I'm exaggerating, we did set foot on them and have lived to tell the tale. Then there were wonderful, breathtaking churches, the wonderful stripy cathedral, the amazing Church of Jesus; plain on the outside, stunning on the inside.

On our second day I told my husband that we should explore the port, then look at the old town again. I guessed the port would not be interesting and our walk there would not take long. Wrong again! The port was fantastic!!! It was filled with a wide assortment of boats, contained an aquarium, a scenic crane, a pirate ship and some truly bizarre works of art. I could have spent the whole day there. The most amazing thing of all, though, was Genoa was not filled with tourists. Only in a country as rich in treasures as Italy could such a beautiful city be overlooked. The churches were filled with locals praying, the streets with locals getting ready to bring in the new year.

Genoa is located on the Mediterranean Sea and is Italy's largest port. It is also the birthplace of Christopher Columbus, ­ though why he wanted to leave here and bother going anywhere else is beyond me. The old town is fantastic; the port is lovely; there are several funiculars that we did not have time to go on. I'm pretty sure their views would have been stunning. We arrived here in the afternoon on New Year's Eve and left around 3pm on New Year's Day. We could happily have stayed much, much, much longer.

Palazzo Reale.

This palace, located on Via Balbi, was quite near our hotel, so this was the first place we wandered into. Palazzo Reale means royal palace. Construction of the palace began in 1618. It was originally the home of the Balbi family. Then the palace was sold to the Durazzo Family in 1677. They enlarged it. In 1823 the palace changed hands again and was owned by the Royal House of Savoy. Since 1919 the palace has belonged to the state. It is now a museum. We're not museum people. We just enjoyed wandering around the courtyard and gardens, viewing the building, the pond, the statues, the grand staircases, the works of art, the mosaic floors.

Palazzo Reale - Genoa

Palazzo Reale - Genoa

Palazzo Reale - Genoa

Palazzo Reale - Genoa

Palazzo Reale - Genoa

Palazzo Reale - Genoa

Palazzo Reale - Genoa

Palazzo Reale - Genoa

Palazzo Reale - Genoa

Palazzo Reale - Genoa

The University.

The University of Genoa was also on Via Balbi a short distance from the Palazzo Reale but on the other side of the road. It was another great building with lion statues, huge hanging lights and pillars. Genoa's university was founded in 1481. Nowadays it has around 40,000 students and about 1,800 teaching and research staff.

The University

The University

The University

The University

The University

The University

Via Garibaldi.

The Via Garibaldi was a wonderful, colourful street containing several palaces: the Palazzo Bianca, the Palazzo Rosso and the Palazzo Tursi. I'm not even sure if we were able to go in their courtyards or not. By that stage I was getting so overwhelmed with grand buildings I did not know where I was. I think it is called palazzo drunk.

Via Garibaldi

Via Garibaldi

Via Garibaldi

Via Garibaldi

Via Garibaldi

Via Garibaldi

Via Garibaldi

Via Garibaldi

Via Garibaldi

Via Garibaldi

Piazza De Ferrari.

Piazza De Ferrari is Genoa's most important public square. It links Genoa's historical heart with its modern, commercial centre. In the middle of the square a large fountain shoots jets of water into the air. Several important buildings are located on this square. The Palazzo Ducale which means Doge's Palace has its main entrance round the corner on Piazza Matteotti, and its second entrance on Piazza De Ferrari. This grand old building was once the home of the Doges of Genoa, but is now a museum as well as a centre for cultural events and arts exhibitions. This palace dates from 1251. In July 2001 the Palazzo Ducale hosted the G8 Summit, which was attended by the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, United Kingdom and United States.

Piazza De Ferrari - Genoa

Piazza De Ferrari - Genoa

The Palazzo Ducale - Genoa

The Palazzo Ducale - Genoa

The Teatro Carlo Felice is the main opera house of Genoa. It is used for performances of opera, ballet, orchestral music, and recitals. The hall is called after Duke Carlo Felice, and dates from December 24th, 1824. In 1941 a shell fired by a British warship hit the roof of the theatre making a large hole. Further damage occurred on the 5th of August, 1943 when incendiary bombs caused a backstage fire. After the war the restoration of the theatre began, but it did not officially re­-open until June 1991. There is also an equestrian statue of Garibaldi in front of the theatre. Address: piazza De Ferrari.

The Teatro Carlo Felice - Genoa

The Teatro Carlo Felice - Genoa

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Genoa Cathedral.

The San Lorenzo Cathedral, or St. Laurence Cathedral, is Genoa's stunningly beautiful black and white striped cathedral. It was founded in the 4th or 5th century. Since the Crusades it has housed the ashes of Saint John the Baptist, ­San Giovanni Battista, the patron saint of Genoa. The cathedral had a very lucky escape on February 9th, 1941, when the city was being shelled by the British. The shell struck the building, but did not explode. The shell is on display inside the cathedral. There is a treasury under the cathedral, which we did not visit. It is said to house the chalice Christ drank from at the last supper. When I went in at first, I was enjoying the dark, slightly gloomy atmosphere. Suddenly someone dropped a Euro into a slot
and one of the walls was beautifully illuminated to reveal various delightful marble statues. I absolutely loved the sad looking lion statues outside the cathedral with their big gentle eyes. Address: Via San Lorenzo. ­

Genoa Cathedral - Genoa

Genoa Cathedral - Genoa

Cathedral nativity scene. - Genoa

Cathedral nativity scene. - Genoa

Illuminated scene - Genoa

Illuminated scene - Genoa

Sad lion. - Genoa

Sad lion. - Genoa

Sad lion. - Genoa

Sad lion. - Genoa

My husband gets friendly with a cathedral lion. - Genoa

My husband gets friendly with a cathedral lion. - Genoa

The Church of Jesus.

The Church of Jesus ­Chiesa del Gesu ­ dates from the 16th century. It is located near the Piazza De Ferrari and near the cathedral. The church is attractive enough from the outside, but even so, this does not prepare you for the amazing beauty of inside. Every inch of the walls and ceilings is covered with works of art. I was gazing open-­mouthed at its splendour and during our visit the only other people inside were worshipers not tourists. There are even two paintings by Reubens inside this church. I wanted to take photos of the inside of the church on our first visit, but my camera batteries died. I returned with new batteries next day, but there was a service going on. We sat for a while listening to the singing and the words of the priest. This is an amazingly beautiful building. Do not miss it. Unfortunately I only have photos of the outside.

The Church of Jesus - Genoa

The Church of Jesus - Genoa

The Church of Jesus - Genoa

The Church of Jesus - Genoa

Porta Soprana and Columbus's House.

In the 12th century a ring of defensive walls was built around Genoa. The only remaining section of these walls is the gate Porta Soprana. This was built in 1155. Go through the gate and walk towards the newer looking part of town and you will pass the elegant cloister of San Andrea dating from the 12th century and a tiny building which was once the home of Christopher Columbus. Address: Piazza Dante ­ Centre ­ East of De Ferrari.

Porta Soprana - Genoa

Porta Soprana - Genoa

Porta Soprana - Genoa

Porta Soprana - Genoa

The home of Christopher Columbus - Genoa

The home of Christopher Columbus - Genoa

The home of Christopher Columbus - Genoa

The home of Christopher Columbus - Genoa

The cloister of San Andrea - Genoa

The cloister of San Andrea - Genoa

Basilica di Santa Maria Assunta.

From Porta Soprana we decided to head down Via di Ravecca, because it looked interesting. We then headed down Via Ravasco and ended up at the Basilica di Santa Maria Assunta di Carignano. This lovely church was designed in 1522 by Galeazzo Alessi. Construction of it lasted from more than fifty years. We did not have time to go inside unfortunately, but admired it from the outside and enjoyed the nearby views over the port, too.

Basilica di Santa Maria Assunta - Genoa

Basilica di Santa Maria Assunta - Genoa

Basilica di Santa Maria Assunta - Genoa

Basilica di Santa Maria Assunta - Genoa

View over the port. - Genoa

View over the port. - Genoa

View over the port. - Genoa

View over the port. - Genoa

The Harbour.

I loved Genoa's old town so much, I did not want to even leave it to go to the harbour, but I was glad I did as the harbour was stunningly beautiful, quirky and hugely entertaining. We began by looking at mosaics of immigrants getting set to leave Genoa near the maritime museum, strolled past countless boats, saw, but did not go into the aquarium, were impressed by the scenic crane, saw the odd looking biosphere, the Neptune pirate ship and some strange works of art.

Genoa Harbour - Genoa

Genoa Harbour - Genoa

Genoa Harbour - Genoa

Genoa Harbour - Genoa

Genoa Harbour - Genoa

Genoa Harbour - Genoa

Genoa Harbour - Genoa

Genoa Harbour - Genoa

The aquarium, Genoa Harbour - Genoa

The aquarium, Genoa Harbour - Genoa

Outside the Maritime Museum. - Genoa

Outside the Maritime Museum. - Genoa

The Neptune pirate ship moored in Genoa's harbour is a prop from a Roman Polanski film called Pirates. It was built in 1985. The bigo crane can take tourists up for scenic views over the harbour and old town. The Maritime Museum is supposed to have interesting exhibitions on emigrants leaving Italy for a new life as depicted on the wall mosaics outside it.

The Neptune Pirate Ship. - Genoa

The Neptune Pirate Ship. - Genoa

Bigo, panoramic crane. - Genoa

Bigo, panoramic crane. - Genoa

Bigo, panoramic crane. - Genoa

Bigo, panoramic crane. - Genoa

Bigo, panoramic crane. - Genoa

Bigo, panoramic crane. - Genoa

Statues at the Harbour. ­

We encountered a weird multipiece statue that looked different from every angle as we walked around it at the harbour. We then encountered a statue of Gandhi. Finally we encountered a rather odd dinosaur statue made out of old tyres and bits of rubbish.

Odd statue - Genoa

Odd statue - Genoa

Odd statue from other angle. - Genoa

Odd statue from other angle. - Genoa

Gandhi statue. - Genoa

Gandhi statue. - Genoa

Gandhi statue - Genoa

Gandhi statue - Genoa

Rubbish eating dinosaur - Genoa

Rubbish eating dinosaur - Genoa

The Biosphere.

The Biosphere is a glass and steel structure measuring 20 m in diameter and weighing 60 tons. It is located in Genoa Harbour and was designed by Renzo Piano who also designed the bigo crane. The biosphere houses a small ecosystem of tropical animals and plants.

Harbour view with biosphere - Genoa

Harbour view with biosphere - Genoa

Harbour view with biosphere - Genoa

Harbour view with biosphere - Genoa

Cuthroat Alleyways.

Not all of Genoa is palatial, however. Leading off each of the broad, fancy main streets are lots of narrow alleyways which add an air of danger to your explorations. They all looked pretty intriguing I must say.

Cuthroat Alleyways

Cuthroat Alleyways

Cuthroat Alleyways

Cuthroat Alleyways

Cuthroat Alleyways

Cuthroat Alleyways

Cuthroat Alleyways

Cuthroat Alleyways

Cuthroat Alleyways

Cuthroat Alleyways

Washing Lines.

To me there is just something extremely attractive about washing­ lines in warm overseas places. They make a picturesque place look real and lived in while adding even more colour to it than exists already.

Washing Lines.

Washing Lines.

Washing Lines.

Washing Lines.

Washing Lines.

Washing Lines.

Washing Lines.

Washing Lines.

Christopher Columbus Statue.

Christopher Columbus was born in Genoa in 1451. During his eventful life, he sailed across the Atlantic Ocean in 1492. He hoped to find a shorter route to India to trade for spices, but instead he discovered the Americas. Between 1492 and 1504 he made a total of four trips to the Caribbean and South America. He died in 1506. In Genoa you can visit the home of Christopher Columbus. You can also see a statue of him near Piazza Principe Station.

Christopher Columbus Statue.

Christopher Columbus Statue.

Christopher Columbus Statue.

Christopher Columbus Statue.

Piazza Principe Station.

This is Genoa's main station and bits were in a mess and under repair during our visit. As it had turned cold on the day we left, we waited for our train in a formerly grand waiting room, complete with pigeons, beggars and sleeping vagrants and of course lots of fellow passengers. Again a superb mixture.

Piazza Principe Station

Piazza Principe Station

Posted by irenevt 20:48 Archived in Italy Comments (3)

Como - The Town Nestled on the Lake.

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Lake Como - Como

Lake Como - Como

Como.

The trip to Como was our third consecutive day trip from Milan. My husband started to develop back pains on our first full day in Milan. He visited Bergamo and Pavia while experiencing quite a lot of pain. On the day of our Como trip, he woke up feeling much better. I, on the other hand, woke up tired, grumpy and not wanting to go anywhere. As a result the day trip to Como was for him the highlight of our holiday and for me it was the low point. We wanted the train that would take us straight to the lake. That leaves from Cadorna Station. We boarded it at Bovisa Station. It was a busy train and we were lucky to even get a seat. On our previous trips we had been really spoilt travelling on almost empty trains.

Statue outside a hotel. - Como

Statue outside a hotel. - Como

When we arrived, the first thing we did was walk along the shore of the lake and it was very pretty, though the water was filled with broken twigs and leaves (I told you I was in a negative mood). Then we got the funicular up to Brunate. A beautiful mountain village with very clean air, a delightful little church and great views. My husband was extremely happy here, though I have to confess to still being in a bad mood. We spent a long time in Brunate and when we came back down to Como, we just had time to visit the marvellous duomo and the Volta statue. It was already getting dark. If we had had more time, I would have liked to visit the Tempio Voltiano, Villa Olmo, which I have read has lovely statue filled grounds, and go for a boat ride on the lake.

Hotels in the town of Como - Como

Hotels in the town of Como - Como

When the sun went down, Como became very, very cold indeed. I was starting to feel like a block of ice and was delighted to get onto a comfortable hot train and be heading back to Milan, but just as the train was about to leave my husband yelled out, "Quick, get off!" and we both had to leap off the train just prior to departure. The reason ­ the information display on the train was saying something about the train being dirreto Milan. I don't know Italian but I guess that means going to Milan, in the direction of Milan, something like that. My husband mis­-read it and thought it meant direct to Milan without stopping. That would have meant our travel pass would not have been valid on the train, so off we leapt. Trains are normally every half hour but this was a Sunday and it was a full hour to the next train. We had a very, very cold and, on my part, very, very bad tempered wait for the next train which was crowded and drafty. Fortunately next day after a good sleep, I woke up in a better mood.

Walk along the lake shore.

We walked along the lake shore to admire the views. There is a long lakeside promenade and if we had had more time I would have loved to walk further.

Lake Como - Como

Lake Como - Como

Lake Como - Como

Lake Como - Como

Lake Como - Como

Lake Como - Como

Lake Como - Como

Lake Como - Como

Take the funicular to Brunate.

Exit the train station, walk to the lake, then go right, you will reach the funicular. We were able to use it for free with our seven day Lombardy train pass, but we had to show our pass at the ticket office first and get issued with return tickets. When you get off at the top, go down the steps to the viewing platform before exiting the funicular.

Como-Brunate funicular. - Como

Como-Brunate funicular. - Como

Como-Brunate funicular. - Como

Como-Brunate funicular. - Como

Brunate is a pleasant place with many expensive looking houses, great views and a lovely little church. You can do a 30 minute walk up to a lighthouse from here. We did not. When we exited the funicular we headed left, walked past the church and after around 15 minutes walk arrived at a lovely viewpoint.

View from Brunate. - Como

View from Brunate. - Como

View from Brunate. - Como

View from Brunate. - Como

View from Brunate. - Como

View from Brunate. - Como

Over the rooftops, Brunate. - Como

Over the rooftops, Brunate. - Como

Looking towards the lighthouse - Brunate. - Como

Looking towards the lighthouse - Brunate. - Como

The Church of Sant Andrea is worth visiting if you take the funicular to Brunate. We especially liked the nativity scene and baby Jesus. There are several walks from Brunate. One is to a lighthouse on top of the mountain ­ about 30 minutes walk from the funicular. Brunate had lots of spectacular villas. Volta lived in Brunate for a while. I am beginning to feel we were following him around.

Baby Jesus -  Sant Andrea Church. - Como

Baby Jesus - Sant Andrea Church. - Como

Sant Andrea Church. - Como

Sant Andrea Church. - Como

Nativity scene in Sant Andrea Church. - Como

Nativity scene in Sant Andrea Church. - Como

Como Cathedral ­- Duomo ­ Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta.

Como Cathedral is located on Duomo Square. It is a beautiful building attached to Como's medieval town hall with its large tower. In Italian it is called the Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta; the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The construction of the cathedral began in 1396, 10 years after the foundation of Milan Cathedral. The construction work began under the supervision of Lorenzo degli Spazzi di Laino. The building was not completed until 1770. The inside of the cathedral is beautiful and it is well worth a look.

Duomo Square. - Como

Duomo Square. - Como

Como Cathedral. - Como

Como Cathedral. - Como

Como Cathedral. - Como

Como Cathedral. - Como

Como Cathedral - Como

Como Cathedral - Como

Como Cathedral - Como

Como Cathedral - Como

Volta Statue.

Alessandro Volta was born in Como on February 18th 1745. As a small child he did not even learn to speak until he was four years old. His family believed him to be retarded. Instead he turned out to be a genius. Volta is credited with the invention of the battery. He also discovered methane gas. Volta was a professor of experimental physics at the University of Pavia for almost forty years. He died on March 5th 1827.

Alessandro Volta. - Como

Alessandro Volta. - Como

Posted by irenevt 19:11 Archived in Italy Comments (2)

Pavia - University Town.

City of a Hundred Towers.

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Silhouette of the Certosa di Pavia. - Pavia

Silhouette of the Certosa di Pavia. - Pavia

Pavia.

Pavia was another place suggested to me on a VT forum. It's a great town; easy to get to from Milan; not over touristy and with beautiful churches, a lovely atmospheric university, tall towers, a castle and a river. Who could ask for more?

Pavia is a town in Lombardy, located 35 kilometres, around 22 miles, south of Milan. It is situated on the Ticino River near where it flows into the River Po. Pavia's population is around 71,000. From 568 to 774 Pavia was the capital of the Kingdom of the Lombards. Pavia produces cereals, rice, dairy products and wine. It is a university town.

We got to Pavia by train from Rogoredo Station in about 28 minutes. The stop before Pavia is the stop for the famous Certosa di Pavia which you can see out of the right side of the train on the way into Pavia. It was an easy walk from the train station into the old town. We wandered around the courtyards of the university, saw the nearby towers, visited the castle, doubled back to go to the duomo and Piazza della Vittoria, strolled to the River Ticino and the beautiful covered bridge, sadly missed San Michele's Church, though I did see a sign to it, admired the lovely San Teodore's Church with its colourful wall paintings. Then after all that we took the train to the Certosa di Pavia. It had looked close to the train station, but the entrance is far away ­ around 20 ­to 25 minutes walk. We got in shortly before closing time so could only admire the buildings from the outside.

Athena/Minerva Statue

There is a large statue of Athena on the main roundabout in Pavia, not far from the train station. She is holding a shield with a Medusa head on it in one hand and a spear in the other.

Athena/Minerva. - Pavia

Athena/Minerva. - Pavia

Athena/Minerva. - Pavia

Athena/Minerva. - Pavia

The University of Pavia.

The University of Pavia was founded in 1361 and consists of nine faculties. In 1858, the University was the scene of violent student protests against Austrian rule in northern Italy. Following these protests the university was temporarily shut down by the local authorities. The famous physicist Alessandro Volta held the chair of natural philosophy at Pavia University from 1769 until 1804. His statue adorns one of the university's courtyards. I thought it was a lovely building to wander around with its yellow walls and statue-filled courtyards.

The University of Pavia. - Pavia

The University of Pavia. - Pavia

The University of Pavia. - Pavia

The University of Pavia. - Pavia

The University of Pavia. - Pavia

The University of Pavia. - Pavia

The University of Pavia. - Pavia

The University of Pavia. - Pavia

The University of Pavia. - Pavia

The University of Pavia. - Pavia

Volta statue, University of Pavia. - Pavia

Volta statue, University of Pavia. - Pavia

Tower Houses. ­

When we exited the back of the university onto Piazza Da Vinci, we were confronted by several tall towers. Pavia was once known as the city of one hundred towers. The first towers to be built were communal ones. Then wealthy families began to build their own private towers, vying with each other to see whose was the tallest. In 1989 the civic tower next to Pavia's cathedral suddenly fell down killing four people and injuring fifteen.

Towers. - Pavia

Towers. - Pavia

Towers. - Pavia

Towers. - Pavia

Towers. - Pavia

Towers. - Pavia

Castelo Visconteo.

Castle Visconteo was built by Galeazzo II Visconti in 1360, soon after he captured the city. The castle was designed by architect Bartolino da Novara. Visconteo Castle was once the main residence of the Visconti family. The castle now houses several exhibitions. There was a Monet exhibition on when we visited. We just viewed the building from the outside and wandered around its central courtyard.

Castelo Visconteo - Pavia

Castelo Visconteo - Pavia

Statue outside Castelo Visconteo. - Pavia

Statue outside Castelo Visconteo. - Pavia

Castelo Visconteo - Pavia

Castelo Visconteo - Pavia

Castelo Visconteo - Pavia

Castelo Visconteo - Pavia

Statue outside Castelo Visconteo. - Pavia

Statue outside Castelo Visconteo. - Pavia

Pavia Castle. - Pavia

Pavia Castle. - Pavia

Piazza Della Vittoria.

This is the main square of Pavia. Its name translates as Victory Square and refers to Italy's victory in the first world war. However, locals often refer to it as Piazza Grande meaning big square. On the south side of the square stands the Broletto, an ancient medieval town hall, with a huge clock. The back of Pavia's ­cathedral ­ is visible from here. During our visit much of the centre of the square had been converted into an ice-skating rink and was being enjoyed by several children.

Piazza Della Vittoria. - Pavia

Piazza Della Vittoria. - Pavia

Piazza Della Vittoria. - Pavia

Piazza Della Vittoria. - Pavia

Piazza Della Vittoria. - Pavia

Piazza Della Vittoria. - Pavia

The Duomo - cathedral.

Construction of Pavia Cathedral began in the 15th century. The cathedral apparently houses the remains of St. Sirus, who was the first Bishop of Pavia, and a thorn from the Crown of Thorns worn by Christ when he was crucified. The Civic Tower ­- Torre Civica ­ which stood next to the cathedral collapsed on March 17 1989 killing four people and injuring fifteen. The cathedral was closed during our visit. There is an equestrian statue on Cathedral Square outside the duomo.

Cathedral Square. - Pavia

Cathedral Square. - Pavia

Pavia Cathedral. - Pavia

Pavia Cathedral. - Pavia

Ponte Coperto.

Ponte Coperto means covered bridge. It is also known as the Ponte Vecchio or Old Bridge. This bridge spans the Ticino River. The original bridge, which dated from 1354, was destroyed by allied bombing in 1945. Construction of a replacement bridge began in 1949. In the centre of the bridge there is a little chapel.

Ponte Coperto. - Pavia

Ponte Coperto. - Pavia

Ponte Coperto. - Pavia

Ponte Coperto. - Pavia

Ponte Coperto. - Pavia

Ponte Coperto. - Pavia

River Ticino. - Pavia

River Ticino. - Pavia

Washer-woman statue near the bridge. - Pavia

Washer-woman statue near the bridge. - Pavia

San Teodore - Chiesa San Teodoro.

The church of San Teodoro is called after a bishop who ran the Diocese of Pavia around AD 774. Inside the building there are marvellous sixteenth century frescoes depicting the miracles worked by St Theodore. In the nave you can see the famous fresco showing Pavia with many towers just as it appeared in 1522. I thought this church was incredibly beautiful and really enjoyed its paintings and miniature nativity scene.

San Teodore. - Pavia

San Teodore. - Pavia

San Teodore - Pavia

San Teodore - Pavia

San Teodore. - Pavia

San Teodore. - Pavia

Certosa di Pavia.

The Certosa di Pavia is a monastery 8 km north of Pavia. It was built between 1396 and 1495. At one time it was located on the border of a large hunting park belonging to the Visconti family who occupied Pavia's castle. Certosa means a cloistered house of the monastic Carthusian Order. This order was founded in 1044 by Saint Bruno at Grande Chartreuse. To get there we got off the train at Certosa di Pavia Station. The complex is surrounded by walls and, although it is near the station, you have to walk for around 20 to 25 minutes round the walls to reach the entrance. We just made it in time to be allowed into the grounds of the complex but not inside the buildings themselves.

Certosa di Pavia. - Pavia

Certosa di Pavia. - Pavia

Certosa di Pavia - Pavia

Certosa di Pavia - Pavia

Countryside near Certosa di Pavia. - Pavia

Countryside near Certosa di Pavia. - Pavia

Certosa di Pavia - Pavia

Certosa di Pavia - Pavia

Certosa di Pavia. - Pavia

Certosa di Pavia. - Pavia

Posted by irenevt 18:53 Archived in Italy Comments (2)

Bergamo - A Town on Several Levels.

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A church in the lower town. - Bergamo

A church in the lower town. - Bergamo

Bergamo.

I had never heard of Bergamo until I posted a question about places to visit from Milan on VT. I believe there have been VT meets there. Both of us loved Bergamo. Our day trip gave us time to view the upper town fairly well, but as it was winter and got dark and cold at around 5pm, we did not really have time to see the lower town. It is somewhere I would happily revisit and maybe even use as a future holiday base.

Looking towards the upper town from the lower town - Bergamo

Looking towards the upper town from the lower town - Bergamo

We got to Bergamo by train from Milan Central Station. The journey took around an hour. We then walked from the train station through the main street of the lower town to the funicular. We took the funicular to the upper town and had a good look around. Highlights were of course the spectacular Cathedral Square, the adjacent Piazza Vecchia, the fortress with its stunning views and San Vigilio with equally stunning views, but just generally walking around was wonderful, too. We found Bergamo to be a very friendly place. The girl in the tourist office was extremely helpful and pleasant. We had dinner in the Irish pub near the funicular station in the upper town and the waitress was also absolutely lovely. Meeting such pleasant people contributed to a great day. Just a shame it turned icy cold and started pouring as we were getting ready to leave! One good thing about going in winter though was there were some pretty Christmas decorations and a Christmas market.

View over the upper town. - Bergamo

View over the upper town. - Bergamo

Piazza Vecchia.

This beautiful square in the centre of Bergamo has a lovely fountain in the centre. This is decorated with white marble lions donated to the city by Alvise Contarini in 1780. On the north side there is a library building which used to be the town hall. This was being restored and was hidden under tarpaulin during our visit. On the south side is the lovely Palazzo de la Ragione ­- Palace of Reason. This was originally built in 1199, though the current building dates from the sixteenth century. The palace's central balcony is surmounted by the Lion of Saint Mark. This was a symbol of Venetian dominance. Nearby is the big bell tower, il Campanone, which dates back to at least the 12th century. On the west side of the square is the 14th century palace that used to be the residence of the Venetian rulers of Bergamo -­ The Palazzo del Podesta Veneto. This is now home to the University of Bergamo’s Faculty of Foreign Languages and Literature. This square is absolutely beautiful and a must see. Directions: in Città Alta (in the upper part)

The fountain and the Palazzo de la Ragione. - Bergamo

The fountain and the Palazzo de la Ragione. - Bergamo

The bell tower. - Bergamo

The bell tower. - Bergamo

Lion sculptures on the south portico. - Bergamo

Lion sculptures on the south portico. - Bergamo

Piazza Del Duomo - Duomo ­ Cattedrale di Sant'Alessandro.

Walk through the arches of the Palace of Reason and you enter the Piazza del Duomo­ Cathedral Square. On this square you will find the cathedral, the baptistry, the Church of Saint­ Mary Major and the Colleoni Chapel. Bergamo's lovely cathedral dates from the eighteenth century. The baptistry has columns and statues representing the Virtues. This building is a reconstruction of a building by Giovanni da Campione, which was located at the back of Santa Mary Major Church. This was demolished in 1660 then later rebuilt in 1898 at its present site. St Mary Major Church dates from the twelfth century, though the North and South porches were added by Giovanni da Campione in the fourteenth century. The highlight of this square is the Colleoni Chapel. The architect of the Certosa di Pavia, Amadeo, also built this chapel between 1470 and 1476, as a mausoleum for the condottiere Bartolomeo Colleoni. The chapel's main structure is next to the North Porch of St Mary Major church. The building's façade is covered with multi­coloured marble and decorated with sculptures. Directions: in the Città Alta (in the upper part)

The baptistry - Bergamo

The baptistry - Bergamo

The cathedral. - Bergamo

The cathedral. - Bergamo

Colleoni Chapel. - Bergamo

Colleoni Chapel. - Bergamo

Santa Maria Maggiore (Church of St Mary Major)

Santa Maria Maggiore's basilica dates from the twelfth century, the North and South porches were added by Giovanni da Campione in the fourteenth century. Next to the south portal of Santa Maria Maggiore in Via Arena is il Tempietto di Santa Croce, a tiny church dating back to the year 1000.

Lion sculpture outside St Mary Major Church. - Bergamo

Lion sculpture outside St Mary Major Church. - Bergamo

il Tempietto di Santa Croce. - Bergamo

il Tempietto di Santa Croce. - Bergamo

Rocca Fortress.

The origins of this fortress can probably be traced back to Roman times. Historically the fortress has been occupied by the Longobards, the Franks, the Venetians and the Austrians. In 1848 patriots from Bergamo surrounded and laid siege to the Austrians barricaded in the Rocca Fortress and drove them from the city. The fortress itself is pleasant enough, but the real draw is the wonderful views you have over both the old and new towns from here.

Rocca Fortress - Bergamo

Rocca Fortress - Bergamo

Rocca Fortress - Bergamo

Rocca Fortress - Bergamo

View over the lower town. - Bergamo

View over the lower town. - Bergamo

Castel San Vigilio.

From the upper town we took a scenic and enjoyable funicular ride to San Vigilio with its castle remains and beautiful views. I mentioned before that people in Bergamo were lovely. The funicular driver was also very very pleasant and friendly. There were some restaurants here, too.

San Vigilio Village - Bergamo

San Vigilio Village - Bergamo

San Vigilio Village - Bergamo

San Vigilio Village - Bergamo

San Vigilio Village - Bergamo

San Vigilio Village - Bergamo

San Vigilio Village - Bergamo

San Vigilio Village - Bergamo

Walk, walk and walk.

Like many beautiful places Bergamo also lends itself to the aimless wander. I would have happily done much more wandering if time had permitted. Here are some photos of our wanderings.

Bergamo cat. - Bergamo

Bergamo cat. - Bergamo

Bergamo. - Bergamo

Bergamo. - Bergamo

Bergamo. - Bergamo

Bergamo. - Bergamo

Bergamo. - Bergamo

Bergamo. - Bergamo

Bergamo. - Bergamo

Bergamo. - Bergamo

Upper Town street. - Bergamo

Upper Town street. - Bergamo

Christmas.

I am so not a Christmas person. Every year I read my primary class 'A Christmas Carol' and every year I feel I could easily out-scrooge Scrooge. It's not that I am mean. It's just that I hate the commercialism associated with Christmas, giving and receiving stuff no one wants, eating and drinking till you feel sick, writing cards people throw straight in the bin. However, I am a religious person and I have found three things I like: fairy lights on trees. I've never had any but I love watching them flicker on and off. Advent calendars with hidden pictures not sweets. When I was in primary school myself we used to sit frozen like statues in the hope we would be picked to open one of the calendar windows. My turn revealed a glowing candle. And the third thing is nativity scenes. Both Italy and Spain did great nativity scenes in their churches.

Christmas

Christmas

Christmas

Christmas

The Toucan Irish Bar: "Friendly place with good food and drink"

This bar/ restaurant is neat the funicular station in the upper town. That is the funicular that runs from the lower to the upper town. We stopped here for dinner. We drank German beer. Let's mix a few cultures, why not? I had delicious salmon filled ravioli in a spicy sauce; my husband had a burger. The waitress could not have been more pleasant and the atmosphere here was relaxed and pleasant. Address: Via Gaetano Donizetti, 25/A,, Bergamo, 24129 Bergamo BG, Italy

Friendly place with good food and drink

Friendly place with good food and drink

Posted by irenevt 06:03 Archived in Italy Comments (2)

Milan - Elegant Centre of Fashion..

Castello Sforzesco - Milan

Castello Sforzesco - Milan

Milan.

In recent years we have got into the habit of spending Christmas by booking an Emirates flight from Hong Kong to Dubai, spend a few days there, ­ then travel on to Europe. So far we have done this to Madrid, Lisbon and Rome. This year was the turn of Milan. When I started researching Milan at first, I thought it sounded very interesting. Later I started to have doubts. Would it be too cold in December/ January? Was it going to be too modern for my taste? We arrived on a grey, gloomy day with rain pelting down from the heavens. After collecting our soaking wet luggage from the baggage belt, we made our way to our warm, cosy hotel room and did not want to come back out. Had we made a mistake?

In the morning everything looked brighter. We spent one day exploring the sights of Milan: ­the famous cathedral, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, the La Scala Opera House, Castello Sforzesco and its park, Santa Maria delle Grazie, Sant'Ambrogio Church and the Cemetery Monumental. We had intended to explore Navigli and the fashion district, but didn't. For the other days we used Milan as a base from which to explore Lombardy and beyond by doing day ­trips to Bergamo, Pavia, Como and Genoa.

Milan Cathedral.

Milan's cathedral (The Duomo) is one of the world's largest churches. It is located in Cathedral Square. Milan Cathedral is positioned in the center of Milan. Construction of the cathedral began in 1386, and continued for hundreds of years until 1813; several finishing touches were not completed until 1965. The facade of the cathedral is very beautiful and is covered with wonderful statues and carvings. The cathedral has several beautifully carved doors. Inside the cathedral is spacious, but a bit gloomy. Access to the roof of the cathedral is from the rear of the building. It costs 12 Euro 50 to go up there. I intended to go, but long queues persuaded me otherwise.

Milan Cathedral. - Milan

Milan Cathedral. - Milan

Milan Cathedral. - Milan

Milan Cathedral. - Milan

Milan Cathedral. - Milan

Milan Cathedral. - Milan

Milan Cathedral. - Milan

Milan Cathedral. - Milan

Milan Cathedral. - Milan

Milan Cathedral. - Milan

Detail from the front of the cathedral. - Milan

Detail from the front of the cathedral. - Milan

We visited Milan again on New Year's Day 2015. It was just a flying visit on the way to the airport. I had intended to go to the Navagili district but in the end we decided to revisit the cathedral and its surroundings. We walked right round the cathedral. It was almost surrounded by Christmas markets. Once again we were greatly impressed by the carvings on the cathedral.

Milan Cathedral Revisited - Milan

Milan Cathedral Revisited - Milan

Milan Cathedral Revisited - Milan

Milan Cathedral Revisited - Milan

Milan Cathedral Revisited - Milan

Milan Cathedral Revisited - Milan

Milan Cathedral Revisited - Milan

Milan Cathedral Revisited - Milan

Milan Cathedral Revisited - Milan

Milan Cathedral Revisited - Milan

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.

This arcade links Duomo Square with the La Scala Opera House. It was designed by architect Giuseppe Mengoni, and named after King Victor Emmanuel II. The Galleria was inaugurated on September 15, 1867, but work continued on it for another ten years. The day before its completion in December 1877, the architect Mengoni suffered a fatal fall from the top of the building's triumphal archway. The Galleria was built during the traumatic period of Italian unification and was seen as symbolizing Italian unity, therefore it is adorned with plenty of patriotic symbols. Mosaics on the floor below the dome depict the coat of arms of Savoy. Italian cities are also depicted: a wolf represents Rome, a lily stands for Florence, a bull symbolizes Turin and a white flag with red cross means Milan. Stepping on the genitals of the bull is supposed to bring good luck. I was not all that impressed with the building to be honest and there were too many people walking through it for the mosaics to be visible. Address: Piazza Duomo­Piazza della Scala. Directions: Metro 1 & 3 ­ Duomo.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II - Milan

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II - Milan

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II - Milan

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II - Milan

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. - Milan

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. - Milan

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. - Milan

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. - Milan

La Scala Opera House.

This building is set on a beautiful square, but is possibly the least attractive building on the square. The square also houses a museum and has a statue of Leonardo Da Vinci. The La Scala was built at the end of the eighteenth century. Many operas by composers such as Verdi and Bellini premiered in this building. In 1776 Milan's opera house was burnt down and Empress Maria Theresa, the Duchess of Milan, ordered a new opera house to be built on the site of the fifteenth century church of Santa Maria della Scala. The new opera house was designed by architect, Giuseppe Piermarini. Building work only took two years and the new opera house was inaugurated on 3rd August 1778. The opera house was destroyed during the bombings of the second world war in 1943. It was rebuilt and reopened on 11th May 1946.

La Scala Opera House Square. - Milan

La Scala Opera House Square. - Milan

La Scala Opera House Square. - Milan

La Scala Opera House Square. - Milan

La Scala Opera House. - Milan

La Scala Opera House. - Milan

The Sforzesco Castle - Castello Sforzesco.

I liked Milan Cathedral, but when I abandoned my attempt to go on the roof due to the queue, I re­-entered the Duomo Square still holding the money for going on the roof, not very visibly, in my hand. The not very visibly did not deter someone from unsuccessfully trying to snatch it from my hand. This in turn caused me to want to get the hell out of there. The next two sights: Galleria Vittorio Emanuele and the La Scala Opera House did nothing for me and I was beginning to wonder if I would like anything at all in Milan when we arrived at The Sforzesco Castle. Suddenly life was good again. It's a beautiful ruin set in a wonderful park. I loved it. Outside the front of the castle there was a large fountain. Inside there were courtyards, museums, statues. We did not visit the museum. We just wandered around the courtyards. Then we explored the park, which I also loved with its statues, ornate bridges, aquarium, library and triumphal archway. In 1358 the first Duke of Milan built a fortress. In 1447, during military upheaval, the Milanese people destroyed it. Then military leader Francesco Sforza declared himself Duke of Milan and hurriedly rebuilt the castle. Later the castle was neglected and turned into a barracks. In 1861 the castle was in a sorry state and in danger of being demolished, but architect Luca Beltrami saved it by suggesting it was used as a public building. Address: Piazza Castello Directions: Cairoli Metro Exit.

The Sforzesco Castle - Milan

The Sforzesco Castle - Milan

The Sforzesco Castle - Milan

The Sforzesco Castle - Milan

The Sforzesco Castle - Milan

The Sforzesco Castle - Milan

The Sforzesco Castle - Milan

The Sforzesco Castle - Milan

The Sforzesco Castle - Milan

The Sforzesco Castle - Milan

Near The Sforzesco Castle - Milan

Near The Sforzesco Castle - Milan

Near The Sforzesco Castle - Milan

Near The Sforzesco Castle - Milan

Near The Sforzesco Castle - Milan

Near The Sforzesco Castle - Milan

Santa Maria Delle Grazie - Chiesa Santa Maria Delle Grazie ­ Church.

Santa Maria delle Grazie is mainly famous for Leonardo da Vinci's 'Last Supper' which is housed in the adjoining refectory. The Dominican Order commissioned Guiniforte Solari to build this church for their monastery. The church was finally completed in 1490. In 1943 allied bombings damaged the church, but it was restored in 1947. To see the Last Supper you must book in advance. We did not. We just admired the beautiful church from outside. There is a lovely view from the rear courtyard. Address: Corso Magenta Directions: Metro 1 ­ Conciliation.

Santa Maria Delle Grazie - Milan

Santa Maria Delle Grazie - Milan

Santa Maria Delle Grazie - Milan

Santa Maria Delle Grazie - Milan

Santa Maria Delle Grazie - Milan

Santa Maria Delle Grazie - Milan

Santa Maria Delle Grazie - Milan

Santa Maria Delle Grazie - Milan

Sant' Ambrogio Church - Basilica Sant Ambrogio.

The Basilica of Sant'Ambrogio is one of Milan's oldest churches. It is named after the city's patron saint, Saint Ambrosius or Ambrose. The church was consecrated in 386 AD when Ambrose was bishop of Milan. The interior of the church and its courtyard were interesting. The remains of Saint Ambrose can be found inside.

Sant' Ambrogio Church. - Milan

Sant' Ambrogio Church. - Milan

Sant' Ambrogio Church - Milan

Sant' Ambrogio Church - Milan

Sant' Ambrogio Church. - Milan

Sant' Ambrogio Church. - Milan

The Monumental Cemetery.

The Cimitero Monumentale is within 10 minutes walk of Garibaldi Station. It contains many large and impressive tombs of wealthy Milanese citizens. The tombs try to outdo each other with large ornate statues. The Cimitero Monumentale was laid out by Carlo Maciachini between 1863 and 1866.Two small areas to the left and right of the cemetery are reserved for noncatholics and jews. A bit on the over the top side, but impressive nonetheless. Please note this cemetery is closed on Mondays.

The Monumental Cemetery - Milan

The Monumental Cemetery - Milan

The Monumental Cemetery - Milan

The Monumental Cemetery - Milan

The Monumental Cemetery - Milan

The Monumental Cemetery - Milan

The Monumental Cemetery - Milan

The Monumental Cemetery - Milan

The Monumental Cemetery. - Milan

The Monumental Cemetery. - Milan

Airport Angel.

When you walk from Milan Malpensa Airport to the train station you pass this work of art. I do not know who it is by, but I found it rather striking so decided to photo it. Worth a look if you are in the area.

Airport Angel

Airport Angel

Airport Angel

Airport Angel

Milan Fashion District.

Milan is famous for fashion. We really only had time to do the edges of the shopping district before heading to the airport this trip. The Fashion District includes Via Montenapoleone, Via Della Spiga and Via Manzoni.

Milan Fashion. - Milan

Milan Fashion. - Milan

Milan Fashion. - Milan

Milan Fashion. - Milan

Milan Fashion. - Milan

Milan Fashion. - Milan

Milan Fashion. - Milan

Milan Fashion. - Milan

Markets.

All round the cathedral; next to Milan Central Station and doubtless at many other places in Milan there are lots of open air market stalls selling food, drink and craft items. I love the breads, cheeses and olives sections most personally.

Christmas market. - Milan

Christmas market. - Milan

Posted by irenevt 04:07 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

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