Archive for ‘Art’

April 19, 2013

Valencia, Spain’s Third Largest City

photo2Still an agriculturally rich city, Valencia is the Spanish gateway to the Mediterranean, with the special charm that a seaport city has.  It has an excellent balance of commerce, culture, theatre, museums, music, and business.
Architecturally, Valencia is comprised of significant historical buildings that are beautifully maintained and abundant avant-garde modern structures that somehow blend harmoniously.  It is quite remarkable, as the contrast is so dramatic.
High points include the Cathedral dating to 1262, the iron and glass Mercado Central, the Ayuntamiento (Town Council), the Correos (main Post Office), as well as the ultra-modern City of Arts complex – the largest of it’s kind in Europe devoted to culture, education, and recreation designed by the world famous Santiago Calatrava.By the way, Valencia is where Paella originated and they make the most mouth-watering version I have ever had.
December 12, 2012

Next stop on my Ancient Capitals journey – Egypt

After a wonderful visit in Athens, it was time to board our Oceania cruise ship, the Nautica for the next 11 days of our Ancient Capitals journey.  Our congenial small group is prepared for a very port intensive experience, spending eight full days ashore exploring the highlights of Alexandria, Cairo, Jerusalem, Behtlehem, Nazareth, Rhondes, Ephesus, and Istanbul.    The Nautica warmly welcomed us ‘back home’ after our extensive explorations from each port.  Our personal knowledgeable guides and their attention to detail helped us to be able to appreciate and see a great deal in each of our days ashore.

It is a truly amazing experience to follow in the footsteps of King Tut, Cleopatra, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Mohammad, King Richard & the Crusaders, Saladin..the savior fo the Arab world, St Paul, Suleiman, the Romans, the Ottomans, the Turks, the Israelites and the Byzantines.

It is mind-boggling to see how advanced these civilizations were from 4500 years past.  From the Antiquites Museum in Cairo, the Solar Boat at the Giza pyramids, the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, the Western Wall in Jerusalem, the Acropolis in Rhodes, the Parthenon of Athens, the Terrace Houses in Ephesus, the St Sophia Basilica in Istanbul to mention only a few of teh fifty historical sites we visited.  To see their beautifully designed cities, their architecture and art…just leave one in awe at the brillance and sophistication of the times.

solar boatTut's second coffin

Upon arriving at Giza, our visit to the Pyramids, the Valley Temple, and the Sphinx did not disappoint.  We then visited a relatively new Pharaonic discovery,  the Solar Boat, housed in it’s own museum, just near the pyramids, where it was uncovered. The storage pit had been airtight and the boat was in a remarkable state of preservation, arranged in thirteen neatly piled layers, complete with ropes for rigging and pieces of matting.  This 4500 year old boat built primarily of cedar, was fully reassembled – all 1200+ pieces.  A very remarkable sight!  The Pyramid Texts clearly state that at the end of the pharaoh’s life on Earth, his soul ascends to the heavens in the solar barque to join his father Re.  And hence the vehicle.  On to the Egyptian Museum of Antiquites, where a few of the highlights include the treasures of the Tomb of Tutankhamen and the extraordinary Mummies Room with incredibly well preserved 3000-year-old faces !

To read the next installment of my Ancient Capitals Journey check out Ancient Capitals Journey – Israel

February 16, 2011

Carnevale, the Festival of Masks

Carnevale, also known as carnival or mardi gras, is celebrated in Italy and many places around the world 40 days before Easter, a final party before Ash Wednesday and the restrictions of Lent.

Carnevale in Italy is a huge winter festival celebrated with parades, masquerade balls, entertainment, music, and parties. Children throw confetti at each other and play tricks one each other in fun.

Although carnival is actually one day, in Venice and many other places in Italy the carnival celebrations and parties may begin  2 weeks earlier.  This year February 19th,  the “Grand toast in Venice” will be the opening event, an elegant and joyful “cheers” for tourists and locals alike  to officially welcome the Carnival. The main attraction will be a big wine fountain spouting vino for all.   The dancing commences and a full agenda of activities continues  throughout the 2 week long festival.

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February 14, 2011

Romance, museums and history in one of Italy’s top cities, Milan

Romance is on everyones mind this week, but one of Italy’s romantic cities is also rated as a top destination! Can you guess which city?  Well, it’s Milan that I want to tell you about today.

“Romantic Italy beckons lovers of all ages to its magical countryside. Couples can tour several of its beautiful, historic cities including Milan, Florence, Naples, and Rome. Each of these beloved cities has a unique Italian flavor just waiting to be experienced.

Milan’s history dates back to 400 B.C., and contains many wonderful museums, galleries, churches, and other historical buildings for couples to tour. Some of the most famous museums include the Cenacolo Vinciano which houses the painting of The Last Supper, and the La Scala Theater Museum which is home to wonderfully historic costumes and theater sets. Historical and breathtaking churches that must be visited include The Duomo, which includes nearly 3500 statues and Santa Maria delle Grazie, the church where Leonardo da Vinci painted The Last Supper.

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January 30, 2011

The Venice Biennale Arts Exposition is this summer!!

La Biennale 20112011 is an odd-numbered year, which means that the Venice La Biennale will be underway in a few months.

The origin:
The birth of the Venice Biennale
Headed by its mayor, Riccardo Selvatico, the Venetian City Council passed a resolution on 19th April 1893 to set up a biennial exhibition of Italian art, to be inaugurated on 22nd April 1894. However, the event took place in 1895, two years later than it had been planned. On 30th April, the 1st International Art Exhibition was inaugurated. Learn more >>

The VBA Expo is the celebration of several festivals rolled into one year.  During the Biennale you can enjoy fine arts, architecture, film, music, dance, theater and so much more.

This year will celebrate the 3rd Arsenale della Danza (17th January to 15th May), the 2nd Kids’ Carnival (26th February to 8th March), the 54th International Art Exhibition – ILLUMInations (4th June to 27th November), the 68th Venice International Film Festival (31st August to 10th September), the 55th International Festival of Contemporary Music (24th September to 1st October), and the 41st International Theatre Festival (10th to 16th October).

Visiting Venice can be amazing no matter what time of year you go, however where you choose to stay can have an effect on your overall experience. I have stayed in many different places over the years, but my favorite is…

Hotel Palazzo Stern

Few Steps from Saint Mark’s Square and from Accademia, surrounded by the artistic beauties and by the peacefulness and quitness of an everyday Venice.

A Historical Palace, once home of a known art collector, enhanced by art work of all ages and rich with ancient historical memories.

A unique and unforgettable experience that will bring you back in time. The breathtaking view from the Terrace on the Grand Canal and the peacefulness of the Flat Roof (provided with Jacuzzi) are scenarios of incredible romance and beauty.

Family run, wonderful staff, …in my opinion the best hotel in Venice.

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