20 November 2010

Michelangelo - the architect! Behold the crowning jewel of Rome - the cupola of St. Peter's Basilica

Looking up to the soaring interior surface of the Dome of St. Peter's Basilica.

Did you know that Michelangelo's genius reached beyond his sculptures and frescoes to soaring heights that forever redefined the skyline of Rome? Behold — the masterpiece of St. Peter's Basilica and its crowning glory. Though the construction of the Basilica had endured many architects, it was Michelangelo, compelled by Pope Paul III in 1547, who designed most of the building we see today including this magnificent cupola that takes your breath away on the outside as well as from within. Unfortunately, he died in 1564 and never saw its completion in 1590.

05 September 2010

Welcome to Cheverny, France

Welcome to Cheverny, France and the allure of the Loire Valley! This enchanting view of Rue du Chene des Dames in the center of picturesque Cheverny invites you to this charming village that's home to the magnificent Chateau de Cheverny - just of one of many historical Loire Valley Chateaux throughout the French countryside.

When I came upon this vantage point, I couldn't help but capture this scene because it makes you want to "step through the looking glass," so to speak, and into the flower-lined streets of this quintessential French town. Read more about Cheverny in my article on this unforgettable Paris day-tour through the Loire Valley!

22 August 2010

Roman window's garden bursting into life!

While roaming around the streets of Rome, Italy, only a few blocks from the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel, I stumbled upon this hidden and rather unusual window whose garden was bursting into life from the inside out—foliage breaking free from its prison of walls to stretch its budding leaves and blooms in hopes of capturing golden rays of sunshine!

15 August 2010

The Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy, houses a magnificent Medici collection!

The Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy, is not only a lesson in perspective, but offers a journey through the ages to discover magnificent masterpieces from the Gothic to the Baroque. You’ll appreciate one of the finest collections of art in the world - the Medici Collection. Discover the work of Florentine masters as you get up close and personal with Giotto, Raphael, Michelangelo, Bernini, Caravaggio and countless others. A visit to Florence would not be complete without seeing the collections of the Medici in the Uffizi Gallery! Read more about the Uffizi Gallery and helpful tips for you to make the most of your time in Florence.

08 August 2010

Angels watch over Ponte Sant'Angelo in Rome, Italy

Angels watch over all who cross the Ponte Sant'Angelo to visit one of Rome's most popular attractions - the Castle Sant'Angelo.  Built in 134 AD by the Emporer Hadrian, the Ponte Sant'Angelo spans the Tiber River and welcomes its pedestrians with stunning views of the Castel Sant'Angelo.  Discover more about this imposing fortress in my Angel and Demons Tour through Rome.

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31 July 2010

The Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartes - Cathedrale Notre Dame de Chartres - in France

The Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Chartres or Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres – dominates the skyline of the French provincial town of Chartres as evidenced by its titanic silhouette that can be seen from miles away. Surviving a tumultuous history of fire and destruction since 743, including a lightning strike in 1194 that destroyed most of the magnificent Romanesque basilica save the western façade (front), the towers (not including spires) and the crypt, the Chartes cathedral we see today was consecrated in 1260, save the northern tower which was completed in 1507. Note the two very distinct architectural designs of these towers betraying its devastating history.

For over 1000 years, the Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres has been a pilgrimage for Christians seeking a glimpse of one of the holiest relics possessed by any church in the world – the veil of the Virgin Mary – presented to the cathedral in 876. Because this relic survived the 1194 destruction, it is believed that Mary herself saved this sacred remnant and proclaimed the construction of the new cathedral.

A fascinating history awaits at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres. Be sure to take the time to wander through this charming medieval town and sample the pastries and breads!

18 July 2010

Notre Dame Catherdral in Paris, France - "Our Lady of Paris"

Steeped in the history of Paris and the focal point of classical literature, Notre Dame, "Our Lady of Paris," Cathedral is a must see and should be included in all Parisian itineraries. Imagine visiting the home of Quasimodo and climbing to his loft high in the bell tower for the most breathtaking views of Paris.

Standing on the Ile de la Cité for almost 1,000 years, Notre Dame Cathedral took nearly 200 years to build from the time the first stone was laid in 1163 during what was known as the the "Gothic" movement, to 1345, when the final phases were completed.

To see 360 degree views from many a perspective, check out this page full of Virtual Tours. The page takes a few moments to load but well worth the wait! To zoom in, hold down your "shift" key. To zoom back out, it's "control." Very cool!

Gargoyles keep vigilance over all those below on the Ile de la Cité and the surrounding city of Paris.

If you're in pretty good shape and feel up to the task of climbing all 387 steps to the top of the South Bell Tower, I strongly recommend you do this for the most spectacular views of Paris. The entrance to the stairways is located just to the left of the Notre Dame Cathedral's main entrance. Once underway, you can stop at the gift shop for a quick respite and do a little shopping. Then, continue up to the top of the main building for more amazing views of Paris. You can stop here if you want and head back down or if you're feeling adventurous and want more, continue to the top of the bell tower for the most stunning bird's-eye view. You won't be disappointed!

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04 July 2010

Chateau de Chambord - the crown jewel of the Loire Valley in France

Chateau de Chambord - the largest of the Loire Valley chateaux - is a masterful blend of French Renaissance and Italian Classical architecture influenced by many designers including Leonardo da Vinci according to legend. Located in the Loire Valley in France, about 180 km or 112 miles south of Paris, the Chateau de Chambord, was originally designed to be a hunting lodge for King Francois I when construction began in 1519. Far from cozy, this stone-cold Chateau was considered too cold for comfort by the king who ended up visiting only a few times during his reign. Despite construction ending in 1547, the Chateau de Chambord remains unfinished today.

Undoubtedly one of the most recognizable of the Loire Chateaux, the Chateau de Chambord's most notable features are its turreted roof top that resembles a French provincial village and its interior double-helix stone stairway in which two separate stairways intertwine around a central axis that would allow some to ascend while others descend without ever passing each other along the way.

If you're planning a holiday to Paris, be sure to include the Loire Chateaux in your itinerary. It's a full-day tour that runs from 7 a.m to 7 p.m. and includes visits to ChenonceauCheverny including lunch, and finally Chambord. A fascinating journey awaits along the River Loire and the Chateau de Chambord. Learn more about this and other tours to the Loire Valley.

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01 July 2010

The allure of Montepulciano in Tuscany, Italy beckons to all travelers!

The allure of Tuscany with its picturesque hilltop towns perched high atop the sun-drenched hills beckons to visitors with its medieval charm and historic piazzas.  Montepulciano has attracted visitors to this region of Italy for decades, if not centuries and it's only one of many historical citadels throughout the romantic province.  Mostly known for its regional Vino Nobile wines, a visit to Montepulciano delivers on the promise of that quintessential Tuscan experience!  Read more about Montepulciano and take a photo tour!  

27 June 2010

The Road to Chateau de Chenonceau in the Loire Valley, France

At the end of this tree-lined avenue with its verdant canopy letting through only the smallest rays of sunlight, lies the magnificent Chateau de Chenonceau. Spanning the River Cher and casting its magnificent reflection on the waters below, the chateau owes much of its architectural elegance to the design talents of the ladies of the house - Katherine Briconnet who designed most of the structure in 1513. Further embellishments were added by Diane de Poitiers and finally, Catherine de Medici, who not only influenced the interior design, but the magnificent gardens that bear her name. Read more about a fabulous day-tour from Paris to the Loire Chateaux!

The view from the other side of the River Cher (photo below courtesy of Wikipedia)

20 June 2010

Magnificent Rialto Bridge spans the Grand Canal in Venice, Italy

Completed in 1591, the Rialto Bridge is one of four bridges that span the Grand Canal of Venice, Italy and its oldest.  Although many architects were considered to design and build the bridge - including the magnificent Michelangelo - it was awarded ultimately to Antonio da Ponte who more or less, mirrored its wooden predecessor.  It is a pedestrian only bridge lined with souvenir shops unlike the timeless Ponte Vecchio Bridge in Florence that is sparkling with its merchants' gold shops.  Read more about Venice and its magnificent 15th century charm!

13 June 2010

Overnight train travel in Europe - the Unexpected Adventure from Florence to Paris!

From Florence to Paris or Barcelona to Geneva or Munich to Rome, overnight train travel in Europe is not only convenient but it's a romantic means of traveling through the picturesque European countryside by day as well as night! Rolling along while the rattle and hum of the wheels gliding over the tracks resounds throughout your cabin; and the gentle side-to-side rocking motion soothes as it takes the edge off even the toughest day of sightseeing in Europe. Plus, when you book a private sleeper with shower and water closet, you not only get the convenience of your hotel room on the rails, you are welcomed aboard by your personal cabin steward who shares a champagne toast, makes your dinner reservations and gently wakes you up to breakfast in the morning. Does it get any better? Why waste all the time in an airport moving from country to country when you have this most romantic mode of travel that beckons to all those who seek to seek to see the passing landscapes and countryside from the convenience of a railroad car. If you ask me, there’s no other way to go! Above all that, what really made my journey special was the unexpected adventure of it all!

06 June 2010

Guided tour through the Roman Colosseum - a magnificent architectural marvel standing for 2,000 years!

Welcome to the Roman Colosseum. This magnificent structure debuted to the citizens of Rome in A.D. 80 and stands today as a testament to brilliant engineering and design. If you're planning to visit Rome, be sure to include the Roman Colosseum in your itinerary. Read more about the history of this architectural marvel!

31 May 2010

The Roman Forum - Temple of Castor and Pollux

On your guided tour through the Roman Forum, be sure to stop and admire the Temple of Castor and Pollux. Originally erected in 495 B.C., these three Corinthian columns are remnants from the 1st and 2nd centuries A.D. during two reconstruction periods. If you don't recall from ancient history and mythology, Castor and Pollux were the Dioscuri or twins of Gemini - the twin sons of Zeus or Jupiter in Roman mythology and according to legend, Castor and Pollux appeared on this site disguised as two horsemen watering their horses declaring victory for the young Imperial Rome after a battle with its previous King and his allies, the Latins. Read more about the Roman Forum guided tour and check out the virtual tour!

Temple of Castor and Pollux in the Roman Forum in Italy.  Photo is property of EuroTravelogue™ and unauthorized use is prohibited. 

29 May 2010

Hotel Monna Lisa in Florence - 14th century palazzo

The Hotel Monna Lisa in Florence should be tops among your selection when it comes to choosing accommodations in Florence, Italy.  Located in the historical city centre, this 14th century palazzo captures the essence and traditions of Florence during the 14th century Renaissance. Immediately, you are immersed into art and architecture of the period with antique furnishings rounding your experience.  The verdant and fragrant courtyard pictured here is surrounded by the hotel on three sides with the neighboring convent on the fourth.  Read more about the Hotel Monna Lisa.

28 May 2010

Hotel Palazzo Priuli in Venice, Italy

Read more about this 14th century Palazzo captures the essence and traditions of Venice over the last 600 years - Hotel Palazzo Priuli.  Great article, slide show and video!

Basilica di San Marco in Venice, Italy

Basilica di San Marco in Venice Italy

Piazza di San Marco
- just one of stunning sights that awaits in the city of Venice!